Sad: The Fargo Forum Resorts To Fat Jokes

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The Fargo Forum’s editorial today is about the imbroglio surrounding the Rick Berg campaign’s ad touting his past (and private-dollar) support for the YWCA, a direct rebuttal to liberal Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp’s “war on women” nonsense. Not surprisingly, the liberal Forum editorial board calls Berg’s ad “unethical.”

Just so we’re clear, Heidi Heitkamp accusing Berg of “attacks on women” isn’t unethical, but for some reason Berg pointing out his past support for a women’s organization is.

Oh, and the Forum decided to take a cheap shot at me, calling me “portly” among other things. Which might be the most factual thing the Forum has ever published. I am, after all, pretty fat though I’m not sure that warrants mention in an editorial.

No matter how this thing gets the spin treatment by Berg’s people (or portly cheap-shot bloggers who do what they do without regard to facts, accountability or application of basic reporting skills), the Berg ad crosses the line.

I’d laugh at the spectacle of a newspaper editorial accusing a blogger like me of a “cheap-shot” right after calling me fat, but it’s really just kind of sad. The folks at the Forum, chief among them opinion editor Jack Zaleski who pens these invective-laced tirades for the paper, still believe they’re living in an era where they are the gatekeepers to the public debate. They’re not any more, of course, thanks to blogs like this one (not to mention social media like Facebook and Twitter). While still certainly influential, they don’t control the narrative any more, and they hate it.

They hate it so much, they feel so threatened, they feel like they need to make fat jokes to belittle those who would dare challenge them.

I think what’s really bothering them is that my pointing out that Heidi Heitkamp’s niece works at the YWCA spoiled what they saw as a great talking point against Berg. The “war on women” nonsense has been central to Heitkamp’s campaign. Berg’s ad showing his support for the YWCA was inconvenient for that narrative. The YWCA attacking Berg, as a de facto surrogate for Heitkamp, was a great way to defuse that ad. Except, the coordination got uncovered not by the Forum’s reporters who should have reported the family connection as a pertinent fact to their original story, but by a much-maligned blogger.

By the way, Zaleski ought not be throwing stones about “facts” or “basic reporting skills” after one of his editorials bashing western oil development was outed as having been based on a totally unsubstantiated email forward. The Forum has never admitted their wrong-doing in using that email, which they claimed was “verified,” and they only ever corrected one minor fact from the editorial.

I’ll not claim to be perfect – I make mistakes like everyone else – but I do my best to be accurate, and I run an open forum where all can come and point out my mistakes (real or imagined). And when I do make mistakes, I own up to them, which is more than anyone can say for Jack Zaleski or the Fargo Forum.

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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