Obama has his war on Fox News. Earl Pomeroy has a war on, well, me. Apparently.
Today a friendly member of the traditional North Dakota media, one who values alternative media, forwarded to me an email about a press teleconference Rep. Earl Pomeroy was going to be holding about his decision to support the Pelosi health care bill, complete with a public option. Since the issue is of great interest to me, and also my readers and listeners to my radio show, I decided to call in and listen. Perhaps ask a question too.
Here’s the text of the email is at the bottom of this post.
At the appointed time I called in to the teleconference and put in the offered pass code. Then, when prompted by Pomeroy staffer Sandra Salstrom I identified myself as Rob Port from SayAnythingBlog.com. Other members of the media identified themselves as well, including an Associated Press reporter from Fargo, a reporter from KFYR, a reporter from a Carrington newspaper and one Adam Blomeke from the liberal North Dakota blog NorthDecoder.com.
I was pleased to learn of the presence of another blogger on the call as, whatever the ideological bent, I think alternative media is important.
Before Pomeroy came on Sandra Salstrom joked around with the AP reporter about his Porsche and also with Blomeke about his recent move from North Dakota to Chicago. It became apparent that Salstrom was familiar with Adam on a personal level and that he was certainly welcome on the call.
After the banter died down, Rep. Pomeroy joined the call. He gave a speech lasting a few minutes about his decision to support this health care bill, then was followed up with a speech from an Obama administration member in favor of the bill as well. Then he opened it up for questions. The first one came from the KFYR reporter, asking about how the government would negotiate “public option” rates with private insurers. Then Pomeroy asked for another question. There was a few seconds pause, so I decided to jump in.
And the Congressman was not at all pleased that I did. Here’s an audio recording of the exchange. I’m still working on the full audio copy of the entire call, but in this you can hear my question and the Congressman’s irate response at a member of the alternative media daring to question him:
The Congressman twice accused me of being an “arm of the North Dakota Republican party,” which comes as a bit of a surprise to me as I think I’m actually quite critical of North Dakota Republicans. I am perhaps Republican Governor John Hoeven’s biggest critic in the state. But I’ll admit that I am, certainly, a conservative political commentator.
But even so, as you can hear, my question was a fair one about how exactly forcing Americans to buy their health care through a government health care exchange was going to promote competition. Pomeroy didn’t have a good answer, and chose to attack the questioner instead.
After the teleconference I called Sandra Salstrom who had greeted me in a friendly manner when I identified myself at the beginning of the call and she was downright rude. She again said that I was just an arm of the North Dakota Republican Party and that I wasn’t invited to the call. When I asked how the liberal blogger got on the call, she said that he must have learned of the call the same way I did.
Maybe he did, I can’t say for sure, but given the friendly way Salstrom and Blomeke were chatting before the call it certainly doesn’t seem as though we weren’t welcome on the call.
What surprised me about the call almost as much as Pomeroys aggressive, agitated reaction to my question was how few questions the other reporters on the call asked. Aside from my question, there were only two other questions asked. Apparently the reporters on the call were satisfied with just taking down what Pomeroy told them.
Which is maybe why Pomeroy was so angry when I dared to ask a question.
News from North Dakota
Congressman Earl Pomeroy
U.S. House of Representatives | Washington, D.C. | 202-225-2611
For Immediate Release: Friday, October 30, 2009 | Contact: Sandra Salstrom at 202-225-2611
** MEDIA ADVISORY **
Pomeroy to Hold Press Conference Call on House Health Care Reform Bill
Washington, DC – Congressman Earl Pomeroy will hold a press availability in Grand Forks and then a press conference call for media statewide this afternoon to discuss the details of the health care reform bill that was unveiled yesterday.
All media are invited to participate.
WHO: Congressman Earl Pomeroy
WHAT: Press availability and conference call on House health care reform bill
WHEN: Today, Friday, October 30, 2009
Press availability: 2:00 p.m. Central
Press conference call: 2:30 p.m. Central
WHERE: Press availability:
Lobby of the Medical School
501 Columbia Road
Grand Forks, ND
Press conference call:
Call in: 888-989-8132