All the Lies That Fit. Scheming New York Times Hires a Bird Lover to Render His Unbiased Support for James M. Stevenson
" You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavor of mortality in lies -- which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world -- what I would like to forget. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do."
-- Joe Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Long regarded as arguably the world's sleaziest and least reliable newspaper, The New York Times sank to an all-time low on December 2nd when it published in its Sunday magazine Bruce Barcott's one-sided, anti-cat screed entitled "Kill the Cat That Kills the Bird?" (See photo above.) In addition to demonizing cats, Barcott's other motive was to glorify his hero, serial cat killer James M. Stevenson, and thus to pave the way for the cold-blooded murders of additional cats.
If The Times and Barcott want to hate cats and to champion the cause of vigilante bird lovers that is certainly within their prerogatives, but to pass off Barcott's outrageous lies and drivel as unbiased journalism is a farce!
Most glaringly, Barcott is a bird lover! He is not only a contributing editor to Outside Magazine, but also has authored at least one book on birds. He furthermore makes mention of Stevenson's offering to assist him in expanding his "life list" of birds that he has sighted.
More astonishingly, the normally tightfisted Times allotted him twelve pages (when printed out) in order to libel cats. By contrast, Kate Murphy's two-page article on November 14th appears to have been the only space that The Times devoted to Stevenson's recent trial in Galveston. (See "Birder Admits Killing Cat, But Was It Animal Cruelty?")
Despite his credentials as a serious birder, Barcott had the chutzpah to make the following declaration: "As a person fond of cats and fascinated by birds, I tracked the issue for years without joining either camp." Unless he is being ironical, that sottise tells one all one ever needs to know not only about his total lack of integrity but also the absence of sound editorial standards at what former Timesman Gay Talese once labeled as the Kingdom and the Power.
After ludicrously passing off himself as an unbiased observer, he then proceeds to round up no fewer than fourteen individuals, organizations, and periodicals to trash cats. His list of sources comprises a rogues' gallery of inveterate cat haters: the National Audubon Society, World Conservation Union, American Bird Conservancy, J. Baird Callicot of the University of North Texas, Holmes Rolston III of Colorado State University, Swiss ecologist Vinzenz Ziswiler, John Coleman of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Stanley Temple of the University of Wisconsin, Fern Duvall of the Hawaii Department of of Land Resources, Jim Cramer of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's New Jersey office, Bob Sallinger of the Portland Audubon Society, Biological Conservation, Journal of Zoology, and Mammal Review.
There is not any point in rehashing the libels of these inveterate cat haters. Suffice it to say that all of these individuals and groups do not believe that cats have any right to live and should accordingly be rounded up and killed. Actually, Barcott and his fellow ailurophobes are more than willing to kill any animal that either gets in their way or that they dislike for whatever reason. (See Cat Defender post of March 15, 2007 entitled "Connecticut Audubon Society Shows Its True Colors by Calling for the Slaughter of Feral Cats, Mute Swans, Mallards, Canada Geese, and Deer.")
In order to keep up the pretense of being a halfway honest journalist, Barcott interviewed English biologist Roger Tabor, Portland, Oregon feral cat caretaker Carma Crimins, and John Newland, the San Luis Pass Bridge toll-collector who bravely chased down and apprehended Stevenson. He was, however, far too dishonest and cowardly to interview Becky Robinson of Alley Cat Allies, Nathan Winograd of No-Kill Solutions, or anyone else in a position to refute the blatant lies of his fellow bird advocates.
During his interview with Newland, Barcott pleads ignorance to the fact that Stevenson has gunned down hundreds of cats over the past decade. "This was the first time I'd heard of Stevenson shooting more than one cat," he declares. (See police mug shot of Stevenson above.)
This inveterate liar and buffoon makes that statement in spite of earlier admitting to having read Cat Defender's post of November 22, 2006 entitled "Evil Galveston Bird Lover Is Finally Arrested After Having Gunned Down Hundreds of Cats." Clearly, honesty and anything remotely resembling sound journalistic practice are nonexistent when The Times is hard pressed to string together consecutive thoughts without contradicting itself.
Newland offered Barcott photographs of some of the cats that Stevenson murdered and even pointed out to him some lingering bloodstains, but the writer was not about to allow the world to view that damning evidence. Instead the fabulists at The Times turned to mercenary Brooklyn artist Jillian Tamaki to illustrate Barcott's anti-cat screed with two drawings of cats stalking birds. (See photo below of Tamaki.)
The hiring of these two reprobates proves conclusively that The Times' defamation campaign against cats had been in the works for a long time. Stevenson's victory in court merely provided the scheming Sulzberger Gang with a propitious moment in order to launch its underhanded smear campaign.
The capitalist media are not merely corrupt but once any of them gets their claws into someone or some animal the remainder blindly move in for their share of the spoils like ravenous vultures ripping apart an injured cow. For example, two days before his piece appeared in The Times Barcott was interviewed by Alex Chadwick on National Public Radio (NPR) where he once again repeated the same old lies and defended his buddy Stevenson. (See "Bird-Watcher's Life Threatened Over Dead Cat.")
Tant pis, NPR did not cover Stevenson's trial and Chadwick even admitted to being totally ignorant about the ongoing conflict between cat lovers and birders. Nonetheless, this did not deter NPR from swallowing Barcott's lies hook, line, and sinker. In spite of the billions of dollars, both corporate and welfare, available to it, it is a sad commentary upon NPR that the best it is capable of doing is parroting the lies of the thoroughly discredited Times.
