Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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pawing3Teddy, pawing the pavement  /  Sketch of New York TImes photo
Damon Winter, writing cut lines for a New York Times article about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempts to ban horse drawn carriages in New York City, got taken. In so doing, the Times published fake news.

Here's Winter's caption for the photo sketched above: “Teddy signaling his desire for more food by scraping his shoes on the sidewalk.”

Oh, we get it alright. We're supposed to believe that poor Teddy is being starved and abused by his carriage driver.

What happened to fact-checking here? Obviously, Winter knows nothing about horses, nor do the animal activists that fed him that line. And if they do know something about horses, that’s even worse. They would know there are many reasons for a horse to scratch the ground aside from hunger, and would be knowingly lying.

I had a horse that scratched with his front feet out of boredom even with a heap of alfalfa hay in the stall beside him. I have another that scratches while on the cross-ties to tell me, “Let’s get out and start working; I’m tired of just standing here.” In fact, Freddy could even have been overfed, and pawing the ground because he was feeling a bit colicky.

I’m dismayed to discover that the New York Times would simply parrot a line furnished by an animal rights group with an agenda. A group, incidentally—NYCLASS—that was investigated by the FBI in 2014 for steering two hundred thousand dollars to a PAC formed to destroy de Blasio’s opponent in that election. Christine Quinn refused to promise NYCLASS that she would ban the horse carriages if elected, and she was dislodged from her front-runner position by the PAC’s Anything-But-Quinn Campaign.

De Blasio, of course, promised to ban the horse carriages. He received large campaign donations from NYCLASS as a result, but was unable to fulfill his promise. The City Council members weren’t interested at the time, but new city elections are coming this November. With de Blasio already beholden to NYCLASS and his prospects strong for re-election, the group is now gearing up to go after the City Council candidates, says the Times article. Those that fall in line might expect campaign donations. Those that don’t might expect rough handling.

That may be politics, but not journalism. In this era of “fake news,” readers need a source to rely on. I’ve been relying on the honesty of the New York Times for many years. Why swallow news and information from unknown, untested news services, when there are proven performers to read and listen to? The first that has always come to my mind has been the New York Times. It may have a Liberal bent, but it has the staff to confirm what it prints, and a reputation to maintain. At least that’s what I was brought up to believe. So, what happened? You, too, NYT?

To the New York Times, I say, Even if you agree with the animal activists on the horse-drawn carriage issue, your readers deserve truth in reporting. Not fake news. The article by William Neuman was fair, but Damon Winter’s caption was bush league.

Posted June 8, 2017

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