North Dakota’s University System Loves To Bully The Media


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 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.

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  • Jamer Morrow

    Oh I can’t wait for interest rates to rise and the higher ed bubble pops. Maybe NDSU will be forced to sell that ridiculous mansion the president is living in.

    • Conservative Soccer Mom

      That will be a tough choice for them: cut $ for college sports, sell the Presidential Palace, or sell the private jet….How ridiculous that we ND parents actually want our tax money and tuition going to EDUCATION rather than indoctrination and mindless college sports programs….Berg is just one more on the growing heap of liberal assassinations. Thanks, NDSU, for your grand moral example of intolerance. Don’t look to me when one day they come for you!


    You are making up shit again. The day after his hitler comment there was a news story that he was in danger of losing the NDSU sideline job. Do you spin everything? What a miserable life you must have not being able to differentiate reality from whatever wacky thoughts you have.

    • Rob

      So the chancellor getting a reporter pulled off the DSU story was just made up?

      Sorry, pal, that actually happened. And the “hitler” thing here is just an excuse.

      • reggy

        Do you have evidence that it’s being utilized as an excuse?

        • Rob

          It’s my opinion, and it’s Berg’s opinion as well. Just seems kind of convenient, no?

  • borborygmi

    ” 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” Yep it didn’t happen and Berg apologized because it didn’t happen. Rightttttt . Stayed tuned tomorrow for another episode ‘AS THE PORT SPINS’

    • Rob

      Berg apologized for people taking offense. He didn’t apologize for the comments themselves, and that’s as it should be.

      Grownups should be able to have adult conversations about politics that include references to Hitler’s body of work when pertinent. Alluding to Hitler in discussing something is not the same thing as saying someone is just like Hitler.

  • borborygmi

    Whats the rule, the first one to bring up Hitler loses. Berg lost.

    • Rob

      That’s certainly how childish people uninterested in intellectual debate see it.