Minot City Council Members Say Weather Channel Show Crossed Ethical Lines: “I Am Totally Disgusted”

A preview of an episode of The Weather Channel's "Vanishing America" series claims the City of Minot is disappearing, but city leaders interviewed for the episode say it's misleading and that they felt duped after participating. Screenshot via YouTube

“I was wholly disappointed,” Shaun Sipma, a member of Minot’s City Council, told me during a radio interview today referring to an episode of The Weather Channel’s “Vanishing America” show which focused on Minot’s 2011 flood.

The episode aired on the channel last night.

“I was expecting something completely different,” Miranda Schuler, also a member of the City Council, told me as well.

The show is about “places in this country that are on the verge of disappearing due to Global Warming or extreme weather” a description on The Weather Channels official YouTube page reads.

“People are moving away trying to escape what is happening in their hometowns,” it continues.

A preview of the Minot episode got a lot of local play on social media. The title of the clip uploaded to YouTube is “Minot, North Dakota is Disappearing.”

But Sipma and Schuler, each of whom were interviewed for the episode, say the show portrayal of Minot was off the mark. They point out that Minot is hardly vanishing. In fact, according to numbers from the U.S. Census, Minot’s population has grown roughly 25 percent since 2010.

“Some very big ethical lines were crossed,” Sipma, a former television news reporter, told me.

“Some very big ethical lines were crossed,” Sipma, a former television news reporter, told me.

Schuler said it was “an odd show to put Minot into.” She said she had emphasized during her interviews that the city had worked together to overcome the challenges of responding to the flood and rebuilding aftward, but that part of the story didn’t make it into the episode.

Both Schuler and Sipma told me they thought they were being interviewed for a show about Minot’s recovery from the 2011 flood, not something which would portray the city as being abandoned because of climate change. They feel their words were taken out of context and twisted to fit an agenda the show was trying to promote.

When I asked Sipma if he felt duped by the show’s producers he answered “absolutely.”

“I am totally disgusted,” he added.

Here’s the full audio:

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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