Tribune Misreports That ‘Anti-Trans’ Flyer Was Distributed In Great Falls

Because I’ve been asked about it several times, I felt it necessary at last night’s Great Falls city commission meeting to publicly correct a piece of incorrect reporting by the Great Falls Tribune last week.

The front page of the Tribune’s Thursday, March 31 print addition carried the following headline, “‘Not in my neighborhood’ Anti-Semitic, anti-trans flyers distributed in Great Falls”.

Their digital content also repeated the misinformation, see screenshot below:

The Tribune reporter either hasn’t actually seen the flyer in question, is being intentionally dishonest in order to create a false narrative, or is referring to material other than what I have seen.

I know this because I have seen and reviewed the anti-Semitic flyer that was distributed in Great Falls last week and there is absolutely nothing in the content of that flyer that is “anti-trans”.

The Tribune should either correct the record concerning the contents of the flyer or specify how the ugly and bigoted anti-Semitic message contained therein is ”anti-trans”.

The attempt by the Tribune to invent a false flag, manufacture a bigoted anti-trans smear where none exists, and then try to falsely piggyback it on an actual, dangerous distribution of hate literature serves no one.

In fact, it is a disservice to the Great Falls public.

GF Tribune Gushes Over Far Left Local Candidate

It should be no surprise to anyone who pays attention to such things that the Great Falls Tribune abandoned even the pretense of objectivity some time ago.

Once again the ‘newspaper’ has confirmed it’s rock solid commitment to the far left and the Democrat party by it’s near-slobbering promotion of a local progressive candidate for state legislature.

Here is a Tribune Facebook post from Friday 12/10:

Apparently the folks at the Trib think local readers are too stupid to see through their lame attempt to cover their blatant political bias with racial virtue signalling and smily pictures.

The Tribune’s First Nations newsletter with it’s phony little fluff piece about how a one-time state Representative who lost her seat to a Republican in 2020 ‘plans to protect herself from burnout’ is nothing more than an early campaign ad and pure political propaganda.

And it’s as transparent as it is hilarious.

And just in case anyone wants to start with ‘whataboutisms’ and pointing fingers at this blog, we’ll remind readers right now so that there’s no ambiguity:

E-City Beat is an unapologetically conservative local news, information, and opinion blog and we will continue to advocate for conservative values, candidates, and ideas.

Biased: Great Falls Tribune Hires Liberal Activist As Local ‘Watchdog’

If you missed Great Falls Tribune editor Grady Higgins’ piece from a couple of weeks ago, chances are you might not have known that the Trib recently added a “Government Watchdog reporter,” Nicole Girten, to its ranks.

And if you didn’t take the time to scroll through the many, many things (7,400+) Girten has liked on Twitter, you almost certainly wouldn’t have known that Girten is a deeply partisan activist, one whose “likes” flow in universal support of one party along with total condemnation of the other.

We took the time to highlight some of the most telling examples, just from 2021. Again, all of the forthcoming are tweets “liked” by Girten.

Curious to know how Girten felt about the results of the Georgia runoffs?

Who, according to Girten, was responsible for the Capitol riot on January 6? White supremacists, that’s who.

One wonders if Girten will crusade against “disinformation,” as other left-wing journalists purport to do. If this tweet is any indication, she will do precisely the opposite. Here, Girten endorses a false claim by Abby Philip, a CNN provocateur. Philip baselessly accused Republicans of being the only party, save for 1876, that attempted to “invalidate election the results [sic] of multiple states in order to tip the election from one candidate to another.”

