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Breaking News in the Great Falls Tribune about Ryan Zinke. From 1984. Or 1983.

I was pretty excited when I fired up the Great Falls Tribune’s web site this afternoon and saw a picture of Congressman Zinke on the front page. Given that, since his election, he has endorsed the use of torture in violation of U.S. and international law, called for American troops to be sent back into another MidEast debacle, blamed President Obama for the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and called for a massive wall to be constructed between the U.S. and our third largest trading partner, surely the Tribune had a lot of fodder for an interesting story about how our newest Congressman, someone who claimed to be a moderate two years ago, has become the latest media darling for the right-wing fringe.

The Tribune, however, was not covering any of those stories, but something of far greater significance: Congressman Zinke’s college football achievements from 30 years ago. Let’s have the Tribune explain its coverage strategy:

Zinke’s office Monday also released, at the Tribune’s request, a list of awards the congressman won as a Duck.

Now I’m not so humorless to suggest that a brief story about the bet between Representative Zinke and Speaker Boehner wasn’t worth some mention, but as someone who occasionally criticizes the media’s inattention on matters of policy significance, I find it interesting that the excuse is always centered around limited resources in the newsroom. Well, someone wrote this story and didn’t write the story about Zinke endorsing torture, someone called his office for comment about his football achievements and didn’t call about his embarrasingly partisan and ill-informed decision to attack President Obama, and someone noted that Zinke “was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Whitefish High School” without noting that he has turned nativist and is endorsing an absurd policy towards migration in the United States.

Choices matter. With limited resources, they matter even more.

Surely, if the Tribune has the time to call for comment about Zinke’s football achievements from the time of the first Reagan administration, they have the time to set a Google Alert for the Congressman to see the inane commentary he’s spewing all over the right-wing paid media and hold him accountable for it. Or at least report it.

And for what it’s worth, either Zinke or the Tribune managed to get a factual detail wrong in this puff piece, too. While their story reports that Zinke won the “Emerald Cup” in 1983, the Oregon Football Guide says he won the “Emerald Athletic Trophy” in 1984. Sure seems like Mr. Zinke can’t quite keep his resume accurate, doesn’t 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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