Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tim Ravndal fires back, plays loose with the truth

Tim Ravndal issued a “press release” to certain media outlets Thursday responding to my story in Saturday’s Tribune.

He didn’t send it to me.

In the statement, Mr. Ravndal claims that I went forward with my story “without all the details.” He also implies at several points in the letter that I didn’t contact him prior to writing the story.

I don’t know what missing details Mr. Ravndal is referring to because he doesn’t spell it out in the statement.

Did I quote the entire Facebook exchange verbatim? Yes. 

Did I quote him accurately from our telephone interview Friday? Yes.

So what “details” were missing?

Ravndal never elucidates.

The implication that I didn’t interview him is absurd on it’s face. I’d have to look at the telephone records to say for sure how long I spoke with Ravndal on Friday afternoon, and believe me I will if he continues to imply that I didn’t interview him, but I imagine it was probably about 10 minutes. During that interview he, as I reported, apologized for the comment he made on Facebook. But he never explained what he thought Dennis Scranton meant when he said “I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions,” or what Ravandal meant when he said he wanted a copy of the “Wyoming printed instruction manual.” When I asked him, “what did you think Scranton meant by hanging fruits? What instruction manual were you referring to?” Ravndal said, and I quote, “You’re really starting to irritate me.”

I took Ravndal at his word when he said he didn’t make the connection to the Shepard murder, and that’s what I reported. I don’t know how that adds up to writing only “half the story.”

I’m fine with people criticizing my reporting. Journalists have pretty thick skin. What I’m not ok with is the implication that I somehow withheld information or lied in my story. If I did not interview Ravndal on Friday, then that would mean the quotes I attributed to him in Saturday’s story were fabricated. Fabrication, of course, is career-ending offense for a journalist.

I spoke briefly with Mr. Ravndal Thursday afternoon, but he didn’t offer much in the way of clarification. In the interest of making sure there was no confusion over what was said during our discussion, or whether I withheld anything, as Mr. Ravndal accused me of in his press release, I recorded the interview.

Here’s the audio.

That abrupt ending is the sound of Mr. Ravndal hanging up on me.

While Ravndal, for whatever reason, refused to state on the record whether or not I interviewed him on Friday, I will state very plainly, and on the record, that I did.


In other news, I had a lengthy conversation with Big Sky Tea Party Association board member and past president Roger Nummerdor today. Nummerdor said the board of the Big Sky Tea Party Association will likely meet sometime this weekend to vote on whether or not Ravndal’s membership in the group should be reinstated. Nummerdor said that meeting probably won’t be open to the public, but he said the board would notify the group’s membership of the decision as soon as it happens.

On a side note, I asked Nummerdor if he thought my reporting on Ravndal’s Facebook comment was fair. He said he thought that it was. The only problem he had with the story was the headline, which read “Montana tea party leader apologizes for post hinting at violence toward gays.” Nummerdor pointed out that Montana Big Sky Tea Party Association is a Helena-based group, not a statewide group. He said the headline suggested that Ravndal was the leader of the tea party statewide, which is not the case.

“He was not the Montana tea party leader, he was the leader of the Big Sky Tea Party Association, strictly the Helena group,” Nummerdor said. “And he was the leader of that group for less than a month.”

Ravndal told the Associated Press that he wants his leadership post back.

Nummerdor said, “He’s done as president.”


Here’s the statement Ravndal sent to the press earlier today. The first part is the text included in the body of the e-mail.

The attached press release is on the story regarding the tea party story.  Your help getting the whole truth out is appreciated.

Big Sky Tea Party Association & Face Book

It has been reported by a variety of media sources about the face book exchange and the consequent removal of Tim Ravndal from the office of President of the Big Sky Tea Party Association.

It is important to recognize that the story that started on face book continued with a breaking story in the Great Falls Tribune. The Great Falls Tribune reporter John went forward with his story without all the details. Furthermore, John appeared only interested in the third party comments. Upon the inability to get the desired results, John went with part of the truth, breaking the news to the people of Montana. Hence, we have a story based on a foundation built with only part of the truth.

