Kristi Noem’s Puppy-Killing Story Shocks CNN Panel: ‘The Person Who Really Wrote Her Book Was Dexter’ | Video

CNN panelists and anchors on “NewsNight” reacted with shock after hearing Republican vice presidential frontrunner Kristi Noem’s story of how, after overly excitable hunting dog Cricket ruined a pheasant hunt and exhibited an “aggressive personality,” Noem led the 14-month-old Cricket to a gravel pit where she shot and killed him. At the same time, she shared, she also decided to put down a goat because it was mean, smelled and regularly chased Noem’s children.

The CNN segment opened with anchor Abby Phillip questioning whether Tim Scott just moved into the top spot when it comes to potential Republican vice presidential candidates, as Noem “just ticked off quite a lot of Americans.”

Phillip and coanchor Laura Coates were so taken aback by Noem’s dog-killing story, which she told in her forthcoming book, that they spent four minutes reading the startling tale out loud. The Guardian obtained a copy of the book and reported the excerpt.

“That’s pretty awful, as someone who lost a dog,” Phillip said as they came to the end of the story in disbelief. “Honestly, it’s really traumatic.”

They interviewed dog trainer Zak George, who called the story “astonishing” and explained that Cricket’s behavior is “very typical” of adolescents in a dog breed that’s been selectively bred for stamina and endurance.

When asked if he believed Noem had tried her best to train the dog, he responded, “I don’t know what her personal best would be, but yeah, there are many more appropriate ways to train dogs than that.”

He also criticized Noem using an electric collar on the dog, as well as other “aversive methods like this that rely on pain, fear and intimidation,” which he noted “are strongly correlated with increased aggression in dogs.”

“I cannot believe that this is actually an anecdote that she thought reflected well on her,” Phillip said.

When the anchors turned to their larger panel, former Hillary Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines was the first to respond. “Watching everyone’s faces while that was on? I mean, everyone’s blood is boiling.” He added that he’s someone who loves animals more than people.

“We don’t deserve them. That she thought that that was a good idea — I mean, there’s a special circle of hell that’s reserved for people who mistreat animals,” Reines said.

He added that before heading into the CNN studio, his neighbor had asked him if she’d told that dog-killing story because she doesn’t want to be vice president.

“His initial reaction was, how stupid can you be?” Reines said.

While political polarization mean that Americans are unlikely to agree on much, Reines noted the widespread popularity of animals, adding that two out of three households have a dog or a cat.

“What makes her think that this is a good idea?” Reines added. “Republicans love to yell at people like me, and Democrats, that we don’t get America. We’re living in a bubble — we like our kale, we like our DEI, we like all these things, that we just don’t get what goes on between the coasts. What America is she living in where people think that it’s a good idea to talk about, to do what she did? To just walk around killing goats because they smell — I mean, as if goats don’t smell — and to kill puppies because they bother her?”

He added that Donald Trump is the only president who has never owned a pet, stating that “what’s most pathetic about this is that Donald Trump won’t care.”

Noem defended her decision in a statement, explaining that she loves animals but that tough decisions have to be made all the time on a farm — adding that they recently put down three horses.

Legal commentator and former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi added his perspective as someone who lived on a 100-acre farm.

“I lived around horses, and cows, and dogs, and cats. And all I can say is this: the person who really wrote her book was Dexter, OK?” Rossi said. “That is sick.”

As many commentators have done, he compared her story with Mitt Romney’s tale that came out during the 2012 election of tying the family dog in a cage to the roof of a car during a road trip.

“She just committed suicide as a VP candidate,” Rossi said. “She will never be the VP candidate.”

After killing the animals, Noem had shared, her children’s school bus had pulled up. Her daughter Kennedy “looked around confused,” Noem writes, then asked, “Hey, where’s Cricket?”

“The other part of this that is hard to swallow is the way she flippantly mentions her child showing up and finding the dog gone — it’s wild. That’s wild,” Phillip said. “I have a little bit of childhood trauma in that vein, and if you have a kid, I would never do that to my child.”

Former Republican congressional adviser Rina Shah tried to soften Noem’s story and find an explanation for it.

“I have to say, I think there’s an element here where she thought this made her look masculine,” Shah said. “I’ve seen women who are on the Republican side pick up guns, talk about hunting, more than they do. OK? I grew up in southern West Virginia, I’m comfortable around those things, but they overstate it, or they overdo it as a way to take up that banner of masculinity. And she doesn’t think it’s going to work against her, by the way.”

As the panel concluded in a continuing state of disbelief, Coates ended things on a slightly lighter note.

“I have to say something before we go,” Coates said, acting serious. “My dog Hershey is better than all your dogs.”

The panel broke into arguments in favor of their respective dogs. You can watch the full CNN segment discussing Noem killing a dog at the top of this story.

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