Another North Dakota Newspaper Toadies To Heidi Heitkamp


“Berg believes that the American economy would be unleashed by reducing the size and reach of the federal government, which would increase the number of jobs and solve most of the nation’s problems,” wrote the Bismarck Tribune’s editorial board in endorsing Republican Rick Berg for the US Senate over liberal Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.

“The Tribune has consistently supported candidates who espouse smaller federal government, less federal regulation and reducing the federal deficit and national debt. In keeping with those criteria, we endorse Rick Berg for the U.S. Senate.”

That is a logical calculation. Heitkamp wants bigger government and Berg wants smaller government, thus Berg gets the endorsement based on the criteria the Tribune set forth.

Of course, we know now that Berg lost the election and Heitkamp won, and today the Tribune is busy praising Heitkamp’s “priorities” and how “right” they are for North Dakota.

My problem is not that the Tribune would endorse Heitkamp. My problem is that the Tribune, much like the Fargo Forum, isn’t being consistent in their application of principles. Had the Tribune, after endorsing Heitkamp in the Senate race, turned around and began praising Berg before he was even sworn into the Senate the point would stand.

They are being decidedly unprincipled in their editorializing.

If they truly believed their endorsement of Berg over Heitkamp based on the former’s preference for smaller government and the latter’s preference for bigger, more energetic government then they should now be expressing skepticism of Heitkamp’s priorities. Not endorsing them, sight unseen, as right for North Dakota.

One almost gets the idea that the decisions these newspaper editorial boards take on candidates really have nothing to do with ideology or principles or issues but rather who they think might win. And who actually did win.

I’ve long argued that North Dakota’s media has not so much an ideological bias (though that’s present too) but rather a bias for whoever happens to be in power at the moment. Put simply, the state’s editors and journalists tend to be toadies to whoever happens to be in office. Especially the federal offices.

That may be a good business model, threatening neither their advertising nor their access to political figures, but in terms of serving the public it stinks.

I don’t ask that these newspapers endorse my conservative views on the candidates and the issues. I only for a modicum of consistency.

Rob Port

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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