The Huffington Post reported yesterday that Montana Senator Steve Daines was taking credit for the very unemployment benefit hikes he voted against:
“This package that we passed will provide $600 a week on top of the Montana benefit if you’re unemployed,” Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) told a local TV station the day after the bill passed. “That’s very significant. It more than doubles what the state of Montana pays. That’s taking care of those Montanans who’ve lost their jobs.”
But Daines, like most of his other GOP colleagues, supported an amendment to the bill offered by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) that would have capped unemployment benefits and denied some people the extra $600. The Senate rejected the amendment before ultimately passing the bill last week.
It’s classic Daines. He actually does it all the time, something you know if you are a regular reader of The Montana Post.
And you knew about the Daines vote on the unemployment benefits package if you read here last week. The morning after the vote, we reported that Daines cast that vote along with most of the Senate Republicans:
While he voted, as the entire Senate did, for the relief package as a whole, Daines first vote for an amendment that would have capped unemployment benefits for workers because he, like Senator Lindsey Graham, was apparently worried that someone might make $23 an hour in unemployment benefits for four months in the middle of a pandemic that is wreaking havoc on families across the country.
What frustrates me and even terrifies me is that someone who gets their news from Montana’s newspapers might not know that Daines actually voted against the expanded benefits. They might know about his pre-screened telephone town hall that had zero news value, but they weren’t told that Daines, who is running for re-election this year, voted against the tens of thousands of Montanans who need unemployment benefits to buy groceries, pay their rent, and take care of their basic needs.
I can’t pretend to understand why the local papers didn’t find that hypocrisy newsworthy, just as I can’t understand their refusal to cover the story that gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte lied about putting his assets in a blind trust while in Congress before investing in companies poised to make a profit off the COVID-19 outbreak. They’re big, important stories that would help voters understand the values and policy priorities of the people they choose to represent them.
I couldn’t understand why Matt Rosendale’s evident ties to anti-government, militia groups never made the local papers. I can’t understand why the dangerous radicalism of some members of the Montana Legislature doesn’t get front-page attention.
And I have ranted and ranted and ranted, hoping that something would change.
And nothing has.
So I am done fighting with the local press, but I am also done paying for their services. I love local newspapers and have been a subscriber to one or more most of my adult life. I think the local press is indispensable when it comes to ensuring oversight of our community institutions, and I am very aware of the legitimate argument that now, more than ever, we need to subscribe to keep them alive. I just can’t see my way to doing that, though, when the local press refuses to hold up our Congressional delegation to scrutiny.
I wake up every morning and still expect that today will be the day when one of these legitimate, newsworthy stories will be on the front page. I guess today was the day when I realized I just can’t take that disappointment anymore.
I wish the local paper and its reporters the best. I know there are excellent, hardworking reporters here doing difficult work.
I’ll be back as a subscriber if their coverage priorities change, but I just can’t keep hoping for coverage and finding myself frustrated about its absence.