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Montana News and their Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Coverage of Representative Rehberg

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I’d like to thank Pogie for the opportunity to do a little writing on his site.

This morning’s story about Dennis Rehberg’s vote yesterday in the House of Representatives makes clear just how bad modern journalism can be.  It’s nothing more than a press release from the Rehberg camp, touting his entirely meaningless vote. What doesn’t the story include?

  • A single quote from the other side (or even an indication that an attempt was made to get their point of view). Hell, even the Montana Watchdog (which leans awfully right) included a response from Ted Dick at the Montana Democratic Party.
  • Any analysis of the arm-twisting that lead Rehberg to change his vote this week.
  • Any of the readily-available analysis about the impact  that the Rehberg-Boehner bill would have on programs like Medicare.
Watching the press cover the Rehberg-Tester race so far has been like watching a parent with one child who’s just not quite as bright as the other one. They’re always giving little Denny a little more help and ignoring some of his mistakes to even the playing field.

About the author

Agrippa

Agrippa would love to use his own name when he blogs, but his current employment makes that difficult. He's a lover of good writing, breaking news, and Montana, although he currently makes his home in Wyoming.

23 Comments

  • What are you talking about? It’s called “balanced” media coverage…. *this comment is awash in sarcasm.

  • Do you think the Montana media would do something that might result in less campaign money being spent on a U.S. Senate race? Or do anything that might upset any business or government agency, or NGO that buys ads now? The media is there to make a profit, not worry about politics or policy. Except for ads, it’s all “filler.”

  • For reasons I don’t remember, I was going through old Billings Gazettes at the library from the 60’s. At that time they had a Washington bureau, and the State Representative was Jim Battin. They referred to him as “Big Jim.” He was a Paul Bunyon type character. It was embarrassing ass kissing.

    They don’t have a DC Bureau now, but the principle is the same: These guys, both parties, operate behind closedndoors andmthe local press rewrites press releases. Every two years there are elections and image people are busy, but still there is no attempt to penetrate the veil.

    There is no journalism. These guys are lackeys.

  • What frustrates me is that they are capable of writing insightful, critical stories. That ability just magnifies my frustration when they don’t.

    • It is not irreducible complexity. They behave as they do for very good reasons. They cannot confront power. Power pays their way via advertising and investors. The objects of journalism and markets are at odds with one another.

      As a consequence, journalism schools over the years have redefined the nature of the profession to remove the confrontational aspects. Professional standards now require objectivity rather than incredulity. The result is he-said-she-said. They can always fall back on objectivity as an excuse for failing to bring us real news.

      The profession harbors lackeys, and the road to advancement is not via hard-nosed investigative reporting. There’s a reason why we have tons of high-paid and pretty Brokaw’s and Couric’s while the Hersh,s and Thomas’s are rare and despised.

  • A lot of journalism students do first rate reporting for their college newspapers and websites. Journalism schools are not the problem.

    Business schools. Good reporting requires owners who seek a profit with honor, not just a profit. Today’s owners have the soul and morals of a Harvard MBA, and a nose for money but not for news.

    Squeezing every cent possible out of the newspaper’s operation starves the newsroom of the resources required for solid investigative reporting, and tends to tear down the fortified Chinese Wall that should separate the newsroom from the advertising department.

    The result? An increasing amount of shallow he said, she said, false equivalence reporting, and too much deferential treatment of big kahunas.

    There’s still some good reporting in Montana (Mike Dennison’s reports on single-payer health care comes to mind), and there would be more yet if Montana’s reporters worked for owners who want a profit with honor.

    • In other words, as with health insurance, the business model and delivery of a quality product are at odds with one another?

      There’s no good old days with American journalism. Ad-based publishing and quality news reporting cannot exist side-by-side. They are different masters, and both cannot be served.

      Remember that to this day the American news media has not reported on what really happened at Tonkin. Time magazine never reported on the link between lung cancer and smoking. No newspaper has ever reported on real estate or automobile sales practices.

  • Bold, brave statements. No pussyfooting, which is good. But difficult to defend assertions. The following will start the refutation of paragraph 3:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/world/asia/15vietnam.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/02/politics/02tonkin.html

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,940020,00.html

    American for profit journalism never will meet the standards perfectionists set for it. Neither will not-for-profit journalism. Or, even, blogs.

    • Not bad, and thanks. I think the New York Times articles fall under the heading “now it can be told.” In other words, contemporaneous reporting expressed no reservations about government truth. But my statement “to this day” is wrong.

      There are routine releases of information decades after such information would have been useful. The people in power indeed are interested that most of history be told, but not while the participants are still alive. So someday we might knowmwhat went on behind the scenes re the Iraq Wars and AfPak and Libya.

      The Time Mag article, got me. I was repeating and oft-repeated chestnut, and like most, it is wrong. But I would be interested in seeing the volume of re tying in the magazine prior to 1967.

  • “re tying” = reporting. This IPad drives me nuts with the Jobs-speak. Problem is that it is so convenient otherwise – I hardly go near the desktop anymore.

  • I for one miss he-said/she-said journalism. When it comes to Denny, there is really no difference between journalism and press releases. It’s just, he said. Even by normal press standards, it’s getting pretty ridiculous.

  • Thanks for posting (and more importantly) writing) that.

    It’s frustrating to see Rehberg get away with using an issue that emotionally sounds quite appealing, but which has no rational basis. And almost no one in Montana is prepared for what would happen following a balanced budget amendment.

    Thanks!

  • Interesting point of view. Wondering what you think of it’s implication on society as a whole though? There are times when things like this begin to have global expansion and frustration. I’ll check back to see what you have to say.

  • Hello there vso convertxtodvd free important short article vso convertxtodvd freeware for Montana News and their Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Coverage of Representative Rehberg

  • Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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