Malcontent Malarkey

Rick Tryon has taken some direct shots at me and at KRTV (and the Tribune), so here is my (personal) response.

Ever since he lost to Tracy Houck in the 2015 City Commission election, he has attempted to blame KRTV and the Tribune (he hasn’t mentioned KFBB, as far as I know). But every few weeks, he posts on Facebook that KRTV and the Trib failed to properly report on Houck’s campaign violations, which I guess he thinks caused him to lose to Houck in a very, very, very close election.

In the last few days, a rumor began circulating that the Children’s Museum of Montana was being “evicted” from its location, and Tryon and some like-minded people are spouting vague conspiracy theories and near-accusations of corruption over at E-City Beat.

Houck’s name got dragged into the conversation on the E-City Beat Facebook page, and Tryon wrote the following:

There’s so much to say about this but I’ll just begin with this: The notion that Tracy Houck has her hands in setting, directing or coordinating city policy in any area whatsoever should be troubling to every citizen in Great Falls. Houck has demonstrated that she is more than willing to lie, cheat and commit fraud in order to benefit her own agenda at the expense of the public good… Houcks extremely shady and dishonest behavior will continue to impact every citizen in Great Falls because, aided by her little pals at the Great Falls Tribune and KRTV Great Falls, she has never been held to account or taken ANY personal responsibility.

I posted a comment in response – a simple “WTF?” over the “little pals” reference.

Here is one of Tryon’s responses:

You guys gave her a total pass, Dave. Don’t try to pretend otherwise. Screenshots and facts are pesky things. You also personally supported her during the campaign by “liking” her campaign page and posts.

Um, “giving her a total pass” implies that KRTV didn’t report on the accusations, the investigation by the Commissioner of Political Practices, or the findings by the COPP. In fact, all of those things were reported by KRTV (and the Trib, don’t know about KFBB). The KRTV articles included verbatim info from the investigation by the COPP, and a link to the complete COPP report.

So this is what getting a pass looks like (in addition to broadcast and newspaper coverage), according to Tryon:

KRTV: Houck pays fine to settle campaign violation
KRTV: Houck responds to ruling about violation of campaign practice laws
KRTV: Official Complaint filed with Office of Political Practices (PDF)
KRTV: Recount deems Houck the winner in Great Falls City Commission race
KRTV: Tryon files for recount of votes for Great Falls City Commission seat

Tribune: CPP finds Houck violated campaign practice laws
Tribune: Houck pays $1,200 settlement in election violation
Tribune: Commissioner-elect Houck’s campaign paperwork mess

As for “liking” or following a Facebook page or post by a political candidate — sorry, Rick, that does not qualify as “personally supporting” a candidate. That is how many people – including reporters – keep tabs on candidates and political discussions for reference.

He then followed up with this:

Sorry I don’t share your amusement at lying, cheating, blatantly unethical public officials like Houck who get a pass from so-called news organizations like yours because she’s your buddy. How much advertising on KRTV did Houck authorize for PSG? How about her campaign finance manager Alison Fried for Dragonfly Dry Goods? You and your “news” organization didn’t even ask the simplest Journo 101 questions of Houck, y’all just swallowed her bullshit lies without a second thought. You call yourself a reporter? I’ll be happy to refresh your memory with screenshots and documents any time you like, in public. Your “coverage” was a joke.

OK, let’s take this step by step.

1. I am not a “pal” of Houck. I have met her just once, when she walked by my office as she prepared to do a candidate interview (as other candidates, including you, did). We were introduced, we exchanged a few pleasantries, and that’s it. We have never hung out together, or met for drinks after work with buddies, and don’t run around in the same social circles, etc. I have literally never seen her outside of that one meeting.

2. How much advertising did Houck authorize for Paris Gibson Square? And how much did Alison spend on advertising for Dragonfly? I have no idea. I honestly don’t even know if either of them advertise on KRTV. The truth is – and I’m so sorry that I have to break it to Tryon – the advertising people at KRTV and the news staff at KRTV rarely interact.

People like Tryon like to imagine that a sales person came running into the newsroom and and said something like, “Hey! Tracy Houck just bought $5,000 worth of advertising on KRTV, and Alison signed up for $5,000 of ads for Dragonfly! So you better not report ANYTHING negative about Houck’s campaign!”

Sorry to break it you, Rick. When it comes to sales staff and news staff — we pass each other in the hallway, cruise by each other’s desks to grab a donut, exchange jovial greetings in the morning, and sit next to each other at “all staff” meetings (safety briefings, baby showers, etc). The sales people do their job, and the news staff does its job. I have never, in my 8+ years at KRTV, ever seen a sales person directly or indirectly try to influence news coverage. I can’t speak for the policy at the Tribune or KFBB, but I suspect it’s basically the same.

As for his assertion that “y’all just swallowed her bullshit lies without a second thought” – when an elected or appointed official gets caught doing something wrong, it is extremely common for that person to issue a press release to address the matter. Questions (either in person, by phone, or email) from reporters in such cases often go unanswered, or otherwise simply replied to with the text of the press release. Done by politicians at all levels – municipal, county, state, federal.

