ND Newspapers Peddle “Paid Protester” Conspiracy About #NoDAPL Without Any Evidence

Agweek Publisher Katie Pinke

North Dakota newspaper chain Forum Communications continues to peddle the claim that “paid protesters” are fueling the opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline, without citing any evidence.

On Nov. 16, the Fargo Forum published a news story about an anonymous Craigslist ad that offered to pay people in cash to protest the pipeline by shutting down Fargo’s West Acres Mall. No protest ever materialized.

On Nov. 29, a member of Forum Communications management, Agweek Publisher Katie Pinke, wrote a column claiming that pipeline protesters are “are being paid,” without citing any evidence:

“I could have lived with a peaceful protest off private land. I’m passionate about encouraging people to find their voice. But out-of-state protesters who are being paid (and paid more when they’re arrested) for the cause? That’s going too far, and it needs to stop for all sides.”

We reached out to Pinke four days ago, asking her to provide evidence for her claims. She didn’t respond.

Today, The Forum published a long column by University of North Dakota student Austin Emineth, who claimed pipeline protesters are “well-paid.”

“Besides the fact that most of out-of-state protesters are well-paid to participate, they have not been all that successful in an effort to draw others into acts of aggression,” wrote Emineth, the president of UND College Republicans.

We reached out to Austin, asking him to provide some evidence, and we’ll update with any response.

Our research shows that Forum-owned newspapers have not published any news reports assessing the validity of the “paid protesters” claim. Instead, the company is letting the conspiracy run amok in its pages.

Thankfully, another news outlet is doing its job.

In a Nov. 24 story on recent pipeline protests, NBC News reported, “there is no evidence that the protesters were paid.”


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