No Thanks CNN: Prepping Star Turns Down Network Special Over Media Bias Concerns [Interview]

Rick Austin, a best-selling author, survival expert, sought after speaker and television personality, turned down what many looking for publicity would have considered the opportunity of a lifetime – to be featured in a CNN special television series. Austin is the host of the number one rated show on the Preparedness Radio Network.

Austin, also known as the “Survivalist Gardener,” is a leader in the preparedness industry and one of the most recognizable self-reliance experts in the nation. Austin’s homesteading skills and survival advice have been featured on NatGeo’s Doomsday Preppers, Doomsday Castle, Mother Earth News, the American Survival Guide, and most recently, on a Newsweek’s Off Grid special edition – alongside the likes of Les Stroud from Discovery’s Survivor Man series.

Rick Austin and his wife, “Survivor Jane,” a significant self-reliance personality herself, were spotlighted in the highest rated Doomsday Preppers episode of all time. Survivor Jane created the viral Twitter hashtag, #preppertalk. The survival focused couple also garnered the most positive comments social media comments in the history of the series.

Aside from his own appearances as a regular featured guest about homesteading and preparedness in the media, Austin is certainly no stranger to the inner workings of TV and the media, since prior to his off grid living career, Austin also spent several decades working in the media business, including as both a director and a producer for TV shows from his offices at Universal Studios.

As such, Austin is no stranger to the many ways that on-camera comments can be spun and edited, if an interviewer or producer has a personal or biased agenda. Because of his popularity in the preparedness arena, Austin was approached for the CNN project through the Bright Roads Productions company that is working on a new series entitled United Shades of America.

Austin said it took him just a few moments to become “extremely suspect” about the new series, which is to be hosted by liberal comedian, W. Kamau Bell. In fact the online promotional material for the TV show notes that “comedian W. Kamau Bell will explore the far corners of our country and its ‘subcultures’ and make people laugh in United Shades of America.” Bell is also the host of the FXX Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell late-night comedy sho. On United Shades of America, Bell will “dissect” a vast array of topics which will reportedly include “politics, pop culture, race, religion, and the media,” promotional material for the series revealed.

Video Warning – Language

In addition to being an author and radio and television personality, Austin is also the driving force behind Prepper Camp. The first event was held in Saluda, North Carolina last September. The hands-on self-reliance event was family friendly and featured notable authors, personalities, and preparedness trainers from around the nation. Last year the sold-out crowd clamored for more, making Prepper Camp 2014 just the first of many annual weekend-long self-reliance camps for adults.

rick austin kamau bell

While Prepper Camp is focused on teaching folks to become more self-reliant and not politics, many of the attendees discussed the various man-made short and long-term disaster scenarios that they felt could soon be on the horizon. When talk turned to the economy, government regulations, and national security, the political persuasion of those gathered inside the many expo tents largely became crystal clear. The attendees favored “self-reliance over government reliance,” Rick Austin said.

“Thus, the Prepper Camp audience is far more conservative in nature than the typical CNN viewer,” Austin told the Inquisitr. Prepper Camp guests more often than not, described themselves at being conservatives, constitutionalists, Libertarians, or Republicans.

Kamau Bell’s social media postings and prior work gave Austin pause when the offer came to have Prepper Camp featured on the CNN special.

Would Bell attend with preconceived ideas about the self-reliance community and leave with a fresh perspective and respect for those seeking to be able to better protect their families, their community, and the gifts that Mother Nature has bestowed? Perhaps. But maybe unlikely if recent tweets about politics and non-liberal politicians is any indicator.

Excerpt from Rick Austin’s reply to the Bright Roads Productions producer regarding the Kamau Bell hosted CNN special.

CNN, quite honestly, is a left wing biased network, so I don’t see much potential in their giving right wing conservative people in the preparedness community anything close to ‘fair and balanced’ coverage. Frankly, having spent 30 years in the media business, and much of it as television producer, I know that editors can turn anything someone says into something it is not. The fact that you have a comedian as the show’s host leads me to believe that the networks’ view is already skewed toward painting this as a story about ‘kooks’ and people who think the sky is falling.”

Austin went on to explain to the producer for the CNN United Shades of America special that the self-reliance focus of Prepper Camp is the exact same premise that millions of people use when purchasing insurance for their car or home.

“Self-sufficiency is a tenant and one of the principals of what this great country was founded on. The people who prepare for possible disasters are mostly normal human beings that just want to take care of their own families in case something bad happens,” the Secret Garden of Survival best-selling author told the United Shades of America producer.


When talking with Austin about the “no thanks CNN” reply, he was unphased about passing on what may have been a substantial publicity opportunity for Prepper Camp 2015.

“After living life on the farm long enough, you begin to understand that if it looks like horse s**t, sounds like horse s**t, and smells like horse s**t, well then it is more than likely complete and total horse s**t,” Austin said when describing the Kamau Bell United Shades of America interview offer.

Even though Prepper Camp 2015 does not occur until late September during national preparedness month, the available tickets are already half-way sold out. Offers to become a presenter from renowned authors and personalities are still pouring in, and the number of hands-on self-reliance courses offered each hour have in fact, doubled from 2014. So, it sounds like Austin’s publicity denial was not much a gamble after all.

What do you think about the preparedness author turning down the opportunity to be featured on the Kamau Bell United Shades of America CNN special?

[Images courtesy of Rick Austin]