Earlier this week, GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte told a lie about Facebook in the announcement about his absurd tax “plan.” He claimed that “Facebook” had told him the biggest barrier to opening a facility in Montana was the state’s business tax. It seemed like a bullshit claim at the time—and wasn’t verified by anyone in the Gianforte campaign. One of the state’s new AP reporters, Bobby Caina Calvan did something that the media just does too infrequently: he checked with Facebook to see if they had said what Gianforte claimed.
From the Flathead Beacon:
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone on Thursday said no discussions with Gianforte took place and the tax was not the reason the company didn’t locate the center in Montana.
Now, a normal person, especially one so concerned with the moral lives of other people, would probably admit that that he had misspoken. A politician might call it a misunderstanding. But not Greg Gianforte. Even though Facebook said that the conversation had not taken place—and that business taxes had no part in their decision to locate data centers—Gianforte maintained that it had happened, because a former Facebook employee, one who had no role in choosing site locations, had made the claim on current Gianforte spokesman Aaron Flint’s rightwing radio show last year. Yeah:
Facebook said Flint’s guest was a low-level former employee who had no direct involvement in data center planning or operations. Facebook also said the employee left the company about a year ago. Flint’s guest, Dean Roberts, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday night that he was not speaking on behalf of Facebook on the radio program or when he later spoke with Gianforte.
And that’s not all. Mr. Roberts denied making the claim:
Roberts denied telling Gianforte that Facebook’s reason for not pursuing a data center in Montana was because of the business equipment tax. “I would have been under no official capacity to comment on that on behalf of Facebook. … Nor was I ever authorized to do that,” Roberts said.
Everyone misspeaks. It’s inevitable. What’s not out of our control, though, is the decision to acknowledge that we have misrepresented the truth and make an apology. At the root of this campaign that is spun as one about jobs is an ugly truth: that Mr. Gianforte will lie about his plans for unions, will lie about his intentions to sign discriminatory laws, and now, will lie about his claimed area of expertise, government’s role in creating tech jobs.
A lot of credit should go to Mr. Calvan for checking out this story. Let’s hope that the press continues to apply this level of scrutiny to this candidate who just can’t seem to tell the truth.