Not only is Phillip’s claim untrue (even Newsweek fact-checked this bogus talking point), but in the wake of the last presidential election, more Democrats in 2017 contested the results of more states than Republicans did this year:

  • Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) objected to Alabama’s votes.
  • Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) objected to Florida’s votes.
  • Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) objected to Georgia’s votes.
  • Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) objected to North Carolina’s votes.
  • Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) objected to the votes from North Carolina in addition to votes from South Carolina and Wisconsin. She also stood up and objected citing “massive voter suppression” after Mississippi’s votes were announced.
  • Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) brought up allegations of Russian interference in the election and malfunctioning voting machines when she objected following the announcement of Michigan’s votes.
  • Maxine Waters (D-Calif) rose and said, “I do not wish to debate. I wish to ask ‘Is there one United States senator who will join me in this letter of objection?'” after the announcement of Wyoming’s votes.

A objective journalist would correct such a misleading tweet, not endorse it like Girten did. For the Tribune’s “Government Watchdog,” though, facts simply do not appear to matter. What matters to Girten is fealty to the brand and riding for the Democrat Party.

Witness also Girten’s obligatory pile-on of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Democrats and the media are terrified of DeSantis as a 2024 presidential hopeful and have worked relentlessly to damage him politically, despite his largely successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

How does Girten feel about free expression, something journalists used to care about? Look no further.

And where did Girten stand on impeachment? She supported it, naturally.

But all of those examples pre-dated the Biden Administration.

Now, surely Girten — an “objective journalist” — would never express support for or opposition to any specific policy, would she?

(Of course she would, and she did.)

On and on it goes like this.

It is typical of many journalists today to offer caveats for their social media activity, the most common of which is, “RT ≠ endorsements.”

Girten does not offer any such caveat on her Twitter profile (though she does list her pronouns), and she has taken the extra step, repeatedly, of proactively liking content that elevates Democrats and punishes Republicans.

Girten is free to play for any “team” she wants, just like the rest of us. She will, per Higgins’ recent missive, serve as the local “Government Watchdog.”

But given all of the above, does anyone really expect Girten to dispassionately call balls and strikes?

Massages At The Great Falls Tribune?

Back in the Stone Age (12-14 years ago?) I was a member of the Great Falls Tribune Readers Panel, which met on a monthly basis to discuss local issues, newspaper content, and ideas for making our local newspaper more relevant and interesting.

I recall going into the relatively new Tribune HQ down on River Drive South for my first Readers Panel meeting.

Wow. It was kind of like going into the Daily Planet; there was Jimmy Olsen pecking away at his typewriter, and over there was Lois Lane getting ready to go out on the street for a big interview. Where’s Clark Kent?

Or maybe like the newspaper office from Hollywood’s ‘All The Presidents Men’, a bustling, busy place full of chatter and lots of activity. Dustin Hoffman and whats-his-name from ‘A River Runs Through It’ getting ready to break the Big Story.

Well, not quite. But it was a busy place with lots of employees and desks on different floors and in various departments.

And they even had a special room where employees could get a massage. They had a massage room, I kid you not.

I’m not sure if the masseuse was on staff or they brought someone in, but yep, those busy journalistic poobahs could get a little back and shoulder rub without having to run down to Tokyo Massage.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. From massages in the newsroom and a 2000 Pulitzer Prize to an empty building with less than a skeleton crew to service what was at one time the biggest city in Montana.

News came last week that the final vestige of the old Great Falls Tribune will soon be gone. All of the Tribune’s print operation will be relocated to Helena starting July 1, 2020. That means 21 local jobs will be lost.

Oh, we’ll still have something called “the Great Falls Tribune” here, but in reality it will continue to just be another small town propaganda appendage for USA Today and their political/social agenda.

In fact if the infotainment economic model continues to hold true, it probably won’t be long until the goings-on in Great Falls becomes a sidebar note along with the other little communities in a larger regional or statewide newspaper produced in Helena or Bozeman etc.

Either that or the GF Tribune will be a bi-weekly or weekly publication. Wednesdays and Sundays featuring grocery coupons.

Let’s face it, the Great Falls Tribune hasn’t really been a local newspaper for quite awhile now. And the 2000 Pulitzer on alcoholism notwithstanding, they’ve never really done any local investigative journalism.

