PITA is at it Again

PETA or PITA (People Inciting Trouble for Attention) as it’s known in the Frenz household, is up to their usual silliness and media whoring. A tad harsh and unsubstantiated you might say? Oh, I don’t know. It seems the stories from the Associated Press may be unsubstantiated. Of course I couldn’t help wondering about my friend Heidi (a former AP reporter) who swore up and down to me that the AP always gets two reliable sources before running a story. Are you sure about that Heidi? Wait! She’s written a piece about her bafflement over this:

Libeling “The Hobbit” – A Former AP Reporter’s Take

I don’t pursue stories about movies or celebrities, because it’s too close to my personal interests and quite frankly would be a conflict of interest for me to cover.

But this week when a story broke about animals being mistreated on the film set of “The Hobbit,” I raised an eyebrow and put my coffee cup down on the table, a little stunned.

The first part of the problem was that the source for the information was the animal rights group PETA. The second part of the problem was that the news organization that broke the story was where I used to work in the mid- to late-’90s: The Associated Press.

Understand this…

Read the rest here.

And now a little something for Sir Pete:

Dear Sir,

I know you don’t like to come stateside too often. Having looked around at photos and video of New Zealand, I don’t blame you. But your lack of exposure to some of our buffoons (lucky you) may be showing. I’m talking about PETA. Any Yank with half a brain knows they’re a joke, and their media whoring is legendary and would be offensive if it weren’t so funny. Unfortunately, the Associated Press chose to give them credibility. I think I know how that happened.

A writer from “The Onion” infiltrated the AP’s ranks and started making wild accusations. Of course it was all intended to be a harmless joke, but sadly, it went awry. What else to explain the idiocy of running a story that trusts PETA to come with something valid?

Okay, so I don’t know what happened. I’m just making that up. Maybe I should call the AP. They might take me seriously.

Okay, okay, I’m being serious now. Whatever the case with the animals and The Hobbit production, I’m inclined to believe you, and no, it’s not because you have that devastatingly handsome British actor playing Thorin. It’s because you’re not stupid. I’m having a hard time thinking you would have been dumb enough to jeopardize the production for something so easily remedied.

And when I think of how PETA has conducted themselves in the past, well, it’s pretty easy to come down on your side. Earlier this year they cited Sea World as violating the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The allegation hinged on the definition of ‘slave’:

PETA’s attorney Jeffrey Kerr told HuffPost that the animal rights group’s argument was based on the belief that “slavery doesn’t depend upon the species of the slave, any more than it depends upon the race, gender or ethnicity of the slave. SeaWorld’s attempts to deny [orcas] the protection solely based on their species is the same kind of prejudice used to justify any enslavement. And prejudice should not be what determines constitutional rights in this country … Because they can suffer from the prohibitive conduct of being enslaved, the 13th Amendment protection against that conduct should be extended to them.” source

Thankfully, the judge wasn’t an idiot and threw out the suit and thereby kept ‘slave’ from being redefined to something that would have minimized the very real struggle of people who were enslaved.

And now PETA may be trying to redefine ‘died’ since it seems the horses in question are not only alive but according to their owners came to no harm.

So I’m sorry you had to mess with all of this silliness, and I believe, as it is with almost all of PETA’s claims, this too shall go into the annals of their lunacy. Until then, take care.

Sincerely,
A ridiculously sane person, who on the side happens to be a crazy fan of that Brit actor

P.S. I was tempted to apprise you of PETA’s hypocrisy, but I think I’ve made my point.

edit: since the people at PETA don’t have enough real issues to pursue, I’ve got one for them. They need to find out what animal had to die so Phil Spector could look insane at his trial:

27 Comments

  1. hahaha!

    #Fistbump

  2. Well said. Thank you.

  3. These are the same folks who accuse farmers of “torture and holding hostage” of animals. The sad thing is, they’ve cried wolf so often, so loudly and so eroneously, real abuse, I fear, may be ignored.

  4. I will say only this: When allegations of this nature are made, consider the source. Always consider the source, their reputation and track record.

  5. Heidi and Janine,

    I’m sure you both have seen this horrible decline in reporting standards. Angie’s probably seen it too.

    Angie,

    It would have been nice if the AP had done that!

    The Queen,

    you’re probably justified in that fear.

