Daily Archives: October 25, 2014

Ethical issues in Dean Corren’s TV campaign

Questions have been raised about a couple of Dean Corren’s TV ads. One of them claims that incumbent Lt. Gov. Phil Scott has been endorsed by Right to Life; another shows a series of high-profile politicos who’ve endorsed Corren, but includes a picture of two state senators who have not.

The former is explored by the Freeploid’s Nancy Remsen today. The ad in question features several women talking about reproductive rights. (Their names are not mentioned; one of them is state Democratic Party chair Dottie Deans.) They extol Corren’s support of reproductive rights, and then one of them says “Dean Corren is endorsed by Planned Parenthood; his opponent, by Right to Life.”

Kerfuffle ensues.

Phil Scott insists he is pro-choice, although he does support parental notification for minors seeking abortions, which is one of Right to Life’s pet causes. (It sounds fine in theory, but in practice, a lot of girls seeking abortions come from troubled homes. In some cases, they were impregnated by a family member. Parental notification opens a big fat can of worms.)

In fact, Right to Life has not endorsed Scott, but it has “recommended” him. Corren says this is a distinction without a difference: Scott has Right to Life’s support, if not technically the endorsement. The ad doesn’t mischaracterize Scott’s positions; it just points out that he’s backed by an anti-abortion group.

The Corren people could change the narration to say “Dean Corren is endorsed by Planned Parenthood; his opponent is supported by Right to Life.” The impact of the ad would be unchanged. I don’t think it’s that big a deal either way.

As for the other ad… it starts with Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsing Corren. (Well, technically, he says “I’m voting for Dean Corren,” so maybe Phil Scott would argue that that’s not an “endorsement.”)

And then, for a solid five seconds, there’s a still photo of several Dem and/or Prog officeholders posing together.

I hadn't realized our Auditor was so butch.

I hadn’t realized our Auditor was so butch.

From left to right, we have Sen. Ginny Lyons, Sen. Tim Ashe, Cong. Peter Welch, Auditor Doug Hoffer, Dean Corren, Sen. Phil Baruth, and Sen. David Zuckerman.

After that, the ad cycles through other images and names, and ends with Bernie.

But that one picture is the problem. Lyons and Ashe have not endorsed Corren. Lyons has pointedly not made an endorsement; Ashe has been silent.

The ad is factually accurate. It doesn’t claim endorsements from Lyons or Ashe. But the implication is obvious, and it’s misleading. That picture is on screen for five seconds, which is an eternity in TV ad time. And the big colorful campaign signs clearly identify the two senators, tying them visibly to the endorsement list.

Otherwise, the ad is excellent. It’s well-produced and effective. It drives home the point that Corren is supported by a broad range of liberal and progressive individuals and groups. But that one image is deceptive. It’s within the letter of the law, but violates the spirit. I’d expect better from Corren.


A brief moment of excitement for Vermont conservatives

Twitter was all-aflutter on Friday evening with news of a new Associated Press poll showing Republican Teahadist Mark Donka within five percentage points of incumbent Congressman Peter Welch. The apparent shocker quickly rattled around the dank corridors of #tvcot:

Er, sorry to piss on your bonfire, but that’s not a poll. Those are test election results, routinely circulated by the Associated Press before elections to make sure its systems are working. Apparently the results were posted online by the Daily Mail, a British newspaper, presumably by mistake.

I know about test results because in a past life I worked a lot of election seasons as a reporter. Back when there were teletype machines, they would spit out reams and reams of these test results in the days before an election.

I can tell by the formatting. The actual webpage has a huge long list of “returns,” but here’s the segment about Vermont’s congressional race.

275 of 275 precincts – 100 percent
x-Peter Welch, Dem (i) 98,083 – 44 percent
Mark Donka, GOP 87,107 – 39 percent
Matthew Andrews, LUn 2,778 – 1 percent
Cris Ericson, Ind 14,800 – 7 percent
Randall Meyer, Ind 2,799 – 1 percent
Jerry Trudell, Ind 16,643 – 7 percent

See, your tipoff is the first line, saying “275 of 275 precincts — 100 percent.” Election returns always show how many precincts have reported, and what percentage of the total have reported so far. There’s also the “x” in front of Welch’s name, indicating the winner. Any experienced reporter would tell you, that’s the standard AP election return format.

Poll results just don’t look like that.

Also, Cris Ericson and Jerry Trudell getting 7 percent apiece? Snort.

Also also, the Associated Press doesn’t do polls. And it certainly hasn’t done anything as intensive as polling every single Congressional district in the country, which is what our conservative Tweeters think this is.

A word to the #tvcot community: stop making fools of yourselves.

Big unity tour this weekend

Well, huzzah. Two of the state’s top politicos are joining together to make a weekend-long push for the Democratic ticket — including the unloved-in-some-quarters Prog/Dem candidate for Lt. Gov., Dean Corren.

The tour begins Saturday morning with a brunch and rally in Bristol, and a midafternoon gig in Proctor. On Sunday, there’s a morning event in Hinesburg, and a late afternoon affair in one of the state’s major battlegrounds, St. Albans. (Details can be found at the end of this post.)

Dean & Bernie. Not pictured: John Campbell, Dick Mazza, Ginny Lyons, Tim Ashe, Jeanette White, etc., etc., etc.

Dean & Bernie. Not pictured: John Campbell, Dick Mazza, Ginny Lyons, Tim Ashe, Jeanette White, etc., etc., etc.

The headliners: Gov. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Bernie Sanders. That ought to get the blood circulating. The Shumlin campaign’s news release says the two will appear with “local candidates at each event.”

Curiously, the Shumlin release doesn’t mention Corren or any other statewide candidates who might come along for the ride. The Corren news comes from an email to Vermont Democrats from party chair Dottie Deans, highlighting Corren’s presence in the events. And she’s making it clear that the party’s support of Corren is not at all begrudging:

Dean has openly shared his positions and ideas for stimulating the economy, enacting health care reform, supporting job growth and positioning Vermont to be a leader in taking on climate change. In addition, he has been enthusiastically endorsed by the Vermont Democratic Party’s State Committee and some of our most prominent leaders. I believe Dean would make an excellent Lt. Governor…

This week also brought an enthusiastic Corren endorsement by Sen. Pat Leahy. This is all a nice palliative to the rank stench of timidity wafting from the state senate.

Speaking of which, I wonder if any of those Senators who’ve voiced disdain for the idea of endorsing a Prog will be more than happy to share a stage with Bernie.

That’d be ironic, wouldn’t it now?

Saturday, October 25:

9:30 a.m. – Bristol Event – Free brunch @ 9:30 a.m., event @ 10:00 a.m – Holley Hall, 1 South St.

2:00 p.m. – Proctor Event – Coffee and desert @ 2:00 p.m. – Vermont Marble Museum, 52 Main St.

Sunday, October 26:

10:00 a.m. – Hinesburg Event – Free brunch @ 10:00 a.m., event @ 10:30 a.m. – Champlain Valley Union High School, 69 CVU Rd.

5:30 p.m. – St. Albans Event – Free dinner @ 5:30 p.m., event @ 6 p.m. – St. Albans Historical Museum, 9 Church St.