2018 Election Montana Politics Senate Race 2018

Billings Gazette/Great Falls Tribune Continue to Print Retracted/False Endorsement – Is this why Newspapers Fail?

The Billings Gazette is sticking to its story that the libertarian candidate for Senate endorsed Matt Rosendale, even though the candidate himself has clarified and stated that is not what he meant.

Any story about a Libertarian is likely to generate some confusion–as their candidates are often not clear about what they’re really running for–but it’s an essential function of the press to make sure that a developing or changing or unclear story is true before doubling down to retweet false claims. It’s not enough to fix the story later. As the Columbia Journalism Review notes, reporters and editors should take their time and make sure the story is right:

The initial, mistaken information will be retweeted more than any subsequent correction.

When a paper like the Gazette keeps reposting a story that isn’t complete or 100% true for the sake of clicks over content, they empower those who believe the press cannot be trusted.  In this case, they sure as hell can’t be.

The Billings Gazette deleted a tweet with false information, then sent out another tweet with misleading information:

Rick Breckinridge in his own words:

“I did not say ‘do not vote for me, vote for Matt.’ I’m a Libertarian through and through, I’m not a Republican. I’m not going to be campaigning for [Rosendale], won’t be on stage with” him.

“No, I am not dropping out” Breckenridge says. 

From Reason – LINK

Reason titled their article: Despite Donald Trump Jr. Retweet, Libertarian Senate Candidate Rick Breckinridge Did Not Drop Out: Montana L.P. candidate Rick Breckinridge says he was misinterpreted by a reporter.

Don Pogreba:

“No, Breckenridge is not endorsing Rosendale. His own words say he’s not.” From Reason article:

As Don Pogreba stated:

“If we’re trying to decide if Breckenridge has endorsed Rosendale or dropped out of the race, could we just use his own damn words?”

Don Continues:

“I am having a hard time understanding how much clearer he needed to be. He literally told Reason he was not dropping out and that he didn’t intend to endorse Rosendale as a candidate.”

James Connor stated reasonably:

“Breckenridge needs to issue a statement clarifying the situation — if he can. He started the confusion by using the word “endorse” in connection with Rosendale. As for the charge of Fake News, Bull! What we have is confusion, not conspiratorial mendacity.”

A tweet from a concerned citizen says it all:

The print media has the ethical obligation to include the actual candidate’s own clarification on what he meant, especially when they are already changing the story.



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.

1 Comment

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  • On the Tribune story, it seems odd that the “Comment” link is inactive. Have they shut it down to prevent comments on a misleading story? Even though Phil Drake has clarified the earlier story, he still reports that Breckenridge has “thrown his support” behind Rosendale. This is inaccurate.

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