Governor’s Senior Advisor & Policy Director calls out Argus Leader for it’s double standards and biased attacks, calling it “A new low in journalism”

Just a few moments ago, in a message to media across the state, Governor Kristi Noem’s Senior Advisor & Policy Director Maggie Seidel called out the Argus Leader for holding the Governor “to a different standard than they’d hold themselves,” and for yet another in a series of hit pieces in the form of an editorial that they posted to their website today.

If you want to read the entirety of Seidel’s criticism of the Argus:

Folks – We’ve reached a new low in journalism in South Dakota today…

Yesterday, we provided the two largest papers in the state – Rapid City Journal and Argus Leader (a USA Today paper) – the opportunity to exclusively publish an op-ed updating South Dakotans on the state’s COVID-19 situation.

Both agreed. Both also asked for some additional sourcing. Fine, no problem – we added it.

Rapid City Journal published – it’s now the #1 trending story on their site.

Argus’ editors had additional demands, including one that still has me dumbfounded: “And we won’t print anonymous messages she says she received. If those people want to use their names, we can add.”

That refers to this section of the piece:

Recently, a South Dakota doctor wrote me, thanking me “for treating your fellow citizens of South Dakota like adults…” I tell you this because there are also some South Dakota medical professionals who have written to tell me of their fears about voicing their thoughts on the situation.

One family doctor sent me this message: “I feel like I am unable to have an opinion about masking because I am employed. I think your approach has good science and is being suppressed or ignored by many… I think we are all worried if we disagree openly our license or job could be at risk.”

That’s concerning to me, because in America, everyone is free to have and express an opinion about matters of public importance. Some in our culture today have gotten into the habit of shutting down viewpoints they don’t agree with, sometimes ruining lives and careers. This is a serious mistake, deadly to public dialogue and, more importantly, public trust – especially when situations like the one we’re in are changing almost daily.

We asked why they’d hold us to a different standard than they’d hold themselves to (examples here and here, among many others…). The editor said it was because he knows the sources. I said, what about this AP story, which we explicitly, on the record, denied.  He said AP has a good process. I offered to show the editor the messages, but with the names blacked out. He refused.

Reluctantly, we paraphrased the quotes to say:

Recently, a South Dakota doctor wrote me, thanking me for treating South Dakotans like adults. I tell you this because there are also some South Dakota medical professionals who have written to tell me of their fears about voicing their thoughts on the situation.

One family doctor recently messaged me to express fear about having an opinion on masking, saying that if doctors disagree openly their licenses or jobs could be at risk. This isn’t a hypothetical situation; it’s happening in Minnesota.

Then, with an updated op-ed in hand, the Argus editors went silent. That is until they published yet another (I’ve lost track of how many we’ve gotten at this point…) hit piece attacking Governor Noem’s leadership today.

Shortly after that piece went live, we got this note from them:

We’ve decided to pass on the op-ed that Gov. Noem submitted. Normally we are open to guest columns on major issues that present opposing perspectives…

In this case, however, we want to be sure that we’re providing reliable information (backed by CDC guidelines) to our readers during a public health crisis, especially with South Dakota among the states hardest hit. In the realm of science and pandemic response, “both sides” doesn’t always apply.

This leaves several questions for the people of South Dakota to ponder:

  1. Why don’t the Argus Leader editors want you to be informed about all the information out there, including the CDC – which Governor Noem explicitly referenced in her op-ed?
  2. Do the editors have so little respect for their readers that they feel comfortable telling them what to believe instead of presenting all sides of a story so readers can make their own conclusions?
  3. Is it fair that the Argus’ editors continue to bash Governor Noem without giving her the opportunity to share her thinking on the issue?
  4. Why can editors use anonymity to protect sources from retribution, but no one else can?
  5. How can a paper’s editors claim to love free speech, when they refuse to publish information that they don’t agree with?
  6. Why should readers trust the reporting of a news outlet whose editors claim objectivity while uncritically publishing transparently one-sided, partisan editorials?

In short, the state’s highest elected official wanted to share an update on the COVID-19 situation with the people of South Dakota, but the editors of our largest paper don’t want you to see it.  Be sure to read it anyway.

