Jon Krakauer in Missoula

by William Skink

I did my best to be in attendance tonight at Krakauer’s panel at the Double Tree, but I stopped for a sandwich and was maybe a dozen people away from getting in fifteen minutes after the doors opened. Instead I went back home and tried listening to the crappy feed from MTPR (not all their fault).

Jon Krakauer did an amazing job articulating how he came to focus on victims of rape in Missoula and their experience with the criminal justice system. And the crowd, maybe to Krakauer’s surprise, was loudly supportive, overloading the audio feed several times with what seemed like vigorous applause. There were tough questions, detailed answers, and even a few naughty words from Krakauer.

Here is one of the big takeaways: this story is far from over. A line of attack against Krakauer is his book reopened old wounds. What Krakauer expounded on tonight regarding his legal battle with the University of Montana means more bad press will be coming. Why? Because the University of Montana doesn’t want to explicitly disclose how Jordan Johnson, who was found to have raped his accuser through the University system’s lower standard of proof multiple times, was ultimately reinstated.

Griz Nation still wields serious influence, just ask Pat Williams. Or maybe ask Christian Clayton.

From the tone of the audience, and how they collectively reacted to some asshole lawyer who went off on Krakauer and called him, I believe, a fucking liar, it was hip, liberal Missoula out in force. From my anecdotal interactions walking back and telling people their attempt to see Krakauer was futile, most everyone I talked to had already read the book and was supportive of it being written and titled with our town’s name.

Here is the footage of the Idaho lawyer and Krakauer taking away his microphone:

Jon Krakauer came to Missoula to answer questions. I think he did a pretty damn good job. He defended writing the book the way he did, and he gave tons of credit to the reporting of Gwen Florio. Krakauer also credits the reforms made in Missoula, citing correspondences he’s received from people going through the system now.

That work to implement change is ongoing. Clearly, there is room for improvement within the University System and the County Attorney’s office.

I mentioned hip, liberal Missoula in strong attendance tonight. That’s all well and good, but I would even challenge that part of Missoula to acknowledge the sentiment of Our Missoula is deeply flawed. There are lots of different social striations in Missoula, and any claim to OUR is a bit presumptuous.

Instead of making posters, let’s make a real change.

  1. The exchange between JK and the lawyer is telling, as the lawyer is lecturing him on “journalism,” and indeed American journalism is so worried about “bias” that it does not allow the use of brains.

    He asks JK if he suffers from “confirmation bias,” and JK says yes. Of course. That is not a sin, especially when the person who is subject to it is aware of it. Far better that than to fail to be inquisitive, aggressive, and tenacious. JK, a writer, is more a journalist than any I’ve seen lately.

  2. petetalbot

    It’s been interesting to watch the national, even international, media coverage of Krakauer in Missoula. The guy who confronts Krakauer at the end of the forum is being referred to as the “heckler” and the exchange made all the headlines (just google Krakauer Missoula).

    Like Mr. Skink, I was unable to get a seat at the Double Tree. A much larger venue was called for. I watched what I could on MCAT but the live streaming kept crashing. What I did see and hear were articulate answers to tough questions, and a mostly appreciative audience.

    I believe that Thomas Dove, the “heckler,” was just looking for attention. Missoula is full of lawyers so it came as no surprise to me that I hadn’t heard his name before. Some research shows that he lives in Missoula’s Miller Creek area but isn’t licensed to practice law in Montana. He comes from a prestigious background: a UC Berkeley School of Law graduate and a deputy attorney general for the state of California. How the hell he ended up in Missoula is a mystery as is his confrontation with Krakauer. Perhaps self-aggrandizement?

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