State rep wants law to jail unfriendly reporters

Pinocci

Randall Pinocci. He only looks happy.

It appears that Donald Trump is not the only politician who wants to use laws to bludgeon unfriendly reporters.

Up in Fairfield, between Great Falls and Choteau, the publisher of the Fairfield Sun Times is reporting that state Rep. Randall Pinocci, R-Sun River, in an email to a supporter, said he hoped to pass a law making it illegal to impersonate a reporter—apparently defined as any journalist he disagrees with.

“(M)aybe after we put a few of these idiots in jail we can get better reporting,” he wrote.

In a story posted online Tuesday, publisher Darryl L. Flowers, who bought the Sun Times in 2008, said Pinocci subsequently assured him that he had no intention of proposing such a law, and he also “acknowledged the importance of the First Amendment.”

Flowers continued:

“The matter raised by Mr. Pinocci’s original email is so important, though, that we are still running our response as a message for all politicians that we take our responsibilities and rights  as news media seriously.

“With the publication of our response, The Sun Times now considers this matter closed.”

In the commentary, Flowers explains how he made a mistake in a story about Pinocci and then corrected the mistake on the front page of the newspaper. That wasn’t good enough for Pinocci, though. He wanted Flowers to write a story about how he, Pinocci, was a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, while his opponent in the Republican primary was not.

That got Flowers’ dander up. Besides believing that the charge was untrue, he does not like being told what to do with his newspaper by anybody, least of all a politician. And Flowers is not your stereotypical pinko newspaperman.

“Yes, I have my conservative point of view,” he wrote. “Unlike many of my colleagues, I don’t deny the obvious. And a word to my liberal colleagues—your readers are smart enough to know just how liberal you are. But conservative or not, a politician will not dictate to this paper.”

The email from Pinocci to a supporter later came to Flowers’ attention and he published it alongside his commentary. It reflects very badly on Pinocci, so badly that I might suggest we need a law making it illegal to impersonate a responsible adult.

Shame on Pinocci and bravo for Flowers for fighting the good fight with courage and a sense of humor.

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