Two days after the Montana Street Fighter blog broke the story about Republican legislative candidate Roger Webb shooting a couple of black labs before being charged with animal cruelty, the Billings Gazette is reporting the story, citing copies of “Webb’s court file [which] began circulating on the Internet on Sunday” and “a liberal political blog.”
Of course, when Tom Lutey covers Republican politicians, he not only ignores basic rules of journalistic attribution, he lets those candidates make unproven declarations in their own defense. According to the story, Webb felt justified in his decision to, after being barked at by a dog, go inside, get a gun, and shoot a dog that was running away from him:
“Fifteen years ago, I was attacked by a dog in my own front yard and I defended myself,” Webb said Monday. “I have documentation, because I hired a private investigator at the time, that the dog had attacked a FedEx driver and UPS and the owner’s neighbor.”
Now, I am no reporter or anything, but rather than let Mr. Webb simply say that he has a report exonerating himself, I’d think a reporter might want to quote the actual alleged report, the claims of which, absent proof, rely on the word of the kind of person who’d shoot a dog in the back.
As for the contention that he “was attacked by a dog” in his front yard, the court report makes it clear that Webb suffered no injuries and that Webb shot the dog as it ran away, not when he was being “attacked.”
I suspect almost all of us have encountered at least one overly aggressive dog in our lives, but it takes a truly demented person to respond to a barking dog by retrieving and then using a gun against the animal. That Mr. Webb still doesn’t understand how terribly wrong his actions were—years later—demonstrates that, while he may have the temperament to be a part of the Republican caucus, he certainly doesn’t have the judgment to make decisions for Montana.