Timeline of Noem's book launch: 'They're attacking me like crazy'

The national profile of the second-term Republican governor has certainly been raised, but even usually friendly conservative media outlooks took her to task.

Timeline of Noem's book launch: 'They're attacking me like crazy'
The release of Gov. Kristi Noem's second book, "No Going Back," was supposed to serve as a launching pad for her national political rise. It didn't work out that way.

The release of Gov. Kristi Noem's second book, "No Going Back," was supposed to serve as a launching pad for her national political rise, including a possible role as former President Donald Trump's 2024 running mate on the Republican ticket.

The national profile of the second-term GOP governor has certainly been raised, but not in the way she or her advisers envisioned.

Here's a timeline of a book launch gone wrong:

April 26

A story in the Guardian reveals eyebrow-raising details from Noem's book, including the killing of a 14-month-old female puppy named Cricket after the dog ruined a pheasant hunt with unruly behavior about 20 years ago.

Returning from the hunt, wrote Noem, she stopped to talk to a local family and Cricket jumped out of the truck and attacked the family’s chickens one at a time, "crunching it to death with one bite, then dropping it to attack another."

Noem added that Cricket “whipped around to bite me” and had become dangerous and untrainable.

“I hated that dog,” she wrote in the book, of which the Guardian obtained an early copy. “At that moment, I realized I had to put her down.”

Noem, who also described killing a family goat in similar fashion, led the wirehaired pointer puppy to a nearby gravel pit to put it down with a shotgun blast.

“It was not a pleasant job, but it had to be done," wrote Noem, who also described her children emerging from the school bus around that time and daughter Kennedy asking, “Hey, where’s Cricket?”

April 28

Faced with backlash over the puppy-killing passage, Noem responds on X (formerly Twitter).

"I can understand why some people are upset about a 20-year-old story," she writes, before asserting that "South Dakota law states that dogs who attack and kill livestock can be put down."

The governor adds that the book "is filled with many honest stories of my life, good and bad days, challenges, painful decisions, and lessons learned."

April 29

Noem's status as a vice presidential contender on Trump's ticket shows damage from the swelling controversy, according to betting markets. The governor, listed as the favorite earlier in 2024 to become Trump's running mate, falls to 14th on OddsChecker.com within three days of the puppy story going public.

May 2

Noem faces another book-related firestorm as The Dakota Scout reports on a section in her book where she talks about meeting notoriously reclusive North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un when she served on the House Armed Services Committee in Congress.

“I had the chance to travel to many countries to meet with world leaders — some who wanted our help, and some who didn’t,” Noem wrote. “I remember when I met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. 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.”

Such a meeting would have been extraordinary for any politician, such as Trump's meeting with the North Korean leader as president in 2019, and highly unlikely for someone in Noem's position. Without any congressional records to back it up, the story was widely disputed, and Noem's team backtracked.

Ian Fury, the governor's chief of communications, told the New York Times that the reference would be corrected, as would an error about when a phone call with former United Nations Ambassador and presidential candidate Nikki Haley occurred as described in the book.

“It was brought to our attention that the upcoming book ‘No Going Back’ has two small errors,” Fury said. “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.”

May 4

Noem appears at a private donor retreat along with other Republican vice presidential hopefuls at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's resort in Palm Beach, Florida. 

“Listen, going through hard things, and I’ve been through a few of them — I’m going through one right now," Noem said at a breakfast event, according to audio obtained by Politico. "I mean they’re just attacking me like crazy right now. But listen, that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing because it makes you stronger."

Trump invited many of the VP hopefuls on stage with him during a later Saturday luncheon at Mar-a-Lago, but Noem did not appear in the photo. She left early, according to the Politico report.

The report quoted Trump as expressing fondness for South Dakota's governor despite the controversy.

"Somebody that I love," Trump told attendees when asked about Noem. "She's been with me, a supporter of mine and I've been a supporter of hers for a long time. "

May 4

"Saturday Night Live" joins the conversation by lampooning Noem's book fallout with a Weekend Update appearance by cast member Marcello Hernández, dressed in a dog costume. He introduced himself as “Cricket the 7th," explaining that “the first six were bad dogs. ... But you know what they say, No. 7, right?”

May 5

Noem appears on CBS' "Face the Nation" with host Margaret Brennan, who asks about whether Noem regrets including the Cricket anecdote in the book.

"You know, Margaret, this book is filled with vulnerable, painful moments in my life, filled with times where I've made very difficult decisions," Noem said. "The reason that this story is in the book is because people need to understand who I am and some of those difficult decisions."

Brennan later tries to pin down the governor on whether she acknowledges that the meeting with Kim Jong Un never happened. But Noem, who also voiced the audio version of the book, dodges the question.

"Well, you know, as soon as this was brought to my attention, I certainly made some changes and looked at this passage," she said. "I've met with many, many world leaders, I've traveled around the world. As soon as it was brought to my attention, we went forward and have made some edits."

Brennan responds, "So you did not meet with Kim Jong Un? That's what you're saying?"

"I've met with many, many world leaders, many world leaders," replied Noem.

Brennan also reveals a reference to Commander, President Joe Biden's 2-year-old German Shepard, who bit U.S. Secret Service personnel at least 24 times at the White House and other locations, according to a CNN report.

At the end of the book, Noem asks herself: “What would I do if I was president on the first day in office in 2025? 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.’)”

May 6

At a media briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responds to Noem's implication that President's Biden's dog should be put down. 

"We find her comments from yesterday disturbing," said Jean-Pierre. "We find them absurd. And here, this is a country that loves dogs, and you have a leader talking about putting dogs down, killing them. And that's a disturbing statement to say. What I would say to her is, she should probably stop digging herself a hole."

Jean-Pierre added that Commander was living in Delaware with family members.

May 7

After a series of contentious interviews with conservative outlets such as Fox News and Newsmax, Noem lashes out at Fox Business host Stuart Varney after he presses her about whether she regrets including the disputed passages in her book and how the controversy has affected her chances of being the VP nominee.

“Enough, Stuart. This interview is ridiculous, what you are doing right now?” Noem said. “So you need to stop. It is. It is. Let’s talk about some real topics that Americans care about.”

May 8

The governor cuts short her book publicity tour and returns home to South Dakota, pointing to severe weather that her office is monitoring. Several planned media appearances are canceled and she avoids interviews with local outlets to discuss the book, which was published May 7.

May 13

Trying to pick up the pieces and find a friendly audience, Noem returns to Florida for a promotional book event at Club 47, a Trump fan club in West Palm Beach.

With informal adviser and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in attendance, she stressed her qualifications to help Trump's presidential campaign, lauded her record in South Dakota and urged those in attendance to give her book a try, regardless of what they had heard.

“This book is a little unfiltered,” Noem told them, according to Politico. “I hope you’re ready for it.”

This story was produced by South Dakota News Watch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization. Read more in-depth stories at sdnewswatch.org and sign up for an email every few days to get stories as soon as they're published. Contact Stu Whitney at stu.whitney@sdnewswatch.org