Remember folks, democracy dies in darkness.


Maggie Seidel
Senior Advisor & Policy Director
Office of Governor Kristi Noem

Uncritically publishing transparently one-sided, partisan editorials” Ouch. But it might not sting so badly if it wasn’t something we’re used to seeing.

30 thoughts on “Governor’s Senior Advisor & Policy Director calls out Argus Leader for it’s double standards and biased attacks, calling it “A new low in journalism””

  1. Clearly, the governor made a mistake right at the beginning of this article. She refers to the Argus as journalists. They haven’t been journalists for a long, long time now. They’re just another sad leech to the South Dakota Democratic Party.

  2. Aren’t we still in a “pandemic” under a state of emergency? Yet the Argus Leaders is hindering the Governor of the State of South Dakota from sharing valuable information with citizens of the state regarding a “deadly” virus?

    Hmmm, that doesn’t seem right. Are there legal ramifications for doing that?

    Perhaps it’s time for a citizen Argus Leader boycott.

  3. Should be free speech, or writings, on all topics even if one doesn’t agree with what is stated. Let the readership decide. Who knows when ones own thoughts may be wrong.

  4. Do they still have those bumper stickers that say “Tank the Argus” that used to get handed out with the “Dump Daschle” stickers?

  5. Other than Zimmer, obituaries, and occasional articles by a couple of others, hard to keep getting Argus when they run front page illiterate columns by Stu Whitney that are intellectually weak (and that’s a compliment). Stu’s columns hearken me back to the words of Fr Mardian when we’d screw up as alter boys at St Ottos : “If brains were dynamite, you wouldn’t have enough to blow your nose.”

    1. Are these really the depths to which the Republican Party has sunk in the Age of Trump? Mocking employees of the Bogus Misleader because of their mental disabilities?

  6. I agree the media should present multiple sides and print different perspectives but does the Governors office have to be so petty? Whether it’s Angela Kennecke or the Argus Leader, most South Dakotans know where these media outlets stand, why add fuel to their fire? They hate Kristi Noem, most South Dakotans know that by now, her press team would serve her better by creating positive relationships elsewhere than continue to beat this dead horse.

    1. Maybe it seems petty but maybe they are just finally kicking back at the media’s bias. Our media isn’t use to anyone pushing back on them. The press loves transparency and accountability, unless it is applied to them.

  7. So they don’t print unattributed quotes and Noem’s office is upset over that? Is her office aware that this has been a standard of theirs for some time? Noem doesn’t get special treatment.

    1. 100% agree with this. If you’re going to cite a healthcare provider – provide their names and credentials. For all we know, these could be GI specialists or OBGYNs claiming to be experts. Give the story credibility or show that it doesn’t pass muster.

  8. I don’t see the benefit to this fight. It won’t help her in any form. Disagree and move on. We are near the end of the trump experiment. OANN is not the future. Fighting the lightweights at the Argus and kelo makes you look small.

  9. “never pick a fight with an outfit that buys ink by the barrell”. Print media, especially the Argus, buys it by the thimble these days. Move on.

      1. I literally laughed out loud. Devoting 20 percent of the paper to Noem might cause their last three anti-Christian socialist subscribers to cancel, leaving Lee Schoenbeck as the only remaining reader.

  10. The primary intellectual and moral undergirding of the principle of a free press and free speech is a trust in the ability of the body politic to discern the truth and the issues the face of conflicting information, perspectives, and voices.

    The Argus Leader is taking action which indicates they do not respect the body politic’s ability to discern the truth and issues OR they recognize (consciously or subconsciously) their views can not stand the scrutiny of conflicting information, perspectives, and voices and they prefer being propagandists as opposed to journalists.

    In other words, the Argus Leader has assumed the role of censor, the anathema of the principles of a free press and free speech.

    BTW, if anyone is wondering who is keeping the Argus Leader in business, the following are the advertisers in today’s paper:

    South Dakota Symphony Orchestra
    On Sight Video Surveillance
    BCI Bath & Shower
    Stanford Hearing Aids
    ADT Home Security
    Riverside Resort
    SafeStep Walk-in Tub
    ABC Seamless
    And a quarter page of Classifieds

    It’s clear by their advertising, they are irrelevant.

