- Associated Press - Thursday, November 17, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Nov. 11, 2016

Marsy’s Law success up to all sides

North Dakota voters easily passed Measure 3, Marsy’s Law, last week. The measure adds more than a dozen crime victims’ rights to the state constitution.

Voters thought it was a good idea to guarantee the rights of crime victims. The Tribune editorial board along with many prosecutors, defense attorneys and other groups argued the measure wasn’t needed and would create difficulties when handling criminal cases. The people disagreed with that position as 62 percent supported the measure. The Tribune understands the vote. People don’t want to see crime victims ignored by the system and weren’t convinced present statutes provided enough protection.

Now opponents of the measure are warning it could take years of litigation to implement Marsy’s Law. They say it could delay bond hearings, make it difficult for prosecutors to get statements from victims and some prosecutors fear they will need more staff. It’s possible they could be right about those concerns. However, the focus needs to be on how to implement Marsy’s Law. The voters want the law so it becomes the responsibility of those involved to make it work. They need to sort through the difficulties and find solutions. Initiated measures can be wonderful tools for change, often when those in power don’t want to change the status quo.

Initiated measures allow the public to have a direct impact on how we govern. The initiative process, and the result of the process, needs to be respected. Everyone involved must look at ways to implement the measure as quickly as possible. It may not be easy as litigation is expected on several issues. Hopefully, questions can be resolved with as little conflict as possible.

The number of protests and rallies related to the Dakota Access Pipeline appear to be increasing. There have been gatherings to show support for law enforcement and groups organizing to counter the anti-pipeline protests. The pipeline opponents have elevated the protests, expanding them to Bismarck and Mandan. Some of the demonstrators’ tactics have become more aggressive. One thing hasn’t changed, there haven’t been any major injuries or deaths reported. It needs to stay that way.

As much as protesters may dislike law enforcement, they must realize the officers have tried to avoid excessive force. Despite the hundreds of arrests made, no one has been seriously hurt. Law enforcement responds to the protests, so it’s the responsibility of the demonstrators not to go too far.

There’s no place for firearms other than law enforcement. Non-protesters and protesters have been accused of brandishing weapons on occasion, this shouldn’t happen.

We respect the right to protest and understand the use of civil disobedience. It must, however, be done within safe limits. The protest has gained international notice without major injuries and that must not change.

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Williston Herald, Williston, Nov. 13, 2016

Cramer should rethink calls for media hearings

U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer is a well-liked politician with a reputation as being extremely accessible, which is why he easily won re-election on Tuesday.

His recent calls for Congressional hearings over bias in the national broadcast media, however, are political grandstanding at best or a chilling lack of respect for the First Amendment at worst. No matter which it is, and we believe him when he says he doesn’t want to chill freedom of the press, it’s wrongheaded.

The letter Cramer sent cited a few polls and a study by Harvard University that showed a shift in coverage of Donald Trump from positive to negative during the primary elections. He said these support his contention that national broadcast media has devolved into “surreptitious propaganda.”

Cramer is either misunderstanding the report or cherry-picking numbers.

For one thing, Hillary Clinton saw a shift in the same period, from primarily negative coverage to primarily positive and then back again. For another, the study explains the shift in tone.

“The unfavorable tone of Trump’s coverage owed to a shift in its content,” the authors wrote. “The primary victories that moved him ever closer to a delegate majority were a source of positive news. But victories in the absence of competitors are less newsworthy, opening up news time and space for other subjects. In the campaign’s final month, journalists increasingly probed Trump’s character and policy positions, framing them through the lens of Trump as a possible president rather than Trump as a striving candidate.”

A more recent study from Harvard found that the coverage of both Trump and Clinton to be primarily negative, with 51 percent of Clinton’s coverage negative and 75 percent of Trump’s negative.

A reasonable explanation for this is that both candidates were historically unpopular with large numbers of Americans.

Cramer is not wrong in his contention that national broadcasters have a responsibility to the public in light of their access to the airwaves - a resource owned by all Americans. And we’re relieved that he isn’t suggesting a return to the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine, which mandated equal time for opposing views on controversial subjects.

We think a conversation about bias in the media is worthwhile, but to call Congressional hearings to have that conversation smacks of politically motivated bullying. And to issue a letter calling for those hearings days before the election looks a lot more like an attempt to score political points by complaining about media bias than legitimate concern about the subject.

We have great respect for the work Cramer has done for North Dakota. He is a dedicated advocate for veterans and his work in Congress has undoubtedly made the state better.

He should focus his work on advancing an agenda that continues that work, rather than distracting public attention with hearings on media bias.

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Minot Daily News, Minot, Nov. 14, 2016

Garrison is a small town that thinks big

Garrison is about to host another Dickens Festival, an event that keeps getting bigger and better.

Now in its 23rd year, who would have thought back then that a town the size of Garrison could put on a festival that attracts people from all parts, and then have the determination to keep it up year after year, ever expanding?

Well, the fine folks of Garrison did.

We can imagine there has been at least some talk over the years of making “this” festival the last. But Garrison has hung in there, and its residents are to be both congratulated and admired for what they have done.

This year’s festival runs on three weekends - Nov. 25-27, Dec. 2-3 and Dec. 9-10 - with food, fun and Dickens-themed events going on every day.

Among the evening events planned, and longtime crowd favorites, are a lighted parade at 5:30 p.m. every night on Main Street and a live stage performance in the Kota Theater at 7:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. Each year’s production is different. This year’s play is “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol.”

For a complete schedule of events and other information visit dickensfestival.com.

The event has always been a wonderful way to welcome in the holiday season. Kind of a way to state, as Tiny Tim did, “A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us every one!”

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