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Why Dustin Hurst and the Montana Watchdog Matter

It seems I’ve upset Dustin Hurst from the Montana Watchdog. In a recent post, I criticized his work, pointing out its inaccuracies and ideological bias. The truth is that he’s not a journalist or a reporter, no matter what he calls himself. He’s somewhere between an unofficial spokesperson for the Montana Republican Party and and an ideological hack for rightwing ideology.

And that would be fine if Mr. Hurst wasn’t passing himself off as a reporter. He absolutely has the right to express his opinion. He has the right to author biased, inaccurate stories and try to make people believe they’re true. He just isn’t right to call what he does reporting.

And I have the right to call him out for his work.  That Mr. Hurst, an employee of a secretly-funded “media” organization, would have the temerity to suggest that I am carrying water for a political candidate’s “threats” is as astonishing as his lack of objectivity and perspective about what a threat is. I’m a teacher who writes a blog in his spare time, without any promise of remuneration or help from anyone. In fact, I have received little of either in the seven years I have been writing.

Reporters are supposed to objectively examine stories and provide their audience with the information they need to make informed choices. Mr. Hurst, seemingly driven by an immense self-regard and affinity for conservative politics, offers  slanted coverage designed to denigrate Democrats, public employees, and liberals, all while ignoring the obvious failures, hypocrisy and foibles of the right. He even distorts the truth to make his arguments.

In my mind, these corporately-funded pseudo-journalists are worse than the deluge of corporate advertisements that have proliferated in the wake of the Citizens United decision. It’s clear these organizations intend to set themselves up as alternative news sources designed to trick readers into believing they are receiving unbiased news. If the future of local news is Fox-style propaganda couched in journalistic terms, we’re all worse off.

That kind of dishonesty needs to be exposed. If it upsets Mr. Hurst to be called out for his practices, I suggest a simple remedy: fix them. Either become a journalist or admit you’re not one.

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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  • Kudos to you Don, it has already been said to him time and time again at Cowgirls site, since he stopped in. If he wants his street cred back, he is going to have to talk for main street more often, and drop the tool bag.

  • Is the ad hom attack all you got? Geez.

    His writings are fair game. How about showing your chops as to where you disagree and why, specifically?

    • Right wingnut BS. Craig, Pogie directly countered Hurtz’s writing and Duston responded with exact Ad Hominem. Hence this post. This comment from you damages your credibility far more than anything Pogie has written damages his.

    • I wonder if the post I first wrote (you know, the one you commented on) didn’t specifically address my concerns about his writing?

      And…did you read his response today? He certainly didn’t defend any of the pieces.

      You *really* need to study logical fallacies. I have a great primer I use for high school students. I’d be happy to pass along the link.

  • Craig – did you follow the link labelled “inaccuracies and ideological bias’? That’s why Don disagrees with Dustin, specifically.

    Dustin –

    Come here. Talk to us here. We’re waiting, and here we can have a two-way dialogue. I clicked on at least a dozen random stories on, and no comments (except trackbacks). Defend yourself to us.

    Or, lets meet up – Millers? Jesters?

    • Joe Turner believes in the Unfairness Doctrine, the one that states it’s unfair to pick on him for being wrong! Actually, he wasn’t even BORN when Raygun did away with the Fairness Doctrine! He wasn’t even born when LOTS of stuff happened! He’s a baby that Dopey Reeburp somehow managed to recruit! And it shows.

      • Dopey must be trying for the young peoples’ vote by having this guy write nonsense for him! But I would like Joe Turner to answer just ONE question in his own words. And the question is this:

        If the one percent that OWNS all the wealth in the country does NOT do ninety-nine percent of the work, why should they own all the wealth?

        That’s all. I await his cogent response. Why should be CONTINUE the policies of a fascist like Dopey Reeburp which got the country INTO this mess in the first place?

        But alas, I don’t think he’s comin’ back! He would rather talk about how a faux reporter was NOT allowed the credence of a REAL reporter! Gotta be tough bein’ him and bein’ outed BEFORE he could pass himself off as legit! That sucks.

  • Polish Wolf,

    Thanks for the offer to defend my work. I will stand behind every word I’ve written. I cannot, however, spend all my time replying to blog posts, no matter how much I might desire to do just that.

    Why don’t we set up something for later this week? I’d love to meet you folks and discuss my articles, if that’s the topic of choice.

    Hopefully, Don will attend, too. I invited him to coffee last week, but he didn’t respond. Maybe this week.

    • “Thanks for the offer to defend my work”, joe turner.

      Look, Turner, there is PLENTY of opportunity to “defend your work” right here on the blogs. But you continue to run and hide. Sad, so sad. Is that another part of your youthful poor judgement? I mean, you ARE 26 now! Time to grow UP, dude! The youthful schtick has about run it’s course! Put on your big boy pants now, dude! If you’re gonna play in the big leagues, stop acting like a BUSH leaguer!

      Respond to Rob Stutz, bush leaguer!……or is it little league??????

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