Like all of the other local mainstream media in Great Falls, the Trib specializes in frothy fluff pieces, little police blotter nose-pickers, high school sports, and cheer-leading for the local status quo establishment, many of whom also happen to be advertisers.

There are several reasons that print media all over the country is going through a crisis and our hometown paper isn’t immune to the trend. I get it. It’s been sad to watch the decline and fall of the Great Falls Tribune empire, truly.

But let me leave you with one question to ponder and hopefully answer: Why has Great Falls’ hometown newspaper gone all but under while other Montana daily papers have not?

VERY FAKE NEWS — Sheriff Edwards (Again) Fact Checks Tribune Reporter Seaborn Larson

Great Falls Tribune “reporter” Seaborn Larson seems to have it out for Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards.

After we objectively pointed to an earlier instance of Larson’s Fake News, said Tribune reporter grew angsty and angry, and lambasted E-City Beat in an amusingly shameless and unhinged Twitter meltdown — again and again.

Not to be outdone, however, Larson continued to perpetuate even more Fake News against Sheriff Edwards today. Edwards first corrected Larson on Twitter, and then more substantively on Facebook.

Essentially, and even on the most rudimentary point perhaps possible, Larson alleged that Edwards had “picked up” paperwork to file for re-election as Sheriff. According to Edwards, that was not the case. Larson blamed his Fake News on “bad sources,” but it does beg the question: what has prevented Larson, or anyone from the the Great Falls Tribune, from simply picking up the damn phone and asking Edwards if he has filed to run for re-election or not?

Or, is Larson simply committed to smearing Edwards’ name to the nth degree?

What do you think?

You can read Edwards’ response here:

Fake News — Great Falls Tribune

On New Year’s Eve, a sleepy news day, Sheriff Bob Edwards tweeted Tribune reporter Seaborn Larson’s blatant inaccuracies to Tribune publisher Jim Strauss, who, to his credit, issued a swift correction.

Sheriff Edwards’ tweet does raise important questions, however. For instance, does Larson possess the mental agility to differentiate between a criminal sentence that is deferred or not? Does he know the difference between probation versus no probation? Can he objectively tell us the difference between a “guilty” versus a “not guilty” plea?

Or, does he simply have a hard on for law enforcement?

Remember when the Great Falls Police Department was at loggerheads with the Tribune over the Rescue Mission?

Who was the local reporter there, that GFPD felt it needed to publicly rebuke, in unprecedented fashion?

Seaborn Larson.

Fake News – Great Falls Tribune

From a front-page, AP story in the Tribune this morning on Trump’s budget: “The Trump administration’s budget plan for 2018 assumes that a mix of sharp spending and tax cuts can both shrink the deficit and fuel economic growth of 3 percent a year — a level it hasn’t achieved in more than a dozen years.” [Emphasis added]

“First, the budget isn’t being cut. Indeed, Trump is proposing that federal spending increase from $4.06 trillion this year to $5.71 trillion in 2027. Second, government spending will grow by an average of almost 3.5 percent per year over the next 10 years.” Dan Mitchell

Hmmm. Someone isn’t telling the truth.

Comment Of The Day

The Tribune finally caught up to the Tracy Houck, CDBG funding story, but the reporter didn’t have nuthin’ on this commenter:

Robert Tyler

Great Falls, Montana

How can Houck claim to be personally handling this issue because of concern about the privacy protections of a male employee while in tandem exposing the sexual harassment complaint and negative performance evaluations of her former employee Wolfe?

This action by Houck has a retaliatory smell to it, I would guess whoever handles PGS or GFPS legal defenses wishes Houck would have delegated and the delegate brought it to light with a little less public vetting of the details.

