Hawaiian station KHON-2 last week and Wichita station KSN-TV on Friday aired reports about how The HSUS supposedly misleads the public into thinking our donations go to local animal shelters. The story was spoon-fed to them by David Martosko of the CCF.
But after being contacted by The HSUS, the Hawaiian station removed the story from its Web site. It appears the Wichita station has followed suit, as no hint of the story can be found on its Web site.
If this sounds familiar, it's because the same thing happened with a Georgia news station in May 2009.
As I noted after Atlanta station WSB-TV pulled its story, "news organizations don't typically cave to threats of lawsuits. They have lawyers, and they also have the First Amendment. So I have to think that the people at WSB are doubting the validity of the story they aired."
I was right. In fact, less than a month ago the general manager at WSB-TV sent Rick Berman, the creator of the deceptively named Center for Consumer Freedom, a letter chastising him for continuing to use the piece.
Station manager Hoffman wrote that "we [at WSB-TV] have had the opportunity to learn more about HSUS." He noted, "we believe that you have misrepresented the Broadcast as supporting your contention that HSUS actively misleads the public in its advertising. WSB-TV has no evidence of that nor do we believe it to be true." Hoffman also reminded Berman that "we immediately corrected an error in our original Broadcast regarding HSUS and Katrina relief efforts in our next news program."I have no doubt that the CCF will continue feeding this story to news stations in more states. But sooner or later media outlets will get wise to their duplicitous ways.
Meanwhile, the National Federation of Humane Societies has sided with The HSUS.
After catching wind of the campaign, the National Federation of Humane Societies — a comprehensive trade federation that represents the animal welfare industry — sent Berman a letter regarding the situation, stating the claims by the CCF were "inaccurate based on our collective experiences.”It calls on Berman to identify his corporate funders and urges him "to cease your smear campaign against HSUS that negatively impacts the efforts of our members to improve the lives of animals in their local communities."
Update (6/7/10): Well, that didn't take long. A station in Augusta, Ga., and one in Connecticut also have smear on their Web sites. They look like blog posts, though. I don't see any video. I'm guessing in a matter of days these, too, will be pulled.
(Image courtesy of The Dog Files.)