When I first wrote about Rep. Kylie Oversen getting voted in as the chair of the North Dakota Democrat Party I didn’t realize that the situation would turn into something of a feud, but it has. Last night Rep. Oversen responded to some of my comments about her lack of qualifications and experience on television, and this morning her mother got my column pulled from her hometown newspaper.
Oversen represents a district in Grand Forks while she’s attending college there, but is originally from Killdeer which is in Dunn County. The Dunn County Herald is one of several newspapers around the state which publishes my columns (the most recent of my columns they published is here). According to editor Bryce Martin and publisher Stacy Swenson they decided my column was no longer a fit for Dunn County.
I spoke to Martin earlier this evening who told me that they’d had a complaint about my column. When I inquired further, he told me that Oversen’s mother had given one of the secretaries a “hard time” about my column.
I should note at this junction that I’ve never written a column about Rep. Oversen for the Dunn County Herald or other newspaper, so I’m pretty certain what prompted the complaint was my recent comments about Oversen’s election as party chair in which I suggested that the Grand Forks Democrat was picked because of identity politics.
Martin directed further inquiry to Swenson, and when I spoke with her this evening I was told that Oversen’s mother had “pitched a fit” in their offices and in the interest of placating the complaint they decided it would be best if they didn’t run my column any more. Swenson also referenced a previous complaint about my columns which was posted on their Facebook back in the middle of February (I’m assuming it was this one).
Swenson did say that she appreciates the work I do and that they were happy to continue running my columns in their other papers in the region. So, fair enough I guess. I told her that I wasn’t sure how to do what I do – viewpoint journalism – without ruffling some feathers. I mean, if I’m not getting complaints, am I doing my job right?
I don’t think so.
It’s a little troubling that the mother of the chair of one of the political parties in the state can get the a column written by a critic pulled. I’ve been writing my column for nearly two years now, and I’ve pitched it to a lot of publications. Some take it and others turn it down because they don’t have the space or they just don’t care to publish my work. That’s just how it goes. C’est la vie.
I have to say, though, that getting your column pulled because the family member of a party boss figurehead doesn’t like what you have to say is disturbing. Is this the Democrat way? To silence critics with intimidation?
This would also seem to confirm a lot of the things I’ve been saying about Oversen, which is that she’s immature and inexperienced and just not ready to lead a state party.
If you have to send your mommy after your critics, maybe you should just stick to law school.