The Flathead Valley’s Leading Independent Journal of Observation, Analysis, & Opinion. © James R. Conner.


1 October 2012

Nicholas Schwaderer has a right to be peeved at the Missoulian

Yesterday, the Missoulian reported a young woman’s sensational allegations that four years ago, a 2012 legislative candidate, running as a Republican, sexually assaulted her. Various left-leaning websites — among them, Montana Cowgirl and Montana Street Fighter — seized on the story, suggesting that the candidate, Nicholas Schwaderer, was, to put the matter as gently as possible, a lout and worse.

In mid-afternoon today, I published the following comment on Montana Cowgirl:

After reviewing the Missoulian’s story, and pondering the matter overnight, I’ve concluded that I did not express sufficient skepticism in my post above.

I’m surprised the Missoulian published the story. Were I the editor, I would have spiked it.

Four years ago, a young woman, “extremely drunk” by her own admission, was driven home by an ex-boyfriend, Nicholas Schwaderer. The next day, she accused Schwaderer of taking indecent liberties with her. Local authorities investigated the matter, but the county attorney, citing insufficient evidence, declined to prosecute.

Now Schwaderer is running for the legislature — and her former accuser is renewing her accusations because, she says, he’s not fit for the job because of what she alleges he did to her.

Is the young woman coming forward to do a public service? Or, is she conducting a vendetta against Schwaderer? She may believe she’s doing a public service, but to me it appears that she’s angry and intent on hurting Schwaderer by renewing, a week before voting starts, accusations that four years ago were not strong enough to justify prosecuting Schwaderer for a crime.

The issue here is not Schwaderer’s politics. The issue is his rights — and his rights are exactly the same as the rights of each and every other person: innocent until proven guilty.

The Missoulian will argue that it covered itself by quoting Schwaderer and his attorney, thus providing balance. But just publishing the woman’s allegations gave them credibility — people will think that a newspaper wouldn’t publish something unless it were true — yet the only thing new from four years ago is Schwaderer’s candidacy for the legislature. At this point, my conclusion is that the story was a hit job masquerading as a news story.

Schwaderer has a right to be peeved.