This Forum Communications Report On Cecil The Lion's Hunter Is Ridiculous


I don’t think I need to tell you folks that the coverage of Cecil the Lion being hunted and killed has long since got out of hand. The man who killed the lion, Minneapolis dentist Walter Palmer, has been targeted for social media outrage including people calling for his physical harm and publishing his private information online.

All while there’s still no clear indication that Palmer knowingly broke any laws.

North Dakota-based Forum Communications decided to jump on the outrage bandwagon and sent a reporter across the border into Clay County (Moorhead), Minnesota, where Palmer owns about 500 acres of land.

“Clay County neighbors of Bloomington dentist Walter Palmer say they have had issues with him,” reads the headline from the resulting story. So what has the dastardly Palmer been doing in Clay County to upset his neighbors?

“Neighbors say he equipped his vast acreage with surveillance cameras and is quick to call the authorities if anyone steps onto his property.”

Oh my!

“Those who’ve been inside his home say it’s full of exotic and local head trophies.”

What a revelation!

“Some question his deer hunting tactics as well. Multiple people say he pays for someone to drive up and down this gravel road herding the animals back onto his land.”

Be still my heart!

What this reporter – Catherine Ross – really found when she went to Minnesota was nothing at all. Lots of private property owners use surveillance cameras to monitor property they restrict access to. Of course a big game trophy hunter is going to have his trophies displayed in his home. As for herding animals onto his property, the provenance of that claim might be a bit more believable if the person making the claim had spoken on the record.

In fact, this report included no on-the-record comments from any of Palmer’s neighbors.

But she and her editors/producers reported the story anyway to cash in on Walter Palmer outrage dominating the media right now.

Which is downright irresponsible. But it’s what happens when news reports are created to get Facebook shares instead of informing the public.