  6. Well said, both of you, Heidi & Frenz.

    But Frenz, your edit had me spewing my drink on my computer. Now I have to clean it up.

  7. I’ve been dying to use that picture. No pun intended. :D

  8. Yes, I have seen that erosion, too. The current economic situation has caused so many staff cut-backs most places that a lot of the fact-checking and proofing has really fallen by the wayside even with normally reputable organizations. There is also such a rush now to beat everyone else to the punch online rather than just in a print edition—which means even more chance that you haven’t gotten your facts straight or fully checked out the source. It’s as if you have to take everything you read with a grain of salt.

  9. I’m always suspicious of any reports related to PETA, but I’m especially suspicious given the timing and that all the individuals “reporting” the abuse are former employees who appear to have left their employment under questionable circumstances.

    By the way, I’m with The Queen, with so much crying “wolf” going on real abuse isn’t being investigated or addressed as it should. In large part because, I believe, that limited funds are wasted on unnecessary investigations.

  10. Let me preface by saying I don’t care for PETA and their tactics. I also don’t have a horse in this race (no pun intended) since I haven’t been breathlessly anticipating TH, even if RA is in it.

    I agree there’s been a rush to judgment and a failure to adequately investigate, but not in the way you may think. Just because PETA has a reputation for extremism does not instantly negate the possibility that the wranglers who approached them did not have legitimate concerns. Both the AP story and PJ’s press release confirm there were problems with fencing and stabling that PJ’s team spent a lot of money to remedy. Animals did die although accounts differ as to the number and how. (BTW, nobody said a horse died who hadn’t; the untrue rumor was that a horse had been hobbled.) The American Humane Association who oversaw the animals confirmed this was all true. This is where the story would have ended. But there’s a problem.

    Although PETA has its own agenda in blowing the story wider, the wranglers themselves assert that the main problem was with the farm’s terrain – it has natural sinkholes, cliffs and other hazards that made it inhospitable for horses to roam freely, which they would have done if fencing was inadequate. The AHA admitted this was a blind spot in its oversight. The wranglers never actually allege that the production company mistreated any of the animals during the filming. This appears to be the work of PETA. PJ countered, protesting they never mistreated animals during production, which nobody disputes except for PETA. However, PJ’s press release did not address the terrain issue, nor did the statement from the owner of the farm. (For those who say the wranglers were fired and therefore have axes to grind, the character witnesses trotted out by PJ & company, all happen to be in his employment; so everybody has a stake in this.)

    As far as I know, the AP has not been out to the farm to investigate the terrain. Was any of this true? Which raises another question: in the AP story, PJ’s spokesperson stated they no lease the farm and no animals were left on the property (despite having purportedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements.) Does this mean allegations regarding the terrain were credible? Were the injuries due to bringing in animals unfamiliar with the terrain? Yet, the company also released a statement from the farm’s owner who said all the animals were fine. So these where the owner’s animals that were fine? Why and when did they stop using the farm? Did they vacate because they believed conditions could not be controlled? Did they wait until 2012 when production ended (a financially reasonable but callous option)? All, some, or none of the above? What are the backgrounds of the wranglers? Are their statements credible and how much? AHA says its investigating. AP should too.

    Yes, the timing stinks but that’s always the case in any news story when groups and companies have agendas. Both PETA and their supporters, and PJ’s team, TH, and their fans have high stakes in this. Personally, I will wait for more information before drawing conclusions.

  11. If only the first reporter in this chain of events had done the job a journalist is supposed to do, then we all might be having a different conversation. The reporting of news has become so blurred in the past decade that if you ask people what is news and what is opinion, I fear a good many could not tell you. It all comes back to money. If you get the “news” out there first, then you get the hits and that means money. Unfortunately, once that publish button is hit, the story takes on a life of its own and can be anywhere in an instant. And the retraction or corrected story? Well, it’s always the accusation that people remember.

    I was always been an advocate of this: If you made the accusation on Page One, then you better print the follow up on Page One. Sadly, this doesn’t apply on the web or in print much now, if at all.

    That is why I have felt so passionately about getting the information spot on. It needs to be solid and irrefutable right from the start. It’s not just reporting both sides, it’s reporting all sides that you can possibly think of. This new standard of “Publish what you know now” is dangerous and misleads the public. You might as well say “something happened” and let people make up their own stories.

    What occurred this week was completely avoidable. No excuses.

