When I first spoke with Dan about writing a story on media bias in Montana, he joked, “There’s no conflict of interest in that.” It was a solid point. Media writing about media is like a chef writing reviews of his or her competitors’ restaurants. Nonetheless, we ran with the story, which you can read here.
It didn’t surprise me that, overall, Montana media is considered more objective than those infamous “media elites” holed up their big-city office buildings. After all, in small towns, like those that dot our state, reporters interact more closely with the people they cover every day. That’s not to say they don’t make mistakes, but it does require them to take extra strides to shake the perception of having a political bent.
Still, I thought Julie Langaker, news director of KMMS in Bozeman, had a solid assessment of the Montana media’s coverage of (newly re-elected) Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s gaffe, in which he remarked at a trial attorney’s fundraising event that he tampered with the results of the 2006 U.S. Senate election.
“If (former Republican governor) Judy Martz had done that, it would have been all over the papers for a month.”
Martz, whose popularity was tanking at the end of her first turn, became quite famous for her gaffes and off-color statements. Will Schweitzer share the same fate? Judging by Tuesday night’s election returns, I doubt it.
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