Six days ago, the Huffington Post reported that Denny Rehberg delivered a speech bordering on a love letter to the American League of Lobbyists, in which he extoled the virtues of the profession, going so far as to suggest that he himself wished he had remained a lobbyist.
Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan asked “could Rehberg’s comments about lobbying hurt in Montana Senate race?” Unfortunately, it appears not, as the Montana media has resolutely refused to cover this campaign issue.
One could make the argument, I suppose, that it’s purely a campaign issue not worthy of the news that Representative Rehberg is such a staunch advocate for lobbyists, but given the attention paid by the Montana media to the statue of Jesus at Big Mountain, that’s hard to support that premise. One could argue that it’s not an important policy issue, but given the media’s willingness to let Representative Rehberg unfairly, inaccurately, and hypocritically bash Senator Tester over political contributions, it would only seem reasonable to report Rehberg’s own words supporting lobbyists.
It’s part of a serial pattern of journalistic malpractice in Montana when it comes to the Congressman. I know I have mentioned these items before, but how can it be that Montana political media has not written about these issues?
- Sealed court records from the Barkus trial that have never come to light.
- Rehberg’s condemnation from the American Cancer Society and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
- His budget proposal which would cost the Social Security system billions of dollars.
- His condemnation by the conservative Wall Street Journal for his cynical budget votes.
All of these issues have been covered by the national media, but have been roundly ignored by the Montana press. They represent a mixture of important policy issues and political questions, but the media’s response has been a deafening silence and mute refusal to educate Montana voters.
I don’t think it’s bias in favor of Representative Rehberg. It’s almost as if the Montana media is giving him a free pass because he and his campaign are so inept that reporting the truth would reflect badly on the media. In order to appear neutral, they’ve decided they can’t cover Rehberg’s gaffes, missteps, and failures, because honestly reporting about his record will be perceived as biased.
Simply telling the truth—the role of the media—would demand presenting all the information about Representative Rehberg and Senator Tester. It’s certainly not the media’s fault that Rehberg is far more likely to say or do something stupid, but it is their fault when they refuse to cover it.
Instead of puff pieces about independent voters, maybe the press might consider informing those voters about the real differences between Rehberg and Tester.