Sen. Sullivan: Taking issue with News-Miner’s inaccurate take on Denali flag incident


Editor’s note: This is the unedited version of the response sent by Sen. Dan Sullivan to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in response to an editorial it published about the National Park Service’s actions to curtail American flags flying from private sector workers’ trucks in Denali National Park.


While I don’t always agree with the News-Miner’s editorials, I have long respected its professional work, especially getting the facts right. But the recent editorial, “The media rush that sparked a flag frenzy and got it all wrong,” misses the mark in so many ways, I felt compelled to respond personally.  

But before recounting the serious problems with this editorial, let me start with what happened and share an area of agreement. 

My office received a phone call from a constituent who was working on a construction project in Denali National Park. He told my staff that he had been directed to remove a 3×5 flag affixed to his truck. In working the case, my office learned that the National Park Service (NPS) caused the incident to happen as a result of a park-visitor complaint.  

Subsequently, I wrote to the Director of the U.S. Park Service requesting an investigation. I made this letter public, as I do with most letters I write or co-sign to federal officials on important policy issues.  

I was in direct communication on May 25 and 26 with the NPS Director. He surmised that the “unfortunate issue” may have resulted from the contractor’s contract with a federal agency. He committed to respond in detail to the questions in my letter. I also strongly encouraged him to ensure that the convoy of Alaskans coming to the park with flags in protest be allowed to proceed without incident.

After these communications, I was somewhat surprised when the NPS put out a statement saying reports that NPS was involved in the incident were “false.” The NPS said, “At no time did an NPS official seek to ban or limit the flag from the project site or associated vehicles.” These statements turned out to be false.  

Five days later, the NPS released another statement admitting that the NPS was involved—that an NPS official notified the Federal Highway Administration about a flag complaint and the NPS official asked if there was an “appropriate way to request the flag be detached from a contractor’s vehicle to limit wildlife and visitor impacts.”  

Those are the facts. 

Now, the area of agreement: Nobody should be subjected to hateful attacks and certainly not physically threatened. My office put out a statement in a published story in the Anchorage Daily News on this topic, which was left out of the News-Miner’s editorial: “Senator Sullivan condemns any and all personal attacks on public officials, including Park Service employees.” The editorial also failed to note that I never once mentioned the Denali Park Superintendent’s name or title in my letter to the NPS Director or in statements.  

Where I vehemently disagree with the editorial is the claim that I was spreading “misinformation” in my letter to the NPS Director. Alaskans should feel free to read the letter here. Nothing in my letter was inaccurate. In fact, the “misinformation” came from the NPS when they initially claimed they had nothing to do with the removal of the flag and five days later admitted that they did.

Remarkably, the editorial fails to mention these critical facts.

All of this leads to a larger issue, which the News-Miner also missed in yielding to an easy narrative that blames conservative media while not holding the NPS responsible for its actions. This story is not just about patriotism and the American flag. It runs deeper, with a more complicated narrative—one that hits at the heart of our state’s fraught relationship with federal agencies that have enormous power over Alaskans, which they often abuse.

For decades, the NPS and other federal agencies have ignored or pushed the boundaries of the unique laws governing federal lands in Alaska. One of the most infamous cases is when an Alaskan named John Sturgeon was cited by NPS Rangers for using a hovercraft to go moose hunting in an area where the NPS incorrectly said it was prohibited. Sturgeon fought the NPS all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court—twice—where they unanimously agreed that the NPS was violating federal law. 

But none of this has stopped the Biden Administration’s NPS and Department of Interior from abusing the law at Alaska’s expense.

Recently, we’ve seen this federal agency push the limits of federal law by locking up land in the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska, cancelling legally obtained leases in ANWR, and reversing a decision authorizing a road to the Ambler Mining District.  

These likely illegal actions dramatically undermine our state’s interests. Alaskans are fed up with this abuse.

Therefore, it touched a raw nerve when, on the eve of Memorial Day, Alaskans heard about the NPS causing a patriotic Alaskan to remove his American flag from his truck in a national park. Thousands of Alaskans were outraged, many of whom reached out to me and my office to voice their concern and ask for assistance.

