It seems I’ve upset Dustin Hurst from the Montana Watchdog. In a recent post, I criticized his work, pointing out its inaccuracies and ideological bias. The truth is that he’s not a journalist or a reporter, no matter what he calls himself. He’s somewhere between an unofficial spokesperson for the Montana Republican Party and and an ideological hack for rightwing ideology.
And that would be fine if Mr. Hurst wasn’t passing himself off as a reporter. He absolutely has the right to express his opinion. He has the right to author biased, inaccurate stories and try to make people believe they’re true. He just isn’t right to call what he does reporting.
And I have the right to call him out for his work. That Mr. Hurst, an employee of a secretly-funded “media” organization, would have the temerity to suggest that I am carrying water for a political candidate’s “threats” is as astonishing as his lack of objectivity and perspective about what a threat is. I’m a teacher who writes a blog in his spare time, without any promise of remuneration or help from anyone. In fact, I have received little of either in the seven years I have been writing.
Reporters are supposed to objectively examine stories and provide their audience with the information they need to make informed choices. Mr. Hurst, seemingly driven by an immense self-regard and affinity for conservative politics, offers slanted coverage designed to denigrate Democrats, public employees, and liberals, all while ignoring the obvious failures, hypocrisy and foibles of the right. He even distorts the truth to make his arguments.
In my mind, these corporately-funded pseudo-journalists are worse than the deluge of corporate advertisements that have proliferated in the wake of the Citizens United decision. It’s clear these organizations intend to set themselves up as alternative news sources designed to trick readers into believing they are receiving unbiased news. If the future of local news is Fox-style propaganda couched in journalistic terms, we’re all worse off.
That kind of dishonesty needs to be exposed. If it upsets Mr. Hurst to be called out for his practices, I suggest a simple remedy: fix them. Either become a journalist or admit you’re not one.