This was a great assignment. I was able to learn more about the different biases, as well as learn that it is important to read information from many different sources so that I may form a more accurate opinion.
Current Event Write-Up
Cliven Bundy and the BLM Encounter
The event which I have chosen to read about, and discuss is the encounter between Cliven Bundy, and the federal organization called the Bureau of Land Management. I chose this article because we talked about identity this semester in great detail. We also talked about many great people such as Martin Luther King Jr., and large movements that have taken place, especially in the United States. I felt that this particular article was not only an article about the identity of Cliven, but an article about protest, and small scale war in a way.
A man in his 60’s who owns a herd of cattle has been using open land, claimed to be federal land, to graze his cattle. The federal government regularly issues a grazing tax if people utilize the land for grazing. Cliven Bundy, the 67 year old man, has not paid the grazing tax, and instead lets his cattle freely roam and graze. The federal government claims that Mr. Bundy has not paid the taxes for approximately twenty years, and that he owes more than one million dollars in taxes.
The Bureau of Land Management or the BLM decided that they were going to take Bundy’s cattle. The organization began rounding up the cattle, and as they did they encountered protestors and physical opposition. The BLM gathered federal rangers in attempt to squash the opposition, but were continually met with resistance, so they eventually decided to keep the matters in the courts.
There were many different sources I could have used for this story, however there were three in particular that I felt would be good. I felt that a more left wing view was needed for one of the articles, so I chose CNN. Then second I felt that a more right wing point of view would be needed to counter balance the first article, so I chose Fox News. Lastly I felt that I either needed a news station that contained little bias, or was international, and so I stumbled upon RT News.
“Showdown on the range: Nevada rancher, feds face off over cattle grazing rights” – CNN, 12 April 2014
This article written by CNN appeared to be the most biased article. I often read CNN articles on their website, and I have grown to understand that they typically hold a more left winged political view. This article of course did maintain many of their typical biases; however it was less severe than may other articles I have viewed on their website.
I found some particular word usage which exposed their biases throughout the article. For example the CNN article used the words, “To environmentalists and the feds, however, he’s an outlaw of sorts who owes U.S. taxpayers more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees.” The attempt of this particular phrase is to view Mr. Bundy as an enemy. The reason why this places him as an enemy is due to the statements nestled within the sentence; he is an enemy to environmentalists, the federal government, and all United States taxpayers. This in turn makes him an enemy to almost all people living in the United States.
In my personal opinion I felt as though Mr. Bundy was being victimized by this article’s stance. After reading through this article I felt a sense of pride for the man because he stood up to a form of oppression, despite the article siding with the government. Personally I hold a different opinion than presented, however CNN did make their stance clear on this matter.
The article did contain a brief background and history, but the article primarily focused on the encounters and conflicts. As it is the duty of a news station to increase their bottom line, this article sensationalized this particular event. A great example of the sensationalizing would be, “officers protecting the civilian driver were threatened and assaulted, the two agencies’ statement said. ‘After multiple requests and ample verbal warnings, law enforcement officers deployed Tasers on a protestor,’ the statement said.” After reading this part of the article I couldn’t help but be more energized and attracted to the article for entertainment reasons.
There were little details included that held little to no relevance in reference to the entire matter. One such example of this was: “In the scuffle with protesters, a police dog was kicked”. Naturally in any sort of scuffle or physical conflict something that could potential rip your neck apart would be kicked, in all reality they were lucky their dog was not killed.
The article did do an alright job of scattering the facts about the matter. They provided a few facts at the beginning while alluding to more. Periodically there were more facts about events leading up to the encounter, and why certain groups held such a strong view. One such example follows: “Between Saturday and Wednesday, contracted wranglers impounded a total of 352 cattle, federal officials said. Bundy says he owns 500 of the more than 900 cattle that federal officials are planning to confiscate for illegal grazing, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Bundy told the newspaper that each head of his livestock is worth about $1,000.” If as Mr. Bundy stated, the cattle are worth around one thousand dollars each, then this is a good reason for people to get upset.
