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Thursday, January 14, 2016
WND Grows Bored With Oregon Rancher Militia Standoff
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In 2014, WorldNetDaily was all over the Cliven Bundy ranch standoff and stood by him even after he proved to be kind of a racist and his standoff attracted thuggish militia members, one of whom was plotting to use women as human shields for the militia thugs.

Fast forward to this month, where a new standoff involving ranchers agitating against the federal government -- and led by one of Bundy's sons -- is taking place with the illegal occupation of a wildlife refuge office. And WND doesn't seem that interested in it.

Oh, it was at first, pounding out a bunch of articles about it. An unbylined article purported to recount "the story behind the Oregon armed standoff," whitewashing the deeds of the ranchers purportedly being defended by the militia in Oregon, Dwight and Steven Hammond, whose resentencing on arson charges to follow mandatory minimum sentences as at the center of the dispute. WND uncritically repeated spin that a 2001 fire started by the Hammonds was started "on their property" and merely "ran off the Hammond land." In fact, as prosecutors pointed out:

Witnesses at trial, including a relative of the Hammonds, testified the arson occurred shortly after Steven Hammond and his hunting party illegally slaughtered several deer on BLM property.  Jurors were told that Steven Hammond handed out “Strike Anywhere” matches with instructions that they be lit and dropped on the ground because they were going to “light up the whole country on fire.”  One witness testified that he barely escaped the eight to ten foot high flames caused by the arson.  The fire consumed 139 acres of public land and destroyed all evidence of the game violations.  After committing the arson, Steven Hammond called the BLM office in Burns, Oregon and claimed the fire was started on Hammond property to burn off invasive species and had inadvertently burned onto public lands.  Dwight and Steven Hammond told one of their relatives to keep his mouth shut and that nobody needed to know about the fire.

Bob Unruh followed with an article with a skewed view of the situation as told by the only person he apparently interviewed, a representative of the right-wing Pacific Legal Foundation, who sneered that those critical of the ranchers were merely "sipping lattes" and those who support the government's ownership interests in the land are "green groupies."

There were a couple other stories as well, one touting a "case for civil disobedience in Oregon" and, perhaps more tellingly, an article highlighting that the Hammonds do not support the armed standoff and the head of another militia group declining to join in the standoff because of it.

And then, not much else. Near as we can tell, the last original article WND dedicated to the standoff was on Jan. 5. It published an article from the right-wing Daily Signal on the standoff on Jan. 9 (making sure to note that it was "with permission," because we know WND's record on content theft), and a Jan. 7 column by Ilana Mercer touted the ranchers' purported heroic qualities, but that's been pretty much it.

Why the change? Perhaps because WND is trying to promote itself as "the largest Chrtistian website in the world" and the armed takeover of someone else's property (even if it is the government's) is not exactly in keeping with Christian principles.

WND is also trying to get politicians to advertise on its website -- it even did an article earlier this week begging for ads and insisting that "you can’t afford to ignore the WND audience that can give you the edge over your opponent. Endorsing an takeover by armed terrorists is not something most politicians aren't down with.

These are also arguably the reasons WND is downplaying the Cruz birther case, even though it was a little over two years ago that WND editor Joseph Farah declared that he didn't think Cruz was eligible to be president (or Marco Rubio, for that matter).

It appears that WND is trying to tamp down its conspiratorial tendencies in order to attract (slightly) more mainstream advertisers. But given how throughly WND destroyed any shred of credibility it might have had trying to ruin Barack Obama, that's a tough task.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:45 AM EST

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