Video: Senator Heitkamp’s Chief Of Staff Tries To Bully Fargo News Station

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Valley News Live’s Chris Berg has been very critical of Senator Heidi Heitkamp of late, specifically on the issue of the child abuse scandal at the Spirit Lake Reservation. As I noted previously, Senator Heitkamp has been largely silent on the issue until just recently.

Berg’s criticism prompted a phone call from Senator Heitkamp’s Chief of Staff Tessa Gould who, as Berg himself put it, attempted to dictate the content of Valley News Live’s programming and then announced that Senator Heitkamp wouldn’t be appearing on the show in the future.

It’s worth noting that Senator Heitkamp has been a frequent guest of Berg’s in the past, and that her brother Joel Heitkamp is a regular commentator on the program.

Berg describe’s the situation in the first several minutes of this video from Tuesday, which you really have to see to believe:

It seems Senator Heitkamp has learned well from the man she describes as her mentor. Back in 2009, at the height of the tea party protests, the Minot Daily News reported that Senator Kent Conrad had stormed out of a town hall meeting in Mohall after people there questioned him about Obamacare. A reporter friend at the paper told me that Senator Conrad subsequently showed up in the newspaper’s offices putting his finger in people’s chests demanding a retraction.

No retraction was forthcoming, and Conrad’s temper tantrum culminated months later in a bizarre letter to the editor granting the Minot Daily a forgiveness they hadn’t asked for.

Just as Conrad tried to bully the Minot Daily, Senator Heitkamp is now trying to bully Valley News Live. She got caught trying to turn an ugly scandal about child abuse into a partisan talking point against a Republican rival, and now she’s responding to the heat of criticism with threats and cut-off access.

That’s far from the yeah-sure-youbetcha Heidi Heitkamp we all got to know on the campaign trail. She’s using a tried-and-true tactic for killing criticism in small media markets like North Dakota: Threaten access if the criticism continues.

Kudos to Chris Berg and Valley News Live for going right back after Heitkamp instead of giving into the criticism.

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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  • Roy_Bean

    democrat is as democrat does.

  • sbark

    so a Dem’cat politiician once again essentially wants privacy……..I wonder what her stance on the IRS and NSA scandals affecting private citizens privacy is?…..

  • devilschild

    Heidi blamed all of us for the death of the children on the SLR on the news on Wednesday night….yet she can’t take the blame as well?

  • headward

    I’m guessing she’s waiting approval from Reid.

  • John_Wayne_American

    Nearly 100% dem votes on the reservations, so is it safe to say along with killing unborn babies as part of the dem platform they are expanding the philosophy by not eliminating anything that would cause, or contribute to, the deaths of these small children?

  • Chris Brownell

    I don’t care. If I were a senator from ND, I would be ultra selective about who I spoke to as well. You could count on me not talking to the Fargo Forum for instance. So big deal she won’t go on the show.

    Trying to tell the show what to say and what to cover is different and of course just sleazy. But look who is doing it. Liberal democrats. This is how they operate, and some of them operate this way in their personal lives as well. They are slimy awful hateful people. You HAVE to take that into consideration any time you deal with them.

    This to me is like reporting the weather. Another day and you hear about how much those on the left hold in contempt what North Dakota stands for.

    • Rob

      I disagree with your first comments. I don’t think they get to pick and choose who they give access to. If they do, we should absolutely care.

  • OldmanRick

    Gee, don’t dims realize that their very actions are exacerbating the situation. Best way to stop this is to shut up. Guess jackasses don’t read their own handbooks on deception, diversion, isolation, marginalization, and destruction.

  • cylde

    The child abuse problem on the reservation is much more of a federal case than a state matter. The tribal nations made treaties with the federal government, not individual states. I am not sure but the reservations may have been established before North Dakota became a state. Heitkamp really should have taken the lead on the matter rather than be brought kicking and screaming to the table.