Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

New York Times Blunder Puts Sportsmen and Habitat at Risk

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

The Conservationist
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

November 27, 2012

New York Times Blunder Puts Sportsmen and Habitat at Risk

By Bob Marshall

There are many reasons why The New York Times is arguably considered the finest news organization in the nation, but few of those were on display last week when the paper’s editorial board decided to weigh in on The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, an important conservation initiative that would help fish, wildlife, and all Americans.

First the board opposed the bill for a list of erroneous reasons--then, when informed of the mistakes, it botched the corrections, leaving serious misconceptions floating about the bill as well as the sportsmen’s conservation movement.

I realize that surveys show most sportsmen say they’re politically conservative, and that they believe most liberals don’t understand them. I also know most conservatives love to hate the NYT the way most progressives and liberals love to despise The Wall Street Journal. But the story that unfolds here should be seen not just as an opportunity to confirm your worst suspicions, but also as a lesson on why sportsmen who care about the future of fish and wildlife habitat--and human health--should broaden their reading (and writing) horizons.

The NYT kicked things off Thursday morning with an editorial titled “Dangerous Sport in Lawmaking” that included these statements:

When it comes to Congress, the term “sportsmen” can mask a multitude of sins. Witness the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, a bipartisan collection of proposals to increase access to public lands for hunting, fishing and the nation’s “shooting heritage,” as the Obama administration put it in endorsing the measure despite several faulty provisions.

The bill, now poised for Senate passage…would end the ban against using lead ammunition to hunt waterfowl. Nontoxic alternatives are available, but sponsors caved to the gun lobby and the hunting and fishing industry in exempting lead shot and fishing tackle from current laws.

The measure also included a House provision that will allow hunters to once again import polar bear trophies from Canada. This invites a big-game hunting spree for a threatened species off limits to hunting in the United States.

The main point of contention, ludicrously, is an increase in the $15 duck stamp that hunters must buy to shoot waterfowl.

Sportsmen’s conservation groups were not just stunned by the errors, they were terrified the mistakes could kill one of the few good environmental bills to survive this congress, and that was scheduled for a final Senate vote this week.

A Letter to the Editor from these groups list the NYT’s damaging mistakes:

The New York Times ran an editorial in the Nov. 21 issue (“Dangerous Sport in Lawmaking”) that is misinformed and spreads false information about the Sportsmen’s Act, which is currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate. It would be most unfortunate if this misinformation affected the vote in Congress because this bill delivers multiple benefits for fish, wildlife, their habitats, and our citizens.

In the article, the author succinctly made three incorrect claims about bills included in the Sportsmen’s Act (S.3525). On behalf of the bill’s numerous supporters, we would like to take this opportunity to correct these errors.

1. The Sportsmen’s Act would not end the ban against using lead ammunition in waterfowl hunting. This important ban will remain in effect under regulations implementing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Rather, the bill would clarify existing language in the Toxic Substances Control Act, which already states that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the authority to regulate ammunition, by simply including component parts.

2. The Sportsmen’s Act would not open a hunting season on polar bears. A provision in the act would allow 41 polar bear parts that were legally hunted in Canada to be imported into the United States. These bears were legally harvested before they were listed under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species. The Sportsmen’s Act simply legitimizes the importation of these 41 bear parts.

3. The editorial closes with statements about the federal duck stamp that are at best confusing and at worst downright misleading. A provision in the Sportsmen’s Act would raise the cost of a federal duck stamp, which generates funds to conserve and improve wetland habitats, and is a self-imposed user fee willingly shouldered by hunters. The price of the stamp hasn’t increased since 1991, when a gallon of gas cost about $1. The duck stamp program was requested of Congress by sportsmen and women during the Depression and Dust Bowl eras. Sportsmen once again are demonstrating a commitment to waterfowl and habitat conservation by supporting this increase.

The Sportsmen’s Act is a collection of bipartisan bills and it deserves the support not only of sportsmen but a wide range of Americans because it also includes many provisions to improve fish and wildlife habitat for multiple benefits. Congress should swiftly pass the Sportsmen’s Act into law.

