Sunday, March 23, 2014

HAVE YOU BEEN BRAINWASHED BY THE MEDIA in the case of NYC's carriage horse trade?

in the case of NYC's horse-drawn carriages?

Even if you give a resounding no – that you do think for yourself – I will bet that you've  been unduly influenced by the media – especially with this issue of “to ban or not to ban”;  - that you've believed what you heard simply because it came from an “authority” who said it on TV,  or you read it in the papers -- after all the printed word -- especially in a newspaper -   must always be correct. (not)

Since September when Bill deBlasio won the mayoral primary, there's been a media onslaught against the pending ban of horse-drawn carriages.   

The horse issue has become a metaphor for something else.       

It's  become unreasonably important and seems to represent deBlasio’s liberal policies, which are opposed by  most of the editorial boards. After all, this is the first time ever that NYC has had a progressive mayor.  Ever!    It's a way to beat him up and hopefully win.   It's  arm wrestling with the mayor of one of the biggest cities in the world. 

This is about power and influence – not about horses, drivers, animal activists or real estate tycoons. 

The editorial boards of the NY Times, NY Daily News, NY Post and Newsday/AM-NY are all against a ban of horse drawn carriages and are using their bully pulpit to make it known.  This is also true of Fox 5 News; CNN, some on NY-1;
PIX11; WABC.  Fox 5 in NYC is doing editorials against the ban.  The others just follow suit because they see it as a model of how to present  this issue. 

Many of them  - especially the News, Post and Am-NY have allowed their editorial philosophies to leak over into their news reporting.  Fiction and opinion become fact and there's no way for an observer to tell the difference.  It's  Yellow Journalism at its best and it's a fight for your soul.

The NY Times, Daily News and Post all endorsed Christine Quinn in the Democratic Primary.  She came in third.  If Quinn had won, people like conservative NY Daily News' owner Mort Zuckerman,  would have maintained his access (and influence) to City Hall.  This was a blow to all of them, especially the NY Times.  After all doesn’t everyone listen to and follow their choice of endorsements?  What an assault on their power and influence. 

So when the mayoral election came around – the Daily News, which had been attacking  deBlasio on a daily basis with exaggerated accusations about anything and everything, reluctantly joined the NY Times and endorsed deBlasio over Joe Lhota for mayor.  AM-NY and the NY Post endorsed Joe Lhota and they were furious that deBlasio won the election by a landslide of 70%. 

Since that time, all of these newspapers and TV news have portrayed the carriage drivers in a sympathetic light.  They never talk about the double shifting -- illegally working the horses more than the allowed nine hours a day; or lack of required breaks;  or all of the accidents over the years; or working the horses in all temperatures after the ASPCA officers suspended the trade for the day; or  how they are cash only and it's very questionable how much they contribute to the NYC tax base; or how there might be laws on the books, but they are mostly not enforced. 

No - they manipulate the facts and the target for these lies is you. 

Why is this relatively tiny group of people so powerful?  What hold do they have over politicians and media?  We have asked this many times as we saw over the years the puzzling extent of entitlements doled out representing the city's largess.  What is really going on here?  Everyone should be asking these questions?  Every unemployed person or group of people who has been ignored should be challenging why their jobless status is not important.  Every authentic union member should be challenging why this non-union shop - with owners and drivers in the same local - has the support of the Central Labor Council.  
 What is really going on here?   

The reporters go to the stables and hold a mike in front of a driver as he talks about the horse in the adjacent stall  – a horse who was most likely just groomed who has a shiny well brushed  coat.   They get a good shot of the largest stall they have, which was probably just cleaned and bedded.  The drivers only take reporters to  Clinton Stables - by appointment. 

The reporters – whether it is from PIX 11 or Diana Williams from Channel 7 who really should have known better – do not know the issue well enough to question it – the size of the stalls; the fact that there is no turn out to pasture; they listen as the driver tells them this is a land grab by the greedy real estate developers (code for antisemitism.) They think it's OK that the horses have a 5-week furlough - not understanding that they need daily turn out to pasture – and certainly not knowing that the Department of Health does not require the names of or inspections of these so-called farms where the horses go.  And the reporters end up posing with the horse and feeding him a carrot.  Job done.   

But the horses lose -- and your soul is that much closer to being theirs.  
This is very shabby reporting.  No intelligent, challenging questions.  Doesn't anyone know how to do an interview anymore?  What do they teach in journalism schools anyway?!

And to add insult to injury, the carriage trade and "media"  are aided by the Cavalry
September 2013 accident in NYC
, an anti-animal lobby group, working with the carriage trade.  They support the grossly inhumane puppy mills, horse slaughter and a weakening of animal cruelty laws around the country. 

