Recently, Port was able to get on a reporter conference call with North Dakota's only House Member, Democrat Earl Pomeroy.
... It did not go well.
First, it's important to note that North Dakota is a "red" state, and that Earl Pomeroy prevously said he was opposed to any bill which would increase the deficit. ... It's also important to note that, though the recently-dropped House bill does increase the deficit, Earl Pomeroy is now siding with Nancy Pelosi's bill.
In short, Pomeroy has flip-flopped on health care. And Port was hoping that someone -- anyone -- would challenge him on the notion that the public option would "increase competition".
As Port describes the call, Pomeroy,
gave a speech lasting a few minutes about his decision to support this health care bill, then was followed up with a speech from an Obama administration member in favor of the bill as well. Then he opened it up for questions. The first one came from the KFYR reporter, asking about how the government would negotiate “public option” rates with private insurers. Then Pomeroy asked for another question. There was a few seconds pause, so I decided to jump in.Port's question illustrates the importance of the blogosphere -- especially in parts of the country where the Fourth Estate is either too lazy -- or too co-opted -- to represent the public's interest.
And the Congressman was not at all pleased that I did. Here’s an audio recording of the exchange. I’m still working on the full audio copy of the entire call, but in this you can hear my question and the Congressman’s irate response at a member of thealternative media daring to question him:
The Congressman twice accused me of being an “arm of the North Dakota Republican party,” which comes as a bit of a surprise to me as I think I’m actually quite critical of North Dakota Republicans. I am perhaps Republican Governor John Hoeven’s biggest critic in the state. But I’ll admit that I am, certainly, a conservative political commentator.
As Port lamented,
What surprised me about the call almost as much as Pomeroys aggressive, agitated reaction to my question was how few questions the other reporters on the call asked. Aside from my question, there were only two other questions asked. Apparently the reporters on the call were satisfied with just taking down what Pomeroy told them.Having lived in North Dakota (and, in fact, worked on a prior race against Mr. Pomeroy), I can tell you that -- with a couple of notable exceptions -- the North Dakota press are not really excited about breaking any hard news stories. Simply put, there are no Woodward and Bernstein's there. Deep Throat would have had to have left the state to get any attention.
Thank goodness technology and New Media are now providing additional checks and balances to hold our elected officials accountable.