H. Dale Hall             Whit Fosburgh
CEO                        President and CEO
Ducks Unlimited       Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

After receiving that information, the NYT said it would make corrections, which it did over the course of the next few days. The latest version, still titled “Dangerous Sport in Lawmaking,” states this at the end:

Correction: November 27, 2012

An editorial on Wednesday about the Senate version of the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 incorrectly stated that it would end the ban on using lead ammunition in hunting waterfowl. It would not. The editorial also misstated a provision on imports of polar bear trophies. They would be allowed if the animals were killed before the species was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but not after.

Case closed? No harm, no foul?

Hardly.

Let’s start with the headline: "Dangerous Sport in Lawmaking."

Why keep that headline if all those "dangerous" parts were found to be in error, and removed?

Or, how about that first line: When it comes to Congress, the term “sportsmen” can mask a multitude of sins.

So where are those sins now that corrections were made? The editorial doesn’t note any specifics of the bill that should be changed. Yet it leaves this line in the editorial, telling readers the term "sportsman" can mask a multitude of sins when used by Congress--heaping suspicion on any person who cares to embrace that appellation.

Well, one could also argue terms like "businessmen," "patriots," "women"--and countless others--are used by Congress to get some onerous bills passed. Why damn all bills aimed at helping sportsmen as somehow potentially damaging to the common good?

That brings me to important lessons for sportsmen in this whole episode.

Most people working in newsrooms don’t know sportsmen very well because--like the vast majority of Americans--they don’t hunt and fish. My guess is if the editorial writers at the NYT were involved in these traditions, they would understand that sportsmen were not only the nation’s first environmentalists, but they remain the most dedicated and effective force in preserving these vital protections. And if that were the case, they would have carefully read The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, and instead of criticizing it, would have urged its passage. Read an exclusive interview of U.S. Senator John Tester (D-MT), the co-author of the Sportsmen's Act, here.

Well, it’s our job to let them know who we are, what we do, and why we’re good for the nation’s environmental health. And it’s also our job to join the discussions the majority of the nation is having about these issues--and us--at places like The New York Times.

We’re right to expect better from the nation’s finest news organization. But we can also help them get it accurate next time.

Read an exclusive interview of U.S. Senator John Tester (D-MT), the co-author of the Sportsmen's Act, here.

Comments (11)

Top Rated
All Comments
from jay wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Good article however to state that the NY times is arguably the best news organization in the nation is crap.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

NY Times should hire Bob Marshall as a fact-checker.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim Dellinger wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Good article, agree with all points except 'the best news organization in the nation', what in the world are you thinking? To go looking for bipartisan and unbiased from the height of both is somewhat foolish.

This is part of the problem with our divided nation, both sides blindly walk a party line including our 'news' sources to the point that no traction can be made. At the same time we the John Q. Public are not calling a spade a spade, the NYT's editorial wasn't an oversight. It was straight up written to mislead.

Accountability in journalism is dead. Too many people are scared of openly telling the truth and calling it what it is, instead we hide behind politically correct curtains and couch our issues is niceties.

Wonder what Teddy Roosevelt would have said of that tripe?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

The NY Times is not competent to discuss issues that pertain to "flyover country". One of the problems with Mr Marshall's work is that he doesn't understand the relationship between the Environmental Elitists and what he calls Sportsmans Groups. He believes that Environmenal Elitists are willing to join with the sweatstained individuals that consume big game in a meaningfull way. Nothing can be further from the truth. The NY Times writes for its bi-coastal readership, accuracy about guns, the environment,the non-native American fish and game consuming public and anyone who lives in flyover country is not going to happen. As far as the NY Times is concerned we "sportsmen" are one of the definitions of evil in the modern world.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

@Jim Dellinger - Your post nailed it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from blevenson wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

This NY Times article reminded me of a an argument I was having with an environmentalist not to long ago. She said she was against the wolf hunts in Minnesota and I told her the hunts were for conservation and she told me hunters like to tell themselves lies that they are conservationists. Needless to say I reamed her out with words for that one. I told her that our licensing fees and organizations have paid for more land that she has set foot on than any organization she belonged too. The people that call themselves environmentalists and don't know what they are talking about really need to watch what they say. Kudos to Marshall for setting the record straight here.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from wesley2012 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

I understand that the House version of the Sportsmen Bill will have amendments which will prevent any further establishment of National Monuments in the US. I'd like this to be clarified by Bob Marshall. thank you.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Nice article Bob. But since everyone else is correcting you I figure I'll jump on the pig-pile as well.

