Sad: The Fargo Forum Resorts To Fat Jokes

fargoforum

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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  • Lifetime Fargo Native

    Yet one more reason I’ve never subscribed to the Fargo Fool’em. Plus, there is that idiot dilettante Bill “Billy Black” Marcil who’s now in charge. In charge of running it into the ground. Good lord, between his sophomoric occasional “columns” and his lame “Beautiful Women” project with it’s indulgent amateurish photography, I don’t know how he got to where he is. Oh. Yeah. His Daddy owned/owns the paper. Never mind….

  • Dave

    Doesn’t Rick’s wife work for the Forum? There must be some interesting workplace dynamics going on in the newsroom. Anyway, it’s kind of fun to have two influencial sources for information like the Forum and SAB going back and forth at one another. There’s value that can be gleaned from both, and they balance each other out. Makes for interesting times in our too-often passive agressive ideological discourse in good ol’ N.D.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Doesn’t Rick’s wife work for the Forum?

      No. I believe the wife of someone in management there once volunteered in a small capacity for Berg’s campaign.

      Makes for interesting times in our too-often passive agressive ideological discourse in good ol’ N.D.

      I agree with that. I think we’ve allowed ourselves to be bullied into thinking of ideology as a dirty word. There’s nothing wrong with having principles, and there’s certainly nothing wrong being transparent about where you stand.

      I wear my conservatism on my sleeve, so that everyone knows when I write something that’s the perspective I’m coming from. They can judge me and my writing accordingly.

      I think it’s high time the folks at the Forum stopped pretending to be objective.

    • NDSiouxFan

      Nope. Rick’s wife is an MD. You are thinking about the major flap two years ago about Lloyd Case. I believe he is a management cheese. His wife was a Berg volunteer, and the Dems were screaming that the Fourm’s editorial support for Rick Berg over Earl was because of Lloyd’s “undue influence” over the editorial part. It was not true, but a good way for the Dems to create another problem where there was none.

  • Jay Barnum

    It could have been worse. They could have said you don’t support the re-distribution of wealth… and your hamburgers. Or maybe that the only thing you attack harder than Loris Delmore’s involvement in absolutely nothing is the Dairy Queen drive-thru.
    You get what you give, you’re a difficult person to pity.

    • zipity

      Curiously, you are not a difficult person to pity at all…..what with being a mental midget and all…..

      • DooDa

        You sound like the troll known as hanni

        • zipity

          BZZZZZZZZ……Wrong. But thanks for playing…..

          • DooDa

            BZZZZZZZZ……Wrong. But thanks for playing…..

          • zipity

            Um….wow…..gee….that would be really hurtful….if I had ANY idea what the hell point you were trying to make that is. I probably don’t “get” it because I don’t speak Looney Libtard…..Perhaps someday, assuming I sustain a massive head-wound.

        • zipity

          And please note, the mental midget referred to in my reply is Mr. Barnum….Not Mr. Port

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      You assume that I want your pity. I don’t think it’s news that the folks at the Forum have a serious dislike for anyone getting in the way of their carefully-crafted narratives. I’ve been the target of their occasional invective, when they care to acknowledge me, for years. I didn’t get into blogging – under my own name – because I thought it would make me friends with everyone. I’ve been threatened and insulted and even banished from an Indian reservation.

      Honestly, I think their fat jokes say more about the sad state of talent at the Fargo Forum than me (though, admittedly, I am very fat). That’s really the best they could come up with?

      As for Rep. Delmore, I feel very badly that she’s in the position she’s in, but that’s her husband’s doing. Not mine. Crimes committed by the spouses of elected officials are news specifically because of the connection to the elected official.

      Sometimes, life is unfair.

      • Dave

        “their carefully-crafted narratives.”

        That one made me laugh out loud. I have been around newsrooms most of my adult life and “carefully crafted” are not the words that come to mind readily. More like “fly by the seat of their pants” or “Hmmm? What am I going to write about today that will get the masses buzzing, sell single copies and drive ad revenue.” I always found the lack of pre-planning and to be systemic throughout journalism. Consistent narratives in local media are more the product of coincidence rather than strategy. Sorry to be a buzz kill.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          I disagree, because I don’t believe in coincidence. There’s a reason why certain stories are reported in certain ways, and it almost always has to do with bias, be it conscious or otherwise.

          • Dave

            Valid point. Just speaking from personal experience having watched some extreme laziness demonstrated in local newsrooms over the years. I feel like the local Bernie Goldberg. Ha!

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Oh, I’m sure there are all sorts of explanations. I don’t doubt that a lot of the time you’re right, and my specific comment you were talking about was more of a comment on the editorial positions rather than the reporting.

      • robert108

        “…the folks at the Forum have a serious dislike for anyone getting in the way of their carefully-crafted narratives.”
        A whole lot of that goes on right here.

  • Jamer Morrow

    I wonder how many people at the forum look good with their shirt off? My guess is very few.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Yeah, I’m sure they’re all a bunch of underwear models over there at the Forum.

