Montana Politics

The IR’s Irresponsible Editorial About the Baumgart Firing

I don’t know Betsy Baumgart. I don’t know what kind of work she did promoting tourism in Montana and I don’t know what might have led to her termination. Neither, apparently, does the Independent Record, but that didn’t stop them from offering one of the sloppiest editorials I have had the misfortune of reading. The core of the editorial can be found in these three paragraphs, a series of unsupported and unsubstantiated questions:

Is there a connection between these personnel changes? Is there move afoot to shake up the Commerce Department? Or are the ousters acts of simple vindictiveness, rooted in differences of opinion or partisan politics?
There is one answer to all these questions: Who knows? And that’s the problem.
Hiding behind a claim of privacy to withhold information about highly visible public officials in a critical state department simply doesn’t pass muster.
Do the nature and circumstances of these personnel moves create a potential financial liability for Montana taxpayers in the form of potential wrongful discharge actions? Were any of these moves accompanied by severance payments? If so, shouldn’t those payments be a matter of public record?

“Who knows?” is exactly the problem. An indignant editorial that cavalierly dismisses the importance of protecting the privacy of a terminated employee is no substitute for journalism; it’s sloppy and it’s unprofessional. There may well be a story worth writing about this firing, but not without laying the groundwork and doing some investigation. It’s tremendously easy to ask leading questions and cast aspersions against government and public officials, but it’s not the role of journalists, who should be writing stinging editorials after they’ve written the news story, not the other way around.

The editorial also offers an instructive insight into how the news gets framed. Consider this section from a news story in the Great Falls Tribune by John Adams:

Baumgart declined to say what reason Schwinden and Roos gave for the termination because she is considering challenging the decision. She said she has discussed the matter with an attorney.

Or the story in Independent Record itself by Mike Dennison:

Baumgart also declined to say what reason she was given for her dismissal, which occurred Aug. 20 in a meeting with Commerce Director Dore Schwinden. She said she’s consulting with an attorney about a potential lawsuit.

How did today’s editorial frame that?

But neither Baumgart nor Schwinden have shared any reasons for the firing. Baumgart said she may challenge the dismissal and is working with an attorney.

It seems like the IR decided to leave out a causal connection that might just undermine the narrative they’re spinning. It seems Ms. Baumgart was given a reason for her termination and has chosen not to share it, seemingly an important detail.

I know times are tough for newspapers, but that doesn’t excuse this kind of “journalism.” Looking over today’s top news in the IR, one could make the case for realigned priorities focused on news. Then, instead of asking questions, the Independent Record might start providing us all some answers.

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.


Click here to post a comment

Please enter an e-mail address

  • Also, would it be within the rules (legal, union, or otherwise) for the State to disclose the reason for her termination? If the employee in question is keeping this information quiet, clearly she has not waived her right to confidentiality yet – what place is it of the State to disseminate information the employee terminated would clearly like to remain private for now?

  • The actual Honua Kai Holiday resort & Day spa is the latest and also most popular 5-star vacation resort about Maui : very little else arrives perhaps close up. The actual Honua Kai has been available for two then one half a few years is now the #1 holiday resort in N . Enjoys some of the as well as the #2 location it really is Offers : simply guiding some Seasons within Southern Boasts that will cost you four times all the to lease and is also a third how big is the particular Honua Kai. The particular Honua Kai can be a condo-hotel every rental property will be privately operated and when the master just isn’t generally there your property is place into the actual rental swimming. Located on Ka’anapali Seashore your Honua Kai is Thirty-five decades modern compared to all of those other resorts for the #1 seaside in Boasts. A excellent reference website no the actual Honua Kai will be Honua Kai Resort & Spa

  • *The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

  • This sort of wanting to come to a difference in her or his lifestyle, initial usually Los angeles Excess weight weightloss scheme is really a large running in as it reached that strive. weight loss 287476

  • I do not actually see how how exactly this is different between the Daily News printing this or some internet blog. Stuff such as this one must to be pushed out more to the public. I wished that people in America would do something like this.

  • This is a different sort of opinion that many people don’t usually talk about. Usually when I find stuff like this I stumble it. I don’t think this would be the best to submit though. I’ll take a look around your site though and submit something else.

  • *This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

Support Our Work!

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.

Subscribe Via E-mail


What Industry Will Republicans Prop Up with Corporate Welfare Next?

Follow us on Twitter

0 /* ]]> */

Send this to a friend