SeaWorld Press Conference Slightly Flubbed

Did they really have to hold it in front of the whale tank?

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Many people were adamant about saving the trainer-killing orca, but some found the press conference to reopen the orca show unsettling. Critics are raising eyebrows at everything about SeaWorld president Jim Atchison's press conference--from the message to the setting to the medium.

  • Did He Really Have to Do It in Front of the Whale Tank?  "Did that stunning image send a reassuring message?" wonders the Orlando Sentinel's Hal Boedeker. "Or did the whales upstage Atchison? Or was the staging an insensitive misstep, a reminder of what happened to the trainer?" Gawker's Alex Pareene was similarly struck: "SeaWorld CEO Announces—Ohmigod Look Behind You!" screamed the tongue-in-cheek headline. But Pareene's got it figured out: "Atchison's podium was set up right in front of the killer whale tank," he deadpans, "because he does not fear death."
  • Privacy? For a Corporation?  Hal Boedeker finds Al Velshi's attack on SeaWorld on CNN hard to rebut. Velshi wasn't happy with Atchison's request for "privacy for the SeaWorld family." SeaWorld is a corporation, not a family, argued Velshi. "What do you say to that?" asks Boedeker.
  • Make that Gigantic Corporation  "What," writes Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal in response to the reopening of the show, "you thought a company worth $2.7 billion (the price Blackstone recently paid to acquire it) would simply shut off its big cash cow due to the death of a trainer in a killer whale show?" Ernie Smith at ShortFormBlog is also pointedly dry summarizing the rationale for keeping the animal:
Despite his deadly streak, he plays many impor­tant roles at the theme park--he makes big splashes, he impreg­nates female whales and he's huge. Sim­ply put, he’s a val­ued mem­ber of the com­mu­nity.
  • Taking Anthropomorphism a Wee Bit Far  "He also repeatedly refers to the whale as a valued member of the Seaworld team," notices The Atlantic's Megan McArdle. "A valued member of the Seaworld team," she points out, "who kept killing people would open up the company to enormous liability dangers."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.