Terrible D.C. Journalism and Anonymous Sources Attack Governor Schweitzer

By the time you read this, you will have no doubt read the truly terrible piece in Politico by Manu Raju, which suggests that Governor’s Schweitzer will struggle to win over Democrats in Montana because of his personality and failure to support Democratic candidates.

It’s the epitome of lazy Beltway journalism, laden with anonymous sources and a clear misunderstanding of Montana.  It takes a journalist based in D.C. to write that Butte is a “copper mining town” or that Governor Schweitzer was somehow motivated by the ass-kicking he gave Roy Brown to campaign against him in a subsequent Senate race. It also takes a D.C. “journalist” to title his piece “Brian Schweitzer’s challenge: Montana Democrats” without mentioning that the last polling showed Governor Schweitzer has an 86% favorability rating in his own party. There aren’t too many politicians in the country who can claim those kind of numbers.

It wouldn’t surprise me if there are people in Montana who’ve had their feelings hurt by the Governor. People who tell the truth, bluntly and without hedging, often do hurt people’s feelings.  But to imagine that Democrats won’t wholeheartedly support Schweitzer in a race against the likes of Steve Daines is nothing more than Republican fantasy.

And the truth is, I want a candidate who will lose his temper when Republicans want to strip abortion rights from women across the country, when they obstruct healthcare for every American, and when they commit to enriching an already engorged class at the expensive of the majority of working men and women living in this country. A candidate who doesn’t get pissed off about that isn’t the candidate for me.

American politics could use a lot fewer blow-dried, message-tested ideologues who talk all the time without saying anything substantive. What we need are the kind of people who will speak their minds, sometimes bluntly.

This Democrat absolutely wants to see Schweitzer run in 2014—and I’m sure that I’m not alone, despite some anonymous sources in a piece from a journalist who probably couldn’t find his Butte on a map.

As a final note to the Democratic sources who found it necessary to run to a  D.C. journalist to tear down Schweitzer, why not have the courage of your convictions and give your names? It seems an awful lot like “bullying” to me to anonymously attack someone online.  Democrats certainly don’t have to like Governor Schweitzer, but they also don’t need to be doing dirty campaigning for Republicans.

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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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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  • Not surprising really. Schweitzer may come off to the East Coast ‘Bonesmen’ of the Dem Party as nothing more than Sarah Palin in a string tie. He shoots off his mouth whenever and however he wants saying whatever he likes such as his remarks trashing political opposition to the XL pipeline. He doesn’t pay homage to the elites. He signals that he will not take suggestions, let alone orders, from the party elders. This is about his disrespect for party discipline and assuaging the egos of the elders. Being a Sara Palin maverick only plays in Montana.

  • Ah, isn’t that cute. Poor widdle Max Fawkus has a case of the red ass ’cause Schweitzer wants to turn Montana blue! bhwahahahahahahaa!
    What a joke of an article. Seems to me that Max is gonna retire and go out in the garden and eat WORMS, ’cause no one really appreciates what he’s done for the state. But in reality, the people of Montana don’t like Mini be CAUSE of what he’s done to the state! And the country! People have had it with Max. Max NEVER, in his entire career, met a principle that he could stand on! He was corporate pimp the entire way! THAT is why people have had it with Max. He had NO choice but to retire, for he was out the next election and he knew it. And that kinda sucks. No more groupies, and no more wives! (what’s he on, numero cuatro now?) HEY, life is tuff all over, Max! Get over it, dude! You done rode THAT pony ’bout as far as it’ll go!

    But this paragraph is completely wrong and unhinged.

    “But as he prepares for his own 2014 Senate run to fill the seat left vacant by the retiring Baucus, Schweitzer may need the Montana political machine built by Baucus — and used effectively by Tester — to pull off a victory in a state crucial for the Democratic Senate majority next year.”

    Since WHEN has Schweitzer needed anyone’s help for anything? This writer is apparently unaware that Schweitzer nearly did the impossible by nearly unhorsing Sen. Cornhole Burns! ALL BY HIS LONESOME! There is no more remarkable achievement in Montana political history. And he did it ALL on his own! Schweitzer will do just fine without any help from Fawkus. In fact, he will do extremely well to distance himself from Mini! NEITHER side can stand Mini. He wore out his welcome a long time ago.

    And really, craig, Schweitzer is like Caribou Barbie???? Sheesh. Must be a REAL slow day in the political analogy department there in rightwing wacko land.That’s so stupid only YOU could have come up with that one! But hey, I like that tune. What’s it called, whistling through the graveyard??????

  • You all have it wrong. Our Dear Former Governor BS is an inveterate bully and did great damage to progressivism in Montana by his take-no-prisoners “drink the Kool-Aid” attitude where anyone who disagreed with him – for any reason and from any political viewpoint – was simply a gnat to be swatted and destroyed.