Character Assassination:   another trick of media manipulation.   Reporters ask us to be interviewed only to say that they got “both sides” of the story but end up framing it so it is clearly on the side of the trade.  No one reports on the real reasons we want a ban – the inhumane conditions both working and living; the unsafe and dangerous environment.    We are all lumped into one pot - "radical animal rights activists" whose agenda is to get rid of all human interaction with animals.   No one addresses the fact that many horse owners and rescuers are with us on this issue and would not dream of allowing their precious horses to pull a carriage around NYC.  But you buy the argument because you saw it on television. 

Fear Mongering: a tried and proven tactic of media brain washing.   In late October 2013,  the Daily News ran a story about how the carriage horses were all going to slaughter if there were a ban.  Mayor Bloomberg sided with them.  Even though this was intelligently disputed by Vickery Eckoff in her piece in Forbes, which is not as widely read, the threat of the horses going to slaughter has stayed with us. 
People believe what they read.  

Oreo - spooked and bolted - running terrified for blocks
Of course no one wants to know that this is where many of the horses currently go as I wrote about last year  - Where Do All the NYC Carriage Horses Go?  or that this was indeed a ploy by the drivers to scare people into stopping ban talk to save the horses.  No one thought about it enough to realize that if the horses did go to the kill auctions, it was the drivers who brought them there.   

Although this detailed and well supported documented study was sent to the press - no one picked up the story.   Revealing that just perhaps many of the horses already go to the kill auctions would have interfered with the "accepted" story the media was trying to get out there  i.e, the drivers love their horses like their children. 
1/2006 accident - Spotty euthanized; driver in coma

this is another tactic of brainwashing that the media puts forward.   The carriage trade will say that we lie, lie, lie.  They say it enough times and you will believe it.  But they are the ones who lie and distort the truth and their conduit to the world - the right wing media - will make sure these lies  get out there.  Read this blog from November 2012.  Lies and Desperation - the NYC carriage trade. 

The most recent example of an editorial gone amuck was in AM-NY on March 23-
"Horse-Drawn Carriages are park of NYC."   
Here is what they got to say in this piece unchallenged.        

·         AM-NY:  refers to the drivers as “hard working; a reminder of a gentler age and they should just keep clopping with dignity and elegance.”

·         MY RESPONSE:  I wonder if we are talking about the same city.  Take a look at this report in Irish Centra about a driver spewing homophobic and racist remarks
note:  the NY Post did not report on this incident. 
...and my blog from 2012 called A Fly on the Wall 
- the Inner Working of the Brains of the NYC Carriage Drivers and their Supporters.  - a playbook for a pro carriage horse trade campaign. 
AM-NY"But the City Council in 2010 passed work rules that sound reasonable to us.  They call for five weeks of vacation a year in a place with green pasture and all you can eat."  
MY RESPONSE:  Horses need access to daily turnout and the term "vacation" is a human concept.  They are herd animals and need to socialize with members of their herd to mutually groom each other to relieve stress.   Instead for 47 weeks a year, they work 9 hours a day, 7 days a week between the shafts of their carriage not even able to scratch an itch.  The Department of health does not require the names of the places where these horses are sent; nor do they inspect them. It is thought by some that some of the owners provide them to the Amish to work their farms in exchange for a place to send the horses on furlough.  In November  2011, the former ASPCA vet, Pam Corey was quoted in a NY Post article as saying that “We have observed some horses returning to New York City after furloughs on a farm in worse condition than when they left.”   
·        AM-NY - "Their stalls must be at least 80 square feet."
·        MY RESPONSE:  This simply is not true.  This is the law: 
“§  17–330  Regulations.  Standing stalls for carriage horses shall be sixty square feet or larger, with a minimum width of seven feet.”  Experts recommend stall sizes of 12 x
60 sq. ft. legal stall - very small w/little bedding
12 – 144 square feet for a standardbred horse and 14 x 14 – 196 square feet for a draft breed.  So these 60 square foot stalls are less than half of what experts recommend -- and that is a stall big enough for a horse to lie down with his limbs extended to their fullest. 

·        AM-NY:   “there is the prospect of  300-plus drivers who could lose their jobs.” 
·        MY RESPONSE:  According to the industry itself, about 150-160 drivers are full time.   The rest are both part time and live outside the city.  One driver manages his medallions from  Sicily.   
Charlie - October 2011  - dropped dead in street
ACCURATE REPORTING:  A real democracy demands a free press and access to accurate, quality information that is well researched and fact checked. 

