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Montana Politics The Media

Let’s Pretend You Are a Reporter…

Why not? The people covering the Senate race often do.

Today’s IR features a story by Matt Gouras that hypes Senator Burns’ record campaign fundraising, an amount that has reached 7 million dollars.

The article also features an explanation for the huge fundraising, courtesy of Burns’ spokesman Jason Klindt:

The Burns campaign has been using a strategy of labeling Tester as a liberal who only looks like a rural Montanan, and took advantage of the campaign release to make another jab.
‘‘We know that every extremist left wing group in the country is going to donate to liberal Jon Tester,’’ Klindt said. ‘‘We have an obligation to defend ourselves from those attacks and we will be ready.’’

I’d say there are at least three problems with the inclusion of that passage.

1. Gouras acknowledges in the article that the shot at Tester is politically motivated nonsense, but he and his editors chose to run it anyway.

2. Gouras categorizes the quotation as "another jab", even though it is the same comment that Klindt has made over and over and over and over and over again. It’s not a jab; it’s not true; it’s not relevant to the piece…so why keep running it?

3. Most importantly, how about doing some actual reporting? Instead of summarizing the Burns press release, perhaps Mr. Gouras could have told his readers:

  • what percentage of the Burns money was from in-state sources
  • who his largest donors were
  • what industries/interests they represent

Is it too much to ask for our political coverage to actually look into the claims of campaign spokesmen and women? Is it too much to ask that they not facilitate baseless attacks that have no relevance to the story or campaign as a whole? Is it too much to ask that they do some reporting?

I guess so.

Update: To be fair, it did take me all of three minutes to find Burns’ PAC and Individual Contributions of over $500 for June, on HIS CAMPAIGN WEBSITE. Among the 20 individuals listed, a whopping 4 were from Montana. Of the 26 PACs listed, none had a Montana address. It’s easy to see how the reporter didn’t get to that.

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.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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  • So, I posted on this today as well. What a horrible story that was. To make it ‘unbiased’, he added:

    Democrats have played up Burns links to Abramoff, who pleaded guilty as part of a federal corruption investigation earlier this year.

    What is this? This isn’t from Testers campaign. It’s true, but that’s not what Tester’s platform has been “Elect me just because this guy is crooked”.

    To answer the questions from (3.) that would have been news, had Mr Gouras could have looked at at this post.

  • Bad journalism should be a crime. But what do I expect from a staff writer whose hard hitting stories include articles about the Montana Junior Miss pageant and little league baseball? Clearly, he’s a classically trained reporter.

  • Oh, I think that you could Pogie. I am not convinced that he would do that justice either. Here is a sample:

    The Little Tigers met up with the Fighting Eagles today for a stirring 9 innings on the diamond. The Tigers played an amazing round, two home runs, a triple and two doubles rounded out the game. The Tiger’s final score was 3 points.

    That’s all fine, if you don’t care about how the Eagles did or the final score.

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