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Rolling Stone Magazine covers Governor Noem, COVID Response

The article criticizes a number of decisions made by Governor Kristi Noem throughout the duration of her political career.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)...
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.((AP Photo/John Raoux))
Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 9:50 PM MDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s office is pushing back against Rolling Stone magazine.

Noem, and her response to the coronavirus pandemic, garnered a roughly 7500 word article in the publication Tuesday.

The author, Stephen Rodrick, says he thought of the idea for the story in part because his appreciation for traveling to the Rushmore State.

“I am a bit of an itinerant traveler,” Rodrick said. “(And) With my dog, I have traveled across the country four or five times, and always make a stop in Rapid City or the Black Hills. I have a real affection for the state.”

That passion triggered Rodrick’s decision to profile Noem, and in large part, her response to the COVID pandemic.

“I had heard of Governor Noem (before), and over the summer, there was all the talk about the President coming out to Rushmore,” Rodrick said. “I saw one of the travel commercials and I thought that was an incredibly interesting thing to do.”

In his article, Rodrick chronicles his travels across the state during the peak of the pandemic, and speaks to many of the people effected by it. This includes a range of people from doctors in Yankton, to Native American activists in Rapid City. Rodrick also uses quotes from Democratic State Senators Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls) and Troy Heinert (D-Mission).

The article also discusses at length Noem’s possible future political plans.

“It seems to be clear that Governor Noem has at least an opportunity, I don’t know if it is a long shot or a short shot,” says Michael Card, political science professor at the University of South Dakota. “At a Vice Presidential or Presidential position.”

While Noem continues to say she has no interest in national politics, Rodrick argues her approach to the pandemic will only to continue to boost her profile with the Republican Party.

“My takeaway is, and this is nothing she would ever admit, at some point she did a political calculation. Keeping the economy strong and keeping businesses open was worth the death rate being higher than it had to be.”

As for the popularity of Noem and her COVID response in the state, Card argues that national coverage like this article doesn’t necessarily move the needle.

According to AllSides.com, The Rolling Stone is considered a “left,” or liberal, publication.

“In South Dakota, I think this piece isn’t going to be read by a lot of people other than those who send a copy to each other,” says Card. “I think to a large extent, this piece is not going to make much of a difference. The demographics of those who read Rolling Stone magazine do not match up well with the demographics of South Dakota.

The Governor’s office responded to the wide-ranging article with a ten paragraph response of their own from outgoing Senior Policy Director Maggie Seidel. In it, Seidel challenged claims that the Sturgis motorcycle rally was directly linked to rising COVID cases in South Dakota and across the country, and alleges sexism against Noem on the part of Rodrick.