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Bismarck Tribune Editor Admits To Censorship At Paper PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   
Friday, 18 October 2013 05:03

TribRemember when the Bismarck Tribune's most-recent editor resigned from his job at the Tribune and wrote a fairly vicious attack on a certain blogger -- yours truly -- suggesting the blogger had engaged in "personal character assassination attempts" against him because the blogger suggested his musings at the Tribune were biased?

Yeah, probably not. You probably don't remember. So I'll give it to you again.  It's still online. Here's an excerpt (and I'll put a link to the whole thing after the excerpt):

A Bismarck blogger asked, after the announcement of my retirement, if I would talk with him, on the record. He said he was working on a story about the rumors of why so many people were leaving the Tribune. His request seemed to drip conspiracy theory and nefarious deeds. While any such theory is incorrect, his request came days after writing this:

"If John Irby at the Bismarck Teabune or Jack Zaleski at the Fargo For'em had any integrity at all - any - they'd tell the truth about their newspapers and the slanted ‘news' they publish, and then resign (or be fired) too."

Those might have been some of the kindest words he's ever written about me or my employer.

Here's a funny question about that blogger - do you think he believes he has no agenda or political bias? Can he seriously think he has been objective and factual in his posts?

His slant is, in fact, excessive.

I responded to his inquiry by suggesting I might talk with him after my last day on the job. Then again, I might not. What are the odds?

Seriously, in my retirement, I wish him the best and I hope he takes me out of his mixed bag of media and personal character assassination attempts.

Bismarck Tribune 

Well... he never did take me up on my request for an interview.  I never really expected him to agree to being interviewed. That's fine. (I wrote THIS PIECE about his closing salvo at the time.) 

But I like to say "North Dakota is a small town."  Others say it's "a small town with really long streets."  Irby and I have mutual friends. One of our mutual friends is, apparently, Jim Fuglie.  Jim, as you know, writes great stuff for his blog -- "The Prairie Blog" -- and has given me permission to cross post his blog posts.  Wednesday you saw Jim's most recent blog post.  Irby did too and commented on Jim's Facebook wall in response to the post. Here's what he wrote:

John Irby OK Jim, so what do "we" do to make it stop? It's great to write about it but does that alone make a difference? I tried to write about this kind of stuff when I was editor of the Tribune but got censored (one of the reasons I left). But what now? How about we form a task force of concerned citizens and meet in public and talk about possible solutions. I'm serious. Isn't there something "we" can do now that could make an impact and stop the runaway locomotive?

Facebook.com (emphasis added)

Here it is.


Okay, so this is really embarassing and horrible, but I saw what Irby wrote Wednesday and really thought nothing of it. Why?!?  Because every unbiased, intelligent observer knows there's horrible, irresponsible pro-oil and pro-Republican censorship in the Tribune of news stories critical of oil development and Republicans. I feel bad that I didn't think this confession was a big deal when I first read it. Then, for some reason, it came across my FB newsfeed again yesterday. I re-read that sentence: "I tried to write about this kind of stuff when I was editor of the Tribune but got censored (one of the reasons I left)."  

Wait, what?!?  One of the reasons Irby left the Tribune was that his writing was censored?!?  

That doesn't make any sense.  In his "Good Bye Cruel World" (GBCW) farewell piece, above, Irby specifically told us "the real truth" about why he left the Bismarck Tribune. He even used the words "the real truth."  The "real truth" about why he left was that he was tired of the criticism about bias he suffered through from a mean blogger. He was tired of always getting criticism from Tribune readers who accused him and the Tribune of bias. He gave numerous examples of those vicious, unfair attacks.

Sure, you could pick through his farewell piece and argue that when he talks about "institutional concerns" he supported and agreed with them, and that those were about him being censored.  But if you look at the context of that "real truth," for example, you'll see he's talking about the Tribune's censorship policy as it related to vulgar, obscene, lewd, etc., comments below stories (something I think the Tribune has discontinued entirely, now.) When he talks about being a "whipping boy" to "one and all," he's obviously not talking about being censored; the context of the whole piece is that meanies like that one evil blogger are accusing him of showing bias.

Well... now he admits the evil blogger was right. Now he admits all the readers' observations about bias were true. And that, my friends, is kind of a big deal. Now, he all but admits that my conspiracy-dripping inquiry was pretty much spot-on. Now that he's off the Tribune's payroll. How courageous!

I spoke to a Lions Club luncheon about blogging earlier this week. It was kind of fun. (I even put together a PowerPoint presentation for it.) When I told the group I had been contacted on multiple occasions during my blogging "career" by mainstream media journalists who asked me if I would please cover a big story because they couldn't, the Lions' reaction was both visible and audible. I think there were people in the room who had no idea this goes on. But it does. And it's something I wish more people understood.

And Irby still hasn't called to do that interview. 

And I'm still not holding my breath.

Comments (6)add comment

nimrodent's doppelganger said:

Sheldon says "Bazinga!"
I remember.
October 18, 2013
Votes: +1

toma said:

Love your re-name of The Bismarck "Teabune". Says it all. They certainly deserve the ridicule.
October 20, 2013
Votes: +2

mikeW said:

Seems funny
I love how the Republicans say that the Tribune and Forum are SUPER liberal and the Democrats say that the same are Oil-funded Republican speaking papers.

I'm starting to wonder if you are all just full of it. It is impossible to write any article unbiased. If it were possible none of our officials would ever be elected. Democrat or Republican.
October 23, 2013
Votes: -2

m_gilbertson said:

John Irby once accused me of being racist towards Native Americans because of a comment I made at a Park Board meeting and that he was going to write and editorial exposing me. Funny thing is when I explained to him that my wife is an enrolled tribal member he backed off.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +2

Bill Garr said:

John Irby?
John Irby made Liberals lives miserable while he was at the Bismarck Tribune. The CONS and TeaTards got away with murder on the on line edition. He allowed any and every anti Obama letter to editor to be printed. There was no reasoning with him. I'm shocked to see what I'm reading.

John Irby?.....Really?
October 24, 2013 | url
Votes: +1

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