Montana Gov. Spurns Some Print Media

By: John MacDonald, Associated Press Writer

(AP) Gov. Judy Martz, who has frequently complained about the print media’s coverage of her, says she no longer will grant interviews to some reporters because of their “misleading” stories.

Martz said she would take only written questions from some of the reporters who cover her and respond to them only in writing.

“I’m just realizing the ones I should not talk to,” the GOP governor said last week in an appearance before the Montana Logging Association in Kalispell.

Martz did not identify the reporters or disclose how many would receive such treatment, but said no broadcast reporters were included in the ban.

Mary Schwarz, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Monday that Martz would not elaborate on her comments.

The governor’s remarks came in response to a question about how she felt the news media had treated her and her administration.

“You can’t get past the liberal press with a bucket of ink,” The Daily Inter Lake quoted her as responding. “Very few of them write the truth.”

Martz has been critical of the media’s coverage of a number of controversies since her election in 2000, including a land deal she made with Atlantic Richfield Co. and her actions following a fatal crash that involved her top policy adviser, who later pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the death of the state House majority leader.

Martz also has characterized as misleading reports of comments attributed to her, including one in which she was quoted as saying she would not object to being considered a “lapdog of industry” if it meant she’s determined to create jobs.

The only news organizations that provide full-time coverage for the print media at the Capitol are Lee Newspapers, the Great Falls Tribune, and The Associated Press.

Jim Strauss, executive editor of the Tribune, said his paper’s lone reporter in Helena had received no indication that access to the governor would be limited.

John Kuglin, the AP’s bureau chief in Helena, said the organization’s statehouse reporter was asked to submit written questions in April, when the AP sought an interview with Martz about phone calls she made from her office to a California land developer who had been cited by state and federal agencies for environmental violations.

The AP refused, and Martz eventually agreed to a brief interview.

Charles Johnson, Helena bureau chief for Lee Newspapers of Montana, said Martz’s office also earlier asked a Lee reporter to submit questions in writing. The reporter reluctantly agreed, but Lee likely would not do so in the future, Johnson said.

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