With news that the leader of the Oregon militia occupying a federal wildlife refuge was arrested last night, and another member killed in a confrontation with police, it’s worth taking a look back at how the media has described the crisis in the last few weeks.
The armed militia first seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon on January 2, and proclaimed early on that they were willing to kill and be killed if necessary. Since then, their occupation of the land, and their refusal to seriously negotiate with the FBI, has cost the U.S. government over $133,000 per day.
Regardless, much of mainstream media has continued to avoid labeling them as the occupying militia that they are. Rather, the go-to label for the armed group has been “protesters.”
Here are just a few headlines along those lines:
Those weren’t the only ones. Another New York Times article from last week reads “Rural Oregon’s Lost Prosperity Gives Standoff a Distressed Backdrop,” but a Nexis search reveals that the article also ran under the much more controversial headline below:
Other headlines portraying the militia mildly have included “Oregon Protesters Say Occupation of Federal Building Was Last Resort” in the Wall Street Journal, while Reuters ran an article headlined “Lack of government action over land disputes may embolden Oregon protesters.”
The media has labeled Black Lives Matter events a “threat,” and activists have even been accused of inciting violence “to the point of a hate crime“, despite the movement being largely peaceful. Police have repeatedly used excessive force against Black Lives Matter activists, deploying riot gear, tear gas, and smoke bombs on the unarmed activists protesting. And just last week, a Minnesota cop encouraged people to run over Black Lives Matter protesters. “Run them over,” Sergeant Jeffrey M. Rothecker wrote in a Facebook comment. “Keep traffic flowing and don’t slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the street.” He then advised drivers how they could use the law to justify running over protesters with their cars.