Say what you want about Fox News and whether they are biased in their reporting when it comes to right-wing versus left-wing politics.
(I've probably said it myself.)
But when it came to reporting an equally divisive but mostly nonpartisan issue -- California’s Proposition 12 -- the network made an attempt to tell both sides of the story. And in my opinion, in Fox News’ recent segment on the topic, those against the measure came out with the most convincing argument.
Proposition 12, which will be voted on next week, asks voters to approve a measure that would eliminate the use of cages for hens laying eggs that are produced or sold in California by the end of 2021. It would call for similar standards for pigs raised for pork production and calves raised for veal production. Proposition 12 is also known as the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative.
In examining the issue, two of the people interviewed by Fox News are two people with which I have regular contact when covering issues covering the egg industry and animal welfare matters: Ken Klippen, president of the National Association of Egg Farmers, and Josh Balk, vice president, farm animal protection, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Klippen explained to the reporter that Proposition 12 would be “precedent setting” and that it would put farmers in other states across the nation in a position to revise their production practices in order to retain the California market.
He also pointed out that HSUS is a big proponent of Proposition 12, and that even though many people perceive that it is an animal shelter organization, the group has an agenda to stop people from consuming meat, eggs and dairy products.
Balk was asked to address the allegation as to what the mission of HSUS was. He did not deny the assertation that HSUS wants to end meat, dairy and egg consumption, but instead, replied, “everyone from vegans to meat eaters can completely agree, that animals should not be confined in cages."
Balk was also asked if Proposition 12 would truly hike the price of eggs to the consumers and take away consumer choice. Balk responded, “everyone from Walmart to McDonald's to Safeway to Denny's to IHOP are all switching to cage-free eggs."
However, none of the companies mentioned by Balk are consumers, and therefore, the question was again not directly answered.
In fairness to Balk, in both of his appearances on the screen, he was asked to defend the organization against allegations, and we don’t know what footage didn’t make the news segment. But the two comments he made both seemed evasive, which takes credibility away from his argument.
While Klippen and Balk are the two more well-known sources to be interviewed, it was a third, and lesser known person who may have had the most convincing argument when it came to Proposition 12.
Some might think that a cage-free egg farmer would be totally on board with Proposition 12. But Chris Nichols, who is a cage-free egg farmer from California, is actually opposed to it.
It was Nichols, not Klippen, who was shown saying the consumer will suffer under Proposition 12 because of higher prices of eggs at retail.
While I am skeptical this news segment will have a significant sway on the way voters in California cast their ballot, it did bring attention to the fact that voters may be doing harm to themselves by voting for a measure that they believe will be better for the animals.