Tag Archives: Garrison Nelson

Sausage Party II: I think We’re All Dicks on This Bus

Aw, fer the love of Mike. There goes the eyelid again.

The Vermont media corps followed up their reliance on a teeny-tiny (and entirely male) pool of pundits with a rousing encore this morning.

First, I come across an article by VTDigger’s Mike Polhamus* about the wind energy issue in the gubernatorial race. And there’s our man in Middlebury:

Eric Davis, a retired Middlebury College political science professor, said the voters most fired up on the wind turbine issue are people in rural areas who live near existing wind projects.

Now, that’s the kind of unfiltered conventional wisdom that money just can’t buy.

And then, just when my eyelid was settling down, I open up VPR’s webpage and find a piece by Bob Kinzel that not only quotes Davis at length, but throws in a healthy dose of Garrison Nelson for good measure.

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The Punditry Sausage Party

Friday afternoon I was reading a report on vpr.net about young people entering politics after being inspired by Bernie Sanders. It was a perfectly cromulent time-filler, not particularly long on insight or depth  (quotes from only two candidates, no attempt to identify a larger trend).

Near the end came this passage:

Eric Davis, a professor emeritus of political science at Middlebury College, says it’s too soon to tell:

“In this year’s presidential cycle, Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has certainly inspired many young people to get involved in politics,” Davis said. “The question I have, and I believe it’s too early to provide an answer to this question, is whether these impacts of the Sanders’ campaign are going to continue beyond the end of 2016.”

… and my left eyelid started twitching.

I’ve got no beef with Davis, a reliable source for a useful bit of conventional wisdom. But what suddenly struck me and my eyelid is the absolute ubiquity of the same handful of pundits quoted endlessly by Vermont media.

Davis is far and away number one. If someone decides there’s been a little too much Davis, they might make a call to Garrison Nelson. Or Chris “Undiscolsed Conflict” Graff. Or, in the case of Channel 3, Mike Smith and Steve Terry.

(Not to mention VTDigger’s political columnist, Jon Margolis.)

It’s a small punditical pool. And there’s a distinct ball smell about it.

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The girlfriend non-issue

Seven Days’ political columnist Paul Heintz made a rare trip into the office this weekend — well, maybe he just filed from home — to post a thumbsucker piece about whether or not the media should report on Governor Shumlin’s private life.

Specifically, the fact that he’s been, ahem, dating a much younger woman for some time now.

“Dating,” Heintz’ term for it.

Going to the drive-in, hanging out at the malt shop, playing miniature golf, “running out of gas” on the way home. Takes me back.

Madame X, some guy, some guy,some other guy. From some guy's Facebook page.

Madame X, some guy, some guy, some other guy. From some guy’s Facebook page.

Heintz examines the issue because last Thursday, VTDigger’s Anne Galloway posted a very thorough Shumlin profile. And near the very end, she disclosed the open secret that Shumlin has been, uh, “dating” 30-year-old Katie Hunt. In his piece, Heintz explores the Vermont tradition of not addressing the private lives of public figures, and ponders whether Galloway did the right thing.

In the process, he gave himself a chance to say, well, we knew about it too, so it wasn’t a scoop; we’d just decided not to publish it. (I eagerly await Paul’s email explaining how I’m off base, in 3…2…1…)

But the core question: is Hunt’s identity fair game? Was Galloway within her rights to publish it?

To which I say, of course it is and of course she was.

And if, as Heintz implies, the Shumlin camp is upset about it, I suggest they stop whining and concentrate on real stuff. If they’re mad at VTDigger, they should stop taking media coverage too personally.

Really, it’s downright strange that the Shumlineers are hot and bothered about the G.F. when, in the same piece, Galloway has people describing the Governor as two-faced and opportunistic. And within 24 hours, VTDigger also published a long piece exposing all kinds of problems in Vermont Health Connect. All this, plus an election, and you’re upset over the girlfriend? Perspective, people.

The whole notion that Shumlin’s girlfriend’s identity is off limits is just silly. After all, he hasn’t even tried to keep it a secret. The two have been seen together in public, obviously acting as a couple. For God’s sake, there’s a photo of them on Sen Dick Sears’ Facebook page. In light of all that, why the hell should the Governor have any expectation of privacy?

If it’s a Vermont tradition, then it’s one of many Vermont traditions that ought to be dragged out back, shot in the head, and buried as a relic of a bygone age when the media pretended that Babe Ruth didn’t drink and Warren Harding didn’t sleep around. And vice versa.

Besides, if I were Ms. Hunt and I’d been the Governor’s steady for a while now, I’d be wondering why he feels the need to conceal my identity. Am I a little piece on the side, or a real partner?

Also, Galloway framed it responsibly. It was not, as UVM prof Garrison Nelson put it, “tabloid stuff.” It was part of a detailed, comprehensive picture of Peter Shumlin the politician and the person. Family ties are part of the mix, The media routinely mention parents, spouses, children, and other relatives when relevant. There should be no controversy about naming Katie Hunt and then getting on with our business.

Although I do have one question. Do Shumlin’s college-age daughters call her “Mom”?