Magazine article The New American

VonKleist: Reporter or Provocateur?

Magazine article The New American

VonKleist: Reporter or Provocateur?

Article excerpt

In the summer of 2001, the farmers and ranchers of Oregon's Klamath Basin were desperate. They had been wrangling for several years with federal authorities who had been cutting off their water in the peak of growing season. Many were faced with losing their farms. They had been peacefully protesting and trying to get the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., to remove the federal agents who had closed the head gates of their irrigation canal.

The farmers and ranchers were exasperated at the way in which the media had regularly portrayed them as the bad guys, as rednecks who didn't care about the environment. They tried hard to explain their position and to show the reasonableness of their position. The local leaders of the farm groups and irrigation district were particularly concerned about several outsiders who had moved into the area recently and had muscled their way into high-profile, confrontational roles as "leaders." Whenever the media came around, these activists would make inflammatory statements that reinforced the unfavorable image that the area farmers had been going to great pains to correct.

In August 2001, many of the farmers and ranchers had agreed that--with or without the help of the local sheriff--they would go en masse to open the head gates so that water could get to their parched farms. News crews from around the country were camped out at the head gates in anticipation of the confrontation. …

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