All the accused had confronted or ignored law-enforcement officers in group protests in either 2014’s Bunkerville, Nevada, confrontation or 2016’s similar standoff in Harney County, Oregon. Both showdowns were responses to perceived overreach of federal bureaucracies – chiefly the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Witnesses at both Malheur and Bunkerville described a constant media presence, including major networks. CBS, CNN and others were either present or remotely covered the confrontations. RT showed up in courthouses, as did press from Britain and Norway. Freelance journalists and documentary film crews spent nights at the Oregon refuge. None of these was arrested, regardless of length of time spent or the number of trips.
Eventually police blockades effectively sealed Burns off from the outside world. Only embedded journalists were left reporting at the refuge toward the latter part of the occupation and the ultimate FBI/BLM siege. Among these were Pete Santilli, Tom Lacovara, Michael Emry and Blaine Cooper.