Kristi Noem’s Book Has a New, Non-Dog-Killing Scandal

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

This is Totally Normal Quote of the Day, a feature highlighting a statement from the news that exemplifies just how extremely normal everything has become.

“I’ve met with many, many world leaders; I’ve traveled around the world. I should not have put that anecdote in the book, and at my request, they have removed it.” —South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, speaking about an anecdote in her book describing a meeting with Kim Jong-un

Cricket who? The news of Noem shooting her 14-month-old dog in a gravel pit is old hat. Instead, the book prerelease scandal catching more attention over the past few days has been Noem’s anecdote about meeting with the North Korean dictator.

“I remember when I met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un,” Noem writes in her book about her time on the House Armed Services Committee. “I’m sure he underestimated me, having no clue about my experience staring down little tyrants (I’d been a children’s pastor, after all). Dealing with foreign leaders takes resolve, preparation, and determination.”

The issue with this anecdote is that the meeting doesn’t appear to have happened. Kim never had an opportunity to estimate her one way or another. Those born yesterday will be shocked to learn that Noem’s compendium of veepstakes-timed fluff was written by a ghostwriter, on whom Noem’s spokesperson Ian Fury initially laid part of the blame.

“It was brought to our attention that the upcoming book No Going Back has two small errors … This has been communicated to the ghostwriter and editor. Kim Jong-un was included in a list of world leaders and shouldn’t have been,” Fury said.

He shouldn’t have been included because … the meeting did not happen? Yes/no? Strangely, Noem, across a series of interviews, refuses to answer this question. One axle of the bus has already passed over the ghostwriter; why not finish the job? She could just say that she and the ghostwriter got lost in [crosstalk], and that she was really referring to meeting the dictator Barack Obama, for example. Instead, she repeats versions of the pablum highlighted at the top.

Here is the relevant vignette from CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, in conversation with host Margaret Brennan.

Brennan: Did you meet Kim Jong-un?

 

Noem: Well, you know, as soon as this was brought to my attention, I certainly made some changes and looked at this—this passage.

 

And I have met with many, many world leaders. I have traveled around the world. As soon as it was brought to my attention, we went forward and have made some edits. So I’m glad that this book is being released in a couple of days, and that those edits will be in place, and that people will—will have the updated version.


Brennan: So you did not meet with Kim Jong-un? That’s what you’re saying.

 

Noem: No, I have met with many, many world leaders, many world leaders. I have traveled around the world, I think I have talked extensively in this book about my time serving in Congress, my time as governor, before governor, some of the travels that I have had.

I’m not going to talk about my specific meetings with world leaders, I’m just not going to do that. This anecdote shouldn’t have been in the book. And as soon as it was brought to my attention, I made sure that that was adjusted.

Noem posted on social media afterward that Brennan had interrupted her too much during their interview. She then went on another CBS morning news show on Monday, where this same repetition of “many, many world leaders” occurred a couple more times, for good measure.

To avoid answering the question straightforwardly, Noem is attempting to put on airs of that’s classified or this is a national security matter without quite saying so, because that would be absurd. In her interview with Brennan, she does confirm that she visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone and that there are “specifics I’m willing to share.” On the other hand, she says, “there’s some specifics I’m not willing to share with you.” She’s spinning the “error” her spokesperson had conceded, then, into something different. It’s not that she didn’t meet Kim Jong-un at all, but that access to that information, one way or another, was always above the readers’ pay grade.

This is silly!

As for other developments on the Kristi Noem Book front …

• Dogs: Kristi Noem wants Joe Biden’s dog Commander dead, too. (Slate nervously tugs its collar.) “What would I do if I was president on the first day in office in 2025?” Noem reportedly writes in her book. “Thanks for asking. I happen to have a list. The first thing I’d do is make sure Joe Biden’s dog was nowhere on the grounds (‘Commander, say hello to Cricket for me’).” Rooting for dogs to join each other in hell—could this book be good?

• Manny Macron: Noem says she canceled a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron last year after he said something “very pro-Hamas.” Macron’s office says that they never had a direct meeting scheduled, but that there’s a chance they were supposed to bump into each other somewhere. Or maybe the meeting was classified!

• Nikki Haley: Another episode involves a conversation Noem had with Nikki Haley (BOO!) in 2021. Noem argues that Haley threatened her in a phone call. Noem recalls Haley telling her twice in that phone call that “I’ve heard many good things about you. But when I do hear bad things, I will make sure that you know.” I don’t understand either what Haley was saying here, or why Noem was threatened by it. The main thing to keep in mind is that Haley became a MAGA villain during the production of this book, so it was important to throw in some sort of dig at her.

The upshot of all of this is that Kristi Noem is not going to be your next vice president—and hasn’t really been a contender since before this funny book saga, anyway.