How does Sexe saying that the re-evaluation by the CDC was required until the PGS allocation was not zero make the process fair? Correcting an alleged anti-PGS bias by removing Wolfe yet leaving in place other CDC board members who were contacted on the behalf of a sitting commissioner to complain about the results does nothing but create a pro-PGS bias. The whole process stinks of suspicion due to Houck’s mishandling of all of her positions and the city attorney’s pro-PGS allocation statement. I see no reason why Sexe thinks the city would be at risk of PGS litigation due to the improper behavior of the PGS director. It seems the best result would be for the CDC results to be tossed as spoiled and either a new board established or the remaining commissioners come to their own conclusions.

Burrow’s sentiment of not wanting anything to do with the “backroom deals” is the proper and adult way out. Eliminating the PGS allocation for this year because of the improper actions of their director revolving around an ex-PGS employee is proper. Houck should have vetted Wolfe during the Jan 17, 2017 commission meeting when Houck voted on new appointments, had opportunity to see Wolfe’s name and was given the public opportunity to comment. Instead Houck remained quiet and voted to confirm committee members who would later vote to allocate her employer money.

Cracking The River City Echo Chamber

“We created an echo chamber,” he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.” – Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security advisor to President Barack Obama, in the New York Times Magazine.

While a surprisingly candid admission by Rhodes, the Obama administration’s tactics in selling the Iran deal were not in and of themselves revolutionary. It’s called spin, and self-interested government officials are regular practitioners of it. In fact, we have an “echo chamber” right here in Great Falls.

If you consume the Tribune, TV news, or if you follow the City Commissioners at work, chances are you often hear about how “Great Falls is on the move,” that our community is teeming with “momentum,” or any number of other platitudinous forms of cheerleading. It’s been that way here for as long as I can remember. Despite the rhetoric from politicians and a complicit, pro-incumbent media, the “momentum” has never materialized into something truly tangible or measurable. Over the course of decades, Great Falls, in almost every way possible, has either declined or more or less stayed the same.

This “happy talk” reached a nadir in 2015, when Bob Kelly, Bill Bronson, and Tracy Houck won the City elections. Almost overnight, media swooned about a resurgent Great Falls. If you thought Great Falls was going places before, it was really going to be something now. A November 27, 2015 guest editorial from Mike Dalton pointed to a spate of “progressive” politicians newly in power:

Obviously, a new era, an era of solid, dedicated change and growth has arrived with the appointment, hiring and electing of a new generation of leaders to guide our city’s evolution.

To name a few, we have Bob Kelly, mayor; Bill Bronson and Tracy Houck, commissioners; Jane Weber, Cascade County commissioner; Superintendent Tammy Lacey of Great Falls Public Schools; Susan Wolff, dean of Great Falls College Montana State University; Craig Raymond, city Planning & Community Development director; Jolene Wetterau, CDBG grant administrator, and Joe Petrella, city Park and Recreation director.

A January 11, 2016 Tribune headline gushed, “Kelly: Great Falls is on the rise.” Over time, the echo chamber calcified behind a rah-rah narrative built and regurgitated so many times it is now repeated without audit and has finally been accepted as “fact.” The editorial board of the Great Falls Tribune has evidently bought into the notion that it better serves the public by acting as community cheerleaders first and journalists second. When the Tribune endorsed the school bond last year, the editors pointed to our “growing” community:

We don’t buy the old arguments that Great Falls is stagnant and shouldn’t spend any more money on its schools. Great Falls has about 60,000 people and it’s growing [emphasis added]; the city has positive leadership with fine hired professionals such as Lacey and City Manager Greg Doyon, and new, energetic leadership exhibited by Mayor Bob Kelly and others. The future of Great Falls is bright.

A town of “60,00 people and it’s growing”? Amazingly, the Trib shot down its own dishonest talking point just last week, when one of its newest reporters, Seaborn Larson, published Census data showing a population decline over the past four years. (It’s not often that a media outlet busts itself for running “fake news.” Ha ha.)

