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Tuesday on TV: ‘Frontline’ reports on Bundys’ armed standoffs — and their Mormonism is mentioned

First Published      Last Updated May 16 2017 01:51 pm

Tonight, "Frontline" (9 p.m., PBS/Ch. 7) looks inside look inside the Bundy family's armed standoff with the federal government — and the family's Mormon beliefs play into it just a bit.

Midway through the hour, as Ammon Bundy is trying to recruit followers, the narrator says, "He and his family are devout Mormons, and Ammon spread his family's message with the zeal of a missionary."

And that comes just after a segment in which Ammon's father, family patriarch Cliven Bundy, is shown making rampantly racist statements about how the "negro" might have been better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?"

It does not reflect well on the Bundys or, by association, on the LDS Church. The documentary does not mention that, during the subsequent armed standoff in Oregon, the church condemned the Bundys actions.

To be honest, I was greatly concerned about this installment of "Frontline." Back in January, I asked filmmaker Richard Rowley if the title, "American Patriot," was meant to be ironic — and I couldn't get a straight answer.

Four months later, the titled has been amended — it's now "American Patriot: Inside the Armed Uprising Against the American Government." And, while the report troubles me greatly, it's not because of how the hour turned out.

If you're a supporter of the Bundys and the militias who have defied the law and taken up arms against law enforcement, you'll no doubt see justification for their actions in this edition of "Frontline."

No, it doesn't portray the government officials as perfect. But "Frontline" also doesn't pull any punches pointing out that the Bundys and their followers have taken the law into their own hands and threatened the safety of not just government employees but themselves and their neighbors.

In other words, it's a well-balanced report.

Elsewhere on TV ...

• College baseball (6 p.m., BYUtv): UVU at BYU

• "NCIS" (7 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2): Gibbs, McGee and Torres travel to an area of Paraguay to locate a missing Navy SEAL. (Season finale)

• "The Middle" (7 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): Axl plans to spend the summer in Europe; Sue panics when she doesn't hear back from the owner of an SUV she scrapes. (Season finale)

• "The Voice" (7 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5): The results of this week's voting are announced.

• "Victorian Slum House" (7 p.m., PBS/Ch. 7): People flock to London looking for work, despite horrific conditions.

• "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (7 and 7:30 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13): Capt. Holt's mom is robbed; Charles, Terry and Gina try to resolve Scully and Hitchcock's conflict.

• "The Flash" (7 p.m., CW/Ch. 30): The Flash turns to Captain Cold for help.

• "Genius" (7 and 10 p.m., National Geographic Channel): Mileva struggles to raise a baby and support Einstein as he works on his theories.

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