The Missoulian Doesn’t Have Time to Cover Zinke Abortion Votes But Does Have Time For SEAL Myth Making

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I try so hard to be understanding of the major newspapers in Montana, which are undoubtedly under economic pressure from the corporate overlords who are stripping the company of assets. I do.  When I read Pete’s new post about about the state of the Fourth Estate in Montana, I found myself nodding sadly, thinking about a time when the the Lee papers had a Washington Bureau to cover Congress and the votes there. I’ve even written sympathetic pieces about how difficult it must be to work in understaffed newsrooms.

In short, I’m trying to be more empathetic. Honestly.

And then I read pieces like this one, spread out across the Lee Montana empire, offering an in-depth look at how Congressman Ryan Zinke feels about a Hollywood movie controversy and giving him another chance to talk about his military biography and simplistic foreign policy perspectives without opposition or context. I’m not sure what news function that serves, but it certainly serves the agenda of a politician who is making votes that hurt Montanans without that getting media attention while he’s able to offer his campaign biography unchallenged in a news story once he’s been elected. A search of the Missoulian doesn’t reveal that Congressman Zinke just voted to increase taxes, prevent health care for women, and deny servicewomen who have been sexually assaulted abortion access, but it had time to talk Hollywood.

Think I’m being too hard on the Missoulian, which put this story on the top of its Sunday edition web page? How about if I tell you that they had Zinke weigh in on the New England Patriots football deflation controversy in a sidebar. Because he played football 30 years ago.

But that’s not all. In the course of the story, Zinke criticized the Obama administration for leaking that Navy SEAL Team Six was responsible for the killing of Osama bin Laden:

I still have old cards and different covers. We were absolutely very careful to never expose who we were. That is a significant change in the last few years. The rescue of Private (Jessica) Lynch, bin Laden, Captain Rogers – there’s a number of events that occurred recently. With the killing of bin Laden, within a few hours it was disclosed that SEAL Team Six was responsible. It should have been U.S. special forces. I don’t think the administration should have identified the specific team that conducted the specific operation.

I’ve covered this topic repeatedly, and will do so again, but Zinke is lying. Within twelve hours of the announcement of bin Laden’s death, he had spoken to local, regional, and national news outlets, identifying Navy SEAL Team Six and reminding people that he had once been a member. It’s one thing for the major Montana media to ignore the story that it was Zinke himself, a man who called for criminal penalties for having done so, who outed Navy SEAL Team Six, but years later, is it too much to ask for reporters to challenge his unfair and specious claims against the administration to to unchallenged—in what is billed a news story?

So when critics go after the Montana media, it’s just not much of a defense to talk about shrinking newsrooms when this is the coverage that happens with that limited staffing. Montanans received wholly inadequate coverage of the two candidates in the Congressional race of 2014, but it’s not too late for real coverage of first Congressional term for Ryan Zinke.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-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.

7 Comments

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  • Great letter in the GF Spitoon this a.m. I don’t know Paavo, but I would like to meet him. He writes great letters all the time. He pretty much nails Dinky the Barking Seal. Poor Dinky, like the fat loudmouthed drunk in the bar who is STILL recalling his glory days of slow pitch softball, Congressman Dinky just can’t let it go! It was the defining moment of his life. When most everyone else was out working hard to make a living and a life, Dinky was suckin’ off’n Unca Sugartit in preparation for his life’s work as a corporate pimp for the Kockh brothers! And that’s just real sad…..sad and pathetic! From one gummint job to the next. Poor Dinky has never had to make it on his own! And that shows a terrible lack of character and understanding! First the military told him what to do, and now, the Kockh brothers tell him what to do. When will Dinky figure things out for himself???

    “No SEAL of approval

    By now everyone should know that U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., was a Navy SEAL.

    If anyone missed it, he reminded us in his opinion piece of Jan. 20 that he was … a Navy SEAL.

    One wonders if he hasn’t been running after legislators and lobbyists in the corridors of Congress reminding them that he was … a Navy SEAL.

    Now that he’s got the job as Montana’s lone representative in the House, he might lay off the boasting and follow the example of military men more illustrious than he who, once in office, recognized the traditional American policy of military men keeping a distinct civilian profile while serving in the government.

    Zinke’s opinion piece reads like he hasn’t yet realized that he’s a civilian legislator.

    He seems to be ordering President Barack Obama to become a Republican.

    It will be interesting to see how long Zinke’s boyish bristling continues until he becomes just another decaffeinated tea bag in the brew that’s putting American democracy to sleep. Regardless of his performance, if he runs for the Senate in 2016, we can rest assured that he will remind us that he was … a Navy SEAL, though it wouldn’t be surprising if he called himself one of the Praetorian guards in the service of our new emperors, the Koch brothers.”

    — Paavo Hall, Great Falls

    p.s. I can remember voting for George McGovern for president without ever knowing that he was a war hero, for I don’t ever remember anyone mentioning that fact. That’s just the way it was back then. The greatest generation didn’t toot their own horn like this pathetic barking seal, for there were many, many war heroes. They knew better than to fart the place up with their constant seal barking of the military exploits. It’s ONLY now days in fascist America that a dufus like Dinky gets any traction with his time in the military. He would’a been laffed off the scene by the greatest generation. And I will point that out until the day I die, for I knew them guys well. They’re now all gone, so I will laff at this duf Dinky for them!

    Great book on McGovern by Stephen Ambrose called the Wild Blue about McGovern and the men who flew the B-24’s.

  • Mr. Zinke should keep his mouth shut about his military service. One day someone who knows the truth about all the redactions on his DD-214 will come forth and spill the beans about his notable lack of advancement in 23 years of service, the fact that he was removed from Seal Team Six before his career was ended in the military, that his ‘stars’ were for desk jobs – not combat, and many more little items that he has been pulling the wool over the eyes of the unknowing public about regarding his so-called “heroic military service”.

    Much like John McCain, he is an embarrassment to those of us who do know what all this stuff means. And any REAL Navy Seal on any Seal Team never, ever, talks about what they did in order to build up themselves. in fact, most people never know they were in the service at all, let alone in one of those elite units.

    For shame, Mr. Zinke.

    From a US Navy Veteran

  • Man have we changed. Now, the military propaganda machine has turned the navy sniper into some kind of hero. He was a psychopath! And a liar. He claimed to have murdered up to twenty innocent people during Katrina. Well, either he was lying, or he’s the psychopath he appears to be. It is NOT normal to enjoy murdering innocent under any circumstances. Sad to see that that doddering old idiot clint eastwood decided to pander to the fascist crowd in this country one more time before he dies. Sad, so sad.
    But you want to see REAL heroism? Well, here it is, young folks!

    • Kate, here is Dinky the Barking Seal in SEAL training! Poor Dinky played a leetle too much football without a helmet! And that’s what makes him a good sarah palin Teatard Pubbie! Dumb as dog doo doo and twice as venal! He may be a dumbazz, but he’s OUR dumbazz! Ever heard him speak? He’s the ONLY dude I’ve ever heard who makes Buybull Spice sound intelligent! Man! The dude’s Conrad BURNS stooped!

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