By HADAS GOLD |
4/24/14 2:34 PM EDT
New York Times journalist Adam Nagourney was not planning to catch the quote that is starting to unravel Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s support from the right wing.
“We went out there to just do a story on this whole stand-off outside of Las Vegas, and I wanted to interview him so I arranged something with somebody in his entourage who told me he has this 1:00 p.m. news conference everyday, and I could catch him after that so I went up there,” Nagourney, the newspaper's Los Angeles bureau chief, told POLITICO on Thursday.
Bundy, the rancher who is refusing to pay the more than $1 million in grazing fees he owes to the U.S. government, caused outrage from figures on the right and left Thursday with statements about African Americans who “never learned how to pick cotton” and may be better off as slaves
Nagourney, who interviewed Bundy and reported on the statements, said he didn’t ask a question during the press conference, where the only members of the media were himself and a Times photographer.
“The stuff he is in trouble over today was stuff he said on his own unprompted toward the beginning of the event. He said it and I just kept my head down, kept my tape recorder on took notes and that was it,” Nagourney said.
None of Bundy’s supporters seemed to react to the quote and no one from Bundy’s entourage sought to clarify or defend it while he was visiting, Nagourney said, though he immediately knew it was going to be big.
“It’s just one of those things you hear it and you go this is really news, N-E-W-S,” he said.
Nagourney visited Bundy’s ranch on Saturday but said he didn’t publish the piece until Wednesday because there were no other outlets there to compete with, which gave them time to “get the story right.”
Bundy and his entourage initially pushed back on Thursday saying Bundy’s words were taken “out of context.” Later on Thursday, Bundy tried to clarify his comments on the Peter Schiff Show, saying he was just “wondering” if black people would be better off as slaves.
“I’m wondering if they’re better off under a government subsidy and their young women are having the abortions and their young men are in jail and their older women and children are sitting out on the cement porch without nothing to do,” the Nevada rancher said in a radio interview on The Peter Schiff Show.
But Bundy has not called the Times to ask for a correction, and Nagourney pointed to video posted of Bundy’s remarks to back up his story.
“I’m really into transparency, the key point was I was there and with him, I was holding a tape recorder and a notebook, it wasn’t like sneaking into a meeting, it was a public event he called a press conference,” Nagourney said.