While scanning Facebook updates this morning, I came across this post from a friend who owns and shows horses:
Wow – that sounds awful, right? Look at that headline! What are the odds that the people who commented clicked into the link and read the whole article? Lord knows if I did not and just took that headline as 100% true I would be so mad! After all, it makes it sound like there was a single, standalone bill making it patently obvious to the President that he was legalizing horse slaughter for human consumption! That’s appalling! (Let’s just ignore the fact that ANY legislation has to be passed by both the House and Senate before it reaches the President’s desk, right?) This is ALL on OBAMA!
So that is Level 1, let’s say, of presenting getting attention. Grab people with a headline presented as a factual statement about a bill, sensationalizing it, and then laying blame at one person’s feet.
Now, let’s click into the article and see if it, in any way, gets into the details of this horrible piece of legislation.
OK, good, the author at least clarifies that this was part of a much larger bill authorizing funding for the Dept of Agriculture. My finely tuned budget battle radar thinks “Hmmm…more than just the DoA, wasn’t this really the basic Appropriations Bill for funding of the ENTIRE Govt for the next fiscal year?” Of course, I understand that readers or voters who are not as tuned in to the machinations of Govt won’t know that. But, I think they SHOULD, right? If I am writing a post about this topic, it’s a pretty Big Thing to know EXACTLY what this bill encompassed, right? And really, other than stating that the bill was indeed passed by both houses, the author continues to tug at the emotional heart strings of her audience, again laying blame straight at Obama for allowing Americans to kill and eat horses.
To her credit, she does go on to state the horse slaughter was basically outlawed not as a matter of course, but as a side effect of funding being cut for mandatory FDA inspections of any facility that processes meat for consumption. Those inspections (which had existed 5 years previous), had been eliminated from the last few year’s appropriations’ bills. So it was never that any politician or group of politicians was taking a stance FOR or AGAINST processing horse meat for consumption. It was purely about money.
Does she go on to explain how/why the funding was re-instated? Sort of:
Again, if you have some knowledge about how DC works, you know that it is usually a lobbying effort of some kind that either gets politicians to put in money, or take it out of these bills. The author does refer to a Wyoming State representative and her “Pro Slaughter Group” in the article which leads me to put 2 +2 together and realize that there was obviously a coordinated effort to re-instate funding for the FDA inspections of these facilities. If so, where was the opposing effort? There is no mention of ANY group that organized to stop the funding.
There is also another glaring omission from the entire post – not one statement of the actual vote counts on the bill. I was curious since, notwithstanding that this was obviously something much larger than just a “Horse Slaughter” bill, I wondered IF Obama (who did promise NOT to reinstate this funding) had even been made aware it was in there, then why didn’t he veto it? I mean, if a Veto would have been reasonable given even the larger implications of what else may have been in the bill?
Before I started my own research, I broke one of my cardinal rules and I read the comment section of this online article. In addition to the usual bottom feeders from the internet (lordy, someone was posting horse meat recipes!) there were also quite a few intelligent responses, including from a rancher who does slaughter and process all her livestock. But then I struck gold – someone else had already researched the ENTIRE bill as the AUTHOR should have done!
AHH – the REAL STORY!
A VETO PROOF, full scale bill funding all segments of the Government over the next year. In other words, the FDA inspections that were re-instated were but 1 small line item amongst 1000s including funding for multiple departments within the government that impact thousands of jobs every day. Realistically, no one was going to hold this up for the horses. It sucks, but that’s the reality of how Congress works. Again, where were the anti-slaughter groups? Why weren’t they making sure the measure that was adopted was the one without this provision?
You know what would have been a much more accurate headline to discuss this?
HORSE SUPPORTERS SLEEPY FROM TOO MUCH TURKEY – LET CONGRESS FUND HORSE SLAUGHTER AGAIN!
OK, that’s in bad taste – but you get the drift, right?
It’s a much more complete statement of truth than “Obama legalized Horse Slaughter!”
But the impact here is real. This heavily slanted post that omitted all of those critical facts has been shared on Facebook 206,000 times. It’s been tweeted out 4,154 times. It has 69 Google +1’s (which my recent studies in SEO marketing have taught me are each worth at least 100 Facebook shares thanks to the power of The Google).
This is why I lay so much blame at the feet of the media. This may be a bit of a niche topic but look how it is skewering the opinion of people who read it. It’s a small scale example of what frequently happens even at the more “credible” media outlets. If they don’t like a politician or a political party, they spin spin spin, omit details and context and tug at your emotions and fear to sway YOUR opinion of the issues. Meanwhile, YOU are busy. Your life is spinning off in dozens of directions and you don’t have TIME to do what I just did and click through multiple sources to get the whole story. And you shouldn’t have to. That headline and that simplified 4 paragraph article should BE 100% true – you TRUST it to be that way.
Well voters – stop trusting. Start questioning and clicking – otherwise – stop sharing posts like these. Because then you unwittingly become a pawn in the of the web of misconceptions and lies weaving through the internet.
UPDATE – Apparently some animal rights groups have put together something in response (while still foisting the blame unfairly at Obama) – there is reference in this article on the Barbi Twins & their tweets about all this to an H.R. 2966 – a House Resolution that is apparently out there that specifically addresses this funding issue. Good – they need to get the word out in a coordinated manner to get that passed.