Today, I spent an hour with Ammon Bundy. To do such a thing required me to travel to Oregon. It also meant I had to check in at a maximum security jail — a process I’ve never experienced before — and one I wasn’t prepared for despite trying otherwise. Allow me to explain…
When I took on the immigration issue, I did it in a way most people do not. Meaning, I lived it.
I’ve worked with the Border Patrol at night; I’ve spent weeks studying the smuggling routes in AZ; I’ve taken the long boat rides along the Rio Grande and looked into the eyes of cartel scouts. I’ve scaled the fences and seen the tunnels; I’ve lived with the ranchers; I’ve visited homes occupied by the illegals; I’ve investigated the Canadian border. By doing all this I believe I can articulate the problem better than anyone in America.
That said, I was on the front lines covering the “Nevada standoff” for Fox News in 2014 when the BLM went nose to nose with the Bundy family and hundreds of their supporters. I used my footage to create a one-hour film called A DAY AT BUNDY’S, and in doing so I’ve become familiar with the Bundy family. I understand how and why Ammon and his brothers felt they needed to travel to Oregon in December 2015 to defend the Hammond family. But even so, in order for me to even remotely understand what Ammon Bundy is going through as an inmate, I had to understand what a prison cell truly feels like (but without getting myself arrested, of course). And so I visited Alcatraz two days before visiting Ammon.
Aside from tuning in to watch the cop dramas on TV and films like Cool Hand Luke, I’ve never seen the inside of a prison or jail. I’ve never looked out from the inside of a cell. I’ve never heard the sound of prison bars closing; I’ve never touched the cold cinder block walls: I’ve never smelled the inside of a prison hallway.
Although Alcatraz is an attraction, it still reeks of prison life. It’s eerie to walk the hallways and sit in the cells. It’s depressing to look out a small window. I didn’t need more than 20-minutes to realize prison is the worst place on earth. Truth is, I didn’t last more than an hour touring the facility — this is one of those times when I don’t want to be an expert.
Ammon Bundy and I met today in a small cinder block prison room no bigger than a small bathroom found in a small cape-style home. We sat on plastic chairs positioned across from each other at a plastic table. We were allowed to shake hands when saying hello. When we grabbed hands he said, “When my wife comes to visit I am not permitted to touch her hand.” Instantly, my heart felt heavy.
Ammon looked thin, clean shaven, and his hair was parted perfectly. He was dressed in what looks like hospital scrubs, and although he was happy to see a fresh face (mine), there was a constant heaviness in his eyes.
I started by asking some basic questions, but it didn’t take more than 5-minutes for him to cry. The emotions were brought on by me saying, “Hey, before we go on — I don’t want to forget — your wife sent me a text message today. She wants me to tell you she loves you to pieces.”
While he spoke to me about his wife and kids, all I could do was think about how terrible I felt during the 20-minutes at Alcatraz. “Ammon you must be dying inside?” He responded, “They try to break you in here — they want you to quit.”
Unlike my Alcatraz tour that ended with a cup of coffee, a salted pretzel, and conversation with the boat master about who will be the better team this season, the San Francisco Giants or the New York Yankees, Ammon’s tour is very, very real. No quick stop at Alcatraz can measure up to what Ammon lives today.
My interview with Ammon Bundy is as powerful and sad as it is maddening and confusing. I use the word confusing because if found guilty on all charges, Ammon will face up to 100 years in prison. It makes no sense to me.
I also interviewed Ryan Bundy today. He is in the same facility– but he is never permitted to see Ammon.
My interviews with Ammon and Ryan Bundy will be available next week on UNFILTERED. If you want to be alerted as to when each interview will air, send me an email at [email protected]
We will send you an email with the time and day when the schedule is set.
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