Fox figures praised armed supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy as good, patriotic, hard-working Americans, ignoring their threats of violence against Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents and indications that they were willing to put women in children in the line of fire.
Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy Refuses To Pay Grazing Fees, Resulting In Standoff With BLM
Los Angeles Times: Bundy Refused To Pay Grazing Fees For Use Of Federal Land. As the Los Angeles Times reported on April 7:
Bundy is battling with federal officials over his cattle's grazing on 150 square miles of scrub desert overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. He has refused to pay BLM grazing fees since 1993, arguing in court filings that his Mormon ancestors worked the land long before the BLM was formed, giving him rights that predate federal involvement. His back fees exceed $300,000, he says. [Los Angeles Times, 4/7/14]
AP: Court Ordered Bundy To Pay Fees Or His Cattle Would Be Confiscated. Bundy refused to pay the fees he owed, and so the BLM attempted to carry out court orders to confiscate his cattle to settle the debt:
A federal judge in Las Vegas first ordered Bundy to remove his trespassing cattle in 1998. The bureau was implementing two federal court orders last year to remove Bundy's cattle after making repeated efforts to resolve the matter outside court, Kornze said, adding the rancher has not paid grazing fees in 20 years. [Associated Press, 4/13/14]
AP: BLM Halted Cattle Confiscation After Armed Militias Showed Up To Protest. As the Associated Press reported, after the Bureau of Land Management began confiscating Bundy's cattle, armed "states' rights protesters, including militia members, showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals' return to rancher Cliven Bundy," leading to the BLM's decision to halt the confiscation:
Federal land managers say "escalating tensions" led them to release all 400 or so head of cattle rounded up on public land in southern Nevada from a rancher who has refused to recognize their authority.
Bureau of Land Management Chief Neil Kornze announced an abrupt halt to the weeklong roundup just hours before the release.
"Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public," Kornze said in a statement. [Associated Press, 4/13/14]
Sen. Harry Reid Calls Armed Protestors "Domestic Terrorists"
Las Vegas Review-Journal: Sen. Reid Called Bundy's Armed Supporters "Domestic Terrorists." At an event hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) called armed protesters supporting Bundy "domestic terrorists," saying, "Those people who hold themselves out to be patriots, are not. They're nothing more than domestic terrorists." [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4/17/14]
Bundy Repeatedly Threatens Violence Against BLM Agents
Las Vegas Sun: Bundy Said He Would "Do Whatever It Takes" To Protect His Cattle. In 2013, Bundy told the Las Vegas Sun he would "do whatever it takes" to prevent the government from seizing his cattle:
[T]he rancher insists his cattle aren't going anywhere. He acknowledges that he keeps firearms at his ranch and has vowed to "do whatever it takes" to defend his animals from seizure.
"I've got to protect my property," Bundy said as Arden steered several cattle inside an elongated pen. "If people come to monkey with what's mine, I'll call the county sheriff. If that don't work, I'll gather my friends and kids and we'll try to stop it. I abide by all state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws."Bundy's wife Carol told the Sun that she owns a shotgun and is prepared to use it:
Carol Bundy said her husband is not a violent man, just a person who will protect what he owns. For that matter, so is she.
"I've got a shotgun," she said. "It's loaded and I know how to use it. We're ready to do what we have to do, but we'd rather win this in the court of public opinion." [Las Vegas Sun, 9/23/13]
Bundy's Response To Question About Resorting To Violence: "I Didn't Say I Wouldn't Carry A Gun." On the April 10 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show, Ingraham asked Bundy whether he would resort to violence to settle the dispute:
INGRAHAM: When you said you would do quote "whatever it takes," to stop the government from impounding your cattle, what did you mean by that? Did you mean you would resort to violence?
BUNDY: What I said was -- I didn't say I wouldn't carry a gun. [The Laura Ingraham Show, 4/10/14, via Media Matters]
Fox Figures Praise "Patriotic" Bundy Supporters
Fox's Earhardt: Bundy Supporters Are "Good, Hardworking Americans." On the April 18 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt expressed outrage at Sen. Harry Reid's comments that Bundy's supporters are "domestic terrorists," saying:
EARHARDT: And then the question this morning, the government's reaction to all of this. They're pulling guns on these individuals, on Harry Reid's community. These are folks that live in Nevada, these are good, hardworking Americans. So they disagree and the government goes out there and pulls guns and now Harry Reid's calling them terrorists? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/14]
Fox's Morris: Supporters Were "Protesting Peacefully." In a later segment during the April 18 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Clayton Morris claimed that, "Suddenly people are there protesting peacefully, arguing against government intervention here ... and all of these police and folks roll in with guns and sniper rifles pointing at them." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/14]
Fox's Napolitano: Ranch Protesters "Shows You The Resistance Of Patriotic Americans." Fox contributor Andrew Napolitano and Bill O'Reilly discussed the Nevada standoff on the April 17 edition of The O'Reilly Factor. Both conceded that Bundy's actions were illegal, yet Napolitano called his supporters "patriotic" and downplayed their threats of violence:
O'REILLY: But here's the fact. The federal government sent more force in to handle Cliven Bundy's cows than they did to Ukraine. Right, I mean we can't even get binoculars over there for those people but we have all of this.
