Racy horses and pampered pandas

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Farm Forum

From time-to-time we are blessed with a stable-full of national television reporters with a rather sophomoric news sense.

Rather than good judgment and a nose for news I wonder if they might just be blessed with good hair and a lot of luck.

Let a panda bear do something—or do nothing—and it gets plastered all over the news. And then there are the classy race horses of the day.

Years ago I remember the news networks going bonkers about a race horse Barbaro who had to be put down because of serious leg problems.

I’ll bet the farm that Barbaro’s TV time amounted to more than the men and women whose contribution to mankind have been life changing. like Jonas Salk or Enrico Fermi, for instance.

Or my dad. He drove a truck, wheeling in groceries to the little stores within a half-day’s drive of Rapid City. He also raised four reasonably good kids on his skimpy salary. In my mind he did more for mankind than any racehorse or panda bear ever.

I felt badly for Barbaro as I would any suffering creature. But any cub reporter would know that a line or two during the half-hour newscast would have been appropriate. After Barbaro was put out of its misery, the networks devoted about a quarter of its news slot to the horse…for days.

The most embarrassing part of the lengthy news reports was that millions of us were also curious about Iraq, the minimum wage and global warming. None of that came through the TV set. But when Barbaro was euthanized, we all learned he “was surrounded by friends who loved him.”

I nearly reached for the proverbial gagging spoon when the reporter then said he’d asked the horse’s owner “if he had spoken to him before he died.”

Whoa Nellie!

Coincidentally, at the time of those tearful reports of Barbaro’s demise, I was writing about a Holstein named College Mutual Ollie of the S.D. State College herd.

She was tops in the nation in milk and buttermilk production during the first three months of 1932, providing 16,899.5 pounds of milk and 693 pounds of buttermilk.

Now there’s a classy four-legged creature that did something for mankind.

When a racehorse named Swale died in 1985, TV’s Dan Rather nearly fainted from apoplexy. He seemed never the same again.

Have you noticed that when racehorses aren’t being praised on TV, you can be sure they’ll find a panda bear somewhere munching on bamboo and rolling around in its own mess.

You never hear TV news about cows like Ollie that are contributing more to the good life than all of the world’s slim-legged racehorses or manure-matted pandas lumped together.

If you’d like to make a comment, e-mail the author at cfcecil@swiftel.net.