Everyone knows, EVERYONE knows, that The Onion is America's Finest News Source.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Hi Bob,

At the end of your piece you suggest we as sportsmen join the discussion the rest of the nation is having “about these issues--and us--at places like The New York Times.”

Actually I do and I did. My news filter via the NYT culls all articles related to hunting in that paper, and I got an email linking that editorial in my inbox early Wendsday the 21st, (not Thursday) and I sent a comment to the place I thought it would get noticed quickest. The blog maintained by the editorial page editor. put an http before the following and past to browser.

://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/21/opinion-report-the-sportsmens-act/

username somsai in comments.

Two hours later while digging postholes at work I got a call on my cell from the editor of the editorial page. Like any good journo he was concerned that they’d printed something inaccurate. He didn’t understand about the polar bear hides but once it was explained to him he got it. Similarly with the lead shot and waterfowl. When he asked for a good source for more info on the issue, because obviously they’d have to print a retraction, I suggested Senator Testor’s office or the EPA, both of them should know plenty about the lead bullets and the Sportsmen’s act. I didn’t consider but probably most people don’t work during the holidays.

I’d think part of the reason for the partial retraction and rewrite might have been the paper was being printed in the dead tree world right then. Also someone else might write headlines. Finally if they got it mostly correct by Thursday, there were many other stories, some very important, scrolling on by, and an already published and corrected editorial about long dead polar bears might seem important to us but maybe not compared to the many other issues of the day.

I also engaged in a short conversation with the editor, don’t remember his name, and he said he’d been working only 3 days a week and that like all print media they’d been having difficult times, I’m sure F+S is too. I don’t think the NYT has the legions of fact checkers they used to.

If I had to make assumptions from the conversation I’d say the editor was a nice fellow with an open mind that has had very limited experience to guns and hunting. One thing he wasn’t was close minded.

Rather than seeing the NYT as the enemy of hunting I see them as a potential ally. Most people of goodwill want to see the conservation of our public lands and all the animals that live in them. They also wish animals to be treated humanely and wildlife managed using scientific sustainable methods. Those sentiments seem neither liberal nor conservative Democrat nor Republican. I don’t espect urban elites to understand the hunters on shootingsquirrels.com but if they could come to understand why predator management is a legitamate conservation tool it might make life easier.

So far these very influential if uninformed editors with a big megaphone have been hearing from a very few hunters. A quick glance through their past articles on hunting related subjects shows not as much an anti hunting attitude but a very limited source of material and a tendency to go with people they are most familiar with, former vegetarians, stories from those new to hunting, etc. I’d love to see one of Herring’s famous long pieces in the magazine, a David Allen op ed on wolves, or a Steve Rinnella down homey wilderness hunting/camping/cooking thing in food or travel.

At the end of the day none of the issues in the editorial affected the vote to kill the Sportsmen’s Act. There was a party line vote and lead by Senator Sessions of Alabama (who twice voted for hundreds in billions in tax cuts) the act was defeated by a veto by republicans upset over the relatively small amount of revenue needed.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Jay says it all in the first sentence posted. The NY Times is a leftist publication that would take away Sportsman's guns and rights from the getgo.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Jay says it all in the first sentence posted. The NY Times is a leftist publication that would take away Sportsman's guns and rights from the getgo.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from blevenson wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

This NY Times article reminded me of a an argument I was having with an environmentalist not to long ago. She said she was against the wolf hunts in Minnesota and I told her the hunts were for conservation and she told me hunters like to tell themselves lies that they are conservationists. Needless to say I reamed her out with words for that one. I told her that our licensing fees and organizations have paid for more land that she has set foot on than any organization she belonged too. The people that call themselves environmentalists and don't know what they are talking about really need to watch what they say. Kudos to Marshall for setting the record straight here.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

NY Times should hire Bob Marshall as a fact-checker.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Good article however to state that the NY times is arguably the best news organization in the nation is crap.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim Dellinger wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Good article, agree with all points except 'the best news organization in the nation', what in the world are you thinking? To go looking for bipartisan and unbiased from the height of both is somewhat foolish.

This is part of the problem with our divided nation, both sides blindly walk a party line including our 'news' sources to the point that no traction can be made. At the same time we the John Q. Public are not calling a spade a spade, the NYT's editorial wasn't an oversight. It was straight up written to mislead.

Accountability in journalism is dead. Too many people are scared of openly telling the truth and calling it what it is, instead we hide behind politically correct curtains and couch our issues is niceties.

