The Informed Citizen: A discussion of the free press with David McCumber

Aug 28, 2018 | Events

Elk River Arts and Lectures presents journalist and author David McCumber on “Fake News, Preaching to the Choir, and the Enemy of the American People,” at Livingston’s Elk River Books on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m. The free discussion will be held in the bookstore’s upstairs event room at 120 N. Main St.

In his lecture, McCumber examines questions such as: “What does the phenomenon of everyone from the President on down calling anything they don’t like or agree with in the media ‘fake news’ mean?” and “Why has ‘preaching to the choir’ proven to be not only a non-profitable approach but also a huge contributor to the deep partisan divide in the country?” These questions lead to exploring the intent and impact of labeling the American free press as the “enemy of the people,” and taking a wider look at what these trends mean to the country and to journalism.

McCumber is currently the editor of Butte’s Montana Standard. Formerly the managing editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Washington bureau chief for Hearst Newspapers, he has worked for many other periodicals, including the San Francisco Examiner and the Santa Barbara News-Press. A 1984 Pulitzer finalist for special local reporting at the Arizona Daily Star, he edited a Pulitzer-winning project there, and is a past winner of the Don Bolles Award for investigative journalism. McCumber’s books include An Air that Kills: How the Asbestos Poisoning of Libby, Montana, Uncovered a National Scandal (with Andrew Schneider), The Cowboy Way: Seasons of a Montana Ranch, Playing off the Rail, and X-Rated: The Mitchell Brothers.

In addition to his public lecture, McCumber will meet with students at Park High School.

These events are co-sponsored by Humanities Montana, an independent, non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Elk River Arts & Lectures is a non-profit organization that seeks to bring writers to Livingston for free public readings, and to provide opportunities for those writers to interact with local public school students. It also maintains the Community to Classroom program, matching local arts and business professionals with Livingston educators for in-class presentations and workshops. For more information, call 333-2330 or visit

1 Comment

  1. I wish you’d write some more about life – and politics! – in the West. I think there are themes – self-reliance, belief in the character-determining commitment to hard work, incipient racism, sense of fair play, living on the edge of survival year after year, desire to have a real say in how things happen in one’s local community, historical origins – whose explication could help us understand what are some of the underlying legitimate values that power Trump’s base, and help us parse out what’s bogus or duped. A deep exploration of Western values and history could elucidate the present moment, and most importantly, provide a guide for contemporary politicians to find a deeply values-based track that could reform one or both political parties and reunite, or at least re-civilize, the American polity. John Tester, senator from Montana, must be finding this line to survive there.


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