The Ballad of WND and Cliven Bundy
WorldNetDaily stands by its lawless, militia-supported rancher, even after his racist remarks.
By Terry Krepel
The story of Cliven Bundy was too much for WorldNetDaily to resist, even though there were signs it should have.
An April 9 WND article by Jack Minor set the situation up in a WND-friendly way:
Federal officials have now taken to killing the calves and cattle of a Nevada rancher as part of a standoff that his family says has the potential to become another Ruby Ridge, where, in 1992, federal agents shot an unarmed Idaho woman holding a newborn infant in her arms.
Minor gives the other side of the story short shrift, making no effort to interview federal officials and even blaming the federal government for "taking steps to escalate the situation" while ignoring the fact that Bundy is the one who has made sure the situation escalated by violating the law and refusing to pay grazing fees for two decades.
An April 11 WND article by Art Moore touted how Bundy is drawing support from "private armed militias," which have "made the confrontation over Bundy’s use of federal land for grazing a rally cry." Moore waited until the 44th paragraph to mention a statement from federal officials that Bundy has been breaking the law for 20 years. Like Minor, Moore made no apparent effort to contact federal officials to balance his article.
If the Bundy situation escalated, WND's biased reporting would have done its part in making sure that happened.
And escalate they did. Bundy's ranch attracted so many armed militia members that the Bureau of Land Management, which had been trying to deal with the scofflaw for two decades and confiscated his cattle only after other methods failed, backed off.
In an April 13 article, WND's Drew Zahn declared a winner -- the militia thugs. He declared that "After hundreds of federal agents and allies surrounding Clive Bundy’s ranch in Clark County, Nev., were faced with citizen resistance both armed and unarmed it proved the feds who blinked first." Zahn lionizes the militia thugs:
A Montana militia member, Jim Lardy, told KLAS-TV in Las Vegas his group, Operation Mutual Aid, was prepared to “provide armed response.”
Amid all these threats of armed violence, Zahn still blamed the feds for escalating the situation. Zahn waits until the 19th paragraph to mention that Bundy has been illegally trespassing on federal land for 20 years.
Hiding militia leader's reprehensible plan
WND took the next logical step in its Bundy coverage: hiding unflattering information about those it's lionizing.
An unbylined April 14 WND article championed Richard Mack -- identified only as "executive director of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association" but who is also a member of the extremist group Oath Keepers -- and his claim that "his sources inside the federal government warn that Washington’s weekend retreat in a dispute over grazing land in Nevada was only a move to distract attention and diffuse tensions, because a raid on the family’s ranch still is planned."
WND didn't mention that not only did Mack join other militia thugs in escalating the standoff between rancher Bundy and federal officials, he had a rather heinous plan should the standoff escalate: use women as human shields for the militia thugs.
Given that WND, for instance, approvingly quoted Rush Limbaugh claiming that President Obama was using children as "human shields" to announce new gun regulations, it should be outraged that militia thugs decided that women were expendable enough to serve as human shields in a standoff with federal officials.
But it probably wasn't -- the thugs were sticking it to the hated federal government, after all, and the women would have been acceptable collateral damage who would also serve as convenient martyrs had things escalated that far.
Pushing discredited Reid conspiracy
It wouldn't be WND if it couldn't invent a secret government conspiracy to work into all of this, and Jerome Corsi obliged in an April 12 article:
When Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy refused to take his cattle off land the federal government demanded for the habitat of an endangered desert tortoise, it focused the nation’s attention on an arena Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., may have preferred to be kept quiet.
The word Infowars should set off warning signals -- that's the website operated by conspiracy-monger extraordinaire Alex Jones. It says a lot about Corsi that he considers Infowars to be credible.
Anyway, the gist of the conspiracy is that Reid's son Rory "had been appointed the primary representative" of a Chinese company that wanted to construct a solar power plant on the land where Bundy illegally grazed his cattle.
But Corsi is simply doing stenography here -- he doesn't bother to do any investigating on his own. He really should have because what he's copying isn't true. The right-wing Breitbart website did what Corsi wouldn't, and even they couldn't support the claim:
Despite the obvious partisan gain to be had if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s son Rory (a failed 2010 Nevada gubernatorial candidate) had somehow been involved in a “land grab” affecting the Bundy family ranch operationthe facts just do not pan out as such. Indeed, Rory Reid did in fact have a hand in plans to reclassify federal lands for renewable energy developments. Just northeast of Las Vegas and Nellis Air Force Base, plans were drawn by Reid allies to potentially develop 5,717 acres of land for such use. While it would be fair to claim that such activity was in Bundy’s relative neighborhood, the federal lands once leased by the family were more than 20 miles away, east of Overton, Nevada. Contrasting maps offered by InfoWars and those entered into federal court record prove such a theory to be a stretch.
Despite the utter bogusness of Corsi's conspiracy, Joseph Farah parrots it in his April 13 WND column:
This was about something else.
Farah goes on to thank Bundy "for bringing all of this to the public’s attention." And surely Infowars thanks WND for publicizing its bogus conspiracy theory.
James Simpson rehashed the bogus conspiracy in an April 16 WND article, admitted it was bogus, then declared it really wasn't because "the BLM’s library of renewable energy projects revealed it was only one of more than 50 solar, wind and geothermal projects planned for Nevada, California, Arizona and other Western states."
Of course the conspiracy must live. What would WND have to write about otherwise?
WND's lionizing of Bundy was continuing apace -- an April 22 article proclaimed to be "America's newest hero" -- when Bundy made his infamous statements about "the negro" and how they would somehow be better off as slaves picking cotton than accepting government assistance.
WND shifted into full damage-control mode. An unbylined April 24 article tried to suggest that Bundy was misquoted by crediting "the reporting of Adam Nagourney in the New York Times" for the quote. WND added, "Questions or other comments preceding the quotes were not available, leaving unknown the context of Bundy’s response."
When a video surfaced quoting Bundy in all his racially charged glory -- and showing that Bundy was, in fact, accurately quoted -- WND had to change tactics. An article by Bob Unruh featured an interview with Bundy's son Ammon in which he baselessly asserted that his father was "taken out of context" and ludicriously claimed that he was actually "trying to reach out to the black and Hispanic communities."
Farah claimed in an April 24 column that Bundy was a victim of "a sting operation by the New York Times," adding "Criminal suspects who are entrapped by authorities in sting operations often see their cases dismissed." In fact, New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney explained to Politico that he did nothing to prompt Bundy to say his racist remarks, and that "I just kept my head down, kept my tape recorder on took notes and that was it."
Despite being discredited, Farah doubled down on the "sting" conspiracy in his column the next day, insisting there was context to be found in a longer video of Bundy's remarks. But Farah didn't explain how the supposed context of Bundy's words makes his references to "the negro" and his wondering if they were "better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy" any less offensive.
An unbylined April 25 "news" article, carrying the optimistic headline "Support rebuilds for Nevada rancher," did its best to spin away Bundy's racism: "Even as elements of a traditional media bound to newsprint continued to blast Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy on Friday for his remarks about blacks, he was getting more support, from blacks." The only blacks WND named, however, were right-wing activist Niger Innes and a bodyguard for Bundy.
That's the kind of disregard for facts that makes people not believe WND.