Letter: Seven Days should self-examine for conservative ‘blind spot’

To the editor:

Ms. Routly described the challenges New England media outlets are experiencing to recruit conservative editorial voices. (Talking Cure 11-18/2020). May I suggest a different perspective on their plight? Conservatives don’t see themselves as editorial arm candy to be shown off at the next regional newspaper conference. Or a box to be checked or as the token conservative. The deeper foundational issue is the employment practices and composition of the news/editorial staff and their work product. After reading the editorials and articles maybe conservatives say to themselves, “I’m not welcomed here.” 

Conservatives are at ease with organizations where they periodically see and hear similar opinions to those they hold. They will share their opinions more freely to media who hire their kindred spirits to produce stories and editorials. 

Seven Days should conduct a confidential poll of news staff and editorial employees of Seven Days, VtDigger, and Vermont Public Radio. How many consider themselves conservative, served in the armed forces, donated to Republican presidential candidates, belong to the local fish and game club, fly an American flag, watch NASCAR, support local police, etc.? The results might illuminate blind spots and recruitment opportunities. It could lead to an increase in readership and advertising dollars too. 

For the second consecutive presidential election, the media polls were off and missed “shy” conservative voters. Vermont media should do a better job ensuring their opinions are heard and debated in Vermont’s marketplace of ideas. 

Matt Krauss


The author is a former Vermont State Senator. This letter was printed in Seven Days on 11/18/2020.

Categories: Media, Opinion

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8 replies »

  1. Re: “Seven Days should conduct a confidential poll of news staff and editorial employees of Seven Days, VtDigger, and Vermont Public Radio.”

    I recently had the opportunity to discuss media bias with VPR’s Morning Edition Host, Mitch Wertlieb. I had expressed disappointment with his recent characterization of former Red Sox baseball pitcher Curt Schilling as an ‘uninformed loud-mouth’. To his credit, he responded to me.

    Mr. Wertlieb said he based his “assessment mostly on [Schilling’s] social media tweets, which included among others, an image of former president Obama with a Hitler moustache.” When I asked him to cite a link to the ‘image’, because I couldn’t find it, he said “…it was my understanding that he deleted it”. Suffice it to say, I was able to locate Schilling’s several other conservative and controversial posts and have no reason to believe any of them had been deleted.

    Mr. Wertlieb did admit to mixing news reports and personal commentary. “The error is mine…” he said, “… and I appreciate you bringing it to light.” But he rationalized that: “The greater question I suppose is whether I should ever express such opinions at all and the only reason I’ve done so to this point is that listeners seem to enjoy hearing a bit of a break in straight reporting when it comes to sports, and most of the reaction I’ve received to that effect has been positive, …”.

    Nonetheless, the point I made to Mr. Wertlieb was “… more importantly, your stance on the ‘Hitler’ characterization, even if your citation were true, is hypocritical at the very least. Your sister publication, for example, VT Digger, incessantly publishes similarly repugnant Danziger cartoons. Consider this one published just last week.×979.jpg

    Or these gems.

    I continued:
    “Mitch, you are a journalist. Your employer is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, requiring non-partisanship. Both VPR (especially its NPR feed) and VT Digger are breaching their journalistic covenants, and, at the same time, threatening people who express opinions, to which you may disagree, with a shame factor, intended or not, that stifles free speech. Reporting is one thing. Commentary is another.”

    Mr. Wertlieb, to date, has chosen not to respond to VT Digger’s egregious hypocrisy. Perhaps this commentary will shake the tree further.

  2. I think this is why the supposed conservatives find themselves so nearly extinct in VT. Do you really believe that those of us who vote Democratic don’t fly the American flag, belong to the local sports club, support the police and enjoy NASCAR? You do your own part such a disservice by writing off such a huge swatch of VT. There are many many Vermonters who hunger for a rational conservative approach to small business, taxes, and the entrepreneurial freedom to excel. There is nothing even mentioned about these things here; just tired old culture warfare stuff left over from 1975.

    • Thank you as a lifelong republican but not one now I’m not interested in the culture wars.
      I’m interested in Liberty, less government Intrusion, lower taxes and when necessary for the government to do its damn job like roads, bridges, actual defense and other infrastructure that isn’t practical for the private sector.
      So please leave the culture wars behind your readership will grow.

    • Indeed, Jodi Harrington is correct. Many Democrats may be flag waving, sports loving people who support the police and enjoy NASCAR. But isn’t it as condescending to characterize those of us who complain about media bias as ‘supposed conservatives’. What is a ‘supposed’ conservative?

      The anomaly, Jodi, is that we conservatives rarely, if ever, read or hear from you. Perhaps you’ve been censored by VT Digger as many times as we have. In fact, anecdotally, this characterization of Democrats is a first for me, and I look forward to hearing more support for the American flag (at least as much as for other flags), funding the police (as opposed to defunding them), and an appreciation for the fossil fuel burning NASCAR folks, from you and other progressive Democrats.

    • Jodi Harrington’s remarks are a harbinger of things to come. And I welcome them.

      May I be the first to announce that Conservatives have won the 2020 elections, across the board. If anyone doesn’t recognize Joe Biden’s complete U-turn, as he co-opts Trump administration policies as his own, they should get their heads out of the sand. The Trump vaccine is about to become the Biden vaccine. Socialism is dead. The extreme progressive left, represented by Bernie Sanders (B.S. personified), Beto, AOC and ‘The Squad’, is about to learn how fickle politics really is. ‘The Squad’ has been used. They are ‘used’. Now they will be cast aside by their Democrat turncoats at DC’s recycling center.

      Nancy Pelosi is history too. Not because she isn’t politically astute. Pelosi will turn on a dime too. But she’s out of style in the showroom displaying this new Democrat conservatism. Biden’s cabinet picks, so far, indicate the change in his barometric pressure.

      And in Vermont, the Progressives aren’t stupid either. Gone are stalwarts Mitzi Johnson, David Zuckerman and Tim Ashe. Even in Vermont, Progressives are reading the writing on the wall despite their so-called ‘progressiveness’. And that’s a good thing.

      With Covid, remote working, and more internet bandwidth, I think we’re going to see School Choice and its resultant lowering of property taxes. We’re going to see an increase in the use of inexpensive Hydro Quebec power (Solar and Wind simply can’t cut the mustard).

      Yes, it is a Brave New World. But its conservative, and for good reason.

    • “In fact, anecdotally, this characterization of Democrats is a first for me…” Eshelman. Here! Here!
      2021 Democrats ARE NOT your/their/our parents’ Democrats.

  3. All right, now please, just wait a minute. This is grossly insensitive…an act of blatant cruelty. You’re fully aware of their need for a “safe place” and yet you suggest that they should open themselves up to be emotional and intellectual assaulted by good sense. Enlightenment carries with it certain moral responsibilities toward these poor folk.

  4. Thank-You, Mr. Krauss! The myopic 7 Daze editorial board and readership: Educated, excellent spelling Antifa wanna-bees, sans police records, who like to read revisionist/socialist histories, protest and burn stuff but do not like to get dirty. Burlington Bernie Brats