While I think that Lee’s coverage of John Morrison’s alleged extra-marital affair was pretty fair today, I hope that this doesn’t become the focus of campaign coverage in the days and weeks ahead. It seems like scandal sells newspapers, and I worry that a campaign that should be about issues important to Montanans will become focused on decade-old family issues.
Jon Tester won’t make an issue of it. Nothing about his campaign has suggested that he will use personal attacks, ala Curt Weldon, to advance his campaign.
Jason Klindt, Conrad Burns, and Montana’s right wing blogs and radio (Dave Berg) will harp on it endlessly, days after going negative on the lack of issues in the campaign. No doubt, this will breathe life into a struggling Burns campaign–and I would be astonished if they didn’t keep this story alive. I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t involved in its publication. Just wait; within days the ‘pro-family’ ads will start running strong.
Finally, a request for the Montana media. Use this same energy to cover the issues in the campaign. Start printing weekly issues summaries–where the candidates are given the opportunity (forced to) to articulate their position on issues that matter. Your role should not be defined by scandal, but by providing crucial information.