Journalism in defiance of press release

Round of applause for the Burlington Free Press’ April Burbank, who filed an appropriately skeptical report on Scott Milne’s umpty-billionth attack on Sen. Pat Leahy’s integrity.

The subject of his latest sally was, once again, EB-5. In a press release and news conference, MIlne played his favorite hits and added a couple new verses while depicting Leahy as The Great And Powerful Wizard of EB-5.

Unfortunately for Milne’s desired narrative, Burbank began her story thusly:

Scott Milne said he’s “not ready” to discuss specific policies he would pursue if elected to the U.S. Senate, other than ethical questions he has raised about his opponent, Sen. Patrick Leahy.

Yeah, boy, is he “not ready.”

After listening to his bumpf, reporters apparently started asking him what HE would do about EB-5.

Answer came there none.

Milne went on to spend a significant portion of the news conference explaining why he lacked his own proposals for reforming the EB-5 program or other policy areas.

“I announced my campaign 16 days ago,” Milne said, adding later, “We’re 16 days into it. We’ve got 44 days to go. And I’m not ready to talk about specific proposals.”

Burbank deftly pops that little balloon by pointing out that, while Milne held his campaign kickoff 16 days ago, he’s officially been a candidate since May. Sixteen days, my Aunt Fanny.

Besides, if you’re even thinking about a run for high office, wouldn’t you give the issues some consideration? Wouldn’t you have a few ideas of your own, other than “the incumbent’s getting old”?

Milne is also, needless to say, still on the fence about whether he will support Donald Trump. Leadership!

Hopefully, Burbank’s article portends a new phase in state election coverage. To date, there’s been little beyond dutiful “he said, she said” stenography. There’s been virtually no fact-checking. There’s been little examination of the candidates’ qualifications aside from the almost entirely positive “profile” pieces that are a staple of Sunday newspapers. (You know, the kind that overlook Phil Scott’s disastrous flirtation with the sports-bar business in the late 1990s.)

With a month and a half left before the election, it’s time for the media to show some teeth.

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