One of the most interesting moments in the debate last night–noted by Matt, the AP and me, was the claim by John Morrison that the Missoula Independent was factually inaccurate, but did or could not explain how. A poster over at Left in the West, Toland, tried to justify Morrison’s silence on the details:
Hmmm……IT’S A DEBATE!!!! What does that mean? It means that candidates are given a limited amount of time to answer the questions. In the case of this question I believe it was 1 minute, not near enough time to answer the question and reveal the article for what it is, a tabloid rumor column.
That’d be a fair point, if it was true. I was essentially transcribing the debate as it happened, and it was clear that Morrison moved away from that point as clearly as he could. Given that, by my count, there were in the neighborhood of 10-15 reporters there, shouldn’t one of them have asked Morrison or his campaign staff to explain the factual inaccuracy? If the article was inaccurate, shouldn’t Morrison have told the Independent that, rather than refusing comment?
Of course, there’s someone else here not doing their job. How can the Lee papers report on that exchange in the debate when they refuse to acknowledge the more damning reporting done by the Independent?
The bottom line for me is pretty clear. This campaign shouldn’t be about comparing damaged ethical records. If the Morrison people and the state’s newspapers won’t address this issue thoroughly now, you can be sure that Jason Klindt and Conrad Burns will later. Jon Tester is right: something doesn’t smell quite right here, and until Mr. Morrison answers the allegations of the Independent in detail, people are going to keep asking questions.