Letters to the Editor

2022 Vermont gubernatorial campaign demonstrates clear media bias

Aug 23 2022, 7:07 AM

Vermont voters are once again experiencing state news media narrowing their range of vision to primarily one candidate, incumbent Gov. Phil Scott. While criticisms on this subject have brought about a slight trend toward moderation in them starting to at least mention Democratic-Progressive nominee Brenda Siegel by name as well as the inclusion of a few split-second videos on WPTZ and the other television stations, there is a complete imbalance in the time allotted to the governor and his principal opponent, Ms. Siegel. 

Unfortunately, this type of bias inevitably results in difficulties in fundraising for Brenda and other candidates being minimized, as well as sharply reduced name recognition compared to what would be expected if she were provided with a level playing field. 

This is without even beginning a discussion of the media's unwillingness to provide much discussion of issues, which are clearly defined in many cases by Ms. Siegel. For example, the topic of the new proposed $100 million state prison complex by the Scott administration seems to be largely kept “under the radar” so far for voters.  

Brenda champions harm reduction techniques and is outlining a sharply different approach toward a safer and more humane response to the fentanyl overdose epidemic, while Phil Scott seems content to expand prison capacity and pursue the tried and failed approach of stepped-up arrests and convictions of drug offenders, many of whom are simply addicts caught up in their addiction and in need of treatment.

In summary, we seem to be seeing a lack of detail in terms of discussion of highly relevant issues in the media accompanied by a preoccupation with fundraising, which is closely tied to what amounts to disproportional coverage for the governor. This phenomenon turns fundraising problems for Ms. Siegel into a highly predictable byproduct of the media’s own neglect of responsibility in providing fair and substantive coverage. No wonder Vermont always seems to reelect incumbents!

Bill Coleman