Montana Politics The Media

My Brief Time As Newspaper Subscriber Comes to An End. Farewell, Great Falls Tribune

I’m not the kind of person who would typically cancel a subscription to a periodical because I disagree with its content. I enjoy reading critical perspectives from multiple viewpoints, because I think having your ideas challenged is an important part of becoming educated.

Unfortunately, today’s opinion piece by James Smith in the Great Falls Tribune was neither insightful nor well-written, and made it impossible for me to continue supporting a newspaper that would publish such vapid tripe.

James Smith was given prominent placement on the Viewpoints page to offer a childish, inaccurate screed attacking Jon Tester, with nothing resembling a fact appearing anywhere in the piece.

The writing level of the piece is somewhere between cretinous and imbecilic, featuring hard-hitting, incisive commentary like this:

Montanans might respect senators who bravely stood up to the questions and objections back home, even if they voted in D.C. against the wishes of the majority. But to fear your constituents? To hide from them? That is a political sin that spells Disaster, capital D, pronounced Dee-zaster.

In the end, it’s just a series of Rehberg talking point buried in the kind of language you’d find on Fox and Friends. A newspaper owes its subscribers more than that, especially when three quarters of the thickness of the Sunday paper is already advertisements.

Now, a critic might point me to yesterday’s piece by Melody Wall, written in support of Senator Tester, as evidence of balance in the newspaper. I’d remind them that someone made the decision to run Ms.Wall’s thoughtful and interesting piece on Saturday, with far fewer readers, while running Mr. Smith’s rant on Sunday.

Every newspaper editor and publisher certainly has the right to publish what he wants in his newspaper, but I certainly don’t have to—and won’t—pay for it.

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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  • Ya know, Pogie, I’ve always LOVED our J School tradition here in Montana of producing some of the finest journalists in the country. The U of M Journalism School was one of the premier schools in the country. Nathanial Blumberg must be rolling over in his grave. The anti-intellectualism of the rightwing is having the desired effect. Idiocy and becomes legitamized as having equal weight of reasoned argument.

    K. Ross Toole said it best.

    “It remains incredible, however, that in so many instances there is no correlation between the mortality of a bad idea and the weight of the mass evidence against it.”

    The Rape of the Great Plains
    p. 159

    Of course Toole was talking about strip mining coal, but his point is valid for many things in our world today, including the printing of lightweight morons as newsworthy.

  • Those of us who receive Rural Montana, the bumwad house organ of the Montana Association of Electrical Cooperatives , know Smith as a know-next-to-nothing opponent of wind energy. I’m glad he’s no longer working for Rural Montana, which I hope can recover from his tenure.

    Given the poor quality of his argument against Tester, I’m not sure Smith’s helping Rehberg.

  • Don: “…with nothing resembling a fact appearing anywhere in the piece.”

    Smith: “…the Lee poll shows Tester behind only 3 and within the margin of error, a statistical tie.” Isn’t this a fact? True or untrue?
    Smith: “…A glance behind the curtain shows a sample of 625 respondents, 36 percent Republicans and 34 percent Democrats, the rest Independents. Which matches the 2008 results when John McCain won Montana by a slim margin, 50 percent to 47 percent.” Isn’t this a fact? True or untrue?
    Smith: “…Montanans do split their tickets.” Isn’t this a fact? True or untrue?
    Smith: “…Montanans might respect senators who bravely stood up to the questions and objections back home, even if they voted in D.C. against the wishes of the majority.” True or untrue?
    Smith: “Your vote won’t count if you don’t get out there and cast it.” Isn’t this a fact? True or untrue?
    Smith: “I’ll be making a few giddy partisan remarks today.” Isn’t this a fact? True or untrue?

    • Wow! The dude’s a regular geenieus! Here, Snuffy, HERE’S a suggestion for your NEXT letter. You teatards hated the stimulus and the bailout, SO, let’s do a leetle cost/benefit analysis, shall we? You’re a lifer, a maggot, a fly, a dude who SUCKED offn’ cammo titty for your entire life. Well, just WHAT successes have you military dudes HAD since WW II? Nuthin’, I’d say. So, why are we PAYIN’ for you dipsticks? You see, Snuffy, we’d have been better off bankrupting our country on its PEOPLE instead of worthless lifers and flies! We got NUTHIN’ but disasters and the emnity of the rest of the world to show for your efforts!

      Now, compare and contrast that with O’Bama’s stimulus and loans to GM, which they’ve PAID back. When you LIFERS AND MAGGOTs gonna pay back the country???

