A Nevada Republican legislator complained about MSNBC host Chris Hayes’ remarks regarding rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle, yet repeatedly referred to undocumented immigrants as “terrorists” during a combative interview Friday night.
“I’m not saying I agree with Cliven Bundy, I’m saying the way this was handled was really suspicious,” state Assembly member Michele Fiore (R) told Hayes. “When in the heck do we send our federal government with arms to collect a bill? When do we do that? When have we ever done that? I mean, literally, if we sent our federal government to the borders to secure them against terrorist crossing, hey, I got that. But they want to come here with arms because cows are grazing?”
Fiore spoke with Hayes from outside Bunkerville, Nevada, where a crowd has formed in support of Bundy. The government holds that Bundy has refused to pay federal grazing fees for two decades, incurring a debt of more than $1 million after losing several court battles.
After Bundy declared he would give the government a “range war,” the dispute led to a stand-off between his supporters — many of whom arrived with firearms — and officials from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), who later left the area.
But Fiore accused the bureau of “coming up” with the fees in 1993 over unspecified damages, and cut Hayes off when he was about to mention that Bundy’s supporters were armed. Hayes also showed footage of one of them openly discussing being willing to kill or be killed by BLM officials during the stand-off.
“Chris, do you want them coming to your house pointing guns at your wife and children? Is that okay with you?” Fiore asked. “Because it’s defnitely not okay with me, it’s not okay with Americans across the United States.”
“Is it okay with you if every rancher in the country stopped paying their grazing fees?” Hayes asked.
“No, it’s not okay,” Fiore responded.
“Well, that’s the issue, right?” Hayes said.
“Great,” Fiore replied. “Lien the cows. Lien the property. Don’t come here with guns and expect the American people not to fire back.”
Fiore did not mention that conservative media outlets have been keen to cheerlead for future conflicts between the Bundy ranch and federal officials.
But when Hayes asked Fiore if she would support any undocumented immigrants who felt it best to have their own armed supporters on hand to resist deportation efforts, Fiore did not answer.
“Are we talking about cows, or are we talking about illegal immigration?” she asked, instead. “I’m talking about cows.”
“I’m talking about human beings,” Hayes retorted. “Which seems to me even more important.”
“Human beings that, thank God, did not get slaughtered,” Fiore told Hayes. “Cows did get slaughtered out here.”
“What is gonna happen to those cows later on?” Hayes asked her.
“Are you saying it’s okay to cruelly slaughter them because they’re raised for beef?” Fiore shot back. “Is that what you’re saying? I would retract those statements, because it’s pretty sad, Chris.”
“Don’t put words in my mouth,” Hayes said.
Watch the discussion, as aired on Friday on MSNBC, below.