New York Times Uses Same Misleading Photo of Soybean Pile the Heitkamp Campaign Got Caught Using

A pile of soybeans in Casselton has been used in campaign messaging and media reports critical of President Donald Trump's trade policies, but the owner of the pile says they had a similar sight on their grounds last year before Trump's policies. Via Facebook

Farm state Democrats like Senator Heidi Heitkamp have attacking President Donald Trump’s trade policies, arguing they’ve been bad for the agriculture industry. Which is fair. We can debate the point, but promoting contrasting views on important policies like trade tariffs is exactly what campaigns should be about (and aren’t nearly about enough).

Still, a specific pile of soybeans has become something of an embarrassment for Heitkamp and her allies in these closing days of the election.

About a week ago Senator Heitkamp tweeted a campaign image which showed a large stockpile of soybeans at the Maple River Grain elevator in Casselton. The pile “is what the trade war looks like,” she said.


The folks at Maple River obviously noticed their bean pile in Heitkamp’s campaign messaging, and so they published their own message pushing back a bit, noting that such a pile wasn’t an uncommon site even before President Trump’s efforts on trade:

I don’t think it’s fair to say that Maple River’s post necessarily means Heitkamp is wrong about the headaches the trade war is causing for farm producers, but it sure makes it seem like she’s exaggerating them.

Anyway, flash forward to today, and the New York Times has a pre-election story about the impact of Trump’s trade policies on soybean producers. “Their Soybeans Piling Up, Farmers Hope Trade War Ends Before Beans Rot,” reads the headline over an article by Binyamin Applebaum.

The problem? The Times illustrates their story with a photo of the same Maple River bean pile Heitkamp touted.

The pile which wasn’t any bigger this year than it was last year:

Again, this does not mean that anything the Times has reported is specifically inaccurate (I haven’t done a thorough read of Applebaum’s article yet) but it is problematic to illustrate an article about soybeans rotting on the ground due to Trump’s trade policies with a picture of a pile that’s a) not going to rot on the ground and b) wasn’t an unusual sight even before Trump’s policies were implemented.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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