Tryon seems to think that KRTV and/or the Trib don’t try to get additional information or responses, and that reporters should be pounding on Houck’s door in the middle of the night demanding the truth, with microphones pushed in her face, etc. DUDE – if a person does not want to comment on a matter beyond a press release, we (media) can’t simply force them to talk, as much as you would like to believe otherwise.

Could Houck have decided to go on camera and do an interview? Sure. But she didn’t, and no one can force her to.

Ultimately, she left her fate in the election up to the voters and public opinion, in terms of news outlets reporting the allegations of campaign violations, the investigation by COPP, the findings of the investigation, and her payment of a fine. ALL of those things were reported by KRTV and the Trib, broadcast on TV and in the newspaper, published on news websites, posted to social media, and widely shared.

On Sunday, Carrie Galvez defended Houck (in terms of the Children’s Museum rumor) and wrote: “Tracy and I don’t share politics, rather run on opposing ends of the spectrum. However, I don’t see her as one to try to sabotage the Children’s Museum. It’s almost funny that would be suggested. Tracy has a huge heart for children.”

But even that is too much for Tryon to abide – his response: “She may have pulled the wool over your eyes and David Shermans, Carrie Smale Galvez, but not mine nor a great many other folks here. Since you guys are such wonderful pals with Houck, who tried to palm off fraudulent documents on state officials, maybe you could convince her to develop “a huge heart” for honesty and accountability.”


DUDE. Who on earth said that Tracy and I, or Tracy and Carrie, are “wonderful pals?” Why do you believe that Houck “pulled the wool” over our eyes? I know that Houck violated campaign laws – and got caught – and paid a fine. That doesn’t mean that I believe she is the “most unethical and dishonest local public official I can recall in my hometown,” as you do.

“Our Media Has Failed Us”

Wow. This is one of those “What the heck?” comments that just absolutely baffle me.

This person posted on the KRTV Facebook page:

Why is it that these days elections are seemingly kept quiet until the election has passed.We should be hearing from those that wish to govern US for weeks beforehand.This way WE can make A good and productive vote. I did not even know we had an election and I am disabled and watch TV all day long???These elections are as shady as the people in them. The only way to have an effective election is to have EVERYONE know the FACTS. OUR MEDIA HAS FAILED US once again.I guess WE are to only know the results of elections NOT the CONTENT nor INTENT. This is sad because there are 2 News stations in town. Ch 3 KRTV Great Falls and Ch 5 news.

Where to begin?

Well, first of all: dude, you’re ON FACEBOOK, which means that you have the ability to visit the websites of KRTV, the Great Falls Tribune, and KFBB, and read the many articles about the primary election and the candidates. You also have the ability to visit the Facebook pages of the news outlets AND the candidates that have profiles pages. You also have the ability to visit the websites of any candidates that have such.

Second of all: ALL media outlets in Great Falls have run articles over the last few months about the election. KRTV has aired several stories, the Trib has published several articles — including candidate profiles, and all of the information was posted online, too.

In addition, the City of Great Falls website has posted information about the election.

And this bit: “I did not even know we had an election and I…watch TV all day long???” Um…what were you watching?

If you think “OUR MEDIA HAS FAILED US once again,” you are just plain wrong. YOU have failed to pay attention.

For instance: KRTV aired and posted an article on July 1st stating that the filing deadline for the election was approaching. Last week, KRTV aired and posted an article telling people that there was just one week left until the primary election.


And here’s a screenshot of the Trib site showing some of the results for “candidate profile” search; the Trib did a good job with the profiles. Granted, the Trib hides stuff behind a paywall, but if the election is so important to Keith, then ponying up a few bucks for access shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. There is also the option of actually buying a dead-tree newspaper; I’ve heard that you can even have it delivered right to your front door.


Random Pix (January 11, 2015)

I love it when companies make it so easy to Doge-ify their products:


Dropped in to the new Do Bar for the first time ever, and I ran into these fine folks!


Yup, more snow — more than 13 inches during the past several days. Winter wonderland, indeed — beautiful!


Behind the scenes during a KRTV newscast. Many screens, tons of buttons!



It always fascinates me (sometimes amuses, sometimes puzzles) to see what people actually click on when they visit news sites…especially compared to what some people *think* they will or should be clicking.

For instance, take a look at what the most-clicked articles on were over the last week. Are you surprised by any of the items on the list?

Most Clicked on KRTV

Read more

Weather Wookiee

KRTV has a fun spot during the Wednesday morning newscasts called “Weather Rookie” – it lets a young student (usually 5th or 6th grade) do a weather segment on TV.

The kids are pretty awesome, and the morning team really enjoys it, too.

But for some reason – I’m not a big “Star Wars” fan – whenever I hear the phrase “Weather Rookie,” it gets interpreted inside my head as “Weather Wookiee.”

So here it is.

weather wookiee

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