Why There’s a Media Blackout on the Native American Oil Pipeline Blockade

Anti-Media – by Nick Bernabe

North Dakota — As the Lakota Sioux continue their peaceful blockade of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, the story’s absence from the national media narrative is palpable. Considering the corporate media’s chronic quest for controversial stories on government versus public standoffs, you’d think this situation would garner the typical media frenzy invoked during a right-wing militia occupation of a federal building, for example, or a tense standoff between the Black Lives Matter movement and police. But it’s not.  

As of late, the media has faced criticism for its selective coverage of certain events — like, say, focusing on singleterror attacks in Western Europe that garner thousands of headlines while basically ignoring similar or worse attacks that occur on a constant basis in Muslim-majority countries.

But the confrontation unfolding in North Dakota, in particular, is strikingly similar to the recent standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, which involved a right-wing militia advocating land rights against the federal government. The militia was led by the controversial Bundy family, which previously drew sensationalized coverage during a similar standoff in Nevada in 2014. So why were these stories covered extensively while the other — also centered around land rights — has been mostly ignored?

The first point is actually very simple: Native Americans standing up for themselves is not polarizing. In an age ofinstitutionalized media divisiveness and hyper-partisanship, the story of Native Americans in North Dakota fighting for land and water rights just doesn’t fit the script of deep, societal divides plaguing the nation’s law and order, nor does it fit in with the left-right paradigm. People from both sides of the political spectrum pretty much agree that Native Americans have been screwed by the U.S. government and resource-snatching corporations long enough. Considering this sentiment, there’s really no exploitable controversy on this issue from the mainstream media perspective, which inherently drives topical, superficial news narratives.

It’s easy to create a controversy out of right-wing white nationalist militias occupying an obscure federal wildlife preserve building (if that sounds petty and not exactly newsworthy, that’s because it was petty and not exactly newsworthy). I witnessed liberals so incensed by the Oregon occupiers they were calling for the FBI to literallygun them down. Meanwhile, the alt-right movement hailed them as heroes and harbingers of the second American Revolution. It made for a great, divisive controversy. But in the end, nothing was accomplished. It was topical. It was superficial. It was essentially meaningless — and the media loved it so much it dedicated a month’s worth of prime time TV coverage to it.

In contrast, the only thing the mainstream media would accomplish by publicizing the growing tribal oppositionto the Dakota Access Pipeline would be to effectively kill the prospects of the pipeline. Providing ongoing coverage would likely inspire national outrage toward the oil company, Dakota Access LLC, and the government agencies currently trying to evict the indigenous people from their own ancestral lands.

It’s important to understand that the media doesn’t always cover certain stories just because they’re actually newsworthy. Often, the media’s coverage is intended to promote and drive narratives, and the divisive flavor has been a top seller for a long time. This coverage has accomplished at least one thing in the United States: the country is now the most divided it’s been in a very long time. Maybe that has been the media’s intention all along.

The second and more obvious reason why mainstream outlets have not focused on the situation in North Dakota is money — oil money, to be exact. The corporate media in the United States is deeply in bed with oil interests. From fracking advertisements on MSNBC to individuals on Big Oil’s payroll literally working for Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, the ties cannot be understated. Why would mainstream media publicize a standoff that could potentially kill an oil pipeline when their own financial interests would be negatively affected? The answer is they wouldn’t.

And there you have it. That’s why right-wing militias pointlessly occupying a wildlife refuge is one of the biggest stories of the century but Native Americans stopping the construction of a multibillion-dollar pipeline isn’t worth a single headline on CNN.


8 thoughts on “Why There’s a Media Blackout on the Native American Oil Pipeline Blockade

  1. The author is absolutely right. Publicizing the Injun standoff would tend to cause unity between people they’d rather see divided, and they can’t have any of that.

  2. I watched some of this coverage and the Indian gal doing the PR said that other tribes were coming in from other states as well as non native Americans, basically the people uniting in protest.

  3. I don’t want to pick any nits but there was a great deal accomplished at the birdy refuge.
    There was the criminals murdering someone along side they road, Which they excel at doing.
    Then there was the stealing back of some land that the criminals stole in the first place.
    Then there was their treasonous criminality that was made plain for all to see, at least for those paying attention.
    It was a busy time for the criminals and it seems to me they accomplished quite a lot.
    But the rest of this article I agree with. This should be all over the news and it’s not.
    As a matter of fact, I don’t see the Alt-media talking about it much either. Just the Trenches.
    But then, there’s a lot of the Alt-media I avoid.

  4. The only way rights of Native Americans (and for the most part I completely support these folks…the genocide of Native Americans is for me top three in the biggest shames in American history) will ever get published in the mainstream press or TV is if George Soros–just for the fun of it I suppose–funds “NativeLivesMatter” or something. But no. Leonard Peltier and others like him rot in jail for no reason, plus since there are so few Native Americans left alive, there aren’t enough for “PsychoSoros” to think it’s worth it!

    1. Plus, it would piss off blacks too much…need I remind people that it was the BLACK “BUFFALO SOLDIERS” stationed at Fort Davis (in my neck of the woods) who committed GENOCIDE against the Comanches? (as well as Mescalero Apaches…but the Comanches really were wiped out, in the 1860s and 1870s, and these black soldiers were largely responsible for that!)

  5. “As of late, the media has faced criticism for its selective coverage of certain events — like, say, focusing on singleterror attacks in Western Europe that garner thousands of headlines…”

    No mystery there… those (fake) ‘attacks’ are DESIGNED to ‘garner thousands of headlines’ to further the implementation of the ‘global’ police state.

    “… while basically ignoring similar or worse attacks that occur on a constant basis in Muslim-majority countries.”

    No mystery here, either. Those were REAL attacks, most likely perpetrated (or at least orchestrated) by Mossad.

    THAT’S why jews news won’t cover them.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *