Montana AP: You Got Punk’d

Aaron Flint posted on August 27, 2010 08:55 :: 2465 Views

Well, if all you read was the Montana Associated Press’ coverage of two of the biggest stories in Montana this week, you actually would have missed the biggest news regarding the visits by two separate Presidential Cabinet administrators. 

Let’s kick it off with Monday’s coverage of Health and Human Service’s Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ visit to Libby, Montana touting the federal health care bill.  Apparently there were numerous print and TV reporters present at the brief listening session held there.  The AP had an interesting headline that read: “Baucus, Sebelius Rebuked Over Health Care in Libby.”  But why was it that the only source to report Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-MT) answer to the Libby woman’s question as to whether he actually read the health care bill was The Flathead Beacon?  The Beacon’s report contained an answer from Baucus which said this:

“I don’t think you want me to waste my time to read every page of the health care bill. You know why? It’s statutory language,” Baucus said. “We hire experts.” 
The Beacon’s report and my subsequent analysis both made the top online news web page “The Drudge Report,” eventually crashing the Beacon’s web servers.  My initial question was: how did the AP miss that?  But we all miss something every now and then. 

Well then came the AP coverage of the visit by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Senator Jon Tester, both of whom have been under fire for months for what is considered wasteful stimulus spending, specifically at the border station of Whitetail, Montana.  After DHS announced plans to halt construction following criticism from Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) and others, Senator Tester said he wanted to take the time to hear from the residents of Phillips County about their concerns.  Of course, the project isn’t even located in Phillips County.  So now, Napolitano and Tester head to Shelby and Havre to, as the AP reports- “hear from locals” about the project.  Hear from locals?  Havre is nearly 300 miles away from the Whitetail border station. 

Here’s what State Sen. John Brenden had to say about Napolitano and Tester appearing to dodge Northeastern Montana earlier this week: 

Click to Listen

Of course, you have heard none of these questions referenced at all in the AP’s coverage. Instead, the AP quoted embattled Rep. Julie French (D-Scobey), who is facing a tough re-election battle against the young political newcomer Austin Knudsen, a Culbertson rancher and Plentywood attorney. No effort by the AP apparently to get reaction from Knudsen or Brenden. So here you had the AP miss the news in Libby on Senator Baucus, and then dodge the issues and report Napolitano and Tester’s visit 300 miles away from the affected border posts as a meeting “to hear from the locals.” I think its fairly safe to say that on two of the biggest news stories in Montana this week- Montana AP: You Got Punk’d.

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