That all brings us to the present, where Brett Doney wants a pile of cash for the GFDA. Over the course of lobbying the public (demonstrating a “need” for an economic development levy), Doney, in an apparent break from protocol, has actually told the truth about the state of Great Falls. According to Doney, jobs are being sucked out of Great Falls and there is a bit of a problem here — so much so that he has never been this “scared” in his 32 years of working in economic development. Meanwhile, the politicians are as clueless as ever. In the Trib’s Census story:

Great Falls Mayor Bob Kelly said the number decline doesn’t scare him. In fact, he laughed out loud when asked for comment on the decline.

With Kelly now up for re-election, and after his touting for over a year the “momentum” in Great Falls — you know, since he’s been in charge — it will be interesting to see if he is capable of graduating from amusement to substantively addressing the issue. The old adage comes to mind: The first step to solving any problem is first admitting that you have one. (Just a guess: Kelly didn’t actually find the population decline funny.)

He did offer more than laughs in the Trib article, though:

‘I think what’s important when looking at any kind of statistic like that is whether it’s the beginning of a trend or the end of one,’ Kelly said. ‘I think that away from the economic aspects, which are driven by the private entities in town, our obligation as a city is to make this town as attractive and safe here as possible.’

Well, first, we know we’re not at the beginning of a trend. The population has been declining since 2013. Last year’s drop was the largest of the four years. Second, what does Kelly mean by “attractive?” Does he mean aesthetically? I’m an architect and planner, and even I wouldn’t suggest that it is feasible or good policy to legislate aesthetics. If Kelly means attractive to private enterprise, then he and his colleagues have failed miserably. Just look at Calumet. When have you ever heard of anyone willing to invest $450 MILLION DOLLARS into our community? Doney and Jolene Schalper of the GFDA are right. We have to retain as well as attract talent. Denying Calumet a tax abatement tells you all you need to know about this City Commission. When a wealthy developer like Brad Talcott wants a TIF for retail and service jobs, the City can’t wait to throw money his way. But if the high-paying manufacturing sector comes calling — the jobs everyone claims to want here — too bad, they’re out of luck. (By the way, I have no problem with the City granting Talcott or anyone else TIF’s. It’s simply worth noting who the City has picked as the winners and losers in business.)

Think about the chill the Calumet decision sent throughout the private sector. If you’re in business and thinking of relocating or expanding here, why would you? It’s better to look elsewhere, to a community that doesn’t produce these types of headlines, one that is unapologetically “open” for business. There are plenty to choose from. And while denying the abatement absolutely devastated Calumet (this year, no employees received raises or bonuses — they didn’t even have a Christmas party), it also affects the companies that do business with Calumet, big vendors like Northwest Pipe Fittings and Loenbro. But the City just had to have that money — $6-7 million spread over 10 years, which of the City’s roughly $100 million annual budget, results in less than 1%. And remember, even if the City had granted the abatement, the amount of tax collected would have still exceeded Calumet’s pre-expansion tax rate. How much is ever enough for the City?

I wish I could tell you that at least one of the City Commissioners took a principled stand on behalf of the business community, but none did. The motion carried 5-0. Put bluntly, what this means is that there is virtually no real vision on the City Commission. For our City leadership, short-term thinking carries the day, and in their minds, nothing they do is ever wrong. Don’t believe it? In January, the City Commissioners went on a retreat at MSU-Great Falls. The minutes are posted here:


City Manager Greg Doyon and the Commission began discussion of a look back on past year accomplishments that included:

  •   Parking survey
  •   Arco water rights
  •   Sale of Med Tech lots
  •   Sign Code revision
  •   Library Board Updates
  •   HPAC
  •   Cell phone ban/fines
  •   Holman property
  •   West Bank Landing TIF
  •   Wild fire response
  •   Fireworks town hall discussions
  •   Paris Gibson mural
  •   Final ECP audit
  •   Park Master Plan
  •   August flooding/look at infrastructure
  •   Hired three cops/GFPD good use social media
  •   Purchased fire trucks