  12. There was a “news” program on at a relative’s house and I finally had to find somewhere else to be simply because it was driving me mad. What they were purporting as straight news reports were riddled with the broadcaster’s opinions. That makes it an op-ed piece and it should have been identified as such.

    But you are correct, the lines have become very, very blurred and I am no longer sure the average person knows the difference between news and opinion and the fact that the reporter should keep their own beliefs and ideas out of the story. Just the facts, ma’am.

    There is a commercial for insurance in which a naive young woman believes everything that is on the internet is true–because she read that was so–on the internet. Which is where she met her blind date, a “French model” who can’t speak French and definitely is no model. It’s amusing, but there’s more than a grain of truth in her wide-eyed trust.
    More and more news organizations are trading in tabloid fodder these days.

    Caveat emptor.

  13. The story about the death of three horses, one that was trampled to death, one that drowned in a river and one that died from a colic, is several months old. No one has denied that that has happened, the production company only said that they improved conditions after the incidents. The owner of the horse that wasn’t mistreated after all has nothing to do with that, as I understand. Something has happened, question remains, who was responsible, the owner of the farm or the people from the production company that did choose that farm too keep the film animals. And if it was mistreatment, neglect or accidents that unfortunately happen even under ideal circumstances?

  14. I must admit, that I did not give any credentials to the news right up from the beginning and was wondering what all the fuss was about and who tried to profit now from all the interest in the heatedly anticipated film.
    In my opinion, quite a few hundred animals died for “The Hobbit” – or do you think all cast and crew were vegetarians? So, I must admit, I was very pragmatic here and could not imagine that Sir Peter Jackson would be intentionally cruel to animals, when he is not even cruel to his cast and crew in the heat of filming – and that says a lot about sensationally good nerves of a good producer.

  15. I agree with every word Judiang wrote.

  16. (oh, except on anticipating TH. I am now breathlessly anticipating TH. Despite everything.)

  17. Serv, oh thank goodness! I was about to go into shock for a moment. :) ;)

    Yeah, I’m a weird fan. Sigh.

  18. This would be the precise reason that I won’t cover this topic as a veteran reporter. As you can see, I do have a strong bias.

    In this case, my bias is slanted to the Jackson camp, despite having written for The Associated Press and investigating countless stories.

    I don’t think they got this one right, and I think they rushed to judgment.

    On the other hand, I’m sensible enough to see that my involvement in the RA Phenomenon since February taints my point of view. So I voice my opinion here, and as a journalist, this stays far away from my work as a professional.

    Good points, Judiang, but I stand by my opinion. :-)

  19. Oh, no problem lovemrthornton, just wanted to throw in a different viewpoint. :)

  20. Good points, well stated and well done. :-)

    It’s pretty obvious to me that my hunch that I should never request an interview with RA is dead right. No objectivity here whatsoever. Freely admit it.

    Back to writing about electrical engineers and military ops …. :-)

  21. It’s fair to say that none of us here know exactly what’s happened, but until some more credible evidence comes to light, I’m inclined to go with Sir Peter’s version of events. PETA has been absurd and opportunistic on so many occasions, it’is hard for me to get worked up about these allegations.

  22. Thank you Judiang! And Thanks RA Frenzy!

  23. Wow, Mr. Phil never looked so…electric!!! Bwahaha!!

  24. Point is PJ&Co very cleverly address things in their statements that are not exactly the same as what they are accused of. When the issue of three dead horses came up a few month ago, without much media attention outside NZ, no-one ever denied that they died. Whatever one thinks of PETA, there is a true core to the story. As judiang said much better. There are two different things going on that shouldn’t be mixed. That PETA is an organisation that no-one can take seriously doesn’t absolve PJ&Co of all guilt.

  25. Someone making an allegation three months ago or now is not tantamount to the accused being guilty. An investigation by a disinterested third party, oh say, the AP (back in the day LOL!) would be helpful.

  26. Surely an investigation and published results are necessary, but when it first came up, some statements by the production company and the animal rights organisation that overlooked filming (but not the farm) were released, and none of them said that no animals died. If it had been an outright lie that horses died it would have been very easy to say so. They always tiptoed around that, not admitting it and not denying it either.

  27. […] neglect in the stabling for the animals used in The Hobbit: (R)Ailment, who is bothered by it and RAFrenzy, who is bothered by it in a different […]


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