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Montana Politics

The Watchdog Gets It Wrong on Tester and Veterans

Look—I’ve documented my concerns with the partisan “reporting” coming out from Dustin Hurst at The Watchdog before and didn’t really intend to revisit it, but today’s story about Senator Tester’s latest ad makes it impossible not to respond. It’s not only incredibly poorly written, getting the name of the wounded marine and his stepfather wrong; it’s incredibly dishonest, distorting a key part of the story.

Senator Tester’s ad is a powerful testament to his commitment to veterans, the story of a Marine named Lance Cpl. Thomas Parker from Ronan who Tester visited during his rehabilitation following a devastating injury in Afghanistan.

In his story, Mr. Hurst didn’t mention that Senator Tester has a long record of helping Montana veterans, from increasing mileage reimbursement for travel to Veterans’ Hospitals to writing and passing the Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act.

Instead, he misrepresented the truth, suggesting that Senator Tester’s staff photographed the meeting with Corporal Parker for political reasons:

However, Tester’s people caught some of the visits on camera. The ad features four different pictures of Tester spending time with Corbett in the hospital and in what appears to be a rehabilitation facility.

Had Mr. Hurst read Vince Devlin’s story in the Missoulian this week, he would know that only person taking pictures was Mrs. Corbett [Parker’s mother]:

“When he does, it’d be like you and I sitting and talking,” Lisa Corbett says. “There’s never any press. He’s doing it because he cares about Tomy.”

The only one present at the meetings with a camera has been Lisa, and it was the images and video taken by Parker’s mother that are used in the campaign ad, including pictures of the Marine and senator shaking hands in Parker’s Bethesda hospital room, and the two visiting in the new wheelchair-accessible addition built for Parker at the family home in Ronan.

What makes Senator Tester’s ad so powerful is that it’s a true statement about a candidate and Senator who is deeply committed to protecting Montana’s veterans. It also shows someone who genuinely cares about the people he serves.

No amount of political spin can distort those truths.

And Dustin, when you write about wounded marines, please don’t call them “soldiers.” They’re marines.

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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  • Ya see, this is what I can’t stand about a dink like durst. MANY people have excused his bullshit lying as youthful indiscretion. I can’t. It’s who he is. MANY of us had to grow up quick because we SPENT your youth in Vietnam! I myself turned twenty-one in Nam. We didn’t have the luxury of “youthful indiscretions”. By they time we turned twenty-six, we were grown up enough to understand the world around us. Hurst apparently missed all this and is still trying to find himself at age twenty-six. And that’s real sad.

    The other thing is that being from outta state, the dude does not know Tester in the least. Those of us who live here know Jon, and know he’s the real deal, unlike hurst himself, who’s still trying to find himself. And it shows.

    Tester’s commitment to vets is NOT just for political gain. It is real. And my commitment to ending the slaughter of our young men for nothing is also real. There is nothing sadder than seeing our finest young men wounded in senseless wars over nothing. I can’t even watch these segments on the news showing wounded soldiers any more. It’s just too overwhelming. These wounded warriors should be enjoying their youth instead of lying in bed with missing limbs.

    Jon was an early advocate for ending these senseless wars while Joe Turner was lying his ass off. I report, you decide, who has more character!

    • Dustin, as a Veteran, I find you despicable. You are the worst kind of slime that ever crawled out from under a rock. Senator Tester has proven his worth to the veterans in this state and he certainly does not need a press brigade to follow him around to show us who he is. That you would politicize his concern and aid to this wounded Marine simply shows your “true colors”. I cannot begin to tell you how low I consider you at this moment.

  • Excellent work there, Pogie, you nailed this hack. Just went to the Watchdog site so I don’t know how his latest version compares with his first. Lamest correction I think I’ve ever seen, though.

    • Did you really expect more from Hurst? The man is a deplorable hack who’s sole motivation is getting idiots like Rehberg elected and smearing people like Tester who has done more for Montana and the nation’s Veterans than Rehberg could ever hope to. I was ambivilent to Hurst when he first appeared on the scene here in Montana (after getting the boot from the last state he attempted to hack in). I have since developed a visceral hatred for this moron and hope he is similarly booted from this state to ply his hackery somewhere else.

  • It’s an ad, people, an ad! It has no intellectual content. It was crafted by an ad agency. It is designed as an emotional appeal. There are few differences between Rehberg and Tester, so they resort to shit like this.

    • Perhaps you’d care to draw a detailed portrait of these two men pointing out their similarities in character, for indeed characther counts. As does trustworthiness. It is YOU who is full of shit here, Buttinski. Tester is NOTHING like Dopey Reeburp. Only in your twisted, perverted little mind. Try reality some time. You might like it!

    • There’s no difference to you, perhaps, but to veterans, the elderly, the poor, students, teachers, union members, and many more there is a profound difference. You can pretend like that’s not true, but you’re wrong.

      Every time you say it you’re wrong.

  • Paramount pictures funded both the Godfather and The Love Guru. Would you argue that there is no difference between those films?

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