The following was posted to Facebook by Renee Y Moss, a farmer from Southwest Georgia, and is reprinted with permission. The response from the New York Times is included as well.
I just sent this letter to the NYT. Please read; it will open your eyes to what media is doing in our country and how the public responds. We read about this happening to other people, but I remained an idealist. Until now.
Please question everything you read in the media.
Left. Right. Center.
Question all of it.
I have lost my faith.
I’ve endured the destruction of my friends’ and families’ homes, communities and livelihoods from the panhandle coasts inland to northern Florida and southwest Georgia farmlands—places I live, love and cherish.
In just a few short hours, our collective was devastated as a result of Hurricane Michael. We are, in many ways, broken. Reeling.
And now, my faith in the American media has been lost.
In the wake of the storm, we checked on loved ones. We wept for our communities. We helped with relief efforts. And we choked back our own fears, as we ventured out into the Wiregrass to assess the billions—yes, BILLIONS—of dollars crop destruction with which we are left.
We would need unprecedented relief for unprecedented damage substantial enough to break an underappreciated industry that supports the American people in far more ways than they recognize. We would need to speak up, ask for help and educate our public.
We looked to our elected officials—who invited the media—for help. They answered the call. It is the American way.
We were hopeful.
We gathered together bright, pioneering minds and dedicated our invaluable time to enlightening a writer from The New York Times. We bared our souls, finances and generational struggles for the cause in hopes of giving our brothers and sisters in agriculture a voice. What we really needed to be doing was locating generators and mending our fences. With power still out in much of our communities, tractors broken and pivots upturned, we needed to be in the fields. But the reporter promised hope. And so we trusted him. We were young, educated Farmers, and we hoped our America would hear us. It was all we had.
We very clearly explained our objectives. There were brilliant concepts shared by multiple fascinating and dynamic individuals. The writer nodded and promised to help, but in retrospect we see that his objectives were to write an article about climate change.
Was it a bold-faced lie or a lie of omission? Does it even matter now? A lie is a lie, and that is what we teach our youth, isn’t it?
The topic of our interview wasn’t climate change. The topic of very lengthy discussion was farming challenges, economics, and the support that Ag needs from the federal government, about the need to completely revamp the insurance system, about backing needed from the American public. There was no political angle or agenda to our conversation. There was only an honest, heart-felt plea for help.
Glenn Thrush should be ashamed of his article “$2.5 Billion in Storm Losses, but Don’t Ask Georgia Farmers About Climate Change”
Thrush perpetuated false stereotypes about agriculture and its people. He twisted responses and warped the entire content of that interview to suit his own secret motives, with complete disregard for the good, hard-working people he betrayed—people who are quite frankly, slammed trying to salvage livelihoods that feed and clothe a nation and sustain our local economies.
The writer misrepresented that interview, those people and an entire industry. What’s worse, he turned victims into villains. Added insult to injury. But alas, that appears to be the new American way.
We hoped and prayed that his skewed piece would at least generate helpful discussion and enlightenment, but it has not. It has prompted irrationality, ignorance, intolerance and an unending stream of personal insults from thousands of misguided commenters whose replies serve only to indicate their dearth of knowledge about where their food and fiber comes from.
They make ridiculous suggestions such as (1) we should have planted our cotton another time, (2) we should have moved our thousands of acres of crops indoors, (3) we should just move to another state and stop farming, (4) we should not reproduce.
What kind of ignorant monsters are we, as a nation, becoming? Where is the compassion?
And all the while, Mr. Thrush stands by, watching the insults fly, and he does nothing to dissuade his commenters from their spiral of hate. After all, he instigated it, with intent.
Glenn Thrush should be ashamed of this work. He has refused to redact or correct anything he produced. Mark Landler should be ashamed for blindly retweeting Thrush’s atrocity of so-called journalism.
And both Mr. Thrush and the New York Times should be ashamed of doing nothing of value in response to the grossly misguided outcry caused.
I once studied journalism, but ultimately changed my major to Advertising. And that’s a choice I continue to feel good about. At least in Advertising, you know you’re being sold.
I expect every photograph taken of my family to be destroyed. You do not have my permission to publish them in this way.
After three days, the New York Times gave the following response:
Dear Ms. Moss,
Thank you for writing to The Times. We take your concerns very seriously, which Julie McPeake also passed along to us.
Based on the feedback from you and others, we published the following piece to hear directly from Georgia farmers on the issues most important to them: https://www.nytimes.com/…/reader-center/farmers-georgia.html.
Please feel free to share it with other farmers in Georgia.
Thank you again for getting in touch.
All the best,
The New York Times