    1. Hit send before I’d added this in the last sentence “as it is similar to the advertising at 3 a.m. on the cable channel “Cloo.” Yes, I know have never heard of “Cloo” as its irrelevant.

  11. I think more importantly is why is she pushing a story from a family doctor about what you could only conclude is against masking? I would want a source on that also because that is kook science.
    Is she trying to argue masking isn’t effective?
    What is so controversial about encouraging mask wearing? We are not talking about a law, just use that SD common sense!

    1. If masks worked, then states that have mandated face coverings would see their CV19 numbers go down. That hasn’t been the case. Same is true in Europe. But… science!

      1. I recently read a science book with my children…

        Bacteria love dark, damp places. They feast on dead skin cells and oils from your skin. When they grow big enough, they split in half to produce even more bacteria.

        I can only imagine the amount of bacteria growing within a mask while wearing it for 7-8 hours a day.

        1. My father was a small-town doc in Nebraska. He’d be appalled at the current wisdom on mask-wearing and lockdowns. Viruses have been around for a billion years. Our only defense is building immunity, but instead we’ve focused efforts on “stopping the spread.” Such efforts are futile and merely delay the inevitable — that a certain number of the population will get sick, and yes, some will die. No one likes that, but it’s always been thus.

          1. Did your small town doc father specialize in epidemiology? Not all MD’s are equal when it comes to giving an opinion on infectious diseases or modern best practices. Herd immunity will not be achieved until a vaccine is administered, attempting to do so without a vaccine would potentially lead to 1-2 million deaths in the US. Wear a mask like an adult and mitigate the risk of spread by practicing social distance measures. It is the responsible thing to do and not doing so is just selfish.

        2. And people get sick from vaccines so will you make the same argument against a Covid vaccine when it becomes available? We have amongst the highest infection rates in the country and the lowest testing rate. Do you seriously want to make the argument that our lassiez-faire attitude is getting us a similar outcome to states that are pushing masking?
          Health care professionals wear masks all day for months on end with no ill-effects and you want to trot out some kids science book about bacteria as a reason to not where a mask?
          If indeed the Governor believes masking is not helpful and perhaps even harmful then have the courage to say so and we can have the debate.

          1. The debate is being had, however, the doctors and scientists who show evidence masks may not be helpful are being censored. You’re familiar with what Sweden’s Senior Epidemiologist said about masking? What did Fauci say?

            Here’s an article that includes several studies explaining why masks don’t work and the negative effects they have on health care workers:
            Masks Don’t Work: A Review of Science Relevant to COVID-19 Social Policy. By Denis G. Rancourt, PhD.

            Then if we do force masking, which masks work to stop the spread? Should we be touching them like we see so many people do?

            1. All I know is what I see and that is my local healthcare providers wear masks everyday and they have dealt with many positive cases yet they have remained healthy. Has God graced them all with superhuman immune systems or is it perhaps they wear masks?
              I can produce a forrest to your reem but let me ask you this. What does anyone have to gain by censoring articles about mask wearing? Are there conspiracy theories out there that say by putting on a mask that the government can control your mind? Even Trump says we should be wearing masks and our Governor can’t say it.

  12. @2:32 – But.. many health care providers who wear masks still catch the virus. Students are told to wear a mask, they too are testing positive. Of course they don’t have superhuman immune systems. Maybe they’ve remained healthy bc the virus isn’t as dangerous as we’re being told.

    There’s a situation in Michigan where the health dept. is investigating after more than a dozen cases of strep throat were reported within Shepherd Public Schools despite Covid19 protocols. Can you understand, just a little bit, as to why some ppl may think it’s not such a good idea to wear a mask? What happens if a young student sneezes or coughs in their mask? Would you still expect them to wear it?

    There is so much conflicting info about masking. Whether you want to wear a mask or not, it should be decided by each individual. I and many others support Governor Noem’s handling of masking. I would like to hear more encouragement for eating healthy and exercising. If you are obese and catch the virus you may find yourself in a serious health situation.

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