Podcast Review: Bundyville

Bundyville: The Remnant, a co-production between Longreads and Oregon Public Broadcasting, explores the world beyond the Bundy family and the armed uprisings they inspired. The host of this podcast is Leah Sottile. This series investigates extremist violence that results from the conspiracy theories of the anti-government movement, who is inspiring that violence, and who stands to benefit.  The Bundys, under the leadership of Calvin Bundy, protested the federal government owning land that they needed for their cattle. This resulted in armed standoffs and confrontations with federal agents. Bundyville is a thrilling series that will maintain your attention.

The conflict between the Bundys and federal government began when the government required permits for cattle to graze on their lands near the Bundy ranch in Nevada. Calvin Bundy, refusing to acknowledge that the government owned the land, allowed his cattle to graze in the area without paying for a permit. This resulted in him being fined for thousands of dollars and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) being authorized to confiscate Bundy’s cattle. This lead to a standoff on April 12, 2014 between armed Bundy and the BLM. Due to the large number of armed Bundy supporters, the BLM released captured cattle and fled the area. In the podcast, you hear the audio of the standoff and there are interviews with Bundy supporters who were there. The interviews show that Bundy and his supporters were willingly to use their firearms if the situation escalated. It is startling to hear how to hear how close there was a shootout in this encounter.  

In another encounter between law enforcement and Bundy supporters, there was a fatality. Bundy supporters occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to protest the federal government establishing the land as a wildlife refuge. When Bundy supporter Lavoy Finicum reached for his gun after he was pulled over, he was shot and killed. In the podcast, there is an audio recording of the encounter. Finicum is heard repeatedly taunting law enforcement and told to stop reaching for his weapon before he is shot. Despite his shooting being justified because he was threatening the lives of law enforcement officers, Bundy supporters viewed him as a martyr. In the episode which covers the shooting, you hear the irrational behavior of Finicum and it is insightful into the mindset of some of the staunch Bundy supporters.

For all of their problems with the law, the Bundys have evaded imprisonment. Cliven Bundy and his sons Amon and Ryan were arrested in 2017 for conspiring against federal agents. In the podcast, you hear how the federal governments case against them resulted in a mistrial. The prosecution failed to turn over evidence that would have benefited the defense. This resulted in the Bundys being released from prison. It was shocking to hear how a straight-forward case for the prosecution fell apart. 

The Bundys gained from the support of far right extremist groups. Someone from one of these groups was interviewed and basically stated that Timothy McVeigh was a patriot as a result of his stance against the government. You learn about how two Bundy followers, Amanda and Jerad Miller, killed Las Vegas police officers. The Bundys ability to break the law and get away with it emboldened individuals to commit attacks on anyone they see as the establishment.  Bundyville does an excellent job of tracing the roots of fringe groups back to the Bundys. This is a thrilling podcast from start to finish.

Due to the graphic content in the podcast, it is recommended for mature audiences only.

You can listen to Bundyville on the podcast website or apps such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify.