Campaign 2014: Potpourri

Happy Monday folks!

Today is “potpourri” day with my commentary about Ryan Zinke’s military records, the Great Falls Tribune’s editor’s note, and my perspective on Lee Newspapers’ “perspective.”

So grab your coffee and read on!

Zinke’s Records:

Lee Newspapers published a story over the weekend about Republican U.S. House candidate Ryan Zinke releasing more of his military records.

Readers may remember that back in early June I said Zinke should release his DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, for everyone to see.

Zinke has done just that. So I compared it to another great American’s DD Form 214 (mine). In block #24, which is the “Character of Service” block, we both have the same word: HONORABLE.

That should end the debate about his military service.

But, the Montana Democrats want more. Back in July they made a big deal out of a Freedom of information Act (FOIA) request for Zinke’s military record. At that time I wrote, “Good luck with that publicity stunt. There’s very little a third party can obtain in regard to a veteran’s military records without his/her written authorization.”

The Montana Democrats received a response to that FOIA request:

The Montana Democratic Party in mid-July submitted a Federal Freedom of Information Request to the Navy seeking a number of Zinke’s records. It later received 19 of Zinke’s fitness reports, but virtually all key information was redacted.

It may be time to ask the Montana Democrats what is it about “Honorable” service they don’t understand.

GF Tribune’s “Editor’s Note”

I enjoy reading letters to the editor. I have written hundreds of them over the years for other folks to submit. I never liked it when “Editor’s note” is placed at the end of any letters to the editor. If the “editor” disliked the letter so much, he/she should not have allowed it to be published, or he/she should have told the person who submitted it that it contained factually incorrect information. Then let them correct it and resubmit it. When they place a note at the end it looks like they are taking sides in the matter.

On Saturday in the Great Falls Tribune, a letter was submitted by John Ressler of Great Falls. It was an anti-Steve Daines letter and said things like Daines was “not a native of Montana” and that “Why did he come to Montana from China to become a resident” and “being a transplant to Montana”

At the end of the letter the Tribune placed this note:

Editor’s note: Daines was born in Van Nuys, Calif., but he grew up in the Bozeman area and graduated from Montana State University in his hometown with a chemical engineering degree.

With that little note, the Editor put the Tribune on one side of the argument.

Lee Newspapers’ “Perspective”

Mike Dennison of Lee Newspapers wrote a story that was published over the weekend and the Billings Gazette gave it this title:

“Perspective: Democrats’ prospects for Senate seat still grim; don’t blame Walsh for that”

If you look up the word “perspective” you’ll find it can also be a “point of view” or “side” or “position” or “opinion.”

I think it’s wrong for political reporters to veer over into the “opinion” area one week, and then write a hard news story the next week expecting readers to believe they are neutral.

At least that is my perspective on what Dennison wrote…


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  1. Perhaps a bit predictably, I like it when reporters write both opinions and hard news. We all have biases, and the opinions help me understand the reporter’s biases. They also allow reporters to say things that are true but not so easy to fit into hard news style.

    • David – Thanks for your comments! -JmB

  2. […] Tuesday I wrote a little bit about the Montana Democrats and Zinke’s records and that he and I both have DD […]

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