Headlines Fact Check: Is PSC Candidate Jennifer Fielder a...

Fact Check: Is PSC Candidate Jennifer Fielder a Radical “Militia” Supporter?

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The liberal Missoulian newspaper made a fool of themselves over the last few days. First, the Missoulian endorsed who they felt was the best candidate to regulate the utility industry in the Montana Public Service Commission. That candidate happens to be Jennifer Fielder, considering her opponent is hostile to the energy industry in general and has promised to side routinely with environmental extremists over workers and rate-payers. But then, an editor of the Missoulian – a staunch Democrat named Gwen Florino – resigned from the newspaper (one of the most liberal in the state) because their endorsement of Fielder wasn’t liberal enough. The newspaper then embarrassingly reversed course and endorsed Fielder’s opponent, giving the constituency a case of whiplash from the back-and-forth.

Interestingly, the Missoulian’s first endorsement (of Fielder) was due to their honest estimation that she was the best woman for the job. Their reversal on Fielder – as they explained – wasn’t because her opponent, Monica Tranel, was better suited for the job. It was because of the claim tht Fielder is “associated” with “anti-government extremists” known as Cliven and Ammon Bundy and because she spread a “baseless rumor” that Antifa might come to Montana, which prompted “militia types” to come to Black Lives Matter rallies (and stand across the street lawfully and politely, which apparently is a problem for some reason).

A news publication should certainly be free to endorse whoever they want, so long as the public can acknowledge that any kind of endorsement demonstrates that no media outlet is completely impartial. The fact that the Missoulian would endorse Fielder at all – a Republican – speaks of her vast qualifications and the community’s trust of her convictions. But what is below par journalistically is for the publication to reverse its endorsement based upon factual untruths that should have already been vetted as a part of due dilligence in reporting.

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One should ask the question, if the Missoulian would endorse a candidate and then reverse it within days based upon “information [they] did not consider,” how much information are they regularly not considering before taking their paper to print? Does this shoddy research, on their part, reveal a systemic problem with the “legacy press”?

The answer, of course, is yes. The newspaper has shown that it will make political statements with very little research or serious review, if not by its supposedly hasty endorsement, the certainly by its retraction.

Q. Is the Bundy Family a “militia” group?

A. The Bundy family has been placed on trial numerous times because of their disputes with the federal government over the management of land, both in Nevada and Idaho. In each case, armed citizens defended themselves from perceived breaches of citizen rights. And in each case, a jury of their peers have exhonerated the Bundy family of any wrong-doing. Additionally, in each case, the presiding judge has issued remarks condemning the government for illegal and heavy-handed treatment of the Bundys.

The American legal system says that one is “guilty until proven innocenet,” and the Bundys have been exhonerated on three separate occasions. Simply put, they are guilty of literally no criminal activity whatsoever.

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Q. Is the Bundy Family violent?

The Bundys have committed no violence toward the federal government, any state government or entity, or any individual citizen. They have never drawn their weapon or fired a single round of ammunition at another human being. They have remained peaceful at all times. The only shoot-out that involved the Bundys whatsoever was the unlawful ambush of their convoy and murder of their associate, LaVoy Finnicum, while on their way to meet to discuss de-escalating the government’s aggression in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. An FBI agent was later put on trial for lying about the shoot-out and cover-up.

By all discernible standards, Black Lives Matter – supported strongly by Fielder’s opponent – is an actual terrorist organization, setting fire to American cities and even our national forests. They have killed police officers, shot innocent children, robbed and looted stores, threatened homeowners and bystanders, and organized violence. If anyone is supporting armed terrorists, it’s Fielder’s opponent. The Bundys, by comparison to Black Lives Matter (and in fact, compared to anyone), are law-abiding and peaceful citizens.

Q. What is Fielder’s association with the Bundys?

A. Fielder has appeared at several events with the Bundys, which focused on the topic of land issues. Like most Montanans, Fielder believes that public lands should be managed fairly and without oppressive federal oversight from Washington D.C. The Bundys, who had their leased land stolen and cattle wastefully killed, starved, and abused by federal agents, obviously agree that state and local control of public lands is preferable to federal control of public lands.

Q. Did Fielder spread an “unsubstantiated rumor” that Antifa was coming to Montana to support Black Lives Matter rallies?

A. In social media, Fielder gave a report that numerous individuals in Idaho had reported vans of Antifa activists heading East toward Montana. The accounts from citizens in this regard are multitudinous and primary first-hand accounts were all over social media. Fielder’s statement that citizens were reporting this was absolutely accurate. It is also accurate that outside agitators had indeed come East from Seattle and Portland as far as Coeur d’Alene and west as far as Dickinson, North Dakota. It is also reported accurately that various “Black Lives Matter” groups in Montana are being organized by out-of-state leftwing activists with ties to Antifa.

While no Antifa activists are known to have been in Montana definitively, Antifa graffiti (their symbol is prominently displayed) has been left on Jennifer Fielder’s campaign signs since the incident.

The Missoulian seems to blame Fielder for “militia groups” showing up at a local Black Lives Matter protest. It should be noted that the armed citizens assembled peacefully and lawfully. Furthermore, they assembled away from the protestors and allowed them space without interrupting their event. They were standing by in the event riots broke out here just as they have in more than 130 American cities, which was a lawful use of the Second Amendment. Ironically, Black Lives Matter activists report that the “militia group” helped shield them from the occasional counter-protestor driving by in an attempt to disrupt their event. The “militia group” – as the Missoulian referred to them – protected the activists.

Certainly Fielder is not to blame for the polite citizens showing up to exercise their First Amendment rights, and neither would that be a tragedy if she were.

FACT CHECK FINDING: In paragraph after paragraph, the Missoulian’s “retraction” of Fielder’s endorsement showed shoddy journalism and bias, the kind of which should make its readers swear off the legacy press for good. It appears as though not a single claim made against Fielder by radical big-government extremists can stand up to the actual facts.

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