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Jeff Kolpack, Published August 31 2012

After comment draws fire, KVLY host bows out of sideline reporting for Bison TV games

FARGO – Two weeks after he drew a connection between Adolf Hitler and a North Dakota House candidate, the sideline reporter for North Dakota State’s football telecasts took himself off the air before his first game.

The NDSU athletic department and Chris Berg said they reached a mutual decision, citing Berg’s role as a political commentator, and that he will not be at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome tonight when the Bison host Robert Morris University (Pa.). The game will be aired on the North Dakota NBC Network.

“It was probably the best move,” said Berg, a former quarterback for Stanford and Northern Iowa.

Asked for further comment and specifics, he said he would prefer his statement to be the final words on Friday.

It said: “As these discussions progressed, and as much as I would have loved being a part of Bison football, I realized that the freedom to speak openly and honestly about today’s issues, including higher education in North Dakota, is more important to me than sideline reporting. In the long run, I feel it is a better way to serve the people of North Dakota.”

Berg was part of a meeting late Friday afternoon that included Valley News Live president and general manager Jim Wareham, station operations manager Sean Kelly, NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor and university President Dean Bresciani. Taylor said the Berg discussion lasted about five minutes. Berg called the discussions “cordial.”

“He felt he really wanted to focus on the political side and realized the two were not going to mix, and we were good with that,” Taylor said.

Berg came under fire after a comment he made last month on the “Chris Berg Show” that airs on the Valley News website. He started his Aug. 16 show by holding up a book titled, “How Do You Kill 11 Million People? Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think.”

“I want to read an excerpt out of this book to you today and share with you how it translates to somebody who is running for office here in the great state of North Dakota,” Berg says to begin the segment, titled “Is Pam Gulleson telling the truth?”

Berg then reads a line from book author Andy Andrews in reference to Adolph Hitler’s Big Lie theory: “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think. Make the lie big. Make it simple. Just keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

Berg compared those statements to a news release sent out by Gulleson, a Democrat, touting the longterm viability of Social Security, which some analysts insist will be bankrupt in 20 years.

He later apologized.

Taylor said the comments were not brought up in the Friday meeting.

Speaking last week about the review of Berg’s role, Jeremy Jorgenson, NDSU’s director of broadcasting, said this: “What was said has made us re-evaluate the situation.”

KVLY-TV weekend anchor Jamal Spencer will do the sideline reports in addition to his duties of hosting a pregame show. The crew of play-by-play voice Brian Shawn and color analysts Kevin Feeney and Lee Timmerman is scheduled to do six games.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

Kolpack is the host of the WDAY Golf Show Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. on 970-AM.