Plain Talk With Rob Port

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by blogger and columnist Rob Port focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Host Rob Port writes, North Dakota’s most popular and influential political blog.

All Episodes

261: Are concerns about critical race theory valid?

Loading the player...

Is critical race theory an attempt to take over our education system and indoctrinate students with left-wing orthodoxies about race and culture? Or is it controversy ginned up as a "lucrative side hustle" by various pundits and activists, as Nick Archuleta argues in a recent column?

Archuleta, the president of North Dakota United, which represents teachers and public workers, joins this episode of Plain Talk Live to discuss. The audio of every episode of Plain Talk Live is available on the Plain Talk podcast, which you can find through your favorite podcasting service.

See more

260: Rep. Armstrong on Jan. 6 commission

Loading the player...

Congressman Kelly Armstrong, a Republican from North Dakota, was all set to serve on the high-profile House commission aimed at investigating the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Then, suddenly, he wasn't. Armstrong joins this episode of Plain Talk Live to talk about the politics in selecting who sits on that commission, and the work the commission has done so far. Also, Armstrong has recently introduced a bill that will be part of a package of legislation aimed at accountability for the tech industry, and he'll talk about why that initiative is important.

See more

259: Former Gov. Ed Schafer on North Dakota term limits proposal

Loading the player...

Does North Dakota need term limits? A ballot measure currently being circulated would implement limits for the Governor, and the Legislature, but no other statewide elected offices. Is it a good idea? Former Governor Ed Schafer says he's come around to the idea of term limits after previously opposing them. He joins this episode of Plain Talk Live to discuss.

See more

248: Should we be scorning the unvaxxed?

Loading the player...

"We are not supposed to insult these people for their decision to not get vaccinated. We are supposed to understand their position," columnist Mike McFeely writes. "But should we be empathetic toward those with no good reason for not getting vaxxed?"

"Most are supporters of Donald Trump and to call their decision-making deplorable is worse than insulting their grandmother," he continued in a recent column, choosing to see the vaccination debate through a partisan political lens.

Is this fair?

There's evidence to suggest that vaccine hesitancy is far less political than commentators like McFreely would like to believe.

"In Chicago, 43 percent of residents are not vaccinated. Trump carried 24 percent of the vote in Cook County," he continues. "In Multnomah County, which includes Portland, Ore., just under 63 percent have at least one dose, meaning that 37 percent are unvaccinated. Trump won under 18 percent in that county in 2020. Detroit has vaccinated just under 40 percent of its residents; Trump carried 5 percent of the vote in that city."

Even if every single Trump voter opted against the vaccine, which certainly isn't the case, we'd still be left with a lot of people who voted for Joe Biden and are, so far, refusing to get the vaccine.

Many in the news media have worked very hard to shoehorn the vaccine issue into a political narrative.

The New York Times, as one example, published a statistical analysis in April which seems to show that vaccine hesitancy is generally higher in Trump-voting areas, and that the rate of vaccination is generally lower there.

All of those states went to Joe Biden in 2020.

Perhaps a political narrative isn't appropriate for the vaccination debate?

Perhaps the efforts to frame the issue as another front in partisan politics does more harm than good?

If the answer to that last question is "yes" it's a particularly egregious sin for members of the news media who claim to value vaccination.

Jay Thomas, host of the Jay Thomas Show on WDAY AM970, joins this episode of Plain Talk Live to discuss.

See more

247: Another front in the NDGOP's civil war

Loading the player...

There are some deep fractures in the North Dakota Republican Party. A faction of the party, loosely affiliated under the banner of the Legislature's supposedly conservative Bastiat Caucus, is attempting to recall Governor Doug Burgum. They're pushing a constitutional ballot measure to implement term limits. They attempted to take over leadership of the North Dakota Republican Party this spring. Now they're attempting a recall of Rep. Dwight Kiefert, a Republican who has represented District 24 since 2013. On this episode of Plain Talk, Kiefert will address the recall campaign and speaks to what he sees as its motivations.

See more

About the Podcast

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by blogger and columnist Rob Port focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Host Rob Port writes, North Dakota’s most popular and influential political blog, and is a columnist for the Forum News Service published in papers including the Fargo Forum, Grand Forks Herald, Jamestown Sun, Minot Daily News, and the Dickinson Press.

Hosted by

Picture of Rob Port

Rob Port, founder of, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator.