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The IR’s website exhorts viewers to “support local newspapers” every time I visit, but the local coverage of the Trump visit to Great Falls left me wondering exactly what benefit I was getting from this vaunted local angle.

While you did provide some clarity on how Trump was clashing with Jon Tester and attempting to take credit for Tester’s reforms and bills benefiting veterans, you neglected to point out how frequently Trump actively misled the Montanans in the crowd. (I know reporters tend to avoid the word "lied," claiming you can’t know intent, but at the very least, Trump has repeatedly shown he has a willful disregard for facts.)

He misled Montanans about the estate tax, he mislead us about the trade deficit, he mislead us about his health plan. He didn’t tell Montanans the truth about wages, he didn’t tell the truth about the military budget, he didn’t tell the truth about gang member deportations. He gave false information about his electoral college numbers, he gave false information about energy exports, he even gave false information about NFL ratings.

Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale noted that Trump tends to benefit from local media coverage because it hews to a simple message, “president comes to town, draws big crowd, criticizes local Democrat.” That seems like a fair summary of what I read — indeed Tribune’s website proclaimed, “Trump rally a heck of a day for Great Falls.”

In his speech, Trump referred to the news media as “fake,” “crooked,” and called reporters “really bad people.” And yet, the IR and other Montana papers seem to be thrilled with the mere fact that he’s in the state, as if they were a love-struck teenager endlessly reliving the moment their fantasy date smiled at them on the way to the prom -- with someone else.

Personally, I think that local media has the opportunity to do better, and I hope you do so in the future.

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Ross Nelson



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