(This opinion piece has been corrected from its original version to remove several unsubstantiated claims about PETA. The Daily Caller apologizes for the error.)
Reporters need to be extra careful when covering protests — at least, that’s what my college newspaper mentor taught me. He told us we couldn’t display the protesters’ signs in headlines or photos; a reporter’s job is to report, not join the protest.
If only that the modern media complex had that kind of ethical bearing. They have joined the mob and thrown ethics in the trash — or just dumped it on the ground, like protesters usually do. Ethics get in the way of clickbait headlines, and clickbait means money, both for unethical news outlets and organizations that protest as a marketing strategy.
The motives behind most nonprofits are probably sincere — which my generous nature compels me to believe — but even my generosity ends where the reality of modern protesting sets in.
The key to opening donors’ wallets is outrage. And when there isn’t sufficient real injustice to keep money rolling in, unethical organizations manufacture it and lie to the media, which is all too happy to go along with this stagecraft (or outrage craft).
There are a lot of offenders these days, but if there were an “FBI’s most wanted” for outrage craft, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) would be in the top 10. PETA was started with great intentions, but to keep the donations rolling in, has become masters of misinformation, deceit and, yes, fake news.
In 2008, PETA was caught for lying that drinking cow’s milk causes autism. More recently, it has tried stunt lawsuits against SeaWorld that the theme parh had “enslaved” orcas in violation of the Constitution.
Of late, PETA has started a war with PetSmart, claiming its grooming services are cruel and harmful. PetSmart makes a good target for PETA’s donation-hungry outrage craft, since corporations are evil, right?
Now in New Jersey, PETA is trying to deliver another round of news hits on this bogus issue. Chasing a clickbait headline about an evil corporation, one NJ.com reporter is so convinced what happened she crafted her narrative before the interview, as this Facebook post shows.
Corporations are not, by their nature, evil. Rather, they provide goods and services to customers thereby creating value for their shareholders. Indeed, PetSmart’s business model creates value for pets and probably does a lot more than PETA ever will to make animals’ lives more pleasant. All PETA does is manufacture outrage, manipulate the legal system for profit, and cash the checks from gullible donors.
Jared Whitley is political veteran with 15 years of experience in media and Washington politics. He has served as press liaison for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and associate director in the White House under George W. Bush. He is also an award-winning writer.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.