Target: Dan Masonson, Senior Director, NBC Sports Group Communications
Goal: Thank network for refusing to continue airing “Under Wild Skies,” a show that celebrates hunting large African mammals
NBC Sports Network came under fire recently for its show “Under Wild Skies,” which was sponsored by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and hosted by NRA lobbyist Tony Makris. Essentially, the show follows Makris as he travels around Africa participating in big game safari hunts. The most recent episode featured Makris shooting, pursuing, and killing an elephant in Botswana, and then indulging in a glass of champagne to celebrate. Viewers expressed outrage at this casual murder, which was followed by a discussion of the ivory that Makris would harvest from the creature – a conversation all the more morbid and inappropriate because African elephants are in serious danger of extinction.
While NBC Sports issued a statement to the Los Angeles Times assuring viewers that the episode would not be re-aired and claiming that “this content should not have aired,” the network did not apologize for hosting a show that glorifies the slaughter of animals for the purpose of the hunt and slaughter itself. The network said they “listened to [their] viewers” and are “also taking a close look at our internal standards as part of this process,” but concluded by saying, “While this form of hunting is legal, we understand that many viewers find it objectionable. As a result we are taking an aggressive approach towards objectionable content within future episodes of ‘Under Wild Skies’ and other series.” Many viewers responded to this non-apology by calling on the network to drop the show, pointing out that the particular episode’s content is no different from any of the other episodes’ focus on big game hunting.
Then Makris himself responded aggressively to critics, accusing them of “animal racism” because while he hunts all animals, they mainly criticized his brutal televised murder of an elephant; when he went on to compare these critics to Hitler, NBC Sports had had enough. As Deadspin reports, a NBC Sports spokesman shared the following statement: “Under Wild Skies will no longer air on NBC Sports Sports Network due to the program’s close association with its host, whose recent comments comparing his critics to Hitler are outrageous and unacceptable.” While they may have overlooked the initial reason to drop the show on the basis of legality (“legal” and “moral” are sometimes antonymous), NBC Sports finally got around to the right decision.
By signing this petition, you are thanking NBC Sports Network for arriving at the right decision regarding “Under Wild Skies,” a show which was good for nothing besides the glorification of slaughter, and especially heinous when the animals in question are endangered. You are calling on them to review their internal standards so as to exclude from their programming such shows which promote unsustainable and inhumane agendas.
Dear Senior Director Masonson,
As an animal lover and a concerned global citizen, I was shocked by the airing of the program “Under Wild Skies,” especially the episode featuring the murder of an African elephant, after which the host celebrated the atrocity with champagne. As you know, this scene is unacceptable, especially in light of the wasteful and cruel killing of African elephants en masse for their ivory, which may bring about their extinction in just a few years. I was heartened to hear that your company removed the show from your lineup; however I was discouraged that it was the direct result not of the glorified murder of big game for sport in Africa, but of the host’s later outrageous comments likening critics to Hitler.
Thank you for pulling “Under Wild Skies” from NBC Sports Network. I urge you to follow through on the promise made by the network to review internal standards, so that shows celebrating such inhumane acts are not aired in the future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Gary M. Stolz via Wikimedia Commons