LINCOLN–(KFOR Oct. 18)–Governor Jim Pillen has come under fire from one news organization and the Asian American Journalists Association about comments he made in an Omaha radio interview about a reporter over an investigative story she did in August, regarding the environmental impacts of his hog farming operation.

Independent news organization Flatwater Free Press put out a response Tuesday standing by their reporter, Yanqi Xu, who did the investigative story on Pillen’s hog farming operation, which indicated it was producing higher nitrate levels that were going into drinking water. Pillen reacted to the story during the radio interview, saying “Number one, I didn’t read it. And I won’t. Number two, all you got to do is look at the author. The author is from communist China. What more do you need to know?”

In the story published in late August and early September, Pillen Family Farms CEO Sarah Pillen, the governor’s daughter, sent a general statement when reporters requested an interview. She said the company “(has) always placed a strong commitment on being positive environmental stewards of the land.”

She noted the company employs a 17-member team who work to protect Nebraska’s groundwater and ensure safe nutrient management.

Before the story ran, Xu was recognized for a national award on the series of stories called Our Dirty Water, which examined Nebraska’s high nitrate levels and their potential connection to childhood cancer.

Xu, who came to the United States in 2017 to pursue American-style journalism, got her Master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and for the past two years has worked a reporter for the Flatwater Free Press. No statements have been issued from Pillen’s office regarding the comments.

Click the link below to read Tuesday’s statement from the Flatwater Free Press.

Governor’s comments about FFP reporter infuriating, dead wrong

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