The Media

Judith Miller Award for Sloppy Journalism Winner: Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette

While Tom Lutey has written some sloppy pro-Republican material in the past, his latest press release from the Rehberg campaign reaches a new low in journalistic integrity. These opening paragraphs are just spectacular:

Republicans have redirected $1 billion in unspent stimulus money toward storm and flood repairs along the Missouri and Mississippi river basins.
The funds, to be available until spent, were originally directed to high-speed rail projects in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Democrats passed. The money will be distributed through the Army Corps of Engineers in disaster-affected areas in the 23-state basin area. (emphasis added)

A news reporter might have noted that this Appropriations bill won’t even receive a House vote until after July 4.

A news story might have further noted that, despite Mr. Link’s claims, the money certainly hasn’t been approved and faces an uncertain future in the Senate, as the St. Louis Beacon notes:

Under the committee-approved plan, the extra Corps funds would be offset by eliminating as yet unspent high-speed rail funding  approved as part of the 2010 economic "stimulus" bill. The Corps funding was included in the wider, $30 billion House Energy and Water Appropriations Act. It will be voted on later by the full House, but its fate is uncertain in the Senate, which will develop a parallel spending bill.

A news story might also have mentioned that Montana’s Democratic governor asked for and received a disaster declaration from the Democratic president, immediately freeing up millions in federal assistance.

Finally, a “news” story would probably have covered the fact that Rehberg actually voted a month ago to cut FEMA assistance for local and state programs.

Of course, Senators Tester and Baucus and even Representative Rehberg are all working to secure money for Montana communities affected by the flooding this spring, but only one of them has actually voted to reduce community resources and belongs to a party disinclined to help their fellow Americans in time of disaster.

Mr. Lutey, in the future, instead of running partisan press releases about natural disasters, perhaps you might consider writing a news piece and doing some research. I hear this story is pretty interesting.

Congratulations on your award, though.

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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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.

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