Kristi Noem blames ‘fake news’ for outrage over her killing her dog Cricket

South Dakota governor is thought to be losing favour in Trumpworld over dog-killing story

John Bowden
Washington DC
Friday 03 May 2024 07:14 BST
Kristi Noem says dog 'massacred' livestock before being put down

South Dakota Gov Kristi Noem has blamed the “fake news” media for stirring up controversy over the killing of her young dog, which she detailed in her new memoir.

Ms Noem, who has been touted as a potential Donald Trump running mate in November, made yet another attempt to explain her putting down of 14-month-old “working dog” Cricket during an appearance on Fox News.

In the book, No Going Back, she writes that she killed the young animal after a pair of incidents in a single day wherein the dog ruined a pheasant hunt by eagerly chasing the birds, then “massacred” a neighbour’s chickens, killing several.

She tried further damage control during an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday when she tried to blame the media for the attention the incident was receiving.

“Well, Sean, you know how the fake news works. They leave out some or most of the facts of a story, they put the worst spin on it. And that’s what’s happened in this case,” Ms Noem told Hannity.

“I hope people really do buy this book and they find out the truth of the story because the truth of the story is that this was a working dog and it was not a puppy. It was a dog that was extremely dangerous.”

The governor went on to explain that her family had been the dog’s “second chance” after it had been rehomed once before due to aggression.

She also noted: “Virtually every state has a law in place that says the animals that attack and kill livestock can be put down in situations like this.”

Kristi Noem greets Donald Trump at his rally in South Dakota in September 2023
Kristi Noem greets Donald Trump at his rally in South Dakota in September 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The host, Sean Hannity, came to the governor’s defence and even seemed to suggest that President Joe Biden should have his dog Commander put down in a similar manner after a series of biting incidents.

Ms Noem has spent the past week in damage control mode over the dog-killing story; she has been pilloried by political commentators, Democrats, anti-Trump Republicans and more as many speculate the anecdote has ruined her once-serious chances of becoming Donald Trump’s running mate.

“I didn’t eat my dog. I didn’t shoot my dog. I loved my dog, and my dog loved me,” Senator Mitt Romney joked to HuffPost this week. His presidential ambitions were flattened in part thanks to a story popularised by the Obama campaign in 2012 about how he had put his family’s dog in a crate tied to the roof of his car.

Adding to the criticism that Ms Noem has faced, a facet of the discussion she did not address during her Hannity interview on Wednesday, is the emotional language which she used to describe the dog in her book: “I hated that dog ... less than worthless … as a hunting dog”.

There’s also the problem of the goat. In the same anecdote, Ms Noem described how she decided to put down one of her family’s goats at the same moment — apparently due to the goat’s poor temper. In that vein, she describes how she killed the goat with two shotgun blasts separated by a walk back to her car for more shells, an apparent admission that the animal suffered only an agonising wound from the first round.

“The reason it’s in the book is because this book is filled with tough, challenging decisions I’ve had to make throughout my life,” she argued on Hannity. “The point of this story is most politicians, they will run from the truth, they will shy away and hide from making tough decisions. I don’t do either of those.”

But as governor of a deeply conservative state, and now dropping down the list of potential Trump VP nominees, Ms Noem may never get a chance to do battle with a real ideological opponent on the national stage.

Term-limited, she won re-election to a six-year term in 2022 with more than 60 per cent of the vote. Ms Noem previously made headlines in April after she staked out a far-right stance on abortion rights and came out in opposition to exceptions for rape or incest in statewide abortion bans.

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