      • Jamer Morrow

        Haha, there is big fat and the new American skinny fat. Skinny fat is when you have skinny arms, legs, and neck, but have a huge spare tire. So even many skinny people now days are fat.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Given my waist line, I’m not going to comment on how anyone else looks.

          • Jamer Morrow

            You are a member of the big fat group not the skinny fat group. LOL

          • truther

            Ya, like you didn’t comment on Barney Franks looks? Except for the story you did on him.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            Yeah, i’ve taken some shots at public figures like that in the past. I started this blog when I was 22 years old, and I wasn’t always very mature in some of my commentary.

            I like to think I’ve grown out of that. What is Jack Zaleski’s excuse?

          • Dave

            Intellectual laziness.

          • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

            Rob made fun of Barney for dressing inappropriately while he was speaking in the House of Representatives. I think that’s valid.

    • zipity

      I volunteer to visually check all the women there…..well….those under 30 years of age…..as long as you provide the eye-bleach…..

  • Albert Lickenspittle.

    If they gave a noble prize for hypocrites you would get it Rob. You use every cheap right wing distortion in the book, but when the table gets turned on you, you are the biggest whinner going. Of course you are portly, Rush is portly, when you take more than your share you get portly. At the dinner table I take more than my share, I am portly, thank God my portly attitude does not extend to my politics, or I would be a right wing greed pig in addition to a table pig. Own it Rob, be proud of your greed and your support for the rich. I am trying to break my portly table manners, but I do not have portly polotics.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I get the feeling that your objection to me has less to do with my alleged “hypocrisy” and loose grasp of the facts than your objections to my ideology.

      • NDSuperman

        Can you believe that this guy sat in judgement of other people? Astonishing.

        • Onslaught1066

          Fortunately it was impeached before its bribery habit got out of hand.

    • zipity

      Nope. Just a ideology that has failed spectacularly every time/place it was attempted. And an inability to use “spell-check”….

      • Gern Blanston

        Name some time/places. (i know – you didn’ t mean to start a discussion, just get out a baseless smear).

        • Gern Blanston

          Whoops – wrong person – sorry zipity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.benshoof.7 John Benshoof

    When I moved to Fargo 7 years ago from Minneapolis I was suprised to find the Forum to be at least somewhat balanced in it”s reporting. Not difficult considering the left wing tilt of the Star Tribune. However in the ensuing years the paper has taken a significant turn to the left. The editorial writers come off as intolerant, nasty and frankly unproffesional. We cancelled our subscription yet the paper is still being delivered. I suppose they believe we do not have the right to cancel.

    • zipity

      Because just like their politics, they know what is best for you. So you vill continue to receive paper, and you vill like it comrade…..or it’s off to re-education camp for you….!

    • awfulorv

      I had quite the same reaction on moving from the bay area to Phoenix. I initially thought the local paper balanced but then, within months, saw I was mistaken. The Forum is not long for the print world, methinks. When the day comes that their readers discover, and begin to use, Craigslist, it’s day will be over, soon thereafter.

  • Ziniki

    There’s a place where I heard a lot of disagreements in views resort to such childish name calling, oh yeah that was back in middle school.

  • NDSiouxFan

    Yea, I think it was a cheap shot, and beneith the dignity of the Forum to do so. As a play on both your last name and your profile, I chuckled for a few seconds. It sure left a bad after-taste.

    • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

      The forum has dignity? Who knew.

      • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

        When you are hanging by a thread, praying for a government buyout; dignity takes a backseat.

  • truther

    It’s just the portly shot you don’t like? The truth is a bitter pill.eh?

    • zipity

      Eh…..I suspect you’ve swallowed much worse than a bitter pill….eh?

  • truther

    Did I miss rhe part where you owned up to your mistake?

    • zipity

      It’s only a “mistake” in the fevered tiny little minds of Lefty Libtards such as yourself….so….no apology needed.

    • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

      What mistake?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I didn’t make a mistake.

  • JanuaryJones

    Calling names is so unprofessional. The Forum sucks.

    • Dave

      There’s irony in there somewhere. (;

      • Dakotacyr

        Have you read this blog ever?

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          I don’t do a lot of name calling personally. As I noted above, i started this forum when I was 22/, so I think I’ve ,matured over the years. While I may be prone to invective at times, I almost never name,e call.

          • Dakotacyr

            Apparently you have never read your blog. The name calling that goes on in almost every post by posters has become almost bloodsport here.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            I’m not responsible for things other people write. And there is plenty of name calling from the left here, most of it targeting me.

          • robert108

            “I’m not responsible for things other people write.”
            No, but you’re responsible for what you publish.

  • Dakotacyr

    Wow, pot meet kettle. I even did it recently and shouldn’t have . But you intentionally post the worst pictures of democrats particularly women on your site. And you do it regularly. You post a pic of a legislator for something her husband did. You regularly post misleading headlines.

    And in this particular case the forum is right. You made a bunch of allegations, didn’t bother to check out the facts and treated your allegations as truth because you said so.

    You deserve everything the Forum gave you today. Pot meet kettle. Being made fun of in an editorial that is read all across the state stings.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      So, you think it’s ok to make fun of how people look as long as you disagree with them?

      Also, I post some pretty silly pictures of Republicans too. I think politicians, in general, should be made fun of.

