A dispute between a Nevada cattle rancher and the federal Bureau of Land Management became a flash point for anti-government sentiment this week, as conservative media hyped the showdown and protesters gathered on the federal land in question.
Here’s the skinny from Reuters: Rancher Cliven Bundy and BLM have been feuding since 1993 over Bundy using federal lands to graze his cattle. BLM says Bundy stopped paying fees and ignored requests to remove his animals. Bundy says that his rights to the land pre-date those of the federal government.
So federal authorities have begun seizing Bundy’s animals. That perceived government overreach drew as many as 1,500 protesters to the land on Friday, according to Reuters, with groups like the Southern Nevada Militia warning that their cause is “a last stand for American independence.”
Fox News characterized Bundy’s action as “illegal grazing,” but conservative media have still gone all-in with their coverage.
“HEAVILY ARMED FEDS SURROUND NEVADA RANCH,” read the top line on the Drudge Report Saturday, which has been heavily monitoring the situation. It then dubbed the conflict an all-out “range war.”
FEDS RETREAT IN NEVADA RANGE WAR http://t.co/ywsOuYOTJN
— DRUDGE REPORT (@DRUDGE_REPORT) April 12, 2014
InfoWars, the online home of conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Alex Jones, openly wondered if the showdown would become another “Wounded Knee,” equating the scenario with 1890 massacre of hundreds of Native Americans.
“Ripples of Nevada Range Showdown Spreading in West,” was the headline at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.
“BLM Won’t Say if They’ve Euthanized Cows in Ranch Standoff,” the Washington Free Beacon warned.
“Nevada Ranch Standoff Escalates, Questions about Reid Arise,” the National Review Online intoned.
Breitbart News took a more contemplative tack: “THE SAGA OF BUNDY RANCH — FEDERAL POWER, RULE OF LAW AND AVERTING POTENTIAL BLOODSHED”