The Media, Part 1: The Montana Standard Gives Up Its Last Shred of Credibility

You have to give Gerry O’Brien from the Montana Standard and Lawrence Farrar, the President of Resodyn, credit for one thing: they have no shame at all. No worry about public scrutiny, no concern about the appearance of partiality, and no regard for the truth. I’ve always wondered how a Senator could sell his integrity as cheaply as Senator Burns has. Now I wonder about a newspaper editor who can sell his own credibility and that of a 100 year old newspaper for nothing.

Weeks after getting caught red-handed for allowing an obviously pro-Burns business and its owner to plant Burns supporters in the Butte Senate debate, and even apologizing for this incredible clear lack of judgement, the editor at the Standard decided it was reasonable to give Mr. Farrar  a platform to support Senator Burns in an opinion piece this morning.

The Standard didn’t even bother to fact check this puff piece. Farrar claims:

Burns has provided about 10 percent of that money, $250 million, to fund projects in Butte, which has played a vital role in the economic recovery and wellbeing of our community.

Interesting that the Standard trusts a partisan corporate welfare hack more than the reporters from Lee Enterprises, who concluded that Burns was not responsible for all of that money at all. In fact, according to Marko Lucich, executive director of the Butte Chamber of Commerce:

Baucus, along with Rep. Dennis Rehberg, R-Mont., have been a “huge part” of helping the area, he said, along with state legislators.
“Senator Baucus is very important, too, equally important, he’s done pretty much the same thing for our community,” Lucich said.

It’s probably a lot to expect fact checking from a newspaper like the Standard, but shouldn’t they at least trust reporters who work in the same corporation? Maybe when Larry and Gerry sat down to write this piece, they could have reconciled those reports.

One last note. Does it seem odd that conservatives who decry welfare and benefits for the truly poor celebrate this kind of government largesse for corporations? Consider this passage in the article:

In particular, we at Resodyn can speak to the positive effect that Burns has had on our business over the past three years. Work by Burns on the appropriations committees has resulted in Resodyn receiving more than $20 million in contracts and grants from the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.

According to the Gazette piece, Resodyn employs all of 35 people, and the real amount of federal money transferred to the corporation was $23 million. By my calculations, that’s  $657,142 per employee. I wonder if federal monies might not be better spent on a corporation that has actually produced something of value.

For people like Lawrence Farrar and shameless hacks like Gerry O’Brien, money trumps morality. It’s fortunate for us that Montana voters cannot be bought as easily as these two.

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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