Last year, a Nevada rancher who boasts that he doesn’t “recognize the United States government as even existing” become a hero of Fox News pundits and other conservative commentators he staged an armed standoff with federal agents rather than pay the decades of overdue grazing fees he owed to the government.
The rancher, Cliven Bundy, worked with militia groups and other armed demonstrators to resist law enforcement officials who were attempting to enforce a court order to prevent further illegal grazing.
Bundy’s stardom among Republican politicians and right-wing pundits didn’t dissipate when his supporters pointed their weapons at law enforcement agents, but only began to fade after he made disparaging remarks about how “Negros” were “better off as slaves,” and even then he still had some defenders.
But earlier this month when a black woman named Sandra Bland was forced out of her car and to the ground by a Texas police officer after she reportedly failed to signal during a lane switch and declined to put out a cigarette, Fox News decided that this was a time to lecture viewers on how to be respectful to law enforcement. Bland later died in police custody in what investigators ruled was a suicide.
This was teachable moment, Fox News host Megyn Kelly and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke explained on the conservative network yesterday, suggesting that Bland was at fault for her own demise:
Clarke, a favorite of the extremist sheriff group that called on Bundy’s supporters to use women and children as human shields during the armed standoff, told Kelly that he would “have been embarrassed” if Bland was his daughter.
Far from a run-of-the-mill conservative, the right-wing sheriff has repeatedly floated the possibility of a rebellion against the government over purported evils such as marriage equality and strict gun laws.
But now, Clarke and his cohorts at Fox News have gone from whipping people into an anti-government extremist frenzy to lecturing someone for not showing proper respect to a police officer who told her “I will light you up.”