Wonder what Teddy Roosevelt would have said of that tripe?

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Nice article Bob. But since everyone else is correcting you I figure I'll jump on the pig-pile as well.

Everyone knows, EVERYONE knows, that The Onion is America's Finest News Source.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

The NY Times is not competent to discuss issues that pertain to "flyover country". One of the problems with Mr Marshall's work is that he doesn't understand the relationship between the Environmental Elitists and what he calls Sportsmans Groups. He believes that Environmenal Elitists are willing to join with the sweatstained individuals that consume big game in a meaningfull way. Nothing can be further from the truth. The NY Times writes for its bi-coastal readership, accuracy about guns, the environment,the non-native American fish and game consuming public and anyone who lives in flyover country is not going to happen. As far as the NY Times is concerned we "sportsmen" are one of the definitions of evil in the modern world.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

@Jim Dellinger - Your post nailed it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Hi Bob,

At the end of your piece you suggest we as sportsmen join the discussion the rest of the nation is having “about these issues--and us--at places like The New York Times.”

Actually I do and I did. My news filter via the NYT culls all articles related to hunting in that paper, and I got an email linking that editorial in my inbox early Wendsday the 21st, (not Thursday) and I sent a comment to the place I thought it would get noticed quickest. The blog maintained by the editorial page editor. put an http before the following and past to browser.

://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/21/opinion-report-the-sportsmens-act/

username somsai in comments.

Two hours later while digging postholes at work I got a call on my cell from the editor of the editorial page. Like any good journo he was concerned that they’d printed something inaccurate. He didn’t understand about the polar bear hides but once it was explained to him he got it. Similarly with the lead shot and waterfowl. When he asked for a good source for more info on the issue, because obviously they’d have to print a retraction, I suggested Senator Testor’s office or the EPA, both of them should know plenty about the lead bullets and the Sportsmen’s act. I didn’t consider but probably most people don’t work during the holidays.

I’d think part of the reason for the partial retraction and rewrite might have been the paper was being printed in the dead tree world right then. Also someone else might write headlines. Finally if they got it mostly correct by Thursday, there were many other stories, some very important, scrolling on by, and an already published and corrected editorial about long dead polar bears might seem important to us but maybe not compared to the many other issues of the day.

I also engaged in a short conversation with the editor, don’t remember his name, and he said he’d been working only 3 days a week and that like all print media they’d been having difficult times, I’m sure F+S is too. I don’t think the NYT has the legions of fact checkers they used to.

If I had to make assumptions from the conversation I’d say the editor was a nice fellow with an open mind that has had very limited experience to guns and hunting. One thing he wasn’t was close minded.

Rather than seeing the NYT as the enemy of hunting I see them as a potential ally. Most people of goodwill want to see the conservation of our public lands and all the animals that live in them. They also wish animals to be treated humanely and wildlife managed using scientific sustainable methods. Those sentiments seem neither liberal nor conservative Democrat nor Republican. I don’t espect urban elites to understand the hunters on shootingsquirrels.com but if they could come to understand why predator management is a legitamate conservation tool it might make life easier.

So far these very influential if uninformed editors with a big megaphone have been hearing from a very few hunters. A quick glance through their past articles on hunting related subjects shows not as much an anti hunting attitude but a very limited source of material and a tendency to go with people they are most familiar with, former vegetarians, stories from those new to hunting, etc. I’d love to see one of Herring’s famous long pieces in the magazine, a David Allen op ed on wolves, or a Steve Rinnella down homey wilderness hunting/camping/cooking thing in food or travel.

At the end of the day none of the issues in the editorial affected the vote to kill the Sportsmen’s Act. There was a party line vote and lead by Senator Sessions of Alabama (who twice voted for hundreds in billions in tax cuts) the act was defeated by a veto by republicans upset over the relatively small amount of revenue needed.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wesley2012 wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

I understand that the House version of the Sportsmen Bill will have amendments which will prevent any further establishment of National Monuments in the US. I'd like this to be clarified by Bob Marshall. thank you.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Jay says it all in the first sentence posted. The NY Times is a leftist publication that would take away Sportsman's guns and rights from the getgo.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Jay says it all in the first sentence posted. The NY Times is a leftist publication that would take away Sportsman's guns and rights from the getgo.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment