Press "Enter" to skip to content

Tapio Shouts “Libel” at Ferguson for Factual Reporting

Senator Neal Tapio has yet to introduce any legislation this Session. But he continues to yell about enemies of the state. In addition to saying that South Dakota Lutherans and Catholic nuns are waging war on America and God, Tapio now joins the Trumpist war on honest journalism by threatening reporter Dana Ferguson with a libel charge:

In a news article last week, Dana Fergussen, political reporter for the Argus Leader, characterized my attendance at an Interfaith event at the capital as out of control. Specifically, she described my speaking style with the word “yelling.” This is a gross misrepresentation, and possibly even a libelous characterization of my attendance. Accompanying photos were chosen by Argus Leader staff to portray me as a raging madman. The result of this characterization has led to vitriolic national attention, as the Gannet news system picked up her story nationally.

The Argus story now is the foundational source document in the national left wing echo chamber that amplifies the idea I was wildly out of control [Sen. Neal Tapio, press releaseDakota War College, 2018.01.09].

To prove his libel point, Tapio cuts and pastes the definition (and pronunciation) of yell:


verb (used without object)

  1. to cry out or speak with a strong, loud, clear sound; shout:
    He always yells when he is angry.
  2. to scream with pain, fright, etc.

I listened to the audio of Tapio’s disruption of the Interfaith event at the Capitol on January 10. He did cry out and speak with a strong, loud, clear sound. He did shout, especially when one attendee correctly noted that white men with guns are a greater risk to Americans’ safety than the immigrants Tapio is scapegoating. Dana Ferguson’s single use of the verb yell in her January 10 report on the Capitol event fits the very definition Tapio cites in his latest screed (Hey! Rep. David Lust! This is how you use the word screed.)

Tapio’s false attack on Ferguson mirrors the false attacks his Dear Leader Donald Trump launches almost daily on the press. Donald Trump does something, the press reports the straight facts of what Trump does, and then when that factual reporting reflects poorly on Trump, Trump yells that the press is can’t be trusted and should be sued and shut down.

Reporter Dana Ferguson reported facts. Senator Neal Tapio is attacking her. Tapio is the real threat to basic American freedoms.


  1. O 2018-01-19 09:36

    This mirrors one other trait from President Trump: not realizing the difference between campaigning (working the crowd into a frenzy) and governing (actually taking action to solve a problem).

    How does threatening to sue for libel do anything? If this is a misrepresentation with malice, sue.

    It reflects Senator Tapio’s Muslim rhetoric: he paints a picture of the enemy we must combat (and works up the supporters), but then never proposes a solution. Is he advancing legislation to exclude Muslims from immigration to the US? Is he proposing legislation to end immigration from Muslim nations? Is he proposing legislation to expel Muslims from the US?

    All bluster and no action.

  2. Nick Nemec 2018-01-19 09:44

    The muslim immigration issue is no different from many other so called issues that the rightwing pushes. A big deal about nothing, and no solution in sight. They (rightwing nuts) don’t even want solutions, they prefer hot button issues that keep the base worked up.

  3. Darin Larson 2018-01-19 09:56

    Tapio is objecting to his words and actions being used against him like Jim Carrey’s character in Liar, Liar because it is devastating to his case:

  4. Rich 2018-01-19 10:48

    Neal Tapio, I wish you much luck if you opt to slap the Argus with a libel lawsuit. You were elected by your peers who live in the district that you represent which means you are a public person; you CHOSE to attend the interfaith gathering – you were not forced. You made the decision to disrupt the gathering that was held in a public place. It was quite obvious that members of the media were there to report on said gathering. I strongly recommend that you research libels laws and past libel lawsuits regarding elected officials.

    And good luck with that!

  5. O 2018-01-19 10:53

    I feel this is a tactic that has been VERY effective for the Right against the Left. The Left has jumped at the bait of debating the problem (in a post-factual world) instead of pressing the demagogs to advocate real action. It is the same tactic as being “pro-life” – one need not support that with action or policy, and still a comfortable voting block is brought to support.

  6. Ben Cerwinkse 2018-01-19 11:30

    Sen. Tapio, this Dana Fergussen of which you speak sounds terrible. I’m sure Dana Ferguson will do a terrific job reporting on your libel lawsuit against her.

  7. Robert Mehling 2018-01-19 11:35

    Damnit Watertown! Will you please put him back in his padded cell?

  8. Jenny 2018-01-19 11:43

    The SD Legislature wouldn’t be the same if it didn’t have right wing nut jobs in it. (It wouldn’t be as entertaining either!)

