The New York Times’ Mark Bittman is at it again. This time the resident I’m-a-better-human-than-you food columnist is whining that during his last visit to Iowa, no livestock farmers would let him come tour their facilities. Was he really surprised? Allowing Bittman to come tour your farm is like a wounded antelope accepting a hungry lion’s offer of medical care. 

Let’s look at some of Mark Bittman’s previous comments about animal agriculture and livestock farmers:

“The intensive system of animal and crop production that is fueled by our demand for meat and milk and cheese leads to all manners of abuses: animal, environmental, farm-worker — you name it.” (“Tough week for Meatless Monday,” June 29, 2011)

“They’re produced badly [today’s animal products], they cause immeasurable damage to both our bodies and the earth, and — compared with the real thing — they don’t taste that good.” (“Meat: Why Bother?” May 31, 2011)

“The biggest problem of all is that we’ve created a system in which standard factory-farming practices are inhumane, and the kinds of abuses documented at E6 are really just reminders of that. If you’re raising and killing 10 billion animals every year, some abuse is pretty much guaranteed.” (“Who Protects the Animals?” April 26, 2011)

“Outlaw concentrated animal feeding operations” (“Food Manifesto for the Future,” February 1, 2011)

If you were an Iowa farmer, would you let Bittman tour your farm knowing his track record?

Bittman is a smart guy, and he’s well aware of why farmers wouldn’t open their doors to his biased gaze, but he never acknowledges his agenda as that of an advocate. Instead, he hides behind the claim that he is a journalist who is somehow being shut out of a story. You can’t have it both ways.

In the spirit of Bittman’s requests to Iowa farmers, we penned our own request to The New York Times. (See below.) We suspect we’ll get a similar response. 

 

Richard Berman
Executive Director
Center for Consumer Freedom

The New York Times
Public Relations Department
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

Dear Sirs:

I recently read that your food blogger Mark Bittman was upset that he couldn’t find any Iowa farmers willing to allow him to visit their facilities. (“Banned from the Barn,” 7/5/11) I too am interested in conducting a fact-finding tour. I am writing to request permission to visit the New York Times offices, and the opportunity to interview a number of current or past employees. (We would need names, etc.)

Your paper provides nearly 900,000 people with a large amount of information on a daily basis. (A “concentrated news-producing operation,” if you will.) Because so many people depend on the Times for facts and insight, we would like an opportunity to come in and get a good look at your operation. While it might be a surprise to you, the Times has a bit of a reputation for leaning to the left. I imagine you would appreciate the need to provide as much transparency as possible in order to allay any fear of bias.

As part of this tour, I would like an opportunity to go through reporters’ files (or, at least, Mark Bittman’s) and inspect interview notes, in order to make sure no one was misquoted or quoted out of context. I would also like to check if any anonymous sources have a history of lying or any hidden agendas. (Trust me: I won’t leak anything too sensitive.)

I would also like to talk to a number of current and past employees. I know that with the newspaper business hurting economically, you’ve had to let some staff go during recent years.  We will want to explore possible violations of company rules or labor laws.

Finally, I would enjoy a chance to visit the New York Times cafeteria and its office vending machines to make sure that everything is up to “Mark Bittman” quality health standards.

I am willing to pay my own way to New York for this visit, and I understand that some days are better than others for any office. Please let me know when a good time is for you. I promise not to use any hidden cameras — or, at the very least, I promise not to selectively edit the resulting footage and add a serial-killer-movie soundtrack to make the Times look bad.

Sincerely,

Rick Berman

P.S. While Mr. Bittman found it appropriate to trespass on farmers’ property and look in their dumpsters when the owners were unwilling to host him, we will refrain from looking through the Times’ trash and sneaking into your offices pretending to work for the janitorial or building maintenance service.