You’ve got to love the political coverage in Montana from time to time. Today’s editorial in the Independent Record offers a huge sigh of relief, because the Legislature never intended to deny access to the media during caucuses and legislative sessions:
“I would just like to state upfront that there is and has been no interest in limiting any of the media’s access to the legislative process,” Senate President Mike Cooney, D-Helena, said. Cooney said he was “somewhat taken aback” by reporting that suggested lawmakers wanted to limit access.
It’s certainly a relief to learn that the Legislature never intended this action, given the incredible attention paid to this non-issue in the past few days, largely by the Lee Newspapers. In the past few days, we’ve seen
- a column on the issue by Charles Johnson on Sunday
- a news story yesterday, by Charles Johnson
- another news story yesterday by Matt Gouras
- another news story today, by Charles Johnson
- the editorial in the IR
Guess what they discovered? No intention to close the sessions. In the meantime, a candidate (Claudette Morton) announced her intention to run for the Superintendent of Public Schools, and the best we can get is some boilerplate set of generic observations about her candidacy, with no specifics to give the voters any real information.
Yes, these reporters are right: media access to our legislative bodies and government officials is critical to the public’s ability to understand and weigh in on critical policy questions, but not if the reporters are more interested in their ability to cover the news than actually doing it.