New York Times Hit Piece On North Dakota Oil Boom Was Just Democrat Talking Points

Remember last year when the New York Times published a lengthy series of articles casting North Dakota’s Republican-dominated state government as inept and corrupt in terms of handling the oil boom?

I pointed out in November that the Times reporter met with former Democrat Lt. Governor candidate Ellen Chaffee, something the times took exception to in an email response to my post. The Times was also forced to correct a glaring error in which they portray Republicans as eliminating former Democrat state Senator Ryan Taylor’s legislative district as punishment for challenging Governor Jack Dalrymple in the 2012 election, despite the fact that Taylor hadn’t even announced his campaign at the time redistricting was completed.

Now comes evidence illustrating why the folks at the Times were so sensitive about who they were talking to in North Dakota. Energy In Depth has taken a, uh, in depth look at how the Times put their story together, and it’s not very flattering for the paper’s methodology.

Read the whole story here.

In a nutshell, the framework for the story was manufactured by partisan Democrat interests in the state, much of which wasn’t disclosed by the Times.

For instance, two of the main characters in the Times story are Chaffee and her husband David Schwalbe who allege corruption between the Dalrymple administration and the oil industry. But it isn’t until 57 paragraphs into the story that Chaffee is revealed as the Lt. Governor candidate opposing Dalrymple’s ticket in 2012, and that Schwalbe did opposition research against the Dalrymple campaign on behalf of Taylor/Chaffee.

It gets worse.

“Perhaps the most egregious failure on the part of the Times is that they did not fully disclose its reliance on a politically connected activist law firm – the Law Firm of Baumstark & Braaten – or the use of their clients in the story,” writes EID. “For example, the Timesseparately cites three of the partners from the firm including Derrick Braaten, Todd Sattler, and Sarah Vogel (now “of counsel”). Two of the firm’s clients are also featured, including Daryl Peterson and the activist group. Dakota Resource Council. Finally, theTimes also fails to disclose that Sarah Vogel was “one of the prominent supporters” of former State Senator Ryan Taylor when he was running against Gov. Darlrymple.”

I feel like the Times would have been more scrupulous about this sort of disclosure had we been talking about Republican sources.

Of course, the fact that the people the Times leaned on for their story are left-wing activists with ties to the 2012 and 2014 Taylor campaigns (for governor and agriculture commissioner, respectively) doesn’t necessarily make them wrong.

But should we be surprised that the Times presented such a skewed report about the relationship between the oil industry and state government when they relied on opposition party activists for the meat of their reporting?

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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