      It’s time to hold the military and its tit suckers accountable. They are destroying the country for nothing!

    • “Smith: “…the Lee poll shows Tester behind only 3 and within the margin of error, a statistical tie.” Isn’t this a fact? True or untrue?”

      (1) Tester is 3 points behind according to the Lee poll. True. Rehberg 48, Tester 45.

      (2) Within the margin of error. True. The MOE is +/- 3.9 percent.

      (3) A statistical tie. False. There is a 69 percent chance that Rehberg is leading. See the paragraphs on MOE and ballot lead probability at:

      By convention, pollsters report the MOE at the 95 percent confidence level, which is the level the social sciences usually require for rejecting the null hypothesis. It’s also a pretty stiff test. A more useful statistic is the ballot lead probability. The American Research Group has an online ballot lead calculator; link in the MOE paragraphs referenced above.

  • Save it Craig the real world doesn’t work without varying degrees of opinions and realistic facts. Democracy notwithstanding the vote against your bullspit is now at 3 to 1. I guess You lose in the Opinion and fact department now. Fact!

  • I’m sorry that you felt that way.

    I’ve known Jim for more than 10 years, ever since he was editor of the Shelby Promoter. He’s a fine man, a veteran who was instrumental in getting our memorial & big flag site off the ground.

    I agree that his “stream of consciousnesses” method is a little hard to follow.

    However, your dropping the best and arguably the most non-partisan paper in the state says more about you than him. Calling everyone who disagrees with you a cretin and an imbecile says more about you than him. I pray that you are not calling your students that disagree with you cretins and imbeciles.

    • Um, Paul, I graduated in ’69. Dude, find me ANYONE my age who isn’t a “veteran”! Don’t mean nuthin’, dude. We all went, but we didn’t ALL stay in! Only the losers did, dude. And Snuffy Smith is a loser! You see, when military serviced DEFINES who you are, you got no life. You’re just a cammo TITsucker.

    • Actually, I called his writing level somewhere between cretinous and imbecilic, not him–and I stand by that assessment.

      I have no doubt that he’s done good things in his life, but that was no justification for the Tribune publishing this juvenile piece that offered nothing to the discourse about this election.

      As a teacher, I would suggest you look up what “stream of consciousness” means. Rambling incoherence doesn’t make one James Joyce.

  • Guest opinion: Tester will back Montana Air National Guard legacy
    Written by Col. Michael John McDonald
    Oct. 14

    Earlier this month, both the Unites States House and Senate approved a vital piece of legislation to prevent the federal government from shutting down. That bill, which has been signed into law, was a rare example today of bipartisanship. Republicans and Democrats worked together to do what is right for our nation.

    This important bill also included language keeping the Montana Air National Guard’s F-15 fighter mission in Great Falls until next year. Montana’s U.S. Senators supported it. However, Congressman Rehberg did not. It was a surprise to see him join just a handful of lawmakers in voting against this bipartisan plan, which protects Montana’s mission.

    With all of the changes the Air Force is considering, it makes no sense to move Montana’s airplanes to another state right now; a move should occur only when a replacement mission has been clearly identified for MANG, and more importantly, backed up by the Air Force’s budget plan. Yet voting for a mission move is exactly what the congressman did.

    The Air Force, like the rest of the federal government, is under enormous budgetary pressure. Sen. Tester positively engaged with the Air Force and the National Guard early in the budgetary process to protect a long-term, manned flying mission for MANG — one that many states envy as they face closures or less desirable replacement missions.

    The Air Force long has planned on relocating MANG’s F-15s to California. If that indeed happens, Sen. Tester already has worked closely with the Pentagon to bring a C-130 mission to Gore Hill that will maintain jobs and ensure our patriotic citizen Airmen are equipped and trained to execute both vital state and national missions.

    As a former MANG leader, I had the opportunity to work with our state’s congressional delegations through very turbulent times, including the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process which transitioned the wing from F-16s to the present day F-15s.

    Make no mistake, Sen. Tester has quietly, but resolutely and fairly, made his demands known, always putting Montana first. I know he will continue to fight for the future of MANG where it counts — in the offices and the hallways of the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill — not in front of the cameras.

    You may have missed it, but the Tribune ran another column in support of Sen. tester last week. That makes two for Tester and on for Rehberg. Here it is:

    Montanans who are concerned about preserving the legacy, the viability, and long term future of MANG have one clear choice in this fall’s Senate race: Jon Tester.

    Col. Michael John McDonald is retired from the Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force.

    This letter constitutes personal opinion and does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Air Force, the Air National Guard, or the Department of Defense.

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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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