Journalism happens, occasionally

See footnotes

Pete Talbot wrote an amazing piece at 4&20 in which he concluded that if no one better comes along, he’ll vote for Max Baucus again. That rebel! A maverick! We’re talking balls, man, big swinging balls … those darned feisty Democrats are so unpredictable.

In the comments below there is a link to this piece by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship reporting on some standard-fare corrupt behavior by three senators, allowing a massive subsidy to be slipped into the midnight legislation to resolve the fake “fiscal cliff” crisis. It was a half-billion gift to Amgen, a pharmaceutical company. The three senators are Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, and Max Baucus, who Talbot will end up voting for again, since Montana apparently cannot do better.

This will be interesting to watch, however – there are reasons why men of low caliber like Baucus (and Conrad Burns, and now Jon Tester) hang on to high office decade in and out, and it has less to do with gullible voters than absence of a burrowing press. All corruption that has ever been reported on Montana office holders has originated out-of-state, and local media like Lee newspapers ignore it unless it gains national traction (in which case not reporting it exposes their own corruption). This is not because Montana journalists don’t know how to investigate and report – many do. It is because publishers are part of the power structure in that state, and editors are chosen due to an innate sense of where that power lies. Reporters have very little to say about what they report on.

So watch the major Montana newspapers* (forget TV – it is not even a factor in news reporting) to see if there is anything more than a back page mention of this Amgen story uncovered by investigative reporters working for the New York Times.
Footnote: Here ‘s a comment from State Rep Ellie Hill, also in the comment section of the Talbot post:

Yo, B-birds, I appreciate the mention but Max Baucus has my unequivocal support for re-election. Max has been working for Montana families, women, and jobs since before I was born and I think he is a helluva guy. He has earned our support and he’s got mine. Plus, he is the longstanding backbone of the Montana Democratic Party… in good times and bad. … I could go on.

Rep. Hill cannot actually “go on'” but it is SOP to speak of Max in general terms without reference to specifics, as specifics do not exist. Max is a Democrat, and that is the only specific that really matters. But I put her comment up because it demonstrates so well why Baucus is not going anywhere – he controls the state party. If Hill crosses him, she’s done. Max rules.
*Footnote 2: I Binged “Baucus Amgen” this morning, 1/29/13. In the first five pages of results, there is no official Montana news coverage of this scandal. There is a letter to the editor in the Montana Standard – well, that’s the one thing we’ve got.
*Footnote 3: I Binged “Baucus Amgen” this evening, 1/29/13. There is still not one word in the Montana media. It is, however, receiving coverage in many other venues and newspapers, and at the Erotic Review (which has now, for the record, scooped the Billings Gazette.) If ever corruption in Montana were on parade, this is it, high, wide and handsome. The copper collar never went away. It merely shed its skin.

About Mark Tokarski

Just a man who likes to read, argue, and occasionally be surprised.
This entry was posted in Journalism, Montana Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Journalism happens, occasionally

  1. Pingback: “The Best Policy for Montanans Amgen” « 4&20 blackbirds

  2. steve kelly says:

    Here in Montana, thoughts rarely escape the constraints of Democrat v. Republican. It’s a lock. The Choir chants “Max” as the whole system plunges deeper into a bottomless pit of corruption and slime. Montana’s Max: post-modern, pawn-idol and super-hero. A People’s Temple/Jonestown finale is our ultimate reward? Roughly half of eligible-age voters want out, and will be exploring other routes leading to passage away from this authoritarian nightmare. Lace up those hiking boots.


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