When Political Journalism Collapses In On Itself

The folks at VTDigger, home of The Best Political Journalists In the State, Bar None*, do a lot of good work. But once in a while, they step on a rake.

*As described by Managing Editor Paul Heintz at last week’s gubernatorial debate. Which begs the question, how many political reporters do we have, actually?

The latest Digger digger concerns extremist Republican candidate John Lyddy, who’s running in the Windham-6 district currently represented by retiring Democrat John Gannon. Lyddy is an election truther and self-described January 6 insurrectionist who was outed by the Vermont Democratic Party in a Sunday press release. Digger picked up the release and did the absolute minimum with it.

The real story here is that the Vermont Republican Party welcomes the likes of Lyddy with open arms. In fact, its legislative ticket is loaded with hard-core Trumpers, bigots, and Covid deniers. An organ with the Best Political Reporters Etc. might be expected to go out and get that story — seek out and identify all the extremists on the VTGOP ticket and ask what it indicates about the character and direction of the party and its legislative caucuses. Seems like the “moderates” are being weeded out and replaced with people in the Art Peterson mold.

But Digger didn’t do any of that. Instead, the story was framed as your standard political “he said, he said” story:

Vermont Democratic Party targets GOP over House candidate’s Jan. 6 involvement

See, the real story isn’t that the VTGOP’s door is wide open to the John Lyddys of the world. No, it’s that the Democrats are attacking the VTGOP.

It’s all just a political game. Any connection to truth is in the eye of the beholder, and The Best Political Reporters Etc. are happy to settle for “reporting the controversy” instead of exploring the truth.

This is pure raw expediency. It’s a hell of a lot easier to crank out “he said, he said” stories than to ferret out the truth, and reporters of all stripes are under pressure to produce a steady stream of content. Real journalism, if any, is a bonus.

If Digger had done any actual, y’know, digging, it would have found plenty of independent evidence as to Lyddy’s character. Like the social media post cited above, or the bigoted comment Lyddy left on this very website in March 2021:

“Blacks first there to.” Hmm, maybe there’s another reason Mr. Lyddy couldn’t get into Harvard.

Lyddy also posted a veiled threat on social media against Reps. Gannon and Laura Sibilia for supporting a bill allowing the police to remove weapons from a home when there’s an imminent threat of violence after a domestic abuse incident. He also issued a veiled threat against former U.S. Senate candidate John MacGovern, who had called for Donald Trump to be removed from the presidency after the 1/6 insurrection.

This is the objective reality of John Lyddy. One of the primary duties of the journalist is to try to describe objective reality when it’s not immediately clear.

Well, it ought to be. If you are, in fact, The Best Etc.

1 thought on “When Political Journalism Collapses In On Itself

  1. weatheringheights1

    Has the National White Power Party begun to infiltrate locally? Is the Vermont press corp falling down? Being threatened and beginning to look more like Florida? Not a good look guys.

    Reply

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