Fun_People Archive
16 Apr
ABC links Earth First! & Unabomb suspect [?]

Date: Tue, 16 Apr 96 20:54:49 -0700
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: ABC links Earth First! & Unabomb suspect [?]

Forwarded-by: Dan Tenenbaum <>
Forwarded-by: Davis Oldham <>
 [Long, depressing, morbidly fascinating, and with a phone #.]
Forwarded-by: Steven Mentor <>
Forwarded-by: Fen Labalme <>
 [I am continually amazed at how U.S. "journalism" can pretent to
  have any self-respect at all in light of their corporate ownership
  and control (`what's good for the corporations is what people want
  to read' is how `all the news that's fit to print' is interpreted.)

  In particular, this is not the first time that they have maliciously
  attacked Earth First!  Perhaps the worst was when they accused Judi
  Bari & friend of being bombers after having been bombed themselves!

  Well, the following stinks, too!


------- Start of forwarded message -------
Sent-From: EARTHFIRST! <>

An Open Letter to ABC Network News from the Earth First! Journal

 On Friday, April 5, the ABC news program World News Tonight with Peter
Jennings aired a report linking the non-violent environmental group Earth
First! with Theodore Kaczynski, the alleged Unabomber. The piece was riddled
with distortions and inaccuracies, and can only be described as a hit piece
on Earth First! and the environmental movement. ABC's sensationalistic
coverage has done serious damage to the reputation of the Earth First!
movement, based on the word of Barry Clausen, an individual employed by the
timber industry.

The ABC hit piece begins with footage of an Earth First!  protest circa
1988. A group of people are shown in the midst of a chaotic scene of
violence; fists are flying, people are screaming. The imagery, which sets
the stage for the rest of the piece, is clear: these people are violent,
crazed extremists. The real story behind this footage, however, provides
quite a different context. That day, two protestors, in an act of civil
disobedience, had locked themselves by the neck to a logging road gate. In
the moments just prior to the footage aired, these activists had been
attacked by loggers, and were dragged by their necks in an attempt to open
the gate. The decontextualized footage aired by ABC showed other activists
attempting to intervene in order to protect their friends. The person
throwing punches was one of the loggers, although ABC does not mention this.

ABC bases its allegation of a Unabomber-Earth First! link on two flimsy
pieces of information. The first is Kaczynski's alleged presence at, as ABC
calls it, "a meeting which top level members of Earth First! attended, at
the University of Montana." In fact, this "meeting" was actually an
environmental conference sponsored by the Native Forest Network, a
grassroots environmental group working to protect temperate forests
worldwide. Over four hundred people attended, including environmentalists
from Poland, Scotland, England, Chile, Mexico, Canada and Australia. Even
representatives from the US Forest Service attended the conference.
Activists associated with Earth First! also attended the event, but had no
role in the conference proceedings. Kacyznski's alleged presence at the
conference (his name does not appear on the conference registration list)
links him to Earth First! no more than it links him to the US Forest

(The most interesting fact presented in the story, completely glossed over
by ABC, was news of an FBI list of conference attendees. Is attending
environmental conferences an activity now considered suspicious by our
government? The November, 1994, conference occurred before excerpts of the
Unabomber manifesto were released which linked the Unabomber to

The second piece of information is ABC's contention that two of the
Unabomber's victims were on "Eco-Fuckers Hit List" published by, in ABC's
words, "a radical environmental journal." (This is the motto in the masthead
of the Earth First! Journal.) A quick shot of the hit-list page was followed
by a quote from Leslie Hemstreet, a member of the editorial staff of the
Earth First! Journal. In the quote, Hemstreet says something like "We cannot
be held responsible for what Theodore Kaczynsky may have done with any
information he may have gotten from us, because if he had read our journal
thoroughly, he would've seen that we are completely dedicated to

The inference could not be clearer: The Earth First! Journal published the
hit list. Yet this is false, and ABC knew that it was false. (An underground
anarchist/environmental publication called Live Wild Or Die actually printed
the hit list.) Roxanne Bezjian, the freelance reporter who interviewed
Hemstreet for ABC, told the Journal after complaints about the coverage that
she made it very clear to Brian Ross and Dave Rommel, the correspondent and
producer of the piece, respectively, that the Journal had not printed the
hit list.  And while ABC never directly says the Earth First! Journal
printed the list, the inference was strong enough to provoke phone calls to
the Earth First! Journal office with people screaming that we are terrorists
directly responsible for the Unabomber's actions.