The editorial referred to me as a “senator who likes to bang the outrage drum.” Actually, I’m a senator who likes to fight for my state’s and constituents’ rights, given they are frequently under attack.

Finally, the editorial castigates other media outlets for not following “Journalism 101.” The real irony here is that the News-Miner’s editorial writers never bothered to reach out to my office and check the facts. Instead, they wrote an editorial with numerous omissions and inaccuracies, looked the other way about the NPS’s false statements, and kept Alaskans in the dark about all of it. Talk about Journalism 101! 

I hope the News-Miner returns to its tradition of due diligence in future editorials.  

Sen. Dan Sullivan, former Alaska Attorney General and commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, had represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate since 2015.


  1. I didn’t contact Sullivan’s office about this, but I did have a beautiful drive up to Denali with my flag and met a lot of wonderful Alaskans. I wasn’t hollering about anyone being fired. I was just having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend w/my fellow Americans, remembering that this is the USA, where freedom reigns.

    I’m glad this issue was finally resolved. I will continue to stand for our freedom in any way I can.

  2. The Fairbanks News-Miner will never change – it has been a screwed up publication from at least the 1960s. The Fairbanks News Miner and Anchorage Daily News are two peas in a pod, and worthless.

    • There is a reason it is locally called the “News Minus” and the “News Manure”.

      It has long been low quality reporting.

  3. Thank you, Senator Dan Sullivan for setting the record straight. It is no wonder that Alaskans and the general public no longer trust news outlets to be truthful. Instead we have had years of shaming and blaming without one shred of FACT. We are weary of the 4am talking points and double speak put out by so-called experts to only then get a tiny paragraph three weeks later saying we misspoke and now here is the truth…that is after the masses have been indoctrinated with lies.

  4. Gee Dan, starting to regret that “yes” vote on Deb Haaland yet?
    I mean you wrote, at the time, that you had to vote yes on her appointment so that “we” “would have a seat at the table.” What did you think was going to happen?
    If you had voted “no” or “hell no” on her at least you wouldn’t have lost our support and respect for taking a stand on what’s good for Alaska.
    With republicans like these, who needs democrats?

    • Yup.
      A RINO using a deflection technique, providing cover for the FACT that he voted for Biden’s cabinet appointees, Infrastructure bill, and the Ukraine military bills.
      AND he throws his support behind Lisa for EVERY election.

  5. Good letter, Senator Sullivan! As a politician, I recognize that you must be kinder in your approach to lying media..I don’t…Way to accurately illustrate why leftist loonie so-called “news” media continues to destroy ANY credibility at all in being able to objectively report on anything in Alaska…Not even sure that I could trust this rag to line a birdcage without them reporting that bird flu gonna kill us all.

    FDN-M’s editor would do well to heed the words of Charles Horton Cooley: “If we divine a discrepancy between a man’s words and his character, the whole impression of him becomes broken and painful; he revolts the imagination by his lack of unity, and even the good in him is hardly accepted.”

  6. At this point in time it should be clear that the left has made a concerted effort to gaslight the public and misinform at virtually every turn. The Whitehouse press secretary just told us that we shouldn’t believe what we see with our eyes, that the emperor has no clothes, she claims that documented and recorded video does not show what it shows, she calls video proof cheapfakes and deepfakes. The National Park Service lied to all Americans for five days about what happened, when public servants lie to the public it’s not surprising that the media would follow suit.

  7. Too little too late, Dan. Alaska has been under attack since day one of the Biden Administration. Little to no comment has come from you or your office. We have a serious crisis at our southern border, and although I do remember you taking a visit there a few years back, we’ve had silence. I was surprised to see you react to this matter, but it is welcome. Mainstream media missing the mark? Welcome to the party.

  8. The desecration of the American flag started in the sixties when hippies used the flag to protest the “baby killing” by soldiers.
    They burned it along with their draft cards and used it to line their orgy vans and litter golden gate park.
    I believe Aunt Nancy was in on that.

  9. “ Nobody should be subjected to hateful attacks and certainly not physically threatened” says the senator who supports the instigator of the January 6 violent insurrection.

    • The false claim of an “insurrection” is getting rather old. There was a riot, which, while despicable, was far from an attempt to overthrow the government.

