“The Dean” of the Press Corps, Montana’s Chuck Johnson Dies
Veteran Montana political reporter Chuck Johnson reportedly died this past weekend.
We were LIVE on the radio Monday morning as Judy Rolfe sent us the news that broke in Helena. Judy shared the report from Phil Drake with the Helena Independent Record:
Charles S. "Chuck" Johnson, a journalist who covered Treasure State politics for nearly half a century and was known as the "dean of the capitol press corps," has died.
Judy said it well. "I always thought of him as a professional journalist. Even when I didn't care for the story, he was fair. He'll be missed."
I told Judy that Chuck Johnson was a lot like Montana's Tim Russert. I always liked Tim Russert when he was the host on NBC's "Meet the Press." His politics may have been a little different than mine- but he worked to do the real job of a journalist, and always tried to be fair.
Tributes immediately started pouring in from fellow journalists, and across the political spectrum, as the news got out across Montana.
Montana Public Radio's Sally Mauk worked very closely with Chuck over the years he spent as the head of the capitol bureau for both Lee Newspapers and The Great Falls Tribune.
She wrote via Twitter:
Heartbroken to learn of Chuck’s passing. He was a mentor, colleague and treasured friend. Huge loss for those who knew him and for the state he loved and served so well.
Mike Dennison was both a rival capitol bureau chief and a sidekick capitol reporter alongside Chuck over the years. He added:
Amen, sister ... and everyone who's expressed these thoughts today, having had the privilege of knowing and working with Chuck all these years.
Statement from US Senator Steve Daines (R-MT):
For decades, Chuck Johnson was a giant in Montana political journalism. His reliable coverage of issues important to Montanans will be missed in every corner of our state. Cindy and I are thinking of Chuck’s family and all who knew him.
Last year, The University of Montana Journalism grad Chuck Johnson received an honorary doctorate from Montana State University. When announcing the honors, MSU summed up his career in Montana journalism.
Over the course of his nearly 45-year reporting career, Johnson covered 22 Montana legislative sessions, seven governors, nine U.S. senators and 10 U.S. representatives, in addition to countless state legislators, elections, conventions and policies.
As Phil Drake reports, Chuck Johnson was 74 years old.
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