ABC further distorted the story by claiming that both of the victims
appeared on the hit-list roster. The two corporations that ABC is referring
to as appearing on the list (the list was composed of corporations) are the
California Forestry Association and Exxon. Thomas Mosier, one of the
Unabomber's victims that ABC cites as being part of the hit list, worked
not for Exxon, but for the public relations firm Burson-Marstellar. ABC
claims that Mosier was connected to Exxon because Exxon was a client of
Burson-Marstellar.  However, Burson-Marstellar, one of the largest public
relations firms in the world, has numerous clients. Whether Mosier ever
worked on anything related to Exxon is unclear.

Perhaps the most outrageous aspect of the hit piece is ABC's source of
information, Barry Clausen, who appears in the piece. Clausen is a paid
informant of the timber industry whose livelihood depends on an audience
interested in Earth First!. Clausen has made a cottage industry for himself
travelling to rural areas on speaking engagements paid for by "wise use"
groups and the timber industry. The subject of his speeches is his claimed
infiltration of Earth First!, and how Earth First! "terrorists" are
attempting to destroy jobs, the economy and the whole of civilization.

Barry Clausen is not a credible source. He is a wannabe informant who has
been rejected as unreliable by every law enforcement agency he has tried to
work with. These include the Sheriffs of both Park County and Madison County
in Montana, the US Forest Service in Montana, Washington and California,
the US Marshall and the FBI. Clausen has also been rejected by private
agencies including a private investigator in Seattle, Washington, and the
securtity department of McDonald's hamburger chain.

FBI agent Horace Newborn, in charge of the Domestic Terrorism Unit at the
FBI's headquarters in Washington DC, also characterizes Clausen as
unreliable. In a sworn deposition Newborn stated about Clausen, "I think
what we did is we did some other agency checks with Clausen. His name came
up in other places, and we did some other agency checks, and they said he
was not reliable."

This rejection (except Newborn's) is documented in Clausen's own book,
Walking on the Edge: How I Infiltrated Earth First!, published by the
Washington Contract Loggers Association, either in the form of direct
conversations or by the agencies' refusal to grant Clausen and his partner
Joanne immunity.

 ABC's portrayal of Earth First! as violent is totally contradicted by the
history of Earth First! activism. In the sixteen years since Earth First!'s
formation the only people to have been injured as a result of Earth First!
activities have been Earth First!ers themselves. Earth First! activists have
all too often been the victims of violence. Activists have had their houses
burned down, been shot at, and beaten up. In 1990, Judi Bari and Darryl
Cherney were bombed in their car while organizing for Redwood Summer, an
Earth First!  campaign to protect California's redwoods. (Their lawsuit
against the FBI for wrongful prosecution and harrassment is still pending.)
ABC's irresponsible portrayal of Earth First!  as violent terrorists
legitimates such heinous attacks.

The damage done by ABC's hit piece on Earth First! is tremendous. Hard
working environmental activists, who regularly place their bodies on the
line to protect the earth, should not be subjected to such blather. This is
especially true in light of the "logging without laws" timber salvage rider,
which makes salvage logging operations above the law on US public lands. We
have better things to do with our time than respond to such outrageous

The Earth First! Journal is asking for people to call Rhonda Schwartz,
Senior Producer of World News Tonight, to complain about ABC's
irresponsible, sensationalistic reporting. You may reach her at
(404) 874-0380.

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