Silly 'Alaska cat mayor' saga spotlights how easily the media can be scammed

Enough with the cat crap.

Tabloid tabby Stubbs is not "the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska" as NBC News reported.

The damn cat is not even "the honorary mayor of a tiny Alaska town" as the Washington Post had it.

No one ever decided they disliked "the human candidates in the upcoming mayoral election and voted for Stubbs as a write-in candidate" as CNN reported.

That's because there was no "write-in campaign 15 years ago," to quote CBS.

There wasn't even an election.

The whole Stubbs story, to quote Elaine from the old TV sitcom "Seinfeld," is "fake, fake, fake, fake."


Made up. Concocted. A fable.

The sadly true Stubbs story is, as one Talkeetna resident put it, "a PR scam. The West Rib Pub and Grill sells a lot of T-shirts and mugs with his picture on them. I remember when that cat wandered into the West Rib and was somewhat adopted by the bartender. The cat liked it because he got free food and drink and was allowed to wash in the bar sink. That was about 15 years ago and coincided with my decision to only drink bottled beer there."

Other residents of Talkeetna have observed that if you want to see food inspectors for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation falling down on the job, just visit the community 115 miles north of Anchorage.

Anchorage television station KTUU, among the media outlets that have helped fuel Stubbs-steria, had some nice footage from last year of the cat on the counter next to the pastries and waiting for the coffee to be served.

"How many shots would you like your 16-ounce?" the barista in the segment asks. The question goes unanswered in the video, but let me take a shot at it: "Well, how about three shots and whatever's still stuck on ole Stubbs' feet there from his last visit to the litter box?"

Speaking of litter boxes, they might also be a good place to stick most of the Stubbs reporting. You have to wonder if this whole story wasn't spun just up the road from the home of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin simply to see how lame the lamestream media, as she calls almost everything but Fox News, could be.

Oh, but wait. Here's Fox being lame, too:

"TALKEETNA, Alaska – The mayor of a sleepy Alaska town is feline fine. The part-Manx cat clawed his way onto the political scene of Talkeetna, Alaska, through a write-in campaign shortly after he was born 15 years ago."

OK, so Fox picked the story up from the Associated Press, and simply ran with it, as did the Washington Post. Does it make it better or worse that neither organization bothers to make the simplest check on a story that might sound farfetched to anyone with a brain?

Hmmm, a cat as mayor? I wonder where people go to complain when the roads don't get fixed. It's hard to complain to a cat. It's pretty well documented they don't listen. Maybe the city should have made a dog the mayor. Dogs at least act like they're listening.

And you trust these national media outlets for an accurate picture of what is going on in Syria because...?

Because they've proven themselves so capable in their handling of a made-up story about a cat in Alaska?

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com

Craig Medred

Craig Medred is a former writer for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2015.