So, the Davison story is hitting the papers today, and one can certainly get a sense of the worldview of the authors when two stories are placed side by side. Jan Falstad’s original story about the Davison story is here, on the Billings Gazette page, while the story with the byline "By JAN FALSTAD – Billings Gazette – and CHUCK JOHNSON – IR State Bureau" appeared in the Helena IR here.
Same story, right? Not so much. The Falstad story, after painting the broad strokes about the allegation, gets to the fact that Davison was a co-chair of the finance committee for Burns in the fourth paragraph. Reasonable, I think; the Burns connection is not the most important part of the story, but certainly the most newsworthy thing that Davison has done recently.
What does Johnson do in the fourth and fifth paragraphs? Talk about John Morrison, mentioning that he lost the Democratic primary for the Senate. No context, no reason, and no logic to this inclusion. So does Johnson deal with the Burns connection? Yes, at the end of the article, and in two sentences.
I don’t think this is media bias. That’s too easy of an answer. It’s just laziness and deference to people in power. I am sure that it is sloppy reporting. What’s the more relevant news story? The entirely absent connection to John Morrison’s failed election, or the fact that, once again, Senator Burns has connections to someone involved in fraud and scandal?
Finally, none of the Montana reports I have read have looked into Davison’s campaign contributions–contributions to Burns and Rehberg FROM THE VERY COMPANY involved in the scam. Doesn’t it bear reporting that Davison made substantial campaign contributions to Burns, using the same company he used to conduct his fraudulent transactions? Shane Mason had this information at 2:30 yesterday, well before the story broke in the papers-and hell, he’s just a blogger. I hear we don’t research what we write.
The final, best twist? Johnson wrote, in this controversial column back in January, about this same magical tool, opensecrets.org, that Shane used to find this information.
I don’t for, or even want, political reporters, to share my ideology. I’d just like them to do more reporting.