We have not been getting it.  The yellow journalism that we have experienced with this issue has been extremely revealing.  No one challenges these gross misrepresentations presented as truths– from lying about the stall size; to what the so-called 5-week vacations really represent; to how the horses are treated; to the number of people in the industry.    

All these lies are accepted by what passes for the media in this town and they expect you to believe it.  Little research and no fact checking. 

POLL:  So when Quinnipiac does a poll in this environment and it results in more than 60% of people against a ban, it does not surprise me at all.  I am just very disappointed in the people who are so easily led that they will believe anything.  Since 2006, every poll taken had resulted in between 75 and 80% of respondents in favor of a ban.   

The only way this could have changed is with media manipulation.   I do not buy it for a minute and neither should you. 
Swiftboating:  Unfortunately, while we greatly appreciate Mayor deBlasio's promise to ban this inhumane business and he has not appeared to falter - he also has not helped the issue.  When I've mentioned this media bias to contacts in the media, they have agreed but also say that they mayor has not helped himself.  He has not owned the issue and has handled it in a dismissive way.  He is being swiftboated - just as John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election was when he allowed the media to slam him.  

Sometimes taking what you believe is the high road is very harmful. 

Can't Get the Truth Out:  We have not been able to get our story out there.  I now cringe when I get a call from a reporter who wants to interview me and I have turned some down.  They are only doing it because they still – at least on paper – adhere to the rules of journalism, which is to interview both sides.  But they are not fact checking and they set up the story with a slant - -against us.  I have personally experienced this many times.

I have also experienced being lied to by PIX11 after they invited me to an interview with a driver and then canceled it telling me they could not get someone from the other side.  Instead they did an exclusive one on one with a driver at Clinton Stables.  I also turned down an interview with a NY 1 reporter because I knew he was on the drivers' side and was retweeting and supporting all of their comments. 

The editorial boards and the right wing media want to win this argument because of all it represents.  They want to deBlasio to cry uncle.  Everyone who supports progressive issues - whatever they are - should stand with us on this one because if this crumbles in defeat, it will affect the administration going forward.

I am hoping that Mayor deBlasio continues to stand strong and does the right thing – and that he and his staff understand the source of this present climate.  This business needs to be shut down by the end of the year in total.  It must not be a phase out because that simply will not work for many reasons. 

It is grossly inhumane and unsafe.  NYC has managed to bite the bullet when we have had spooking accidents.  But it is only a matter of time before a person is seriously injured or killed as has happened in other communities. 


Note:  to all reporters and journalists who try their best to get the facts right and not be influenced by what they have to know is ongoing - the reporters who actually do extensive research and fact checking -- the ones who take their responsibility seriously.  You are few and far between but I do appreciate you.  And you know who you are. 


Jane B said...

So sad to hear about how the media are behaving. I thought when this mayor was elected the battle to get horses off the busy New York streets would be over.
I sincerely hope the mayor continues to do what he promised and stops this trade.
My one and only visit to the US was marred only by having to see horses in New York and mules in New Orleans pulling carriages in heavy traffic and very high temperatures.

Unknown said...

Wish they'd hurry up and end it! Stay strong mayor!

Anonymous said...

Have you been following a certain Facebook (FB) blog by a writer who writes books about dogs? He owns a very, very small "farm" in upstate NY.

He has been on a rampage for months, writing untruths about the carriage horses & the trade.
He is causing quite an influential stir not to ban the horses. His writing is non-sensical, sometimes gibberish. It is writing with a rage.

He bans anyone who disagrees with him on his FB page. Bans & deletes anyone who support a ban on NYC Horse Drawn Carriages. So reading his blog & comments, one would think ALL agree with him & want the horses to stay in NYC.

If you do not publish this, it is ok. Actually I prefer you do not. At least you know of this person.

Thank you.

Jessica Wright said...

I live in Alabama and had heard a little bit of whats going on in NY regarding the horses. Most of what I've heard on the national news does seem to be in favor of carrying on the tradition and demonizing PETA for being "crazy hippie activists". I am so glad I stumbled on your blog. You have convinced me, without a doubt, that this "tradition" should be stopped immediately. Good luck w/ your fight.

Tess328 said...

I'm so glad that someone has brought this issue to light. What the carriage owners and drivers have been saying by way of the Daily News and other conveyers of misinformation flies in the face of common sense. I've seen the carriages horses being walked between very heavy traffic in Manhattan streets on their way to the park. I've seen very unhappy looking horses standing miserably at the curb while their drivers wait to pick up customers. I've seen drivers making illegal u-turns while talking on their cell phones. When I read the Daily News version of the issue I cringe at the obvious deceptions.