I’ll admit that I don’t know The Missoulian’s policy for op-ed pieces, but I would have assumed that they fact check the claims made in them or at least would fact check claims that are in direct opposition to their own news reporting. With the publication today of an op-ed by Utah’s own Carl Graham, the Missoulian seems to be saying that facts don’t matter at all.
Graham, who has abandoned the Montana Policy Institute now that there are no elections to taint in Montana, claimed that conservatives only spent a total of $336,000 on “independent expenditures” in Montana politics during the 2012 election season:
But that’s probably not in the cards, so let’s take a snapshot of who’s spending the “dark money” in Montana. During the 2012 election cycle, independent expenditures supporting liberal candidates and causes outpaced those of conservatives by an order of magnitude: $4.3 million to $336,000. So much for the vast right-wing conspiracy.
Graham is engaging in an utterly absurd obfuscation. He’s redefining dark money as the announced public spending of PACs and ignoring the tools of the right wing dark money machine, 501(c)(4) groups that pretend to engage in “social welfare” or education. His claim that less than $400,000 was spent in dark money expenditures supporting Republicans in the 2012 election is transparently false.
For example, on Sunday, the Missoulian itself reported that one group, Jason Priest’s Montana Growth Network raised $500,000 during the year, with almost half coming from five donors.
The $336,000 figure cited by Graham laughably ignores the expenditures of American Tradition Partnership and Americans for Prosperity, both of which funneled Koch money into Montana elections. Even more laughably, it ignores their own expenditures as right wing mouth pieces. Graham’s organization is the Sutherland Institute, which is also a member of the State Policy Network and ALEC, and supports the right-wing fake journalists at the The Franklin Center. Funding for the Sutherland Institute comes from the right-wing Sam Adams Alliance, the Charles Lamb Foundation, the CATO Institute, and of course, the Koch Brothers.
Remember the wave of terrible online “journalism” that mysteriously appeared in Montana during the 2012 election and vanished right after it ended? Funded by dark money.
It’s Graham’s job to promote his group’s absurd position that “billionaire Koch brothers funding libertarian causes” is good for democracy, but it’s not a newspaper’s job to give credence to claims that simply are not true. That the Missoulian have editorial space to a partisan not bound by measurable, objective reality, reality their own reporting illustrated, is a damn shame.