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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Newspaper goes out of its way to alienate readers

The Billings Gazette is the largest newspaper in Montana. It also puts out a Wyoming edition. President Donald John Trump carried Montana by 20 points, and Wyoming by 45. Montana also elected Republican Steve Daines to the Senate by 17 points in 2014.

The editorial board of the Gazette is so out of step with its readers that it attacked Senator Daines for being too supportive of President Donald John Trump.

In school, I learned an editorial does one of three things: inform, entertain or persuade. In writing editorials for 26 years, I learned you cannot easily persuade people that their last vote was a mistake.

I do not think the editorial board of the Gazette realizes that yet. It ran an editorial on Thursday -- "More a sycophant than a Senator" -- that began like bad haiku:
"There is no shortage of fools in Washington, D.C.
"Or even in Montana.
"Because fools, as the saying goes, rush in where wise men fear to tread."
And then the editorial writer rushed in to bash Senator Daines. The editorial was neither informative -- the cable channels having exhausted the subject earlier -- or entertaining. And it certainly was not going to convince Montanans that they made a mistake in electing Daines to the Senate and Trump president.

Oh, the newspaper has the right to express its opinion, but this was a vanity editorial, virtue signaling to the judges for some journalism award. This rendered the editorial almost as narcissistic as an Obama speech. ("Barack Obama refers to himself a record-breaking 392 times in Berlin speech.")

The editorial said, "Responding to a Tweet in which Donald Trump told Democrats to go back to the country they came from, Daines said, 'Montanans are sick and tired of listening to anti-American, anti-Semite, radical Democrats trash our country and our ideals. We’re the greatest country in the world. I stand with Donald Trump.'

"But Montanans are more sickened by the never-ending torrent of childish, bigoted views that are shoveled from the White House that make the country look like bigots and idiots. And we're nauseous when folks like Daines invoke our state in defending a spoiled New York developer who would get tongue-lashed by most Montanans for the way he takes to Twitter."

The editorial said. It did not show. There was not one quote from President Donald John Trump in the 775-word editorial. If indeed there is a "never-ending torrent of childish, bigoted views" finding an example cannot be that difficult. And with that much space to fill, the writer could have cut-and-pasted a tweet or two and let readers decide for themselves.

I am not going to call it poor writing, but it changed voices in the middle.

The editorial said, "Foolishly, Daines has rushed in when he should have let Trump speak -- or bluster -- for himself.

"Once again, Sen. Daines, when you speak you are indeed representing Montana, but you are not necessarily reflecting it. We are a big sky state, and we have more room for diversity, tolerance and a difference of opinions than you let the rest of the world see by your tweets. We're proud of our diversity and you may stand with the 'the real Donald Trump,' but we condemn his intolerance, and would hope you'd take the opportunity for real leadership and distance yourself."

So was it talking to the readers or the senator? Never mind, it soon slipped back to speaking to all readers and not just the senator.

By the way, in writing editorials, I avoided the word "we" because it comes off as pompous and imperial in an editorial as Queen Victoria saying,"We are not amused."

Also, the Big Sky State may have room for diversity but it is the fifth whitest state behind Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, and New Hampshire.

The editorial ended with a personal dig at Daines, who was born in California.

It said, "Yet, if Daines thinks Trump's leadership is really good enough to follow, we'll gladly loan him to the Golden State."

Does xenophobe start with an X or a Z?

The biggest problem with the editorial is that it is a drug on the market. There is a nearly limitless supply of anti-Trump commentary. The bandwagon is so overloaded that it cannot move.

My suggestion is the newspaper drop the subject. Knocking the president and his supporters may attract readers in the blue states, but in purple states like Montana all it does is alienate people.

And readers already have enough reasons to stop reading the local paper.

The editorial is here.


  1. My local paper published a Cartoon of Trump in a KKK outfit-last week. Just before the new owners took over..

  2. I don't have a bird so there is no need for newsprint. Local papers like local tv news has very little if any local news in them.

    1. Are you a fisherman at all?

    2. they throw them into my front yard for free. I use them to wipe down grille and start charcoal. global warming is an art form. not just the heat, but the smell of roast duck, or ribs, or a nice garlic pork tenderloin makes it even better.


    3. To Farm Boy:

      Or a hitman. They too wrap dead fish in newspapers

  3. Good to see that the dimwitted "writers" of the paper's editorial don't know the difference between "nauseous" and "nauseated".

  4. I once worked on a Texas daily newspaper as a night editor. The "editorial board" reflects the views of the owner if they want to keep their jobs. The Billings Gazette is obviously being run by amateurs who are paying no attention to their readers. The rag will soon go under.

  5. Instead of the PAPER dropping the subject, I would encourage it's readers and BUYERS to just DROP THE PAPER! Why pay for anti-American tripe? I don't!!

  6. The big media in NYC before whom this paper is groveling think of MT as a cultural desert surrounded by mountains that didn't vote for Hillary.
    No matter what they say they will get no respect.
    But perhaps the paper has something else in mind for its State: making another Colorado. For a few years now there have been direct flights from LA to Bozeman. Making Bozeman,Billings and maybe Livingston ( where I saw women peace Marchers during the Iraq war) tip Democrat would deal a heavy blow to the state's natural conservative voting nature.
    All media attacks on Trump are personal because the facts of his achievement are not useful to his opposition. As Cicero said on defending a friend who had killed his own mortal enemy, "The facts speak for themselves and in this case they are eloquent". The Billings editors have no facts and are not eloquent. But they are devious.

  7. My local paper does the same thing, being a liberal newspaper deep in the heart of the reddest state of the union, Utah.

    Like many papers, they have declined steadily over the last decade, recently laying off many in house reporters and opinion writers.

    Since they do not serve the community well, they are my former newspaper.

    Get woke, go broke, as the Instapundit Glenn Reynolds likes to say.

  8. Maybe mostly the democrats in Montana still read the rag.

    The only use I have now for a local paper is local sports (college coverage). But I have found alternatives and rarely look at the online version. Conservative Montanans will do the same.

  9. A torch in the middle of the night sends a clear message.

  10. I used to think that the newspaper wasn't killed; it was suicide. Now I realize it wasn't suicide either. It's been autoerotic asphyxiation gone wrong.


  12. My oldest friend was mad because his wife just re-subscribed to the Gazoo. It is blatantly left-wing and always has been. It has also had numerous layoffs over the years and has shrunk so much physically that it doesn't even fill the window in a paper vending machine. I don't see near as many "Gazette boxes" along the highway these days, either.

  13. As with most Liberal editorials, it's not writing, it's typing.

  14. Knocking the president and his supporters may attract readers in the blue states, but in purple states like Montana all it does is alienate people.

    I know that being called a racist by Democrats didn't make me want to vote for Obama. Quite the opposite.

    1. For a while they held back the vitriol and only blamed Trump. No more. They're coming after us, his supporters, from now on.

      I say: bring it.

  15. Lee Enterprises of Davenport Iowa owns the Billings, Missoula, Helena, Butte and Hamilton newspapers in Montana. That says it all.

  16. I spent 17 years in the newspaper business, most of it writing editorials. One of my best bosses always cautioned me to make sure I backed up my opinions with facts. "The guy who sells the newspaper has an opinion, too," he used to say.

    I also thought that newspapers had to be the only business I could think of that blamed the public for refusing to buy its product. Early in my career, there were all these chin-pulling conferences asking "Why aren't people reading newspapers?" That the product was shoddy and biased seemed never to find its way onto the agenda.

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  18. My old stomping grounds has changed a lot, and not for the better. Missoula was always for hippies, but in the 70s Billings seemed to consider itself the NYC of if. Boozeman was just that, while Kalispell/Libby was small town through and through. That left GF, anchored by the Air Force base (Malmstrom) and grounded in its Lewis & Clark and Charlie Russell roots. Then Ho-Lie-Wood discovered it and radicalized it and now it’s trying to become Oregon. Sad. It’s a perfect environmental bubble for the morally bankrupt. The only return visits I plan to make are for the funerals of my parents. Gimme DubVee, always and forever scorned and made fun of by the hoi polloi. This is HOME now.

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