A video of MSNBC’s Cal Perry has gone viral this week after the reporter got caught shaming Wisconsin residents for not wearing masks, despite his own cameraman neglecting to wear one. The hypocrisy was brought to light near the end of the video, after Perry calls out a mask-less bystander who quickly points out that the cameraman isn’t wearing one either. Of course, Perry doesn’t have much to say in response.
But this isn’t the first time Cal Perry has chosen to overlook the facts and instead promote the rhetoric of the day.
In early 2017, while covering the protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, Perry claimed the tribes were preparing to hunt buffalo and planned to float the carcasses down the Missouri River. Seeking to bolster the anti-pipeline narrative on national television, Perry claimed the Native Americans were posing the question: “What happens when we float that buffalo down the river and the river is full of oil?”
But as the SayAnything blog reveals, that was certainly not the case. A Native American activist watching Perry broadcast approaches him shortly after the takes (video can be viewed here), telling him his report was notably inaccurate:
The story is “not gonna be good for the locals but for the mainstream it’ll be alright,” he tells the film crew, adding that Perry’s notions about Indians hunting buffalo is “romanticized.” One member of Perry’s team, perhaps Perry himself, was surprised to learn from the activist that Native Americans don’t survive on buffalo hunts any more and go to grocery stores like regular Americans.
I confirmed this with North Dakota Indian Affairs Commissioner Scott Davis. “Our tribe highly regulates our buffalo herd and hunts,” ND Indian Affairs Davis, who is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, told me. “As a tribal member you’d be lucky if you got a tag or opportunity to harvest a buffalo. They only time we harvest buffalo is during our pow wows or ceremonies. Special occasions only.”
I asked Davis about floating the buffalo down the river. “I’ve never heard of that,” he told me.
More than 3 years later, Perry is still playing fast and loose with the facts. His history of selective reporting is not necessarily unique, unfortunately, as we too often see media picking and choosing what facts – or rather, inaccuracies – are worth highlighting on national television.