An animal rights activist with the group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) admitted to a reporter she and another member of the group trespassed at a Hickman’s Egg Ranch facility in order to shoot a video that would paint the company in an unfavorable light.

That should raise a red flag for any reporter. Instead of questioning and addressing the rights and wrongs of the trespassing, the involved news organization appeared to join the anti-agriculture effort.

Where the video appears

The video, allegedly filmed at a Hickman’s facility in Arlington, Arizona, was posted on the Arizona Mirror YouTube page on December 13. The brief video shows scenes of dead chickens and points to what the group views as crowded conditions. No voices are heard on the video. Only the words “dead birds,” “crowding,” and “loose bird cannot reach food” appear on the screen.

Did you catch that? The video is on the Arizona Mirror YouTube channel. Not the DxE YouTube channel. I saw no evidence of it on the DxE website, either.

It is also worth noting that a quick Google news search showed no other media coverage of the topic.

Hickman’s response

When contacted by the Arizona Mirror, Glenn Hickman, CEO of Hickman’s, stated in an email, “The video provided is evidence of criminal trespass at a minimum. We won’t be commenting on illegal activities committed against our company and property.”

Again, that should have raised a red flag for the reporter, but it sure didn’t seem to.

The ‘news’ report

DxE member Celeste Esser told the Mirror she and another DxE member trespassed, but her comments to the news outlet glossed over any possible criminal activity on her part, and instead told the Mirror she felt the things she saw while trespassing were “horrific to say the least.”

However, in my opinion, it wasn’t just Esser who glossed over the admitted wrongdoings. The Mirror seemed to do so as well. It appeared the reporter, Laura Gomez, was more interested in conveying a message that what DxE did was cavalier, and Hickman’s were those who truly were in the wrong. The report went on to talk about alleged injuries on the job at Hickman’s, and alleged odors and air pollution coming from Hickman’s facilities.

If the Hickman’s staff is doing things it shouldn’t, they need to be held accountable. But in the court of public opinion, I believe the Mirror is practically acting as judge, jury and executioner.

I hadn’t heard about the Mirror before, and upon doing my research, saw that it is a relatively new news organization, that formed in September 2018. The original journalists, including Gomez, were former reporters for either the Arizona Capital Times or the Arizona Republic. In other words, they should have known better.

Had Gomez wrote this up as an opinion piece, such as a blog post like this, I’d be fine with that. Her piece, however, wasn’t written in that style. At least not intentionally.

Trespassing and other criminal activity is a growing problem with opponents of agriculture, and DxE appears to be leading the charge.

The group, and particularly its co-founder Wayne Hsiung, has a history with the court system. In a prior blog, I addressed this, and DxE’s apparent above-the-law attitude in that such actions are justified.

Now, sadly, a group of journalists is validating that attitude.