North Dakota’s University System Loves To Bully The Media

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Last year when Brian Howell, a former reporter for NBC News affiliate KFYR, was getting too aggressive on the Dickinson State University diploma mill scandal then-chancellor of the North Dakota University System Bill Goetz paid a visit to Howell’s bosses and got him pulled from the story.

Howell reported the blatant intimidation of the media right here on this blog.

Now another media critic of North Dakota’s university system is getting the bully treatment.  Chris Berg, a former collegiate football player and political commentator for Valley News Live, was slated to cover NDSU Bison football games from the sidelines.  But after Berg ran several segments critical of the state’s higher education system (including one picking up the story we broke about new Chancellor Hamid Shirvani’s Porsche) now NDSU doesn’t want him covering the games any more.

They claim that it’s about the controversy Berg stoked when he alluded to a Hitler quote while discussing liberal House candidate Pam Gulleson’s whitewashing of our Social Security problem, but let’s be serious.  Berg didn’t “compare Gulleson to Hitler” as is being reported (my post on that here), and this is really about silencing critics of higher education.

The Hitler thing is a distraction.  A good excuse for doing what higher ed wanted to do anyway.

Keep in mind that the institutions in the university system have huge advertising budget, most of which are eaten up by media outlets in the state.  They also hand out lucrative contracts to cover athletics – UND hockey and NDSU football – that media outlets don’t like to risk by being too critical of higher education.

This isn’t about the Hitler comments, which had already blown over.  This is about the university system attacking one of their critics.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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