Thursday, March 01, 2012
MAINSTREAM MEDIA COMPLICIT IN RICHARDS ATTACK
|This week's cover story in Western Outdoors does something you won't find in virtually any of the news stories or video newscasts reporting on the Richards mountain lion controversy. It looks beyond a photo of a mountain lion and hunter rather than delving into shallow sensationalism in the service of a witch hunt.
You can read the story online here at http://www.wonews.com/t-HuntingReport_DanRichards_030112.aspx.
(Update: When KFI 640's John and Ken radio show caught on to the controversy on Wednesday, the hosts sensed there was more to the story. They invited Richards to tell his side, then put the Humane Society's Wayne Pacelle on the air. John and Ken deserve a prize for their use of critical thinking. Find the show at http://www.kfiam640.com/pages/jk2010.html?article=9839787. Now back to the rant).
I find the situation remarkable - and disgustingly disappointing. The picture that started the fuss originated in a WON story reporting on a failed political hit on Richards, one launched by fellow California Fish and Game commissioners Mike Sutton and Dan Baylis, darlings of the environmental community.
If there's one "environmental" reporter or mainstream beat writer who looked into why Sutton and Baylis brandished rhetorical knives at the last commission hearing, and then critically considered the hysterics of the Humane Society of the United States and grandstanding politicos such as Jared Huffman and Ben Hueso, I haven't seen it. Only those few of us on the outdoor side are telling the whole story. We're used to chronicling the Byzantine drama that washes over the commission.
It would be generous to blame lazy reporting. Why have none of the mainstream stories reported that the Commission derives its authority from the state constitution? And that the Commission's own regulations recognize the need for independent judgment free of undue outside influence, the kind of pressure HSUS, the Sierra Club and other preservationist organizations are exerting in their angry campaign against Richards?
Why haven't they explicitly mentioned that the commission's most commonly understood responsibility is to set hunting and fishing seasons and limits, in short, to manage natural resources, not strictly preserve them? As a commissioner, Dan Richards' job is to carefully exercise judgment for the benefit of conservation - not merely of sacred cats, but also the deer they prey upon. It would be odd if he didn't value his out of state counterparts' game management strategies.
And how could the mainstream media have missed the significance of a first-ever legislative recall of a sitting commissioner who is accused of no crime, but for living legally in a way the arrogant Huffman, Hueso, 38 other Democratic assemblymen and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom find personally not to their taste?
The mainstream media should do some homework and ask a few tough questions. Maybe start with the Huffman-sponsored Fish and Wildlife Strategic Vision Project, an effort some would like to parlay into a new, preservationist-oriented Department of Wildlife and Conservation Management, and end the DFG as we know it.
These aren't the only troubling aspects surrounding the Richards witch hunt. Huffman has claimed repeatedly that Richards deliberately provoked the fight. Richards denies it, and I agree. Until Huffman's histrionics in the San Jose Mercury News at the behest of HSUS representative Jennifer Fearing fanned the flames, this was nothing more than aggrieved wailing from the animal rights and anti-hunting fringe. Remember it when you go to the voting booth.
Another thing. Hunters and anglers routinely travel long distances to partake in their legal and carefully managed sporting activities. I've harvested abalone in Sonoma County, and caught and savored delicious silver salmon in Alaska, both at times such hunts are illegal in Southern California. And I did it deliberately, as you probably have. There's nothing wrong with observing local customs and laws. It's repugnant California kookiness to do otherwise.
The ugliness lies elsewhere, with grandstanding politicos who should be working hard to clean up the mess they've created for the tarnished economy of the Golden State, rather than shoving their values down our throats.