On Friday, April 25, 2014, at 10:39 PM, after a great run publishing 23 articles and three photo galleries on horse slaughter, horse racing and wild horses on Forbes.com, the powers that be cut me loose.
Not quite sure why. A few people have suggested it may be on account of Steve Forbes keeping cattle on his New Jersey estate to reduce his property taxes. Others have mentioned Forbes partnership with FOX News.
Whatever prompted the decision, however, there was urgency behind it, coming the night before I was a featured speaker at the American Equine Summit, along with Victoria McCullough, Frank Biden and Senator Joe Abruzzo, and too many other national experts to mention. (See Victoria’s presentation here).
My topic for the summit: Disinformation in the Media. How’s that for irony? (you can view my presentation here).
I’d never gotten a word from Forbes editors that there were problems with any of my stories until Friday at 4:53 pm, when I was driving Jane Velez-Mitchell to the summit to be keynote speaker. (see Jane’s keynote speech here).
My editor, Jane Lee, who’s been very supportive and great, sent an email requesting some edits to a story—Federal Grazing Program in Bundy Dispute Rips Off Taxpayers, Wild Horses—that went live Friday afternoon.
This story got more views in a single day than any story I’ve written to date, BTW. Within a day, it reached 26,000 views and I’m told the link got more than 70,000 views on Cloud the Stallion’s Facebook page.
My article covered some of the same territory that Paul Krugman of The New York Times, Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, and Jon Stewart addressed for millions of viewers. The only difference is that mine exposed why the grazing program was not only a bad deal for tax payers, but wild horses. Oh, and I got the boot while they got ratings!
For some reason, my story rattled Forbes’ corporate cage and hours later, without so much as a phone call, Forbes pulled the plug. These were the first edits I’d been asked to make in more than two years, I made them as requested in a timely manner and notified them that I had done so. The topic was hardly controversial.
Importantly, in my writing for Forbes.com on this subject, I’ve never been challenged on a single fact. I’m proud of that, given the complexities of the horse slaughter trade and wild horses issues. Readers, too, were enthusiastic, praising the series for its research and accuracy, as well as Forbes for running it.
Let me say, I am grateful for the opportunity, which allowed me to explore a difficult subject with Forbes’ credibility behind it, when other media didn’t fact check, got the details plain wrong, and refused to make corrections when their errors were called to their attention.
I’ll continue writing on this topic, aiming for a more mainstream news audience, to reach the kinds of readers who really care about their taxes being wasted by the Federal Government on wild horse roundups and a grazing program that damages public lands at the public’s expense. One would think this was right up Forbes’ alley—the story appeared in its “Taxes” section—but, apparently…no.
I thank all of you for following me on Forbes.com and ask you to read the article and comment, if you haven’t already done so. FYI, my account there is locked, so I cannot call out any comments as I usually would, or even reply to them as author. Forbes has even removed my ability to comment as a reader to other articles. How’s that for gratitude for the two and a half years of free content I provided them?
Maybe they thought I’d go all Cliven Bundy on them, but that’s not my style. Yes, the relationship with Forbes is over; no, I am not dropping this bone.
If you feel the desire to do something, please send a link of my Forbes article— http://www.forbes.com/sites/vickeryeckhoff/2014/04/25/federal-grazing-program-in-bundy-dispute-rips-off-taxpayers-wild-horses/ — to your Congressmen. Please also tweet the article, using the hashtag #BundyRanch and include this short link: http://onforb.es/1kcTdwD
You can also politely let Forbes editors know how you feel. The link to do that is firstname.lastname@example.org. (PS: They did not fire me as I am not an employee, just one of their many contributors.)
And please check Equine Advocates site to see all video presentations of the American Equine Summit, including my presentations from 2013 and 2014. The speakers were fantastic, and many of them have made huge personal sacrifices in speaking out, like Dr. Ray Kellosalmi, whose horses were poisoned after he went on TV exposing the horrors of the PMU industry supported by drug companies like Pfizer.
Compared to that, losing an unpaid writing gig is minor stuff.