  9. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-19 12:23

    Recently Trump proclaimed that the republicans were going “to open up” libel laws for review.
    When Tapio files suit against Ferguson, which I hope he does, will he use Trump’s imaginary federal libel laws or state libel laws?

  10. mike from iowa 2018-01-19 12:55

    In a sorta similar vane, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has sent cease and desist letters to groups that have been critical of him and threatens them with Capitol Police if they contact him or his aids. Guess he claims harassment. Not sure this is legal, either.

  11. D 2018-01-19 13:39

    As an old news dog and later a teacher of journalism, the matter of libel took up an extensive amounts of time and attention for subjects who were not public figures. However for those who were, the best rule for them to follow was to not do anything stupid in public. From a style manual: “In addition to the things private individuals must prove, public officials and figures must prove that a statement was made with actual malice — meaning that the speaker either knew the statement was false or acted with reckless disregard for whether it was true or false. This is because the law encourages free speech, especially when it comes to politicians or prominent local figures or celebrities who have placed themselves in the public eye and can expect more public scrutiny than the average person faces.” Tapio’s attempt to turn a synonym for speaking loudly into a libel case is just more evidence of derangement.

  12. dave 2018-01-19 14:28

    can a sitting legislator be recalled?

  13. mike from iowa 2018-01-19 14:31

    What about the clown in the WH. Even he can’t really believe most of what comes out of his pie hole. And alternative facts shouldn’t be allowed to save him from the vultures.

  14. mike from iowa 2018-01-19 15:28

    dave- NO. In South Dakota, the right of recall extends to “the mayor, any commissioner, any alderman, or any member of the board of trustees” in municipal jurisdictions. It does not extend to members of the South Dakota State Legislature, representatives from South Dakota to the U.S. Congress or to statewide constitutional officers such as the Governor of South Dakota

    from Ballotpedia

  15. mike from iowa 2018-01-19 15:30

    Cory answered this a week or so ago. The varmints have to be voted out by the electorate every 2 years.

  16. jerry 2018-01-19 17:06

    Tapioca should be careful as the region he is from in Italy has Muslim historical roots. Indeed, there may be an Imam in the family tree. No matter where your European family came from when they immigrated here, there is always that damn tree to shake. I’m even talking about Scandinavians like Vikings. One thing that is not lost on me is in my travels, I have noticed that the guy that shouts down the loudest about gays usually is a closeted gay man. The man who shouts the loudest about abortion has encouraged one himself. The Muslim, Catholic, Jewish hater has something pitiful in their background that they try to conceal with their projection of hatred.

  17. Jenny 2018-01-19 20:21

    Actually the Tapio name is Finnish.

  18. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-19 20:37

    There is Tapio family on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that 3rd generation Mexican immigrants.

  19. Lee Schoenbeck 2018-01-19 21:22

    Tapio is a nut job and he can’t be recalled, It is our fault and he will be gone soon. No chance he could ever be elected to even clean our garbage cans. Quit giving the joke and jerk attention.

  20. jerry 2018-01-19 21:50

    Jenny, here is this. “Islam is a minority religion in Finland. The first Muslims were Tatars who immigrated mainly between 1870 and 1920” So if Tapioca is from Finland, hmmmmm. If Tapioca is from Italy, again hmmmm. But the real deal would be if he is from Mexico, Damn man. That would really explain the blather as a cover up for his big cantaloupe calves. Get the hate on with loud bellering to keep people from looking at your ankles. Well played Tapioca, well played.

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-20 07:29

    Lee! Restore sanity to District 5—take out your petition!

    (And get up here to Watertown HS and judge some Fiesta debate rounds with me! I’ll ask Walker to put us on a Public Forum panel together. ;-) )

  22. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-20 07:30

    The Legislature could crowd Tapio out of the news cycle if it were doing anything consequential.

  23. John 2018-01-20 08:02

    A reverse SLAPP lawsuit would likely shut him up and stop his junior high threats and intimidation. (A strategic lawsuit against public participation – done in reverse as suggested by one above via misrepresentation with malice, etc.)

  24. jerry 2018-01-20 08:34

    The Vikings of Scandinavia, including Finland, had strong Islamic ties in the old days long before Tapioca. In fact, here is evidence of Viking burial shrouds with Allah clearly written. So now what? Guess there will now be dates and Falafel served with the lutefisk and Perunamuusi.

  25. Kurt Evans 2018-01-20 14:20

    Lee Schoenbeck writes:

    Tapio is a nut job … Quit giving the joke and jerk attention

    Compelling logic, Lee. Has Neal ever used name-calling this harsh to describe members of Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Al Qaeda, or the Taliban?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.