Montana Politics

The Independent Record Continues Its Innuendo Journalism

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It must be a slow news week at the Independent Record this week, as the paper ran essentially the exact same editorial today that they ran less than two weeks ago, questioning the firing of Betsy Baumgart.

Today’s editorial?

Four top Commerce Department managers have left with little notice or under unexplained circumstances in a period of about six months. Coincidence? Signs of a department shake-up? Without an explanation, gossip and speculation abound.

Two weeks ago?

Is there a connection between these personnel changes? Is there move afoot to shake up the Commerce Department? Or are the ousters acts of simple vindictiveness, rooted in differences of opinion or partisan politics?

Given that I enjoy experimenting with new forms of journalism, I thought I would try my hand at editorial writing in this new style.

Two editorials, published within twenty days of one another, neither supported by one bit of new reporting in the newspaper has led to gossip and speculation across the editorial offices at Intelligent Discontent. Does someone have a personal relationship clouding news judgment? Are the stories simple vindictiveness? Does someone at the Independent Record own stock in Travelocity and was upset by the governor’s remarks? Who knows?

It’s especially frustrating because today’s editorial isn’t even intellectually honest. The last editorial criticized the Schweitzer administration for not releasing enough information. It would seem that the goalposts moved just a bit in today’s editorial, however:

Last week, Baumgart filed a grievance over her dismissal and the state, which earlier had said it couldn’t discuss the case for privacy reasons, fired back early this week with a 103-page response, outlining in detail the alleged grounds for the firing.

It would seem that the Schweitzer administration did exactly what the IR called for, doesn’t it? It would seem this editorial should commend them for putting a little sunlight on the situation, but for some reason, that hasn’t happened.

Finally, a note on an unusual claim in today’s editorial, which asserted, “at this point in the dispute, there have been no facts established, leaving us with little more than the current he-said, she-said accounts.”

103 page document, full of supporting data on one side. A claim of political motivations on the other.

It seems that the IR has a different definition of “fact” than the rest of us. This editorial proves it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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