By DYLAN BYERS | 4/29/14 5:00 PM EDT
New York Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman's office phone was shut down on Tuesday after anti-horse carriage activists blitzed him with a relentless stream of phone calls, POLITICO has learned.
The protest was started by NYCLASS, an animal rights lobbying group that has been campaigning in favor of Mayor Bill De Blasio's plan to abolish the city's 156-year-old tradition of horse-drawn carriage rides in and around Central Park. The Daily News, which Zuckerman owns, has advocated against the plan and even announced its intention to campaign on behalf of the institution.
A spokesperson for Zuckerman confirmed that activists had been called the office, but declined to comment further. Multiple calls to Zuckerman's office on Tuesday afternoon did not go through.
In its letter to fellow anti-horse carriage activists on Tuesday, NYCLASS cited an Associated Press report about a carriage driver who had been accused "of altering a hoof brand to make a 22-year-old draft horse with a breathing ailment appear to be a healthier horse nearly half its age." NYCLASS faulted the Daily News for failing to report on this story -- in fact, the Daily News did report on the story, two hours before the letter was sent out -- and encouraged people to call Zuckerman's office.
"Guess what? Even though the story was widely reported elsewhere, the Daily News refused to report on the truth about abusive treatment of Caesar!" the letter read, referring to the horse by name. "We've had enough. It's time to demand that the Daily News stop their propaganda and start reporting the truth about the abusive carriage horse industry."
"Contact Mort Zuckerman, owner of the Daily News, and ask him why his newspaper refuses to report on this abusive case," the letter read. NYCLASS then provided his phone number, adding: "Give Mean Mort a buzz!"
The fate of New York's carriage horses has become the subject of contentious debate in recent weeks. The New York Times, The Daily News and others have all taken a stand against De Blasio's proposal, while actor Liam Neeson has written an op-ed for the Times titled "Carriages Belong in Central Park."
Zuckerman has owned the Daily News since 1993. He is also the co-founder, chairman and CEO of the real-estate trust Boston Properties and the owner and publisher of the U.S. News & World Report.