Former Lee Newspapers statehouse reporter Chuck Johnson in the Montana Free Press studio. Credit: LEIA LARSEN / MTFP
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HELENA — In his 43 years reporting on Montana politics and government, Chuck Johnson covered 23 legislative sessions, eight governors, nine U.S. Senators, 12 U.S. Representatives, and more elections, controversies and political battles than you can count.

His reporting was always factual, fair, and infused with a sense of history and institutional knowledge that gave readers a broader perspective on the most significant issues of the day. That’s why Chuck Johnson is known throughout the state as the “Dean of Montana Politics.”

In Episode 5 of the Montana Lowdown podcast, we sat down with Johnson to talk about what’s changed, and what hasn’t, at the Montana Legislature over the past 45 years.

Now retired from journalism, Johnson talked candidly about the current state of journalism, the “gross abuse” of the legislative process he’s witnessed in recent legislative sessions by key lawmakers, and the untold news stories he hopes journalists will pursue in the weeks and months ahead.

Montana Free Press was founded by veteran award-winning investigative and political reporter John S. Adams. John was formerly the Capital Bureau Chief of the Great Falls Tribune and a correspondent for USA TODAY. John is known as a dogged investigator and the host of the MT Lowdown podcast whose unbiased reporting has changed the shape of Montana politics. Contact John at, or follow him on Twitter.