On Wednesday night’s broadcast of The Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow discussed the recent events surrounding Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in detail. Not only did she address the standoff between Bundy’s supporters and federal agents, she placed this incident in the context of recent history. On top of that, she reviewed all of the coverage Bundy has received from the conservative media and contended that these ‘journalists’ are ‘playing with fire.’
Below is video from the show:
Maddow began her show by contrasting the recent events surrounding Bundy and his supporters, who state that they do not recognize the federal government, with separatist movements in the mid-’90s. She highlighted a Nevada County Commissioner who bulldozed over federal land to create a road in 1994. That commissioner said that he considered Nye County, Nevada to be independent from the United States and therefore he had authority to reclaim federal land.
After showing clips of the commissioner in his bulldozer, Maddow then pointed out how he was just one of many anti-government zealots in the West at that time, and how it all came to a head with the Oklahoma City bombing the following year. However, roughly twenty years ago, these militias and anti-government groups were seen as being extreme and on the far-right fringe. Very few politicians or media personalities supported their cause or advocated for them.
This led to Maddow showing how today these same types of separatist groups and militias have now found champions for their cause in conservative media. On the show, news clips were played of the actual standoff between armed supporters of Bundy and agents from the Bureau of Land Management. The local news highlighted at the time the fact that private citizens were somehow able to get away with pointing sniper rifles and automatic weapons at law enforcement officers. One news reporter stated how strange it was that the Bundy supporters had achieved a victory for their political cause not by voting, but by aiming guns at police officers.
Maddow then wrapped up the segment by highlighting all of the reports from conservative media groups and how they’ve tried to instigate the situation further. As Maddow helpfully indicated, for the most part, this story is over. It appears that the BLM will deal with Bundy more through judicial and administrative channels. Overall, the main drama is over. While the BLM will still try to collect the fees and fines due from Bundy, and advise to him that he is breaking the law by having his cattle graze on federal land for free, another armed standoff does not appear to be on the horizon.
However, right-wing media outlets do not want to hear that. They see an ongoing story here that they can get behind and also appeals to the extreme element of their audience. While it was obvious that places like The Blaze, Alex Jones and World Net Daily would be all over this saga, it was somewhat surprising that Fox News would go full bore with this. Maddow even emphasized how Sean Hannity took a report from WND and used it in an interview with Bundy, telling Bundy that feds might conduct a ‘midnight raid’ of his ranch and possibly even kill him.
This is where Maddow stated that right-wing media, and Fox News in particular, are playing with fire regarding this story. It isn’t so much that they are trying to gin up the story, which is now essentially dead, in order to drive ratings. The worst part is that there is a recent violent history of radical separatist groups and militias getting into violent conflicts with the government, leading to deaths. Fox News has even referred back to these violent events, like Waco and Ruby Ridge, many times while discussing this story.
However, it doesn’t stop them from banging this drum loudly and often. By doing this, they are only enraging and encouraging people who are already extremely resentful of the federal government. They are motivating these people to act out against the United States. If we see violence occur from an anti-government group in the near future, or Bundy’s supporters take things even further, will Fox News take responsibility for the role they played? I think we all know the answer.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).