Montana Politics The Media US Politics

Sloppy Reporting on the Democrats Failure to Report

Compare the openings of two stories about the Democrats missing a deadline for filing campaign finance reports:

First, from Charles Johson:

The Montana Democratic Party missed Tuesday’s legal deadline to submit its twice-yearly report detailing its finances to the state political practices commissioner.
The Montana Republican Party filed its report on time and accused Democrats of breaking the law.

Now, from AP Writer Matt Gouras:

The state Democratic Party, which has been running advertisements critical of Republican Sen. Conrad Burns, missed a deadline this week for disclosing fundraising and spending with state regulators.

One might hope that Mr. Gouras would let the Republican talking points on this issue emerge in the histrionic remarks of Republican ex. director Chuck Denoweth and Burns spokesman Jason Klindt, rather than make that the lead of his piece. Johnson’s lead? Fair. It states the facts of the issue, and gives the Republican response. The Gouras piece, by leading with the spurious connection, gives it undeserved attention.
In both stories, though, the Republican claims are given far too much credence. What’s the connection between the two stories? Both the writers of these pieces and the Republicans know that there is a substantial difference between these two issues. The Democrats will clearly disclose–and I suspect are unlikely to have any hidden Abramoff donations. It’s another example of the media making two dissimilar issues morally equivalent to preserve some notion of balance.

That said, it’s pretty unbelievable that the Democratic Party of Montana would give the Republicans an avenue to attack like this. They certainly deserve some blame for this. The party has to know better–and blaming “software problems” is pretty pathetic.

Sidenote: It’s good to see that Conrad’s newest lackey is getting in the press already. Jason sure knows the language:

“They have broken the law by not reporting who is paying for the barrage of negative attacks they have subjected Montanans to,” Klindt said. “Did they rob a bank, did they find it under a tree or are East Coast liberals trying to buy a Senate seat? It is time for the Democrats to tell the truth.”

This guy is all class. And it must only be a bad thing for money to come from East Coast Liberals. Clearly, it’s fine that 43.2% of the Senator for the Saginaw Chippewas donations came from PACS in 2000, with 64.7% of his donations from out of state. Oh yeah, and 73.3% thus far this time around.

And, seriously, does anyone real actually talk like that? He sounds like some cliche in a book by Bill O’Reilly or Scooter Libby–the deleted pages edition.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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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.

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