Wilderness: Be Careful Montana Media, Your Bias is Showing

Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-MT) wilderness bill, the so-called “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act,” hasn’t even passed the US Senate.  His bill has also failed to attract the support of county commissioners from all of the areas impacted by his bill.  Yet, the Montana print media decided to largely ignore both of those facts.  Instead of asking Sen. Tester why he doesn’t support a forest jobs bill co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT), which actually passed the US House of Representatives, the narrative boiled down to Tester complaining that Daines apparently does not support his wilderness bill.     

Be careful Montana media, your bias is showing.  Case in point, this piece by a former staffer to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) who is now working as a news reporter for The Bozeman Daily Chronicle.  

“I’m very disappointed,” Tester told the, Chronicle Thursday. “I thought we had a good enough relationship where he’d be willing to tell me directly, instead of sending a letter to the speaker directing him to block any on-the-ground, state-based management solutions for our national forests.”

In the report, Carter merely piece-mealed a bunch of quotes from supporters of Sen. Tester’s wilderness bill, ignoring a laundry list of opponents such as county commissioners, outdoor groups, and others. 

If you’ve noticed the liberal bias coming from the news pages of The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, you’d likely be interested in this recent Montana Media Trackers report: Bozeman Daily Chronicle Continues Tradition of Left-Wing Political Reporters

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle’s new political reporter, Troy Carter, continued the trend of left-wing bias enshrined in that position by his predecessor, reporter Laura Lundquist.

An online search of Carter’s work profile reveals past employment as an intern with a radical anti-gun California lawmaker, Anthony Portantino. He also worked as a staffer for former Democratic Sen. Max Baucus.

Carter took over the political beat for the Chronicle in early 2014 when Laura Lundquist was removed from the position after posting tweets to her personal account referring to Rep. Steve Daines as a “TEA Party moron.”

Maybe his columns should appear on the opinion page rather than the news section?

Meanwhile, Tom Philpott’s latest “Military Update” caught my eye.  The headline: Effort to Help Veterans Runs Aground

As a veteran, I’ve been saying on our statewide radio talk show, Voices of Montana, for years that veterans shouldn’t have to endure a 4 hour or more car ride just to get VA healthcare.  If timely VA care is not available in their communities, they should be able to get care through their local health care provider.  The recent VA scandal highlighted the need for this type of reform even further.   

Even after being scolded by MSNBC of all places, Sen. Tester continues to defend the system and argue against these needed reforms. 

As Philpott writes:

The ambitious push by Congress and its veteran affairs committees to swiftly solve a health care wait-time crisis for tens of thousands of veterans by granting access to private sector care appears to have run hard aground.

I am very concerned that this conference committee will end up taking a step backward for veterans’ health care in this country,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mt. “That cannot happen. Veterans deserve better.”

Worries center on the showpiece of both bills: that VA for two years will make private sector care available to veterans if they face waits for VA care longer than 30 days or live more than 40 miles from a VA care facility.

To a question from Tester, Philip Matkovsky, assistant deputy under secretary for health administrative operations, said purchasing care in the private sector generally costs taxpayers more than care in VA facilities.

KXLH-TV: Veterans tell Tester of VA problems well beyond long waits

Staff Sgt. Joel Senn of Helena served three tours in Iraq, bringing back severe back problems and more.
“A lot of our wounds are not visible. A lot of our wounds are invisible. And when we’re denied it’s like you’re dishonoring what we’ve done.” 

Tester said there are a few members of the conference committee “who are balking at the cost of providing veterans the care that they’ve earned.”

Helena IR: Veterans give Tester earful at Helena listening session

Air Force veteran Sarah Price of Boulder said she knows of veterans who need care but have no way to get to a care center because the VA doesn’t have an adequate transportation system.

“Transportation is a huge problem, and it shouldn’t be left up to someone else to provide it,” Price said.

Tester also heard concerns about the failure to build a Vets Center in Helena. I imagine some of the VA administrator bonuses probably could have covered the cost.

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