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Viewers Respond to ‘Chicken Chase’ Scene

Paul Solman: We received a very sobering set of viewer responses to the opening sequence of our credit crunch story from Springfield, Mo., the other night, of which a few are excerpted below. I have to confess, I was so caught up in the festivities at SRC, which included a chicken chase, that the feelings of the chicken never occurred to me. Nor did the thought that this sequence would offend so many NewsHour viewers. But it did. Reading the viewer mail has certainly been chastening.

I remember hosting a discussion of the Triple Crown on the NewsHour years ago in which viewers wrote to thank me for raising the question of how the horses felt. And I am a free-range chicken eater myself, whenever I can be. So to those disturbed enough to write, my apologies. I take your point. We’ve referred to the writers here by their initials only.

B.H. wrote: WHAT?! How could you? I have always prided myself on the “good” taste I demonstrated by watching PBS. Never in a million years would I have believed that you could be so dismissive about an animal abuse issue. I am very disappointed and concerned that a story like this would appear on PBS. When you objectify any animal it promotes cruelty. Do you want to be associated with those thugs that have a blind spot a mile wide? Animals that are mistreated do not have a voice and we are responsible for protecting them….

K.N. wrote: Chasing a chicken and frightening it isn’t funny. It’s cruel, especially with so many humans around, cutting off any avenue of escape. Cruelty to any living thing should not be tolerated, especially an entity with your reputation. Chickens are very much abused in our society and are usually only looked upon as a food source only. They are living, breathing animals, with an ability to be frightened just as much as a cat, or a dog. You would not ever condone frightening a cat or a dog in this manner. Please live up to your reputation as caring and humane to living creatures, and don’t promote this type of story as “fun” or “cute.” It isn’t….

C.F. wrote: The opening scene is of a noisy crowd of humans cheering while a big man chases a small chicken, encircled by the crowd, the bird has no hope of escape. Helpless and terrified as it ran for its life, this image so caught my attention that I could not listen to the story….Please be more mindful of the pain and suffering of non-human animals or any who are unable speak for themselves. We all depend on the compassion of producers and writers to tell us their tales as well as our own….

J.M. wrote: The item on small business loans featuring people chasing chickens within a confined space bothered me. This is a prey and predator depiction (175 pound predator, 3 pound prey), with no let up for the prey. At least if they killed the chicken it would be over….

D.F. wrote: I am REVOLTED after watching Solman’s piece on the credit problem, as I was eating my dinner and watching the news. Showing that disgusting display of whatever it was — sport? entertainment? — was the grossest example of bad taste I’ve ever seen on the Newshour. I have no idea what terrorizing a chicken was supposed to add to the piece and it only served to make me yell at my television, “Stop!! Stop!!” That guy who was having fun at the expense of the chicken does not deserve ANY credit and I hope he never gets it. He deserves only to go to prison on charges of cruelty to animals and Paul Solman should be right behind him, sharing his cell. I kept thinking, “they have GOT to be kidding!!! Are they insane???”

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