Drudge Report Recklessly Hypes Confrontation Between Rancher And Federal Government
Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON
Cliven Bundy, a cattle rancher in Nevada, is embroiled in a decades-long fight with the federal government over grazing rights on public land. Since 1993, Bundy has refused to pay for his use of 600,000 acres of public land to feed his cattle because he does not recognize the federal government's ownership of the land. Tensions recently escalated when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) began confiscating -- pursuant to court orders -- Bundy's cattle in order to pay off the $1 million in fees and trespassing fines Bundy owes.
During the dispute, Bundy and his family have repeatedly threatened violence, invoked revolutionary rhetoric, and issued public statements making known that they own firearms and are willing to use them.
Drudge's hyping of the dispute comes as armed militia groups are reportedly entering the area to support Bundy; the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that "[s]erious bloodshed was narrowly avoided" during an April 9 confrontation between Bundy supporters and federal law enforcement agents. BLM says one of its agents used a Taser on one of Bundy's sons after BLM authorities were assaultedand intimidated during that incident.
The dispute has been given top billing on Drudge, with the headline, "Heavily-Armed Feds Surround Nevada Ranch," accompanied with an image of anti-BLM protest signs. Also featured on Drudge's homepage is the headline, "Militia Members Arrive: We're not 'afraid to shoot'...":
Drudge's hyping of the dispute is part of a campaign by right-wing media to defend Bundy and fan the flames of the conflict with comparisons to the deadly Ruby Ridge and Waco standoffs of the 1990s. The conflict has also been stoked by affiliates of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity group.
On April 9, the conflict between Bundy and BLM was also given top billing on Drudge Report, with references to "Armed Federal Agents," "Snipers" and a "Range War":
At the same time that Drudge is brewing anti-law enforcement sentiment with the Bundy conflict, it is running a headline hyping the claims of a Republican senator about President Obama's supposed plans for federal law enforcement who work in immigration :
Drudge is now promoting an article from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' website Infowars.com that suggests BLM and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) are working together to take over the ranch so the Chinese government can turn it into a solar farm: