Why Are the Lee Reporters So Afraid to Cover Greg Gianforte?

Shares

Visiting D.C. this week, I wandered by the Newseum, a half museum, half shrine to the promise of journalism in a democratic society. On its facade, the museum proudly displays the entirety of the First Amendment just blocks from the US Capitol, a reminder that it is the press that has the power to check government abuses and inform the public.

It’s an important mission. A vital mission. And, unfortunately, for too many in Montana’s political press, a failing mission. Instead of in-depth coverage of issues, voters are subjected to trumped up campaign opposition research camouflaged as news reporting. Instead of a look at the demographic trends that are shaping votes, voters are subjected to real-time reporting of the horse race of politics whether the polls being cited have any validity or are even vetted. And instead of critical coverage of candidates, we actually have the state’s largest newspaper running cover for some candidates, criticizing other newspapers outside the state for practicing journalism, and ignoring relevant stories about the positions taken by our political class.

Worse yet, we’re treated to a false equivalency where a story about the tone of a meeting is treated with BREAKING NEWS coverage while substantive concerns about a candidate’s professional past are brushed aside. Lacking the context to report accurately on the history of bonding infrastructure in Montana, for example, readers are being sold a narrative that suggests Democrats and Republicans are equally responsible for the failure to pass critical infrastructure when it’s incontrovertibly true that it’s the Republicans who are acting (and have acted for three sessions) outside the bounds of precedent and logic.

This week, the national press broke two stories about Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte: that he settled a lawsuit filed against him after he fired a man with MS and that he has personally profited from association with Oracle, a company building the kinds of gun registry he rails against in his dishonest ads. The response from the MT press? Silence. Deafening silence. Deafening, “did you not attend journalism school?” silence.

Meanwhile, a reporter at the Billings Gazette felt it was newsworthy enough to report how many hunting licenses the two candidates for Congress have had in the past 14 years. The story, garbled as its syntax and structure were, struggled to make any point other than promoting the agenda of a candidate so out of touch with Montana voters that this is the only kind of news that can help him.

One is tempted to ask the Billings Gazette why this hasn’t been a story in every race for political office in Montana? Will we soon see a hunting license scorecard for every candidate for every office, or was this a one-off for the fragile masculinity and deep pockets of Greg Gianforte?

Bizarrely, as evidenced by this editorial, the Lee newspapers have done a credible job evaluating and critiquing Mr. Gianforte in opinion pieces. Why doesn’t the news coverage measure up?

We live in complex times when it comes to journalism. The Republican Party’s leader and our current President openly jokes about violence against the press. Montana’s Republican candidate jokingly embraced the idea when a member of the crowd mimed violence against reporters, telling the crowd “there are more of us than them.” At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, that’s dangerous talk, the kind of talk one sees in societies where the press is not just threatened by its economic difficulties.

Maybe those strategies are working. So afraid of being called biased by the angry, fake news consuming conservative crowd, perhaps the press has become too afraid to do their job, too afraid to rely on reporting the truth. How else can we explain not only the failure to cover the Republican candidate for Congress but the active effort to aid his campaign?

It’s a dark time for journalism in our state, and a dark time for voters who rely on the press to keep them informed. And it’s getting more difficult every day to see the light. All the shrines to journalism in the world can’t change that.

If you appreciate our efforts to hold Montana Republicans accountable and the independent journalism here at The Montana Post, please consider supporting our work with a small pledge.

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.

52
Leave a Reply

avatar
26 Comment threads
26 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
15 Comment authors
Carla AugustadVicki RosettiBillPete TalbotPogo Possum Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
ekiedrowski
Guest

Silence can be rewarding……just saying.

Pete Talbot
Admin

When I read the line, ” …a reporter at the Billings Gazette felt it was newsworthy enough to report how many hunting licenses the two candidates for Congress have had…, ” I had an inkling of who that reporter might be. Sure enough, Tom Lutey. I didn’t realize that the number of hunting and fishing licenses obtained over the years dictates a candidate’s qualifications to hold federal elected office.

Eric
Guest
Eric

But you have to admit Pogie, that Quist was talking about harvesting many Elk, and being an avid Sportsman, and now it’s proven that he’s either a poacher, or a liar, take your pick. Not cool.

Going to the topic of your post, nobody is talking enough about this race – were it not for the TV ads, and drive-time radio ads nobody would know their names. I’m a little embarrassed – two of my three kids didn’t know there was a special election coming up when I asked them about it last weekend.

48degreesnorth
Guest
48degreesnorth

They only went back to 2002, at that time Quist was 54 years old. I know many of my friends who used to be fairly avid hunters do not do it anymore. Real hunting is hard work, elk, sheep and goat hunting requires you to be physically healthy and in pretty good shape. My own days as an elk hunter are dwindling with the deterioration of my knees. Quist had health problems that probably prevented him from being able to hike and walk very far. Now Bill or is it Tin, driving around drinking Bud Light with a gun hanging… Read more »

Carla Augustad
Guest
Bob williams
Guest
Bob williams

More Lee Inc. ink for GG! There you have it, pure and simple. Montana favors wealth care, not affordable health care. Montana wants tax breaks for hedge fund ops, the 1%, and corporate officers. Montana likes the Trump Administration roll out. President Trump may be more unpopular than any President in my 3/4 century. But Montana is peculiar. For it does not matter to us that FWP funds are witheld. Does not matter to us that Public Lands, National Parks and Reservations are being re-defined. Does not matter to us that EPA gets cut. What’s the EPA ever done in… Read more »

Jeff Phillips
Guest
Jeff Phillips

Partisan.
Noun.
An adherent or supporter of a person, group, party, or cause, especially a person who shows a biased, emotional allegiance.
I can honestly say that I haven’t seen that type of bias on this blog. Nope.
Not from either persuasion.
If you buy that……..

Don Pogreba
Guest
Don Pogreba

Deep thought.

Pete Talbot
Admin

I thought the Gianforte and Trump Jr. prairie dog safari offered insight into what they enjoy doing in their downtime. They’re not ranchers or farmers dealing with varmints. They do it for the photo op. Apparently, the Gianforte campaign thought it might be bad PR, though. It issued pictures of the them (and Daines) posing by some creek in virgin waders, possibly fly-fishing instead of blasting away at prairie dogs. Definitely made for a nicer image. But I have to ask, Pogo, do you consider shooting prairie dogs good sport, fair chase, “a lot of fun” (to quote Gianforte)? As… Read more »

Jeff Phillips
Guest
Jeff Phillips

Science is the opposite of partisanship. It is the pursuit of the truth without regard to expectation of, or desire for any particular set of results. I have seen both sides of the political spectrum site science to bolster their particular cause or argument. Without fail, both groups have not held to the standard of the scientific method. Rather, they have all held to the standard of personal bias. Which of course, will not hold up under long term scrutiny. Witness Gianforte’s insistence on the 5,000 year old earth. Or, Al Gore’s declaration that the polar regions would be devoid… Read more »

Steve W
Guest
Steve W

Science is not the opposite of partisan ship. Many many scientists expect desired results either consciously or unconsciously. That’s why they use blind studies and repeat results to test for error. They expect error. And sometimes they err until they don’t. Gore’s prediction is borne out by the considerably raising seas caused by melting ice. The world wide net loss of glaciers is important evidence. . Your math doesn’t account for variation. Which means your math is a faulty construct. You have to understand that Gore’s theory can be true while all natural ice hasn’t yet melted. from all locations.… Read more »

Don Pogreba
Guest
Don Pogreba

You’re quite the snowflake if you’re concerned about Mr. Quist performing where he did. Of course, you’re an apologist for a party that believes its moral vision should be imposed on everyone. You also need better sources if you believe that right wing rag you’re referencing is a “paper.”

Could you explain to me when Quist every said he “was too sick to work even one day”?

And I don’t recall you having such strong feelings about Ponzi schemes before? Something change your mind?
https://themontanapost.com/2016/10/01/ryan-zinke-and-paul-vallely-lied-about-their-ponzi-scheming-friend-to-the-missoulian/

Jeff Phillips
Guest
Jeff Phillips

Of course I could make arguments in regards to Prairie Dogs. Obviously that would be much more important.

Jeff Phillips
Guest
Jeff Phillips

Or is it really just all about Quist and Gianforte?
That is, trying to elect the dubious leader of you’re
chosen tribe.

Brandon Hardin
Guest

I wrote a letter to the editor of the Billings Gazette about Gianforte. I have written many letters to the editor in the past. Never did I experience what happened with this letter. They published it but it was as if my letter had been put in a blender and resembled. It was incoherent garbage… When I submitted a letter to the Bozeman Chronicle they would not accept it because they said there was a 200 hundred word limit for political letters. I have submitted political letters in the past to the Chronicle and they always accepted 300 words… very… Read more »

Jeff Phillips
Guest
Jeff Phillips

Yes Don, Gore’s claims are a world of difference from those of Mr. Gianforte’s.
The problem is, they both turned out to be wrong. Here’s the thing. You’ve chosen
to align with Gore and that whole ideology. I’ve chosen to point out the short falls
of both.

Pete Talbot
Admin

Lutey/Gazette update: The bogus hunting and fishing license story made Page One of the Missoulian today. Another Lutey story talked about the lack of polling places available for the upcoming special election. There was no mention in the article about Montana House Republicans shooting down the mail-in ballot bill (which would have alleviated much of the need for polling locations and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars). A decent story in the paper today, although buried, by the Billings Gazette’s Brett French. Zinke is apparently holding up federal funding for Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks. This will hamstring a number… Read more »

Publius II
Guest
Publius II

Zinke is all about Numero Uno, Commando Zinke, the United States of Zinke, who all by himself shoveled all of the snow in DC recently!

Bill
Guest
Bill

Gents, the answer is probably very simple about the story of the guy with MS. Lee does not have the tools or resources to determine if this is fake news.

Doug
Guest
Doug

I would think the existence of court documents from the case would pretty much prove that the MS case isn’t fake news..

Bill
Guest
Bill

Doug, your right, but does Lee have the resources to access New Jersey courts to see if this claim is valid?

Pete Talbot
Admin
Bill
Guest
Bill

Pete, I seen this. But has it been validated? A responsible new organization usually does this, except CNN.

Doug
Guest
Doug

You’re an Obama birth certificate skeptic (birther) too, aren’t you?

Bill
Guest
Bill

Nope, that was Hillary & Co. Google it.

Doug
Guest
Doug

Wrong again.

Pogo Possum
Guest
Pogo Possum

Pete, I see someone deleted my post on this page. I assume it wasn’t you. Looks like some one else can dish it out but can’t take it when others discuss topics critical of his candidate.

FYI, I only commented on Quist and his daughter being regular performers at the Idaho nudist colony after I discovered it on James Connor’s FlatheadMemo site. I am curious to see if James’ comments get deleted if he references it on IntelligentDiscontent.

Jeff Phillips
Guest
Jeff Phillips

Bill said today: “Pete, I seen this. But has it been validated?”
As I stated previously, folks posting should proof read their
comments before hitting send. “I seen this” is improper grammar.
However, I doubt Bill would even know he made a mistake.
Isn’t the name of this site INTELLlGENT discontent?

Pete Talbot
Admin

“Proof read” is actually one word, Jeff: proofread.

Jeff Phillips
Guest
Jeff Phillips

I’ve been reading through a lot of you’re author’s articles. One of them really stood out to me. Faith Scow’s “More Than 160 Characters” article got my attention. It’s about abortion. Specifically about reasons for justifying abortion. Of course I agree with her position in the case of rape. However, I have to say that her citing the extra cost of vitamins to support a pregnancy as a contributing factor is embarrassing. At least. Or in reality it’s sick. Why would you support such a position? Another point that caught my eye was the statement that adoption is not a… Read more »

Bill
Guest
Bill

This is an insult to Montana Ranchers, 20 acres is a hobby farm. All hat, no cattle.

The date of the work is important because it’s 10 years before the health episode Quist said kept him from paying his property taxes earlier this decade. That tax debt crept to nearly $15,000 before the Department of Revenue filed liens for three years of unpaid taxes on Quist’s 20-acre ranch.

Bill
Guest
Bill

Our ranch was just under 10,000 acres of small grains and cattle. Yes, I hauled semi loads of wheat. Cleaned semi cattle trailers, fixed cattle waters at 20 below, overhauled engines and transmissions, etc. Most of the gents in our neighborhood talked in sections not acres.

Jeff Phillips
Guest
Jeff Phillips

Pete,
You are correct that proofread is one word. I actually researched that today as I was unsure.
Thanks for pointing that out.
Don,
I’m not quite sure how to take you’re comment.

Vicki Rosetti
Guest
Vicki Rosetti

I have come to not expect much from the local newspapers. 2 years ago when I wrote a letter to the editor of the Belgrade News and the Bozeman Chronicle demanding that the Belgrade Schools Superintendent, Leland Stocker, show proof that the MT legislature had passed a bill giving property owners a tax credit for all the oil drilling in eastern MT, they posted the letters but refused to write any type of story disputing Mr. Stocker’s claims. I had even spoken to someone at the News who told me that a bill had been introduced but had died in… Read more »

Pete Talbot
Admin

I’m not familiar with Mr. Stoker or his claims of a credit for property taxes. I do have two grandchildren in the Belgrade public school system, and that bond was sorely needed. Belgrade is one of the fastest growing communities in Montana, and K-12 schools were bursting at the seams.

It would be nice if the state supplied more funding for education so the burden didn’t fall so heavily of on local property owners, but with the reprobates holding a majority in the legislature, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

Pogo Possum
Guest
Pogo Possum

My earlier post appears to have disappeared. I am reposting it again: Then again, some reporters and bloggers felt it was a newsworthy story in a Congressional campaign to report on the major issue of hunting prairie dogs. Quist and Montana Democrats have thrown their fair share of petty attacks at Gianforte (e.g., New Jersey Millionaire). Fortunately, journalists have a wealth of topics on Rob Quist to explore. Just a few examples: – Quist’s regular performances at a self described “family values” Idaho nudist camp with his daughter entertaining naked attendees and their young naked children. Note he performed there… Read more »

Jeff Phillips
Guest
Jeff Phillips

Glass houses. Lesson learned.

Carla Augustad
Guest

I had the opportunity to ask Rob’s brothers what this was all about, but I could not find it when I was with them-making calls for Rob last Friday evening. Do you have any verification of your claim Pogo? “– An ambitious reporter might even find the time to inquire about Rob Quist’s links with his brother’s Ponzi scheme years ago. The state of Montana issued a cease and desist order against his brother in 2004 and the state of Arizona issued a similar order in 1986. In 1992 Arizona ordered Quist’s brother and others to pay victims restitution of… Read more »

Pogo Possum
Guest
Pogo Possum

Carla, Here are a few links: http://csimt.gov/wp-content/uploads/SEC-09-22-04-1381-TCD.pdf http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/auditor-ceases-flathead-securities-fraud/article_9cf27b67-1fae-566d-ab27-93cde4c68257.html “On Monday, Montana State Auditor John Morrison said a “cease and desist” order had been issued to John C. Quist, who authorities said has duped several Flathead investors. It is not the first such trouble for Quist, who is not registered to sell securities. In 1986, the Arizona Securities Department issued a similar order, Morrison said, and in 1992 told Quist and others to pay victims restitution of more than $7 million. Quist did not answer calls Monday, but a woman’s voice on his answering machine announced: “You have reached the Quist… Read more »

Pete Talbot
Admin

Since you’re dredging up old family scandals, Pogo, let’s not forget Zinke’s sister getting arrested in the Bakken for drug paraphernalia and child endangerment, or Rehberg’s drunken boating escapade with buddy Greg Barkus that almost killed two people.

What any of this has to do with the individual candidates escapes me but hey, you brought it up.

Pogo Possum
Guest
Pogo Possum

As I recall, the Montana media and a lot of Democratic operatives and blogs used up a lot of ink blaming Rehberg for the boating accident in which he was the passenger and not the driver. Intelligent Discontent also found felt it was a newsworthy topic for comment. Make a few calls to some of your attorney friends in Helena who were around when Morrison issued his cease and desist order back in 2004. You may find Rob gave testimony against his brother in exchange for the state to not press charges against him for his involvement in his brother’s… Read more »

Pete Talbot
Admin

Missing the point again, Pogo. Should we talk political gossip or substantive issues? You’re getting good at this misdirection. It’s what Trump, Gianforte and Republicans do best: negative TV, cheap sound bites and dog whistle talking points. Let me know when you’re ready for a serious discussion.

Support Our Work!

Poll

What would be the most appropriate nickname for Matt Rosendale?

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe Via E-mail

0 /* ]]> */