Barcott's disdain for cats is also evident in his gross ignorance of them. Most notably, he incorrectly asserts that domestic cats are descended from African wildcats (Felis silvestris cafra) and that they were first domesticated in Egypt several thousand years ago.
As it is now known, all domestic cats came from the Near East and are descended from Felis silvestris lybica. More importantly, their domestication dates back at least ninety-five-hundred-years ago to Cyprus. (See Cat Defender post of December 5, 2007 entitled "Decoding the Feline Genome Provides Vivisectors with Thousands of New Excuses to Continue Torturing Cats in the Course of Their Bogus Research.")
These are, admittedly, minor points but they do highlight a disturbing tendency on the part of reporters and editors at The Times to run roughshod over the facts and, at times, to even incorrectly misspell the names of the protagonists in their news stories.
This sort of persistently slipshod work certainly does not inspire confidence and is one indication of far more serious credibility issues. Apparently with The Times a rough approximation of the truth is sufficient. Besides, the reporters and editors are most likely too busy counting their shekels and stroking their egos to ever engage in any serious toil.
Nonetheless, since his arrest in November of 2006 Stevenson has not only become a hero to cat haters all over the world but a darling of the thoroughly reprehensible capitalist media. (See Cat Defender posts of November 20, 2007 and May 1, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Bird Lovers All Over the World Rejoice as Serial Killer James M. Stevenson Is Rewarded by Galveston Court for Gunning Down Hundreds of Cats" and "Houston Chronicle Launches a Propaganda Offensive on Behalf of Serial Cat Killer Jim Stevenson.")
This unrepentant monster has murdered hundreds of cats and will surely kill again. The authorities in Texas may look the other way or he may be too slick to get caught for a second time, but killing cats is still at the top of his agenda. In fact, The New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, The Galveston County Daily News, NPR, and his many supporters within the moneybags media are only encouraging him to do so by portraying him as a hero.
In addition to being a cat hater, Stevenson also is a shekel chaser. Although Barcott informs his readers that Stevenson makes money off of conducting bird-watching tours, he neglects to mention that he also operates a profitable bed and breakfast. Stevenson may very well, as Barcott insists, possess a certain affinity for birds but they are also his gravy train.
The phony-baloney National Audubon Society also professes to having an abiding love for birds and yet for more than fifty years it drilled for natural gas and oil in the Paul J. Rainey Sanctuary. It reaped $25 million in the process and was only forced to cease drilling in this avian habitat after it was accused of hypocrisy for opposing oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
Despite what birders and wildlife proponents claim, ecotourism, including bird-watching tours, is largely a fraud. It leads to the destruction of habitats, the introduction of germs and new species into environmentally sensitive ecological niches, and irretrievably alters the dynamic that exists between wild animals and humans. (See Cat Defender post of March 20, 2006 entitled "Luna, the Killer Whale Who Loved People, Is Killed by Tugboat Off of Vancouver Island.")
By invading their habitats en masse and spewing pollution, birders could very well be responsible for killing far more birds than cats. More to the point, birds should be allowed to exist for themselves as opposed to being used in order to put shekels in Stevenson's and Barcott's pockets.
Valmik Thapar's assessment of what is needed in order to save India's Bengal Tigers applies also to bird conservation. "If you are not going to set aside habitats where there are no humans you cannot have tigers," he told The Independent on November 2nd. (See "The Face of a Doomed Species.")
Nevertheless, no one should hold his or her breath waiting for either birders or wildlife proponents to fund a study on this matter. Their only raisons d'etre are to defame and kill cats.
As for The New York Times, it always has been sorely lacking in both integrity and fairness. It was after all the blatant lies of Judith Miller and Michael Gordon that helped to grease the skids for America's disastrous misadventures in Iraq. Miller got canned but Gordon is still gainfully employed at The Times and pimping for the United States to invade Iran.
In addition to the celebrated Jayson Blair and Rick Bragg scandals, The Times also has been guilty of the propagation of blatant racism. For example, during the 1980s it attacked the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in language that was unmistakably racist. On July 21, 2002, it labeled Chinese casino bus riders as bums while simultaneously completely ignoring the petit fait that Russian immigrants are guilty of doing the same thing. (See "Atlantic City's Lowest Rollers: Thrifty Older Immigrants.")
If The Times is going to make a habit of labeling the poor as bums, it should be equally willing to apply the same appellation to big business, the defense establishment, Israel, millionaire farmers, and other wealthy groups that regularly rack up down at the welfare office.
In recent years, The Times has employed an ombudsman in an effort allegedly designed to improve the fairness of its reporting but this initiative has devolved into a cheap public relations stunt that has done little to enhance the paper's credibility. For example, when representatives of If Americans Knew asked former ombudsman Daniel Okrent to assign a reporter to cover the Palestinians' side of the ongoing Middle East conflict they were rebuffed.
"You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me," Joe Conrad wrote in Heart of Darkness. "There is a taint of death, a flavor of mortality in lies -- which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world -- what I want to forget. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do." Quite obviously, The Times does not share Conrad's disdain for the dissemination of lies.
In his 2002 work entitled Scotty: James B. Reston and the Rise and Fall of American Journalism, author John F. Stacks wrote that Reston was everything that a good journalist should not have been. (See photo above.) As Barcott's scurrilous piece of writing and Tamaki's defamatory drawings conclusively demonstrate, that assessment now more than ever applies in spades to The New York Times.
Photos: Outside Magazine (Barcott), Galveston Police Department (Stevenson), Publishers Weekly (Tamaki), and Slate (Reston).