      As for Rep. Delmore, I’m sorry her husband put her in that position, but I’m not the one who hired the 17 year-old prostitute.

      As for my “allegations” about Heitkamp, it was 100% factual that her niece worked at the YWCA. That is a pertinent part of the news story, whether you like it or not. Beyond that, I stated my opinion that the attack was coordinated.

      And I think I’m right in that, the denials from the Heitkamp campaign notwithstanding. You, of course, are welcome to have a different opinion.

      • dakotacyr

        no,of course I don’t think it is ok to make fun of people and I don’t know where you got that idea. I did it the other day myself which I admitted I shouldn’t have, but try not to do it at all. But you, on the other hand do it on a regular basis. You routinely post pics of people, mostly Ds, I might add, in unattractive facial poses and you do it on purpose. You call it silly, but as you say, you are not 22 anymore. So since you are not 22 anymore, I must conclude that you do it on purpose just to be malicious.

        you do post on a regular basis misleading headlines.

        As for the allegations, they were allegations that you just made up, just because you posted a fact about the ED of the YWCA, doesn’t make the rest of your story true. And that is what you were alleging and treating as factual. You never even tried to investigate or contact them for the story. You printed your allegations and then sprinkled it with one fact and then jumped to a conclusion with no facts to back it up. And then you whine when you get called on it. then you claim the denials from the Heitkamp prove your story. And if they hadn’t commented you would have said that proved your story as well.

        And you are right, I am entitled to my opinion and you are entitled to your opinion but what you are not entitled to is your own facts and just making things up.

        The Forum was spot on (except for the portly comment).

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Maybe I got that idea from the fact that you said I deserved to be called fat.

          You’re backtracking now if course, you hypocrite.

          As for the story, I believe there was coordination. Saying I should have called the Heitkamp campaign or the YWCA is just laughable. Does the Forum call Berg to verify their opinion that his ad is unethical? Of course not.

          It’s clear to honest observers that the YWCA attack was coordinated. Attacking me is just a distraction.

    • zipity

      Eh…..it would, if it wasn’t the Fargo Fool’Em. Consider the source and all….Run by a dilettante who uses the nom de plume Billy Black……*SNORT*

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      So you’re against making fun of how people look, except when it’s someone you disagree with.

      Thanks for clearing that up.

  • bjacksonND

    Interesting that Emil hasn’t stuck it’s (don’t know gender) nose in this one…

    • yy4u2

      if you care to vomit, you can find his drivel using Albert Lickenspittle above.

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    Jack the bankrupt hack is such a class act, isn’t he? Yet, he wonders why he is made fun of when he goes to newspaper conventions.

    • Dave

      How the hell would you know? He’s a hoot at NDNA. Maybe he’s bankrupt because is tax burden is worse than yours? #crymeariver.

      • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

        I was referring to journalism conventions. Maybe he’s never been invited,

        • Dave

          What do you think NDNA is?
          NDNA, as in North Dakota Newspaper Association convention.

          • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

            What does that have to do with Journalism?

          • Dave

            Ok.. I give. List some local, state or regional journalism conventions for me (ones that would naturally include publications such as the Forum).

  • headward

    I think I said this would happen but I didn’t expect the personal insult. I think Rob has really struck a nerve over at the Forum. Personal insults just show that they are biased, not objective, and don’t have the facts on their side.
    I’m surprised they didn’t call you a racist.

  • Mike Peterson

    At the very least you’d expect an officially endorsed paper to be PROFESSIONAL (as we’re not expected to), but they have demonstrated time and time again they have none of it.

  • RicktheRightie

    Yo Jack Z
    Can you answer to Rob’s assertions? (Know you will see this since you do read this blog.)

  • Eunice D.

    whatever happened to reporting the news like the good old days! Our committee sent numerous letters to the herald about the fighting Sioux issue and they either edited it so far out in left field or would not publish it at all! So the Fargo forum doesn’t surprise me that they would resort to calling names because they are not willing to report the truth because it doesn’t fit their agenda….name calling is all they have left.

  • DakotaStrong

    I totally agree with Rob that the Forum does not like the new ways of communicating. They want everything to go through them, and to not encourage discussions on their web site. Example, no posting on editorials or letters to the editor. Do they think it is 1985 or something? The more you get people to comment, the better your readership is, and thus, you can sell more online ads. And they think they can criticize a blog when they have biased reporters on staff. There are days where I would seriously like to run a web site where you list each major reporter in the state, and people can provide comments about them, which way they lean, how they report, what their bias is, etc.

  • Thresherman

    Speaking of owning up to past mistakes, Zaleski now tries to pretend that he never had an issue with gambling debts.

  • Grover

    Rob, Not trying to add work to you, but have you ever thought of going through the last few months and adding up all of the pro Heitkamp, Gulleson, etc articles vs. the pro Berg, Cramer articles. I would like to see you blow them out of the water with their bias.

  • fred

    That Zaleski is a snarky one. I wanted to drop the Forum but my wife “convinced” me to renew our subscription. She likes the local news and the ads. I hate to contribute a penny to their profits but…

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