TRAHANT REPORTS—It always amazes how different people can look at the same set of facts, an event, or even a conversation and walk away with completely different impressions.
Then in four decades of reporting I have never seen a story with as wide a gulf over what is occurring at Standing Rock.
The government of North Dakota sees this extraordinary event as a minor glitch in their rush toward more profits from North Dakota oil. And so many of the characterizations are written as if none of the top government officials—you know the governor, members of Congress, the state’s power structure—have ever been to the site that they know so much about. But that’s me being generous: They have not been there and they are clear about their intentions to never go.
That’s why this is a fight about story. And who gets to tell it?
And the stories North Dakota Officialdom want the public to believe are those of lawlessness, “sound science and engineering,” and an overzealous regulatory structure. The first story is quickly erased by anyone who takes the time to travel to the camps. (Previous: Why politicians should visit Standing Rock camps.) And it is the same with the second story, the debate about science and engineering, because that telling only works when you ignore climate science. (Previous: Overdue national debate about pipelines and sound science.)