Tim respectfully declined to speak to the media until after having an opportunity to hear from the Board and members of Big Sky Tea Party Association who he proudly served. Since the story broke, many blogs, and news media sources posted stories based on the same partial information in the tribune article. The frenzy was also sparked by the social media threads from face book. Up until the meeting with Big Sky Tea Party Association last night, no media source had made contact with Tim in getting his side of this story.

Up to and including the story that was on the Television last night and the reporting in the Independent Record today we continue to see only half the story. All the conclusions on this matter have been based on partial truths and political correctness. The consequent headlines and associated stories speak for themselves.

Tim would like to first and foremost send his apologies for the misconception of facts to the family and friends of Mathew Shepherd. The implications that Tim condoned Mathew’s terrible ordeal years ago is utterly false and frankly embarrassing to see the media purporting this without having the facts.

The stereotyping of any and all representatives of the tea party movement has become standard operating procedure by the liberal media across America and most if not all liberal blogs. Tim states that he is aware that he has been in this spotlight for many years, as he has stood in front of the world demanding the rights of the people be protected.

In an attempt to provide an apology to those that were harmed by this ordeal, Tim has received over 600 and counting threats from the very same people that are condemning the dialogue found on face book. It is again important to know that the information that everyone is basing their conclusions on is only partially there.

Beginning with the face book thread, there is a time lapse between postings. There is a period of time when Tim left face book after he made the request for a manual in writing to understand what was being talked about. Asking for a display manual based at this point in the thread is hardly implicative of condoning torture or murder.

Upon return to the thread some time later, that is when the discriminating post made by a third individual made the connection to the Wyoming tragedy. It is also important to note, the media nor most people have ever seen this derogatory comment.

I have been given ownership of all comments, and rightfully so, as they are on my personal face book account. Unfortunately, the ownership of these comments has portrayed me as a murderous bigot. Most everyone has discarded the pesky little facts and have bypassed the jury and gone straight to the executioner.

The media has continued to short run the story without facts. The public is continuing to pass judgment based on half the story. Tim was notified today by another party that they have been getting messages on their private number from Montana media sources requesting an interview. With as notorious as this trashing has made Tim and his friends, it is amazing the same Great Falls Tribune that broke the story cannot seem to find his number.

As Tim continues to seek a fair shake in this kangaroo court being held, he hopes that those that are responsible will do what is right. Everyone that has passed judgment without giving the courtesy of seeking out the facts shows how political correctness and social justice continues to prevail over honesty and integrity.

This too shall pass, and in the end, I will walk down the street with my head held high facing tyranny wherever it is exposed. Our liberty and freedom in this country and the sacrifices that have been made in the name of our republic must be defended.

Our Montana Constitution protects marriage between a man and a woman. Until the political machine changes that basic right, I will continue to stand in defending our Constitution and this provision.

Tim Ravndal


Anonymous said...

thank you mr adams for your honesty and courage. the state is better off for your reporting, and your blog.

this casual homophobic comment is embarrassing for all montana, not just the tea party-ers.

Jay Stevens said...

John, Ravndal did say you didn't interview him when, in his release, he writes "no media source made contact with Tim" before the meeting where he was ousted. That's not "between the lines."

Melanie said...

Thank you for your no-nonsense reporting, asking real questions, and not letting people off the hook when they are doing/saying things that are ethically questionable.

elliedog1 said...

Mr. Ravndal's comments about what happened in Wyoming to Mathew Shepherd were so extremely hateful, disgusting,and hurtful. Terrorist statements like this discredit any Tea Party principles. What organization in this civilized country would want to keep a Mr. Ravndal (leader ?) advocating for anyone to have a tortured, terrible death? My son happens to also be "different" - disabled w/autism. Perhaps this Big Sky Tea Party Association could gain knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of all "different" humans. It seems we need "more protective government" to, at least, watchdog and educate extremely violent people like Mr. Ravndal & his ignorant, hateful political affiliations.

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