Senator Heitkamp Says She Doesn’t Have Enough Time to Do Talk Radio Interviews (Except With Her Brother)


My colleague John Hageman wrote a story about talk radio shows like mine and their impact on the U.S. Senate race here in North Dakota.

The fact that incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp refuses to go on shows like mine is a big part of the article, and Heitkamp justifies that decision by saying she doesn’t have enough time. Then she singles me out, specifically, for criticism by saying I’m too biased:

Heitkamp’s camp defended her accessibility by pointing to the number of meetings and public events she’s held, and the candidate herself said she simply doesn’t go on talk radio as much as Cramer.

“I don’t know how he has time for that,” she said. “I’ve got hearings to go to.”

Heitkamp also singled out Port for criticism.

“If I have any kind of concern, it really is not so much with radio, it’s with commentary that is completely biased being published every day in the largest newspapers in the state,” she said.

Port countered that Heitkamp’s strategy may be politically sound but “politicians shouldn’t get to play it safe.”

“Anytime you expose yourself more to the public, you probably give yourself more opportunities to either have your political enemies cherry-pick things or to say something that’s truly provocative or truly controversial that might earn you some blowback,” Port said.

I want to make it clear that Heitkamp doesn’t just have a problem with me, though certainly her political campaign likes to single me out.

Scott Hennen, another conservative talk host whose show is syndicated on stations across the state, told Hageman that he hasn’t been able to book Heitkamp for about two years now.

I haven’t been able to get a response from her office on anything for the entirety of her nearly six years in the Senate now.

Also, though he isn’t included in the article, conservative television host Chris Berg from Valley News Live can’t book Heitkamp for his show either.

The problem isn’t that I’m biased. The problem is that Heitkamp doesn’t seem to want to go on the shows of her critics at all.

The same week Hageman interviewed me for this article Congressman Kevin Cramer appeared on the Joel Heitkamp show. What is the Senator’s brother if not also biased?

What are all the left-of-center columnists in the newspaper if not also biased?

Heitkamp’s problem isn’t bias. Heitkamp’s problem is with engaging her critics.

As for her claim that she doesn’t have time for talk radio, I asked Congressman Kevin Cramer about it on my radio show today and he made a joke out of it. “Although they have the same annual salary they get paid twice as much per hour” compared to House members, he told me. His suggestion being that Senators get paid the same salary to do less work.

But there’s a quote from elsewhere in the article which puts lie to Heitkamp’s claim. This, from the second paragraph:

…in Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s first ad of the campaign season, her brother and talk radio host Joel Heitkamp, a fellow Democrat, described her sister as a “great senator.” During one of her frequent appearances on Joel’s show, she announced her bid for a second term in the U.S. Senate.

Heitkamp has plenty of time for “frequent appearances” on the shows of her brother and perhaps other liberal talkers. The people she doesn’t have time for are, again, her critics.