Quick Takes: Criminals for Trump, Media Get Played By Trump Again, Protecting Public Lands

Can’t Trust Gianforte/Rosendale on Public Lands

If one thing has become clear this election season, it’s that Matt Rosendale and Greg Gianforte cannot be trusted with our public lands. Whether it’s posing on private land and calling it public, inviting the Senate’s leading advocate for lands transfer to campaign, or the insincerity of a 24th hour conversion on the issue, Montana Republicans, who still call for lands transfer in their platform simply cannot be trusted to keep public lands in public hands.

As Ben Lamb writes in his must-read piece:

People who grew up in the west know all too well that we’ve long had eastern tenderfeet coming out here to God’s country attempting to influence our votes and the way we live our lives. Luckily, at least in Montana, we’ve largely voted against those short-term, self-interested candidates. Montanans should send Jon Tester back to Washington D.C. for a third term and elect, in Kathleen Williams, a true lover of the outdoors that has spent most of her career advocating for recreational opportunities, water quality, healthy habitat and sustainable practices that benefit Montana landowners and residents. The Swamp needs true champions of public lands and publicly held wildlife, not east coast multi-millionaires that advocate for polluters and corporations at the expense of Montana’s great wild and natural resources.

Trump Lies Repeatedly to Montanans. Where is the Fact Check?

Part of the reason that Gianforte and Rosendale cannot be trusted, if for some reason their own dishonesty isn’t enough to disqualify them from office, is that they have aligned themselves to the most dishonest President–and maybe person–in American history.

Though you’d be hard-pressed to find a fact check of the President’s latest visit to Montana in the Lee Newspapers, outside journalists pointed out just how easily–and often–the President lied to Montanans on Saturday.

The New York Times pointed out that Trump lied Saturday about

  • open borders.
  • the state of the economy when he took office.
  • his claim that he eliminated the estate tax.
  • his claim that the Democrats want to make the United States a socialist country.
  • Medicare for All.
  • pre-existing conditions, claiming that Democrats who have voted to protect them somehow about it, while Republicans who have repeatedly voted against protecting them, will.
  • his failure to reform immigration laws, despite Republicans controlling all three branches of government.
  • drug access for terminally ill patients.
  • his claim that Democrats want to invite “caravan after caravan” of migrants to the United States.

Trump and Media Hype Anti-Immigrant Fear

And that last point is perhaps the most important. The Lee Papers in Montana did exactly what Trump wanted them to do, hyping the non-existent threat of “migrant caravan,” making it the headline of and focus of the story about his visit, even though the story doesn’t mention that the caravan is shrinking as it approaches the United States or that it is at least 1,000 miles away from the US.

Letting Trump stoke irrational fears, like his claims that Montanans will be too afraid “to walk around” and “locking those doors” without challenging his claims empowers the President to continue his Fox and Friends-fueled irrational, fear-mongering claims, stoking both hatred against people of color and encouraging support for candidates for who support draconian immigration policies that will do little to solve the underlying economic issues at play.

The Montana media is not alone in hyping the migrant caravan story, but as Media Matters points out in a study, the media are making a mistake when they let Trumped-up stories like this take center stage:

But the sheer volume of the coverage can’t help but fuel Trump’s claims that the caravan’s approach represents a crisis and suck oxygen away from other stories in the lead-up to the midterm elections. This plays into the GOP’s deliberate strategy, developed by Fox commentators and adopted by the White House, of focusing attention on the caravan in order to drive conservative voters to the polls.

Even though these rallies have hardly been about Matt Rosendale–hell, Trump endorsed Tester at one of them and seemed to forget Rosendale almost entirely at another–they do highlight the fact that the media still hasn’t come to grips with how to cover someone who is either incapable of or unwilling to tell the truth. Rosendale has certainly benefited from the diversion from his own anemic campaign. We’ll find out just how much it helped in two days.

Criminals for Trump

Finally, something I thought I would never write. For once, I have to credit the Billings Gazette for its mug shot gallery. In a story about the women who attend Trump rallies, the New York Times included a photo of a woman dressed like a 1960s socialite captioned “Rachell Marks, 59, who works in car sales in Billings, Mont., said she would continue to support Mr. Trump because she believed he told the truth.” They also included her defending Greg Gianforte’s criminal assault of Ben Jacobs, a note made all the more interesting because Ms. Marks has some intimate familiarity with both not telling the truth and law enforcement.

Back in 2013, Ms. Marks had her picture all over the media for another reason, two cases of fraud after bilking a 79-year-old man and a 92-year-old man to buy herself luxury items, including a fur coat much like the one she’s seen wearing in the photo at the Belgrade rally.

Sounds just about exactly like the kind of person who would support Trump because he’s so “honest.”

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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