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Why Would the Montana Legislature Issue a Press Credential to Tim Ravndal and a Militia Blog?

I’ve never thought about applying for a media credential to cover the Montana Legislature both because that seems like a job left to the professionals and because I get more than enough of the Legislature living in Helena while they’re in session. Additionally,  based on the rules for such credentials, I likely wouldn’t qualify because those who write a “personal online blog” are disqualified.

Somehow, though, area bigoted crackpot Tim Ravndal was issued a press credential to cover the legislature for a militia site.

ravndal

Ravndal, perhaps best known for being too bigoted to remain in a leadership role with a TEA Party outfit and sartorial choices that suggest a combination of Tobias Funke and Blackbeard the Pirate, received a credential to cover the session for Redoubt News, a website identified by the SPLC as an anti-government group and described by Rolling Stone as a propaganda outlet for the American Redoubt movement, a proposed “bastion of God-fearing, gun-toting, canned-food eating whiteness where conservatives can survive the End Times [that] has been embraced by survivalists.”

If you’re not familiar with the American Redoubt movement, it gained popularity when anti-Semitic, anti-government preacher Chuck Baldwin packed up his family to move to Northwest Montana to wait out the collapse of American society and form a white nationalist state.

Redoubt News has 14 pages of stories that talk about the militia movement, including attacks on the FBI, endless posts trying to make the criminals at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge takeover into martyrs, celebrations of the 3% armed militia movement, and calls to release Todd Engel, who traveled to the Bundy Ranch in Nevada to “intimidate, and to threaten to assault federal law enforcement officers” with his loaded A-15 rifle.

Ravndal’s journalistic credits include an August interview with Bozeman’s Matthew Monforton that, as of 1/6/18 had 42 views, this majestic piece about his House campaign, an interview with noted racist Elaine Willman that has almost 70 views.

Ravndal, who interferes in state and county meetings across the state as a self-described “member of the Order of Constitution Defenders,” another group identified by the SPLC as an anti-government Patriot group should not have a credential to cover any government body, and it’s especially troubling that Redoubt News has been authorized to do so.

I’m not sure that enabling a militia supporter of a “news” outlet that advocates for violence against the government will make anyone–legislator, lobbyist, or citizen–feel safe this session.

I hope that some member of the body will ask to find out how Ravndal was approved and move to reverse the decision.

 

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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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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