As the onslaught of drive-by media continues during Operation Big Sky, we as Idaho’s III% still remain hopeful that truth in journalism will prevail, and that our story and true intentions will be shared with the world. We are Constitutional patriots who seek nothing more than to secure the blessings of liberty and uphold the Constitutional Republic. We rely on Freedom of the Press to keep the public well informed and to not lead us astray. One outlet, in particular has utterly failed the public in that respect. A well-established international news outlet known as Russian Today (RT) refused to air an interview because the contents did not meet their pre-conceived notions of our presence in Montana and did not confirm their own bias.
In an e-mail inviting our organization to a 7-10 minute interview, Ivan Zagorsk reached out to Idaho III% on the behalf of RT International Television News Network. “Security Operation Big Sky is a major developing story that we would like to focus on”, stated Zagorsk “We feel it would be very important for our viewers to hear from one of your organization’s members.” That was exactly what took place. Then why did they refuse to air the contents of that video interview? While an on-scene interview is ideal for full spectrum coverage, this RT office is based in Canada and, therefore needed to hire a film crew closer to the operation. Within two hours, a crew hired out of Helena, Montana arrived with RT’s list of interview questions for patriot groups involved in Operation Big Sky. The list of questions included allegations of fraud during Operation Gold Rush (OGR) at the Sugar Pine Mine, concerns about the USFS viewing us as an armed militia, and accusations that our group is a right-wing white supremacist armed militia.
Unfortunately, the media spins the horrendous assertion that citizen patriot groups who exercise their second amendment rights are racist, white supremacist and are associated with militias and extremist groups. As stated in the unpublished interview, these claims are nothing more than an attempt to discredit the Constitution and it supporters and are unfounded and unsubstantiated. Our members come from diverse backgrounds. A visit to a monthly member meeting would quickly demolish the notion that we are racist or white-supremacists.
Allegations of fraud? An incident at OGR took place in which an individual involved at the operation used donated funds for personal financial gain. That member was quickly relieved of their involvement and we are currently seeking legal recourse against that individual. Membership to either Oath Keepers or Idaho’s III% is heavily vetted. Any interested person who shows extremist, racist, or fringe views will not be allowed into our organization. Additionally, any current member who demonstrates the desire to commit an unlawful act, or is disrespectful to law enforcement, or those of another gender or race will be barred from membership. Unlawful acts are quickly turned over to the authorities, those types of behaviors are not what Idaho III% is about.
The film crew took several “action-shots’ of our staging area and general operating procedures: Vetting processes, supply staging, communications with security operation, etc. Several of our members carried side-arms openly, however, no assault rifles were present. Upon sending the footage and interview material back to RT, it was met with disappointment. According to the local film crew, RT was quoted in an e-mail asking “Where are the guns?” “Go back and get the footage that we want”. The film crew was not about to fabricate a false image. Apparently, RT was needed the film crew to depict an armed stand-off with members in camouflage and ski masks. In addition, because the footage did not meet the skewed perceptions of RT, the news organization refused to pay the film crew for their work and wrote an article paralleling the fear-mongering narrative of the mainstream media. The article, found at the bottom of this article includes quotes taken from an interview given to the Associated Press, pictures from a prior operation, and videos from of the presence of Oath Keepers in Ferguson. None of these aspects had anything to do with Operation Big Sky. Instead of reporting the truth, RT chose to ignore the facts and fall in line with a skewed narrative.
The title of the article is “Armed militias celebrate victory in Montana mine stand-off with federal govt”. The point of the interview was to refute these claims, and we did a damn good job. But again, the truth doesn’t fit into RT’s agenda. They’re not even willing to pay individuals for uncovering the truth.
It was not a victory, our primary objective was to get the miners their due process, and that objective was achieved. No stand-off ever took place, no weapons were raised, no confrontation between USFS and members of the security operation ever happened. It was simply citizens standing guard, protecting private property. Once again, fear-mongering tactics that incite emotional knee-jerk responses, and a refusal to acknowledge facts, are methods used by RT and other mainstream media. Their target audience would seem to be low-information voters, and winning hearts and minds rather than objective reporting.
Shame on you Russia Today. As an individual, before my position as Public Information Officer within Idaho III%, I looked to RT for an alternative perspective on the issues that mattered to me. After this recent move, you have ripped the rug of confidence right out from under my feet. You have crossed the line. You use the same tactics as the media you supposedly stand against. The Patriot movement doesn’t need your cognitive dissonance RT, or any another agency who willing puts their head in the sand. We leave you with an excerpt from Russia Today’s ‘About Us’ page:
“RT news covers the major issues of our time for viewers wishing to question more and delivers stories often missed by the mainstream media to create news with an edge. RT provides an alternative perspective on major global events and acquaints an international audience with the Russian viewpoint.”
We contest that.
Public Information Officer