In my roughly five years of blogging about Vermont politics, I’ve criticized just about everybody at one time or another. Even our sainted Congressional delegation has come in for a bit of bashing here and there. For the most part, my targets handle it well. (Either that, or I’m beneath their notice.)
But there’s one group that is more easily offended than any other, and more likely to react badly. It’s not politicians or operatives or lobbyists or bureaucrats.
No, it’s media organizations.
Curious, if you think about it. The media is accustomed to dishing it out, but has a harder time taking it.
The touchiest media outlets in Vermont are the Burlington Free Press (blocked my access to its Twitter feed) and VPR (one staffer told me I “hate VPR”, which is not true; I hold it to a high standard because it’s so richly resourced in an age of media shrinkage).
To that list we can now add VTDigger. Which is a shame because I respect and support ($10 per month) its work. But this year, Digger has failed to live up to its own standards on the subject of ridgeline wind. I have recently written three pieces exploring Digger’s apparent bias on the issue; the most recent was posted last weekend.
In my partial defense, I got just about everything else right: the breakdown of the new Legislature, the failure of the Republican ticket below the top line. But my prediction on the biggest race in the state couldn’t have been more wrong. I went further than most in predicting a Sue Minter victory, but I don’t think anybody — not even Republicans — saw a near-double-digit win for Scott. Heck, Vermont Pundit Emeritus Eric Davis said it was “too close to call.”
I warned you I wasn’t very good at predictions. I hope I’m a little better at analysis. Here goes.
After an epic-length campaign lasting a year and a half… after the spending of insane amounts of money by Vermont standards… after a unified Democratic homestretch with a healthy assist from Bernie Sanders… after a tsunami of outside money and endless TV ads and mailers… we might as well have had no campaign at all. The fundamentals going in — Phil Scott’s personal popularity, fatigue with the Shumlin administration, and Vermonters’ clear pattern of switching parties when there’s a vacancy in the corner office — were the deciding factors at the end.
If you’re not following me on Twitter, you missed a downright Pharisaical disputation about journalism and blogging and bias, and what exactly it is that I do.
My end of the argument has been severely restricted by Twitter’s character limit, so I thought I’d address the question in greater length here.
The critics are, quelle surprise, Phil Scott fans. In fact, the most persistent was Hayden Dublois, a nice young man who’s a paid staffer on the Scott campaign.
His complaint, echoed by others, is that I’ve been unfair to Scott because I’ve frequently criticized him while never scrutinizing Sue Minter.
Which is, as a matter of fact, not true. I was sharply critical of her campaign in its first several months; I thought she was getting left in the dust by Matt Dunne. I’ve criticized her for too often following Dunne’s lead and for failing to articulate differences between herself and the Shumlin administration. I criticized her performance in the post-primary debate for missing opportunities to confront Scott and for appearing overly programmed.
It is accurate, however, to say that I’ve been far more critical of Phil Scott. So, why is that?
The all-but-certain became reality yesterday. Outgoing House Speaker Shap Smith announced he will run for lieutenant governor. Thus making him a political rarity: a person who launches a campaign for one office, abandons it, and resets a candidacy for a different office. (He had killed his bid for governor last fall due to his wife’s illness.)
I’m not surprised. In fact, I’ve been promoting the idea since I first reported it way back on February 8.
At this point, it would be awfully difficult to re-enter the gubernatorial race. …But lieutenant governor? That wouldn’t be so hard.
… Also — and this is crucial for Smith’s personal situation — the job isn’t all that tough. He bangs the gavel in the Senate, he does some soft appearances around the state. He can pretty much set his own schedule.
He’d have a high-profile role at the center of state government. And it’s a great way to build name recognition for a future run at the top job — something Smith would still like to do.
Hey, I was right! You know what they say about blind squirrels and acorns.
Lock up your daughters, good people. Yours truly will be a panelist on tonight’s edition of “Vermont This Week,” Vermont PBS’ often-somnolent weekly news-in-review show. (It tends to proceed at a stately and predictable pace, as if trying to hike through the forest without breaking any twigs.)
I am honored, truly. The show is a little too staid for my taste, but heck, it’s not my show. And I have no plans to wreck the place; the panel’s role is to analyze the news, not burn the house down. Just as, when I sit in for Mike Smith on WDEV Radio’s daily talk show, I treat guests and their views with courtesy and respect.
I will try to enliven the proceedings a bit. But don’t expect any foul language or ad hominem attacks.
Of course, the show is taped a few hours in advance, so if I can’t control myself, the result is unlikely to befoul your living room. If my reputation proceeds me, they might designated a control-room operator to hold a finger above the CUT button whenever I’m talking. Which would be an honor of a different sort.
Vermont This Week, tonight at 8:30 7:30* on your favorite public television station. Also posted online for your convenient viewing pleasure.
A couple of business items on this Monday morning…
First, for those who don’t already know, I do a regular Monday morning chat with Chris Lenois at WKVT radio in Brattleboro — a fine station that, among other things, is an outlet for liberal radio talkers Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann. I appear live every Monday at about 7:35 pm. After the fact, our conversations are posted on WKVT’s website. This morning, you can catch us talking the primaries, including the different dramas in Vermont Republican and Democratic circles; also, Vermonters’ overwhelming approval of school budgets and what it says about Act 46, and the latest disturbing revelations about suspended Sen. Norm McAllister (R-Limbo).
Second, blogging may be more sporadic than usual for the next two weeks. I’ve got some family-related obligations that will take me in and out of Vermont. Nothing urgent, just some business that has to be taken care of. Thanks to the Internet I’ll be keeping up with Vermont politics and chiming in when my schedule permits.
This is also a good time for a reminder that you can sign up for an RSS feed. You’ll get a short email every time I post something. Your email address will be used only for that purpose; it won’t be sold for commercial or even nonprofit purposes. The sign-up thingy is in the right-hand column of this page.
Hi folks, your friendly neighborhood blogger here.
You may have noticed a few formatting bugs in my most recent post. Well, here’s the story.
I came home tonight from a quick trip to Philadelphia (don’t ask) and sat down to write a post about Governor Shumlin’s Enterprise Fund-related tantrums.
And discovered that good old WordPress had gone and updated its posting system. Apparently the old system, which was less streamlined but which I was accustomed to using, is now gone. So I’m playing catch-up with the new system. I hate doing this stuff.
So, my apologies if there are glitches here and there. I’m trying.