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When local news isn't local

Astroturf news network accused of 'pay for play' coverage plants seeds in Montana

A late July article from Big Sky Times looks at first glance like a piece of old-fashioned investigative journalism, published on what appears to be a modern news website.

"Montana media, GOP failed to investigate Bullock's conduct," reads its headline, over a stock photo of incumbent governor and U.S. Senate candidate Steve Bullock, a Democrat.

The first few paragraphs of the piece quote former Republican legislator Matthew Monforton, criticizing the governor for alleged incompetence and corruption. It continues in a similar fashion, attributing some of its claims to "media reports" that link...