NAPOLITANO: It shows you the attitude of the federal government today, and it shows you the resistance of patriotic Americans -- Americans whose voices were silenced at the scene by being moved three miles away. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 4/17/14]
Fox's Starnes: Bundy Supporters Are "Law-Abiding" Patriots. On the April 17 edition of Hannity, Fox contributor Todd Starnes told guest-host Eric Bolling, "The idea that you've got the Senate Majority Leader going out there and calling law-abiding American citizens -- patriots -- domestic terrorists for protesting against their government is beyond the pale." [Fox News, Hannity, 4/17/14]
Fox Guest: Why Were Guns Pointed At "Hardworking Ranchers"? During the April 17 edition of Fox News's The Kelly File, frequent Fox guest and conservative filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch demanded an explanation from Sen. Harry Reid as to why guns were pointed at "hardworking ranchers":
LYNCH: That man [Sen. Reid], I want an explanation from him. I want to know why it is that I had M-16s pointed at my face. Why those M-16s were pointed at women and children and hardworking ranchers. I want an explanation. Because the more I keep on looking at my footage -- that looked like Afghanistan. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 4/17/14]
Bundy Supporters Who Fox Praised Were Armed, Threatened Violence
Las Vegas Review-Journal: Armed Militia Members Mobilized For "Armed Confrontation." The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on April 9 that armed militia members were joining Bundy in his standoff with the BLM:
From near and wide, armed men are trickling toward Cliven Bundy's ranch, where the rancher's fight with the federal government has become a rallying cry for militia groups across the United States.
They say they are prepared for armed confrontation, but they insist they will not be the instigators if bloodshed happens. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4/9/14]
Reuters: Many Supporters "Wore Military Fatigues And Carried Rifles And Pistols." Reuters reported on April 17 that many of Bundy's supporters carried rifles and pistols:
A number of Bundy supporters wore military fatigues and carried rifles and pistols and had traveled from California, Idaho, Arizona, Montana and beyond. Most kept their handguns holstered.
[Former Arizona sheriff Richard] Mack, who wore his gun on his hip, and other Bundy supporters interviewed by Reuters said they would not shoot first but would retaliate if fired upon. [Reuters, 4/17/14]
Review-Journal: "Serious Bloodshed Was Narrowly Avoided" At The Protest. The Las Vegas Review-Journal also reported that:
On Wednesday, that dispute teetered at the edge of deadly conflict, when Cliven Bundy's family members and supporters scuffled with rangers from the Bureau of Land Management sent to protect the federal roundup of Bundy's cattle on public land. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4/9/14]
Huffington Post: Former Sheriff Wanted To Put "Women Up At The Front" If A Shootout Occurred. According to the Huffington Post, former Arizona sheriff and Bundy supporter Richard Mack proposed putting women on the front lines if a shootout with the BLM occurred and claimed he "would have put my own wife or daughters there":
"We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front," he said on Fox News, according to TheBlaze.com. "If they are going to start shooting, it's going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers."
"If they're going to start killing people, I'm sorry, but to show the world how ruthless these people are, women needed to be the first ones shot. I'm sorry, that sounds horrible. I would have put my own wife or daughters there, and I would have been screaming bloody murder to watch them die. [Huffington Post, 4/15/14]
Reuters: Bundy Supporter "Aimed His Semi-Automatic Rifle" At Federal Agents. On April 17, Reuters reported on the aftermath of the Bundy ranch protest, writing that during that during the standoff an armed protester aimed his gun at federal agents:
Flat on his belly in a sniper position, wearing a baseball cap and a flak jacket, a protester aimed his semi-automatic rifle from the edge of an overpass and waited as a crowd below stood its ground against U.S. federal agents in the Nevada desert. [Reuters, 4/17/14]
Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Urquhart
KLAS-TV Las Vegas: Militia Man Joining Bundy Protest Said "We Provide Armed Response." On April 10, a local Las Vegas news station KLAS-TV reported that one militia man coming to support Bundy said, "That is what we do. We provide armed response ... We need guns to protect ourselves from the tyrannical government." [KLAS-TV Las Vegas, 4/10/14]