Accuracy in Media

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a first-term governor, did not lock down her state as others with higher populations did. But the Associated Press blasted her actions for allegedly endangering the lives of South Dakotans.

The Associated Press headlined their critique, “‘A resume for future office’: Virus tests a GOP governor.” The article claimed Noem’s resistance to impose strict measures to prevent the coronavirus’s spread in South Dakota was due to her ambition for higher office. It noted how she installed a television studio in her office and asked for advice on how to raise her political profile. Yet the authors omitted important information and context surrounding Noem’s actions.

The article failed to mention how South Dakotans held a parade to praise her efforts to avoid an overreaction to the coronavirus pandemic. Nor did the Associated Press mention that the virus outbreak at a Smithfield pork-processing plant was in part due to the plant’s designation as an essential business. Instead, the news outlet criticized Noem for “not doing enough” to prevent the outbreak.

The Associated Press also neglected to note that South Dakota’s population density is much lower than coronavirus hot spots such as New York City. The South Dakotan’s low population density could have played a part in Noem’s decision to not impose strict measures, which was what the New York state government did.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

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