Kitty Cams and PR Scams Bingo

Earlier this week, the American Bird Conservancy announced to eNewsletter subscribers that ABC president George Fenwick will be appearing on ABC News’ 20/20 tonight “in a segment about domestic cat predation on birds and other wildlife.”

“The program was prompted by an August American Bird Conservancy news release on a University of Georgia and National Geographic study of house cats that were allowed to roam outdoors. The activities of the cats were recorded using small video cameras attached to the cats’ collars, leading to some startling results.  The issue has recently been covered by almost 100 newspapers nationwide as well as by CNN, CBS and USA Today. Members of that study team will also appear on Friday’s program.”

As I pointed out the day that news release was issued, it was an attempt at persuasion not through truth and credibility, but through blunt force—through nothing more than amplification and repetition.

I suspect Fenwick’s appearance on 20/20 will be no different. He and his colleagues at ABC have been lying about the impacts of free-roaming cats for at least 15 years now; I don’t imagine him rediscovering his integrity just when he’s got a television audience eager to hear all about, as 20/20 suggests in its segment title, the “Cutest Serial Killer You’ll Ever Meet.”

After all, some of the people tuning in might actually believe Fenwick. Especially if, as is typical of the mainstream media, the 20/20 team takes his indefensible claims at face value—never bothering with even the most obvious follow-up questions.

I am curious, though, to see if Kerrie Anne Loyd is among study team members to be interviewed. And, more to the point, which Kerrie Anne Loyd—the one who told CBS Atlanta, “Cats aren’t as bad as biologists thought”? That would be rather awkward, wouldn’t it?

In any case, Vox Felina readers will be prepared, bingo cards in hand. Unlike the original, however, this set of cards was designed to make winning virtually impossible. Look carefully at the cards and you’ll see that some have a space marked Five Birds, for example. Not likely Fenwick’s going to bring up the fact that only five birds were killed over the course of Loyd’s study (in which 55 cats contributed 2,000 hours of video). Or that they were, as seems to be the case, Common Species.

You get the idea. The downloadable PDF includes four bingo cards and 120 chips.

Whether you actually play along or not, don’t forget to leave a comment on the 20/20 website letting them know what you thought of the show.

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