Three days after it posted a thinly-veiled endorsement of Molly Gray by an advisor to the Molly Gray campaign, VTDigger has thought better of it and taken it down.
Not sure why they did it, but to judge from the above Editor’s Note, lawyers may have been involved.
For those just joining us, on August 3 VTDigger posted a commentary by Carolyn Dwyer, longtime Pat Leahy consigliere and advisor to the Gray campaign, that laid out the attributes Dwyer wants to see in our next U.S. Representative. Those attributes closely tracked with Gray’s own biography. Dwyer also tried to posit Becca Balint as an “ideological warrior,” which is laughable considering that Balint has spent the past six years in Senate caucus leadership. In that position her first duty is to keep the caucus united, not impose her own policy vision. And the biographical note accompanying the essay failed to disclose Dwyer’s role in the Gray campaign.
I wrote up this adventure in journalistic carelessness soon after it happened. The next day, Digger rewrote the biographical note to include a reference to the Dwyer/Gray relationship.
Which only made posting the piece look worse, because it was a tacit admission that Dwyer was, in fact, promoting her candidate on Digger’s commentary page. That’s a no-no, and Digger has apparently realized that only three days late.
The essay can still be found on the Times Argus‘ and Rutland Herald‘s websites, with an extremely brief biographical note that merely says “Carolyn Dwyer lives in Burlington.”
As if that’s the only relevant fact about Carolyn Dwyer.
A little secret about newspapers’ Commentary sections? They’ll take almost anything that’s halfway literate because they’re always looking to fill space on the cheap. If they can run a piece by a known figure in Vermont life, they’ll take it and ask no questions.
Not sure what Digger’s excuse is. I suspect that its commentary section is an afterthought, managed with minimal effort and attention. Maybe this little incident will force Digger to implement the odd check and the occasional balance.
Because even if Digger management doesn’t care about misleading its readers, it really should keep an eye on those pesky “restrictions for nonprofit news organizations.”