I was so disgusted by Dennis Anderson’s piece (of shit) following the poaching of Cecil the Lion that after emailing him and receiving no response at all, I sent a letter to the editors. Almost immediately following the Star Tribune’s non-response to my email, the account I had registered just a few days ago had been restricted. Not only am I not allowed to post comments or replies, now I cannot even “up vote” other people’s comments.
My full letter to the editors:
To Whom It May Concern:
Before beginning my response to Dennis Anderson’s article regarding the poaching of Cecil the Lion, I read your guidelines for what makes a good commentary. I was surprised to learn that the Star Tribune holds its readers to a higher standard than it does its own columnists. Of the ten guidelines listed, Anderson violates half of them in a single piece. I ask for a little leniency with regard to the word count of my email, since, for the sake of context and clarity, a significant portion of it includes quotes from Anderson’s piece, as well as questions from the aforementioned guidelines.
5. Is the writing clear and efficient […]?
No. Anderson begins with five paragraphs of fluff and clunky purple prose before getting to the point.
6. Is the commentary engaging?
No. It is preachy, accusatory, arrogant and a flippant dismissal of the global outrage over the brutal poaching of Cecil the lion. Not at all engaging, but in fact quite alienating. Anderson’s sole purpose seems to be to shame and discredit people who are grieving the death of Cecil the lion and its greater implications; to minimize and trivialize the tragedy of it in favor of being an apologist for Walter J. Palmer and poaching in general.
7. Does the submission offer a clear point of view?
Anderson’s view is clearly that the international outrage is without merit, but his rationale is unclear because it contains a plethora of fallacious reasoning — and violates the three remaining guidelines provided to your readers:
8. Is the argument being presented logically sound in its construction and conclusions?
No, it is not logically sound in its construction or its conclusion. One example would be Anderson’s false comparison between deer hunters in Minnesota and poachers in Zimbabwe. His conclusion is that the same standards would apply to both. For the sake of brevity, I will not belabor this point despite several other relevant examples.
9. Does the commentary avoid hyperbole and fallacious reasoning?
Absolutely not! It is riddled with hyperbole and fallacious reasoning, including red herrings, non sequiturs, false dilemmas, false comparison, moving the goalposts, poisoning the well, appeal to questionable authority, strawman arguments and ad hominems. And that’s just off the top of my head! Claiming that mourners of Cecil’s death are just “perpetually agitated”, have no use for facts, and don’t “really care what actually happened” is nothing but ad hominem attacks designed solely to shame and discredit us. Anderson also states that “if perspective is important” the size of the protected park is only one sixth of the size of Minnesota – with no explanation as to the relevance of that statement. That is a red herring and non sequitur, among others. I can explain the rest in greater detail upon request, but for now I am trying to keep this as brief as possible. Alternatively, for a more detailed explanation, see my personal blog entry, Open Letter to Poacher Apologist, Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune.
10. If outside material or data is being presented, is it appropriately sourced?
No. Not only does Anderson make numerous dubious claims without citing any sources at all, he conveniently omits multiple verifiable facts that don’t fit his preferred narrative or obvious agenda — while simultaneously claiming that other sources have omitted relevant facts — again with no citations. He states that we know nothing about the incident apart from what Palmer has told us, when that is absolutely, verifiably factually incorrect. Furthermore, he refers to “what is known” about “Minnesota archers who hunt in the evening” and what “is legal in Zimbabwe and the way most lions are hunted there” without citing a single source. He then goes on to say that “[t]hose countless reports [of what happened to Cecil] I am told by someone who knows, are wrong.” Anyone can make the same claim about any issue, but without credible sources and verifiable facts, it’s just a bunch of hot air.
Anderson’s entire piece violates at least half of the guidelines set for readers who want to respond. It’s insulting to readers and damaging to the Star Tribune’s credibility.
In closing, I want to address the last paragraph of Anderson’s segment entitled, If things were reversed…:
Anderson asks, “What’s the chance that reporters from Zimbabwe, half a world away, report this story — and the intentions, motivations and agendas of its many characters, Rogers and the landowner included — accurately?”
The implication here seems to be that we should not trust even our own media — which has to include the Star Tribune — because it is relying on information received from “half a world away”. It seems that anyone working anywhere near the field of journalism would never seriously suggest in this day and age that facts and information cannot be accurately reported and shared globally and in real time. With that in mind, I can’t help thinking that an alternative interpretation could be nothing more or less than a bunch of crypto-racism, passive-aggressively suggesting, “Don’t trust the Africans!” Either way, Anderson doesn’t exactly come out of it smelling like roses.
How Dennis Anderson’s article made it past any responsible, ethical editor is beyond me. It is shameful to the Star Tribune and a disgrace to responsible, ethical journalism and journalists around the world. He owes his readers and the general public an apology and should be made to publicly admit his multitude of ‘errors’.
The Star Tribune’s non-response:
to: Charlotte Knight
date: Wed, Aug 5, 2015 at 9:12 AM
subject: RE: Response to Dennis Anderson re: Cecil the Lion
Thank you for sending your work to the Star Tribune opinion pages. Your article has been reviewed. Because we are offered many more commentary submissions than we can accommodate, we have to turn away many writers. We don’t anticipate finding a spot for your article, but we do appreciate having been given the opportunity to consider it.
So, in other words, they didn’t read a word I wrote. Or they did read it, and simply do not care about the dishonest and unethical work of Dennis Anderson. I did not ask for a “spot” for my “article”. I don’t want my name anywhere near theirs. All I wanted was to bring attention to Anderson’s piece (of garbage) and the fact that the Star Tribune hypocritically holds its readers to a much higher standard than it does its own columnists. Since they refuse to actually respond to a single point I made, then I can only assume that the Star Tribune doesn’t care about integrity or ethics. As a courtesy, I gave the Star Tribune a chance to answer to and rectify the situation, but they’ve basically said that you don’t really care about their lying columnist.
Thanks, Star Tribune, for confirming what I have suspected all along — that the Star Tribune is a washed up rag that cares more about selling papers and advertising spots, than it does about the integrity of its “journalists” or the sub par garbage they publish. Keep up the crappy work and you just might find your own spot — right next to Fox [not] News.