      • But the riot was an attempt to stop the process of the government fulfilling its task just because Trump lost and he couldn’t handle it

  10. Thank you profusely, Senator, for both looking into this flag matter and this comment on the media role in it.
    “………the News-Miner also missed in yielding to an easy narrative that blames conservative media while not holding the NPS responsible for its actions…….”
    The News-Miner was not the only media entity to publish negatively regarding a conservative news organization that played an early role in this story. Another entity even went as far as to attack the editor of a conservative news entity by name. This flag issue appears to have brought out the worse in a significant number of people, and in numerous ways.
    Not you. You hold high ground here. You tend to do so regularly. Thanks again. This Alaskan appreciates it.

  11. The idea that citizens even listen to whatever nonesense the park service orders illustrates how cowed the public is. Just ignore them, fly our flag, no one needs to waste time listening to an irrelevant senator bloviate about the NPS. This is a look squirrel! diversion from the real threats we face. Why hasn’t the congress impeached and removed the senile, corrupt mannequin from place holding the CEO seat? Why are we engaged in an undeclared war with Russia, wasting hundreds of billions of printed money, killing hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men for an utterly corrupt money laundering regime? Why is our general officer corps not cashiered en mass for incompetence and corruption? Where are the prosecutions of the government employees and big Rx corporate managers for the “vaccine” scams? Shouldn’t a senator be concerned for our economy with a 250% debt to GDP ratio? What about the threats to the electric grids and net zero agenda which will fatally destroy our country and impoverish hundreds of millions? What steps have been taken to secure the election process from the built in ballot fraud? Nothing on all these threats, and Sullivan calls himself a “Republican”.

  12. Our honourable senator has been bought and paid for by the Military Industrial Complex thus it is hard to take whatever he says or writes seriously. One need look no further than his support for endless war and failure to come clean re the bio-weapons forced upon Alaskans. He needs to stand up for Alaskans whatever his political cost.

  13. The reaction to this “incident” reminds me of a story about Samuel Johnson, who wrote the first real English dictionary. When he had finished his work, he was visited by many different organizations to congratulate him on his singular achievement. One of these groups was a London “respectable women’s group”. “Mr. Johnson” they said, “we congratulate you on your decision to exclude all indecent words from your dictionary” , to which he replied, “ladies, I congratulate you on your persistence in looking them up.”

    If some groups are determined to be offended by something, regardless of the level of truth/validity or importance of a subject, there’s nothing you can do about it. The people who drove their cars, trucks, etc. down to Denali with their flags attached are just such a group of people.

    • Absolutely correct. No importance of a government agency banning our nations flag in our national park in our great state of Alaska.
      Similar to the way a “group” of Nazi’s felt about a “group” Jewish citizen’s roaming about Germany. They soon banned them as well.
      Maybe that “group” that drove their vehicles to express their discontent with anyone or any agency that even mentions removing a symbol of freedom from their national park on Memorial Day should be ignored or labeled or excluded from importance.
      Weird how many groups of college students (including a certain “group” of elected politician’s) guided and aided by prominent universities have the same feelings as the Nazi’s about Jewish citizens being slaughtered by terrorists in their homeland.

  14. Great letter. Now do something else. Like address our national debt and interest on that debt that is eating our country’s future alive. Or maybe the southern border invasion. Or maybe the lawlessness and exponential growth of the federal government in general. Gee, I don’t know, maybe you’re too busy yelling “squirrel” around your constituents? Not sure. Write another letter of outrage.

  15. “I have long respected its professional work, especially getting the facts right.” There goes Sullivan’s credibility.

  16. Thanks, Dan, for keeping this issue alive. Without people like you in high places, my opinions don’t capture much attention beyond my hard-left Democrat readers at the FDN. Would appreciate your donation at my web page. Every little bit counts, especially when taken to the nearest package store.

  17. The Park Service said in their follow up statement, they found a low level employee passed the complaint without going through the appropriate authority. That employee could not speak for the Park and was not an official. While this may appear misleading on the part of the NPS, it’s a stretch to call it intentional misinformation. Many employees of any large business cannot speak for it. They are not “officials”.


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