Wild Horse Education

Post-truth; Advocacy and the Media (did we get what we asked for?)

Earlier articles in the post-truth series:

Advocacy in a Post-Truth World https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/01/07/advocacy-in-a-post-truth-world/

The Big Picture, Rearranging The Chairs on the Deck of the Titanic https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/01/16/post-truth-blm-rearranging-the-chairs-on-the-titanic/

Our American press is offended by the apparent threats to it’s liberty. Our American press should be offended and our public outraged. But to what extent is the press responsible for the climate that makes such threats actually move from the realm of absurd into the realm of possible?


Did we get exactly what we asked for?

From where WHE sits, yes. “We” got what we asked for as an advocacy movement. We got soundbites for clicks. We did not get what WHE begged for.In this article we are doing our very best to present this piece in brevity to suit the current need of the public for “less is enough.”

As a “movement” we fed the lazy media what they wanted. We engaged like a public relations firm ala Kim Kardashian. As a movement did we see much depth in discussion, even publicly among ourselves, or did we see organizations send out fundraisers and click and sends? Did we see advocacy send people to gather REAL data and reports and engage policy making or did we see “OMG!” and then an outright lie to get attention? If an organization was not on the ground, or did not win a particular court case, did they refer media to the person that was or did they actively send press releases out that created attention to them, but not the appropriate source? (for WHE supporters the word “we” means advocacy in general.This article uses “we” to represent “advocacy,” and “WHE” to represent us. Before that distinction becomes lost we added this in the first edit ).

Early last year WHE published an article about the media. Did you happen to catch it? Remember this was written last year. You should R-E-A-D it. https://wildhorseeducation.org/2016/03/14/todays-media-and-wild-horses-entertainment-or-information/

Everywhere you look today we see multiple media outlets and organizations upset by the current political climate that has made rather apparent threats against the media and the environment.These threats have us disturbed as well, by why is it happening at all? How did we get to such a place where our freedoms to speak, our environment and sacred things, such as the arts, are in such grave danger?

As a movement we nurtured what we fed and it grew. The first step is admitting we have a problem. The first step is fixing us internally so we can then deal with the external threats. Is it too late? It may just be.

Media went from investigative journalists into an era of the “click” for a paycheck. In the last 4 years multiple “journalists” would arrive at a roundup and not even have “googled” the record of decision to understand the governments process and justification of the operation they got an airline ticket and expense account to cover. They simply accepted the assignment and drove out to do a fast “emotional advocate, poor misunderstood cowboy and the government caught in the middle” story. Often they would place quotes from people not involved in that operation in their articles. Often they would even play footage obtained by an advocate onsite behind the talking head of someone not even at the operation, to get those clicks.

Over the last 4 years (while removals were at the lowest rates since the 70’s and many organizations kept you hitting the panic button by telling you that removals were “accelerated under Obama!”) the stage was being set to not only remove wild horses in a large scale, but a political machine was being built to take over public land and resources. Removals had not accelerated, it was a lie for clicks.

People seem shocked that the new Congress streamlined the transfer of public land into private hands as a first line item. Why are you shocked? Because the greatest asset to that machine was a lazy media and the competitive, not united, advocacy.

At WHE our First Amendment and the environment are core to everything we do. We won a ruling in the Ninth Circuit on First Amendment Rights (that went on for 2.5 additional years after the first win that took two years, back down and up the court system). That ruling was centered around the right to know and report on the issues  of handling wild horses by our federal government. The case is often overlooked by the wild horse advocacy community, but it is cited in media law volumes and used to defend civil rights, nationwide.This is an issue those of us at WHE know very well and devoted years and (epic) hardship to defend.

At WHE we are currently under legal threat to our First Amendment rights. Our attorney is engaged in discussions this week and we will have more for you soon. WHE does need support to continue to document, report, engage and defend our right to do it. We need support just like every other organization does. But you need to understand what every organization actually does, did and will do… or you may be supporting an organization that actually impedes the work you think you are supporting.

Our American press is offended by the apparent threats to it’s liberty. Our American press should be offended and our public outraged. But to what extent is the press responsible for the climate that makes such threats actually move from the realm of absurd into the realm of possible?

Our wild horses face the real threat of slaughter and losing the very land they rely on to survive. We should be outraged. But to what extent are we (as an advocacy) responsible?

If we want to exist in a responsible environment we must do our very best to create that environment. It wont create itself with the wave of a magic wand.

The first step is admitting we (advocacy) have a problem.

Maybe this crisis is enough to change how advocacy engages the media? Maybe this crisis is finally enough to get media to change how it reports it to the public? Maybe we will see reporters more interested in digging deep, learning and exposing the things the First Amendment was created to expose?

Ninth Circuit court Judge Milan Smith wrote the following in Leigh V Salazar (published opinion Feb 14, 2012):

“Open government has been a hallmark of our democracy since our nation’s founding. As James Madison wrote in 1822, “a popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.” 9 WRITINGS OF JAMES MADISON 103 (G. Hunt ed. 1910). Indeed, this transparency has made possible the vital work of Ida Tarbell, Rachel Carson, I.F. Stone, and the countless other investigative journalists who have strengthened our government by exposing its flaws.”

WHE will NOT go backwards.

Categories: Wild Horse Education