The parties discussed the emphasis on making public safety a priority. The City Commission stayed focused and made progress. Discussion continued that, even though emphasis has been on public safety, each department is valued. The parties discussed the positive feedback they have been hearing from the community, and that the attitude of Great Falls has changed. No one has heard anything negative except at City Commission meetings. Great Falls has good momentum in the right direction.” [emphasis added]

If there was ever any question as to whether or not our City Commissioners exist in an echo chamber, your doubts can be put to rest. Great Falls has “momentum in the right direction?” Really? We’re losing jobs, population has declined for four straight years, and crime is on the rise. Meanwhile, the folks who run City Hall seem completely addicted to raising taxes and fees. They also want to grow government, never mind the declining population. How’s that for positive momentum?

Now, lest you think I’m some sky-is-falling alarmist, I can assure you that I am not. I’ve lived here continuously for the past 36 years, and in that time, Great Falls has remained largely the same community it is today. But when we constantly hear about “momentum” in the face of negatively trending big picture statistics (like jobs, population, and crime), at what point does somebody call, “Bullsh*t”?

Politicians like the mayor perpetuate this echo chamber for two reasons. First, they do so in self-congratulatory fashion to bolster their re-election chances, and second, they gin up faux-growth sentiments to convince us it’s OK to expand government and habitually raise our taxes. Bob Kelly campaigned as a “change” candidate who would “hold public meetings and commission meetings at venues that deserve attention, such as the Natatorium, on a public bus if possible, in the welding classrooms of Montana State University-Great Falls College.” I haven’t been on the public transit lately, but it doesn’t feel like the City has made any effort to come to the people. If anything, government is more insular than ever.

I don’t want elected officials whose default is to produce just positive (or negative) rhetoric. Good, bad, or indifferent, I’d just like to hear the truth. If Great Falls is to really move forward, we need to hear the truth.

We can handle it, and moreover, we deserve it.

Benefis FNP: Patient Care Should Trump Union Constraints

On March 9, the Tribune reported that a majority of Benefis RNs signed interest cards to vote on whether or not to form a union. Since then, opposition to unionizing has grown.

Julia Fitzpatrick, FNP, has a good letter-to-the-editor in the Tribune today. It comes after a recent KRTV story detailing her efforts to prevent Benefis nurses from unionizing. Fitzpatrick has organized a “majority of advanced practice registered nurses at the hospital to sign a petition in opposition.”

How has the Montana Nurses Association union been working to drum up support for its efforts? According to Fitzpatrick, by bashing the very people it wishes to unionize. “The union has been insulting us at Benefis, saying that we provide poor and unsafe care. We know that that’s not true, and the union really has nothing to offer us,” Fitzpatrick told KRTV.

You can read her letter below, or at the Tribune online:

No union at Benefis 

The Tribune published an article regarding the Montana Nurses Association’s efforts to unionize Nurses and Advance Practice Registered Nurses at Benefis.

A union is not necessary at Benefis. As an APRN, my primary concern is for the safety and health of my patients. Throughout this organizing process, the MNA has repeatedly attacked the nurses at Benefis by claiming falsely that Benefis patients receive poor quality care.

I am deeply concerned a union will hurt patient care. We work in a complicated, rapidly evolving environment. It is imperative that we work quickly to solve emergencies and diagnose problems. There isn’t time during an emergency to worry about work rules, seniority, and the other types of encumbrances unions place on a workplace. [emphasis added]

Benefis nurses have little to gain from joining the MNA. The MNA is an ineffective policy advocate. For years, they have tried to pass legislation to prohibit assault on nurses and have been unable to do so.

Only the union will benefit if this passes. The dues charged by the union are excessive and will be close to $750 a year. Many of my colleagues are single moms and this would create an extreme hardship.

Finally, the union cannot promise to improve staffing ratios or increase the number of nurses at Benefis. In fact, the MNA has stood in the way of recruiting efforts across Montana by opposing nursing compacts in the last two legislative sessions.

Please support the nurses who are taking a stand against the union.

—Julia Fitzpatrick FNP 

Great Falls