Commentary

Digger won’t print pastor’s letter protesting Prop 5 freebie ad, cites ‘misunderstanding’

Update: VTDigger publisher says they have been reimbursed by Vermont for Reproductive Liberty

by Rev. Spencer Lemons

After reading the Vermont Daily Chronicle article (“VT Digger admits mistake….” March 23) about VTDigger’s providing free advertising to proponents of Proposal 5, the “abortion-plus” constitutional amendment, I sent the following letter to the Digger editor:  

Rev. Spencer Lemons

I was disappointed to read in another publication that Vermont Digger admitted to “a mistake” in providing $1000 worth of free advertising to an advocacy organization pushing Proposal 5, the “Personal Reproductive Autonomy” amendment to the state Constitution, and that this in-kind contribution spreading propaganda for a political cause came the day before a key vote in the Vermont House of Representatives. That a news organization would first make a financially significant contribution to a SuperPAC for a political movement it is covering is appalling, and that it did so in a manner specifically designed to influence a key vote in the legislature is nauseating.  

Why did I have to read about this “mistake” in another news outlet? If Digger wants to regain any credibility, it needs to own up to this in its own pages to its own readers. Are there other examples of Digger making in-kind contributions of free advertising to political organizations? We deserve to know. 

I would hope any story or column about Proposal 5 in VTDigger moving forward would feature a disclaimer alerting readers that the publisher is a financial contributor to the “Vermont for Reproductive Liberty” political action committee. 

Editor Paul Heintz responded to me with the following:

         Dear Rev. Lemons, 

Thank you for writing the letter to the editor copied below. I’m afraid you may have a misunderstanding of this matter. Please see this statement from VTDigger founder Anne Galloway: 

As we often do with potential clients, we offered Vermont for Reproductive Liberty a promotion in an effort to secure future underwriting business. This was a mistake. VTDigger’s policy prohibits donations to political organizations or advocacy groups. In the future we will ensure that no promotions are offerd to political organizations, advocacy groups, or candidates of any kind.

We have asked Vermont for Reproductive Liberty to compensate us for the underwriting and they have agreed to do so. Needless to say, VTDigger’s news department had no knowledge of or involvement in this matter.

Sincerely, Paul Heintz

And VTDigger refused to print my letter. 

So, to this I responded asking where this statement from Mrs. Galloway could be found on VTDigger’s website, as I still feel strongly that their readers deserved to know of this incident. I cannot find any reference to the event on Digger’s website, and I have received no further contact from Mr. Heintz or anyone else at Digger. 

Other questions I have would be, Did Vermonters for Reproductive Liberty actually reimburse VTDigger the $1000? Is there a record of that? What was the value of running those free ads the day before the House vote, and how can that influence be erased? Who made this decision to donate free advertising to a political action committee, and how can we be sure they had no connection with the news department? I sincerely doubt such a decision could be made at VTDigger without Mrs. Galloway’s sign off, and she oversees the newsroom. Can VTDigger assure us that no other such “underwritings” have taken place in the past? If they have, what organizations and causes get this red carpet treatment, and which don’t. Why didn’t Digger make such a pitch to opponents of Proposal 5? Their advertising money isn’t as good at VTDigger?

Rev. Lemons married Catherine in 2009, they have 2 children and moved to Sheldon from the Catskills in 2014. In February 2022 Spencer obtained his pastoral ordination. The Community Home Church in Sheldon started because many churches in the state were recently closing their doors due to the pandemic. Spencer felt the call to have a church that doesn’t close and is a city on a hill, to be light not covered (Matthew 5:13-16), where people can openly worship God.

Editor’s update: late this morning VT Digger Publisher Anne Galloway confirmed via email to Vermont Daily Chronicle that Vermont for Reproductive Liberty has paid for the ad: “We have been reimbursed,” she wrote.

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14 replies »

  1. What about Digger’s 502C3 non-profit status that is supposed to ensure no political favoritism? Can we see a receipt for that $1,000.00 reimbursement? VtGravedigger is a place where conservative news goes to die and be burred so it can’t be seen by their readers or anyone else. Why haven’t they lost their 501C3 status? Answer, Vermont’s liberal media establishment is all for censorship. Keep the people uninformed so the progressive ideology can flourish as the rest of us witness the state circle the drain waiting for the final flush. These people have no shame.

  2. Vermont Digger has to be watched carefully. They have the woke liberal bit in their mouth.

  3. A mistake? And do you believe that! Their news department had no knowledge of the arrangement? Because they wanted even more advertising? You can be sure the Digger’s “Movers and Shakers” not only knew about it, but even solicited the deal. That is the way inside deals are accomplished.

  4. Agree with all of the above, who would one contact to file a complaint? Vt Digger has had the bit in their mouth for quite a long time now…….I unsubscribed shortly into the pandemic since their numbers never seemed to match up……….propaganda machine sponsored by our gov at the very least……..

  5. Their tagline is “news in pursuit of the truth.” The reality of the tagline is “news further from the truth”

  6. VtDigger Editor Paul Heintz made the following statement to Rev. Lemons:

    “As we often do with potential clients, we offered Vermont for Reproductive Liberty a promotion in an effort to secure future underwriting business.”

    Perhaps Mr. Heintz can provide a list of ten other potential clients that VTD has provided at least a $1,000 in free advertising to support his assertion that free advertising is often provided to potential customers.

    The VTD as a responsible business must keep complete records of its expenditures, so Heintz undoubtedly has a complete list of all the free advertising that the VTD has handed out.

    Mr. Heintz, the people are waiting for you to back up your claim of free advertising……When will they see it?

  7. I’ve become convinced that the Digger staff conscientiously believes that the views coming from the right are just…well, bad…They are conspiratorial delusions coming from an ignorant uninformed public and they don’t warrant engagement by the Digger’s enlightened cognoscenti. Witness the discarding of their comment facility. They don’t want to hear disturbing comments from the rabble. This present self justifying, though plausible, explanation is part of a pervasive excuse network apparent across much of how they report the news. Forthright responsiveness to the diversity of their readership is not part of their ethos. Managing/suppressing unruly independent Vermonters seems to be their strategy. .

    • The attempts to minimize the quantity of conservatives at work in this state is what is in play here by Digger, The Rutland Herald and I presume others as well. The only way to muzzle this nonsense is to buy them out like Musk did with Twitter. I will bet dollars to donuts that the liberal media is shaking right about now, because the Musk event needed to happen and I predict more WILL happen. The American people have had it with this B S from the libs.

  8. Just stop giving them clicks, and while you are at it, if you consider yourselves to be true patriots, conservatives and Constitutionalists, dont give any clicks to twitter, facebook or amazon.

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