Review-Journal distorts Southern Poverty Law Center report on Bundy

The Southern Poverty Law Center has released a report that reinforces how Cliven Bundy's standoff with the Bureau of Land Management has emboldened the radical right.

The report piggybacks off reporting and analysis by J.J. MacNab in Forbes that shows the ties between the Bundyville horde and sovereign citizen movements.The SPLC piece, headlined, "War in the West: The Bundy Ranch Standoff and the American Radical Right," also condemns politiucians and pundits who enabled Bundy by giving aid and comfort to the cause with their rhetoric -- looking at you, Sen. Dean "Patriots" Heller.

But in its report Thursday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which was a Bundy echo until he started his disquisition on the history of "the Negro" in America, cherry-picks a paragraph deep in the SPLC document to run a story with this headline: "National group critical of BLM’s handling of Bundy standoff" (UPDATE: The RJ now has changed the headline!)

Really, RJ? You are this shameless?

That is not the thrust of the piece at all. 

Yes, two-thirds of the way down, the SPLC report rightly points out: What is puzzling is why the BLM allowed Bundy to get away for 20 years without paying grazing fees that all other ranchers pay. And what is equally surprising is the almost amateurish way the BLM finally moved against Bundy. What both point to is a failure of the federal government to come to terms with the true nature of the war in the West.

No one except the BLM disputes the feds botched the roundup. I first detailed it myself for POLITICO Magazine in April.

But that is the kind of false equivalency and distorted coverage we have come to expect. Just read that SPLC headline to see what the point of its report is, which is given a passing mention by the RJ.

And the distillation is right there high up in the report: The Bundy standoff has invigorated an extremist movement that exploded when President Obama was elected, going from some 150 groups in 2008 to more than 1,000 last year. Though the movement has waxed and waned over the last three decades, antigovernment extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement. Today’s disputes with federal authority, many long simmering, are an extension of the earlier right-wing Sagebrush Rebellion, Wise Use and “county supremacy” movements.

The piece's laceration of folks such as Heller and Sean Hannity for their behavior during the standoff also is ignored by Nevada's largest and least complete newspaper:

Rather than being condemned, their actions garnered the support of numerous politicians, including the governor of Nevada and commentators like Fox News’ Sean Hannity — a truly repulsive spectacle. This pandering to the far right by both politicians and media figures ended in a hurry, however, when Bundy engaged in racist blather about “the Negro.” Racism was crossing a line, apparently, but the calls from the ranch for revolution and outright defiance of federal law enforcement seemed to be just fine with the Hannitys of the world.

Read the SPLC report. Ignore the RJ.