On Television: Heidi Heitkamp Tries To Bully The Media Again


My segment last night with Chris Berg on Valley News Live’s 6:30 Point of View program began with some comments from VNL reporter Bradford Arick.

Arick described a phone call he got from U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s office complaining about some questions he asked during the Heitkamp-guided visit by embattled Department of Homeland Security official Alejandro Mayorkas.

Mayorkas, for those of you who are unaware, is mired in a controversy surrounding special treatment he gave on visas at the behest of politically powerful Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Arick asked Heitkamp about that controversy during Mayorkas’ visit to the state. Heitkamp answered the question, which you can see in the clip above, but the next week Arick got a call from Heitkamp’s office telling him they didn’t appreciate that sort of question.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Nor is this the first time Heitkamp has lashed out at Valley News Live for tough questioning.[/mks_pullquote]

Nor is this the first time Heitkamp has lashed out at Valley News Live for tough questioning. Back in 2013 Heitkamp’s Cheif of Staff Tessa Gould called Valley News Live News Director Ike Walker to inform him that Heitkamp would no longer be going on Berg’s 6:30 Point of View program because of some questions he was asking about child abuse on the Spirit Lake reservation. Initially Gould tried to get Walker to agree to talk off the record, but he refused. What we have now is a record of something I suspect Heitkamp’s office probably does with other media outlets in the state, which is trying to bully their way past tough questions.

What’s ironic is that Heitkamp’s brother is a left-wing talk radio host in the Fargo market who is adamant that Republicans appear on his show where, I assume, he frequently asks them inconvenient questions.

Heitkamp likes to posture herself as a middle-of-the-road politician who is working hard in the trenches to find compromise. But incidents like these with Valley News Show show a different side: A thin-skinned political professional who isn’t afraid to try and bully the media.

For what it’s worth, I can’t even get Senator Heitkamp’s people to send me their press releases, let alone speak to me despite my long history of interviewing elected officials both Republican and Democrat.

That’s a sharp contrast to, say, Rep. Kevin Cramer and Senator John Hoeven each of whom are extremely accessible by the media and have never, to my knowledge, tried deny access to the media for asking tough questions. Hoeven in particular deserves credit, in my mind. I have never shied away from being an outspoken critic of Hoeven, particularly during his time as governor, and yet I can’t recall when Hoeven has ever turned down a request of mine for an interview.

That’s the standard we ought to be holding Heitkamp to.