    I am of mixed feelings about Schweitzer’s probable Senate run. On one hand, I’m glad to see Our Corporate Max go. Thank God and Grayhound! Max routinely stomped on progressives within his own party, failed to support good candidates that could have beaten the republicans had they just a bit more support at the right time and place (remember Nancy Keenan in 2000, anyone??), and generally had no interest in nurturing the grassroots in Montana. We are today a red state because of Max and his keepers, not because of some vague set of demographics, but because the left was stomped – hard – every time anyone since Pat Williams tried to poke their head up.

    BS might be just the candidate we need; but BS is also a loose cannon and I’m not sure where he’s pointed. On one hand, in the toxic environment of Washington, there is something to be said for sending in the biggest bully I know to knock their heads together and ramrod through some positive change. On the other hand, I’m not sure BS will actually do this; his environmental record is mixed (I don’t think he ever saw a coal mine he didn’t love) and his love of big money and accumulation of a personal fortune may mean that he continues his bullying ways on a bigger and more powerful stage that will make it even harder for people with a progressive voice to be heard in Montana.

    • What’d he do? Whizz on your DRUM when you were dancin’ on the table in the rotunda?


      Where you from, douchey? OB viously not Montana. You’re an outta state recent transplant weirdo who THINKS he’s the last real progressive, and it shows. Stop with all the bully shit un LESS you can give one concrete example, which you can’t. You’re simply a pathetic whiner, dude. But HEY, I hear the Rainbow people are lookin’ for a few good douche bags! And THEY’RE so progressive that they don’t even use toilet paper! A HAND is a terrible thing to waste, and PLUS, it’s recyclable!


      Put a name up there with the liable, cupcake. It’s terribly unseemly to liable a good man like the governor with OUT using a real name. Hey, is this jonny adams again of the GF Spitoon fame???


    • Honestly, I don’t think Schweitzer will be able to keep up his ‘bullying’ when he’s no longer in an executive position. While I think ‘mixed’ is a charitable way to describe his environmental record, he’s definitely got our back on a variety of other issues, Schweitzer is a hard man to attack as being too ‘liberal’, or as a ‘Washington insider’. With him on the top of the ticket, we can expect the divide between ‘responsible’ and ‘bat-crap crazy’ Republicans to widen; where a more liberal candidate might well unite them against a common cause, trying to portray Schweitzer as a radical leftist is going to require some claims that will turn the stomachs of many moderates.

      • Jesus you guys are dense. Even I can provide examples of the morons I attack, But you, You, YOU weenies attack with out ANY examples! Whom did he “bully”? Example please. Names and dates! Put up or shut up, dude! Did he whiz on your tambourine? Go away, anonymous dude. Jump in your ’72 VW bus and speed up REALLY fast, and maybe, just maybe, you go back to the future!

    • I’ve certainly been critical of Senator Baucus on the blog over the years, but I do think you’re wrong about one key point about him. When you contend that “We are today a red state because of Max and his keepers” I think you’re dead wrong.

      Baucus did a lot to support Democratic legislative and statewide candidates over the years, maybe as much as anyone.

      I’m to the left of Baucus, Tester, and Schweitzer. But to suggest that any of these three “stomped” down candidates to the Left just isn’t true. Just like anyone, candidates on the left have to win races–and the failure of more radical candidates can’t be laid at the feet of Baucus or any other part of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party.

  • I’m glad he’s not running for Senate. Governor Schweitzer made some terrible personnel choices in his appointments, leading me to doubt his ability to govern rather than to react to affronts to his ego. You could always count on him to be on the side of whatever position would garner the most votes this week and get TV/radio/print time rather than making quiet, difficult choices. There was very little benefit in abusing the Republican’s in the legislature, and abusing staff in his executive departments, which he did routinely.

    I’ve had beers with the guy at the Blackfoot, met him several times at his house and at events around town, think he is a likable fellow when he chooses to be, but he is clearly in need of adult supervision. I would not advise any close friends to work with him because I do not trust him or his motives. I agreed with some of his larger policy/budget choices, but not his style of governing or his willingness to shaft people who worked for him to get his way. It wasn’t a one time thing: it was a hallmark of his administration. We don’t need more people like that in positions of influence in DC.

    • I just got off work and read the news. Terrible day for Montana and the country. That senate seat is now toast. The Pubes will win it. It’s a done deal. But ya know, I get REAL tired of reading crap about Schweitzer like that of the dipshit above your post. These weenies don’t deserve to live here, and probably don’t!

  • Mr. Kurtz:

    I suspect you don’t live in Helena. Do you know any of the backstory of why Hal Harper left? Or how Jan Lombardi got her post at the Montana University System? Or the dirt behind Betsy Baumgart and David Cole’s firings at Commerce, or why Schweitzer treated Sheila Sterns like a punching bag both in public and in private? These folks are just the tip of the iceberg. Much of the stuff that went on here was unreported because of Schweitzer’s reputation for retaliating against reporters and people who aired dirty laundry. But people have been talking about it privately for a long, long time. I’m not surprised the rumors made it to DC. All you’d need to do is have a few beers at the Blackfoot on Friday evening and start talking to people about where they worked to get the dirt.

