Apparently, my record of media criticism goes back decades. This letter (unpublished) upbraids Time Magazine for its East Coast sneering at Montana’s centennial cattle drive. I submit first Time‘s reportage, followed by my indignant reply. You be the judge.
“Montana: A Historic Load of Bull,” Monday, Sep. 18, 1989
Dreamed up as an “epic” and “historic” way to celebrate 100 years of statehood, the Great Montana Centennial Cattle Drive turned out to be an epic logistical headache and a historic huckster’s delight (kitschy western “art” and $3,000 gold-plated Winchester rifles for sale). To allow 2,400 people (including a handful of real cowboys), 200 wagons and 2,800 cattle to plod 50 miles and six days from Roundup to Billings, U.S. Highway 87 had to be closed for two days. Saturday mail service to 15,000 Billings residents was canceled in anticipation of the drive’s arrival, which produced something unknown in days of yore — gridlock. One human death (a 68-year-old spectator suffered a heart attack) occurred during the drive, and half a dozen injuries were reported. Another casualty, noted by few, was the historic fact that the legendary killer winter of 1886-87 wiped out the open-range cattle business in Montana. Great long-distance cattle drives were fading memories before Montana became a state.