“Nevada rancher and former Shoshone chief’s range war with BLM predates Bundy standoff” – Fox News, 22 April 2014
Fox News kept their article about this event much shorter than did CNN. However, Fox News used a completely different tactic than CNN. This is more characteristic of Fox, as it is commonly associated with a more right winged political agenda. Fox News gave a brief description of the conflict between Mr. Bundy and the BLM, then they proceeded to present several more instances when the BLM seized peoples cattle, then left them with a large fine. One great example that represents this point is about a man named Mr. Yowell, who had cattle seized in 2002: “Yowell’s 132 head of cattle had grazed for decades on the South Fork Western Shoshone Indian Reservation in northeastern Nevada until 2002, when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — the same agency at odds with Bundy — seized them. The federal agency sold the cattle at auction and used the proceeds to pay off the portion of back grazing fees it claimed Yowell owed. Once the cattle was sold, the agency sent Yowell a bill for the outstanding balance, some $180,000. They’ve been garnishing his monthly Social Security checks since 2008 to satisfy the debt Yowell says he does not owe.”
Though the Fox News article used much different tactics, it seemed to hold much more factual information than sensational information. The article presented the event briefly, then quickly determined a stance and used many different events, as well as many different statistical and factual representations to explain why their stance should be considered true. I understand that Fox News is not always this way when it comes to articles, like CNN’s version of this event they too often sensationalize their articles, however this one seemed well put together.
Unlike CNN, Fox News seemed to make the government the bad guy of this article. Most, if not all of the evidence used was to represent the government as either thieves or criminals. There are many quotes which are used to support the premise of Fox News, one such quote was, “’It’s diminished my feeling, my view of the government,’ Yowell told FoxNews.com. ‘They don’t practice what they say.’”
“Bundy ranch stand-off: Government helicopters shot cattle multiple times ‘for fun’” – RT News, 24 April 2014
This article was written by an international news agency. Like the other two they took their own unique approach to presenting this article. In all reality, this is probably the article I enjoyed the most. The article seemed to have the least amount of biases. By the end of the article I hadn’t formed a definitive opinion on who was bad and who was good; in fact neither party was necessarily viewed in the context of good or bad throughout the article.
The article presented appropriate quotes from both parties so as to allow the reader to create their own opinion on the matter. Two different quotations that support this statement are one by a BLM official: “’The Bundy branded bull that was euthanized posed a significant threat to employees during the gather. The Bundy branded cow ran into a fence panel injuring its spine and was euthanized,’ an unnamed BLM official told Breitbart.” And, one by Mr. Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, “’Well we know that two bulls were shot. And the one that they threw up in the mountain, Nickelcrick, he had a shot from above. He was shot by helicopter, but then he had four other shots to him as well. It looks like a fun shoot,” said the younger Bundy adding, “One hit him in the head and it ripped his whole face up. It was almost like a fun shoot.”
In all honesty, I felt that this article presented information in the best manner. It seemed as though for every representation of information it used sources from both parties. By the end of the article I was able to make my own decision based on the information that was presented rather than being forced to decide on one side or the other.
After having read all three of the articles I feel as though I may have found my new source for news. If I had not been given the opportunity for this assignment I may not have realized some of the intense biases attached to the different news stations. It was enjoyable to see the different points of view on the matters pertaining to the incident between the BLM and Mr. Bundy. Naturally I understand how people can view either party as the one at fault. This event continually reminds me of the protests over civil rights which we discussed. I recall some of the intense agony and discrimination those involved in civil rights movements encountered, and in a way this is a similar scenario. Though this matter is not to the severity that the civil rights movements dealt with, this still can be viewed as a matter of the government overstepping their boundaries. As a result I am proud to see people with passion and not merely apathy toward life.