    I’m so sorry that you are tired of reading about it. Those of us in Helena were tired of living with the two-faced, rude, behavior that passes for political give-and-take here in Helena, and that behavior isn’t confined to a single political party.

    • Here’s my frustration.

      No doubt, people have had different experiences with Schweitzer–and some clearly didn’t like him and/or felt bullied by him. For a lot of people, though, that seems like an excuse for not engaging substantively.

      And the anonymity really bothers me. Unless the crowd at the Blackfoot, you, or the party insiders who may or may not have spoken to the Politico reporter use their names, why should anyone believe them? Schweitzer’s not in office. He doesn’t have any more than you or I.

      If there are people who didn’t want him to run, that’s fine, but they should have had the courage to speak their minds using their names.

      To anonymously attack someone while calling him a bully seems hard to accept for me.

      • Don,

        I don’t know what kind of environment you work in, but if you’ve ever worked in an office where your livelihood, career path, and mental health depends on whether you are on the right side or the wrong side of a populist bully (e.g. Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson), you’ll realize how understandable the desire to remain anonymous while telling your story.

        However, I don’t think this excuses the journalists telling the story from verifying their accounts. Stories based on anonymous sources should be immediately discounted, but DC runs on anonymous leaks. That is the nature of the beast, especially in issues where there are big stakes (e.g. partisan control of the US Senate), you can expect all kinds of ethical rules to bent.

        There are other rumors (backed by credible sources should they decide to commit career hari-kari) floating around that are potentially much more damaging to Schweitzer, and that are likely to surface in an intense campaign of national importance. I personally discount them, but they are out there, they are vicious and they are career ending.

        I think it’s a credit to Gov. Schewitzer that he chose to retire from the race before it began in earnest. The little blurb you reacted to was just a taste of what would come in a campaign of national significance.

        Look, I’m sympathetic to Gov. Schweitzer’s policy goals, just not his personal style of management and working with people who support him.

        I’ve had the privilege of working with REAL leaders, Sen. Abe Ribicoff, Sen. George McGovern, General Anthony Zinni, Duke Ellington, Bob Kahn, and believe me, once you’ve worked with the real deal, you spot the posers a mile away. I’m spoiled, I admit it. I have high, high expectations of leaders.

        I read the story you cited as a political shot across the bow, and one not terribly incorrect about how some (maybe not the majority) people of a progressive bent feel about Gov. Schweitzer (notice I say progressive, not necessarily Democratic).

        You don’t have to dig very deep into Schweitzer’s record (Otter Creek is just one example) to figure out how he managed to alienate progressives who voted for him for governor (you can count me as one).

        He may have expressed himself honestly, and bluntly, but many times, especially in a public position whose success depends on bridging vast ideological and cultural divides, that is not a particularly wise tactic. Especially at a national level. That approach tends to alienate people you will need to work with down the road. Gov. Bullock, I suspect, has learned that lesson pretty well (perhaps by observing the effect of its blowback on his former boss). The cautious, paradoxical approach is not so good if you espouse the “bread and circus” camp of political expression, but it’s probably more effective for promoting your positions in a sustainable way.

        Gov. Schweitzer pissed on enough people on all sides of the political divide to make a run for Senate rather uncomfortable for him. You can blame the messenger, but you can’t ignore that reality.

        • captbob is dead on right. Some people remain anonymous because otherwise they’d need to be in a witness protection program. BS plays hardball and he has done great harm to real people’s lives.

          • No, dude. MOST people remain anonymous because they’re wussies, AND, let’s face it, it’s the domain of those who slander and liable! Cowards make pisspoor reliable sources of information for one reason and one reason alone. They have NOTHING invested! Nothing invested in the information they supposedly impart! Sad, nay, pathetic people really!

    • This seems like such a contrast to Pierre, South Dakota where the Republican Governors Club manipulates the strings of power.

      My experience with Helena is over six years agonizing whether the ponderosa pine infestation being eradicated by the beetle as it restores historic aspen habitat, would incinerate that which the 1935 earthquake did not alter, or if the Yellowstone supervolcano would make all that moot.

      As a fringe thought leader for the Democratic Party it is not within these bones to rattle any chains especially the one jerking on Governor Schweitzer to abandon his beloved state for a Right Coast cesspool.

  • This is a representative of our education system with a success rate of just over 70% calling out someone else on their job performance; that’s rich. If you want to see anonymous, try getting information from our educators when something is hinky. And if you do get information, our educators generally blame it on the inaccuracy of the numbers or parents. But that’s what you can expect from someone who is left of reality.

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