The Standard’s Unique Definition of Responsibility

In this morning’s paper, the Montana Standard offered an apology of sorts for its decision to allow a highly suspect co-sponsor of the Burns-Tester debate last week. The editorial (though unsigned, presumably written by Standard editor Gerry O’ Brien)opens the right way:

Up front, the corporate sponsorship of the public debate was a mistake on the Standard’s part, and solely rests on our shoulders. No question about that.

Unfortunately, from that point on, the editorial continues the pattern of deception and self-righteous justification that has marked coverage of the event.

For example, despite never covering his connection to Burns and the MT GOP, the editorial provided a platform for Larry Farrar, president of Resodyn, to cover his ass:

Larry Farrar, president of Reodyn, said that Resodyn Corp. was glad to see the debate in Butte, and thought it was an exciting opportunity for our city.

“Sponsorship of the debate was not an endorsement for either candidate by Resodyn Corp.,” Farrar told The Standard. And no one was coerced to wear Burns stickers in the reserved seating section, he said.

The article does not include the statements of anyone who disputes that point, including the Tester campaign, Jennifer Hensley, or the non-partisan reporter, Gwen Florio. Interesting, isn’t it, that the Standard, while trying to absolve itself of claims of partisanship, only found it necessary to get one side of the story for this piece?

It’s also interesting that Mr. Farrar was not available for the Charles Johnson/Jennifer McKee news story about the debate, but was able to find time to sit down with the Standard for this whitewash.

The editorial continues:

Resodyn is the recipient of millions of dollars in federal grants. The company is very good at securing federal dollars that support high-tech research and development projects. Some of the money did come through the actions of Sen. Burns.

Odd, isn’t it, that a newspaper isn’t a little more specific about just how much money Senator Burns has given Resodyn? It’s easy to find: Senator Burns’s web page breaks it down pretty nicely and Charles Johnson wrote about the $10 million Burns claimed to have brought to Resodyn.

The editorial also ignores the repeated lies offered by Mr. O’Brien in his initial defense of the newspaper–about the number of seats given to Resodyn, the amount of their sponsorship, and the number of complaints about their poor decision.

It seems that Mr. O’Brien is as confused about the meaning of ‘responsibility’ as he is about the word ‘journalist.’ Taking responsibility isn’t about justifying your actions or trying to cover them up with half-truths and outright lies. It’s about accepting the blame and learning from your mistakes.

And the word journalist? It just means someone who tells the truth.

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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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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  • Taking responsibility would mean apologizing for the corporate sponsorship, as well as the subsequent lies and attacks on critics.

    Gerry O’Brien is a coward and an idiot.

  • I just got wind of this, and my FEC complaint was against Resodyn. No doubt the Standard screwed up, and even admit it.

    Whether or not the Standard takes the check, the question still remains, did Resodyn Corporation have a separate employee based account to make the initial contribution to the debate?

    I suspect not. And if not, then a violation of campaign law occurred, whether or not money changed hands.

    Also, did Mr. Farrar require people to wear either a Burns sticker or t-shirt to sit in his now not paid for section of reserved seating? The reports of people being ejected from seats for refusing to comply are out there, and frankly, I believe them over Mr. Farrar who, in my opinion, must be in hot water right now and trying desperately to get out of it.

    This thing is far from over.

  • Yeah…I can’t quite figure out how not taking the check now changes anything. It sounds like giving cover to Resodyn to me–making the argument that there was no financial contribution to Resodyn.

    More about Mr. O’Brien and his connection to the GOP later tonight–after about 80 papers get graded.

  • A friend, a Republican supporting Jon Tester, rec’d a telephone call. The message left said that they ‘knew he’d supported the Republican Party in the past’ and ‘wanted to encourage him to come to the debate’ and ‘there would be seating there reserved for him’.

    Now if THAT’S not

    1) having your hands on a donor list from the Republicans
    2) stacking reserved seats for Burns’ supporters

    …then I don’t know what is.

    By the way, this guy does NOT work for Resodyn, Rhodia, or the Montana Standard.

  • It’d be nice if you could convince that friend to call a reporter…probably someone at the Tribune, so they’d run it.

    O’Brien is a GOP hack…and everything he has done since the debate proves it.

  • I like this website very much, Its a really nice position to read and obtain info. “Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise.” by Bertrand Russell.

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