A daily digest of Montana news
Aug. 23, 2017
Jim Morris watches the solar eclipse Monday in a Missoula park with his son, Sullivan, 8, and daughter, Hattie, 4. (Missoulian)
HOPE TO be the lucky motorist who snags a personalized Montana license plate with President Donald Trump's mystery word: "covfefe?"
Sorry, but you won't be able to get it. Nor will any other Montana motorist, according to Phil Drake of the Great Falls Tribune.
Drake says the Montana Motor Vehicle Division has decided that the word isn't appropriate for a state license plate. Go to the link above for an explanation why. After Trump tweeted "covfefe" -- he apparently meant to say press coverage -- motorists in at least 21 states attempted to see if they could get it on their license plates.
SURPRIZE....err... suprise ... err ... Many Montanans aren't sure how to spell surprise.
Google Trends has produced a study of the words that Americans have the most trouble spelling in each state. It can do this by looking at searches folks do in each state that start with "how to spell..."
And in Montana, believe it or not, that word is surprise. In the United States as a whole, "beautiful" is the word misspelled most often. If you want to see a map showing the top words people have trouble spelling in each state, you can go here.
GREG GIANFORTE's body slam of a reporter inspired a lot of outrage. It's also inspired a new dance track called, of course "Gianforte (Bodyslam)."
The track was put together by Nick Ferrington, a full-time DJ and producer living on the East Coast who grew up in Montana. Ferrington, also known as DJ Nick Minaj, says the track is a "mix between a parody and just kind of taking notice of what happened in Montana..."
If you want to hear "Gianforte (Bodyslam)" you can find it here. Or you can also look for Ferrington's four-city tour of Montana in July.
ON ALL the national weekend talk shows, pundits were rightly condemning newly elected Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte for his body slam on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. What they couldn't believe was that Gianforte attacked Jacobs simply because the reporter asked him about the GOP health-care bill in the wake of a new CBO estimate of its impact.
It does seem crazy that such a thing would set off Gianforte. But what if Gianforte wasn't upset with that question, but with a previous Jacobs' article on his investments? Back in April, Jacobs wrote a story claiming that Gianforte had "financial ties to a number of Russian companies that have been sanctioned" by the United States. The article said Gianforte had invested a little under $250,000 in two ETF funds that bought Russian stocks, some of which had been sanctioned by the U.S. government.
The story didn't get a lot of play in Montana, but Gianforte's campaign opponent, Rob Quist, jumped on it --who knows, his campaign might have been the source of it -- and demanded that the Republican dump his "secret Russia" stocks.
While the Guardian headline and lede rang alarm bells, the story itself did quote a former State Department official who dealt with sanctions policy, Richard Nephew, who said that while “there is definitely a question here ... my initial reaction is that this is not something to freak out about." The article also noted the ETFs were just a small portion of Gianforte's total assets, which could be as high as $315 million.
So, was Gianforte set off by Jacobs' health-care question, or was he still smarting from the Russian investment story, when he went crazy on Jacobs? He hasn't explained himself, probably because he wants to leave well enough alone. Meanwhile, he's still got a lot of work to do to repair the damage he's caused.
SHORTLY after getting word that the U.S. House race had been called in his favor, Republican Greg Gianforte took the stage in Bozeman to join his allies in a celebration -- and to apologize for his attack on a journalist the evening before.
Gianforte admitted he made a "mistake" by body slamming Guardian Ben Jacobs, who had entered his campaign headquarters to ask about the GOP health-care bill. "I took an action I can’t take back and I am not proud of what happened,” he said. He then turned to the cameras and apologized directly to Jacobs.
Jacobs had demanded an apology, but when it came he was having none of it. He told CNN that Gianforte's apology was in "some ways far worse than the assault."
Meanwhile, politicians weren't the only ones behaving badly. Bozeman Chronicle reporter Whitney Bermes made a good case that New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin lifted her photo of Gianforte's citation for assault without giving her credit. As the controversy unfolded on Twitter, most folks were coming down on the side of the 'small-town' reporter.
In another smackdown over the Gianforte smackdown, Butte native Rob O'Neill -- also known as the guy who shot Osama bin Laden -- sympathized with Gianforte on a Fox News show. He noted he had his own problems with reporters hounding him and his family after news came out of his role in bin Laden's death. “We have a saying up there [in Montana]: ‘You mess around, you mess around, you might not be around,'” said O'Neill.
Keith Olbermann, who got famous on MSNBC for verbally lashing President George Bush a few years back, didn't care for O'Neill's remarks. On Twitter, he called the retired SEAL an "idiot," "snowflake," and "Clownboy."
O'Neill replied that, if Olbermann could afford bus tickets to Montana, he'd provide him free "body slam lessons."
Doesn't appear that Olbermann, who now does a podcast, is ready to take up O'Neill on his offer.
Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org