The all-new, MORE MORE MORE Burlington Free Press, now specializing in wide margins, oversized fonts, and giant photographs, found a new way to waste ink, paper, and its readers’ time in the Monday paper with a front-page profile piece on Darcie “Hack” Johnston, overpaid conservative strategerist and consistent loser.
In itself, this doesn’t make the Freeploid unique; indeed, Seven Days performed its own personal servicing on Johnston last fall with a very friendly profile piece. But the ‘Loid’s offense is worse because: (1) the front-page placement (the 7D piece was well inside the paper), (2) the lack of any connection to current events (last October, Johnston was very active in the conservative vs. moderate battle for the VTGOP), and (3) the fact that Johnston isn’t even in Vermont these days. With local Republicans perhaps having realized that her wrong-headed consultancies cost a lot of money and yield no discernible results, Johnston has been forced to traverse the continent to find a candidate willing to pay for her (cough) political savvy: she’s in Arizona, heading the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Frank Riggs.
(Based on her track record, we should expect her return to Our Green And Verdant Land shortly after Riggs loses the primary and she cashes her last paycheck.)
So how did the Freeploid justify a front-page story about a consultant who’s 2200 miles away?
Well, she posted something on Facebook about single-payer health care in Vermont.
Er, she posted something a few weeks ago.
Yeah, that warrants the front page. Headlining tomorrow’s Freeploid: Randy Brock Tweets!!!
The Facebook post is, natch, a mere pretext for a rehash of Johnston’s undistinguished consultancy career — with the emphasis on her devotion to principle. Largely concealed in deep shadow: the fact that every campaign she’s worked on has lost, and that she’s collected ample paychecks while failing to produce measurable results.
And buried deep in the article is the sad truth about her diminishing role in Vermont politics: her anti-health-care reform group, Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, appears to be hanging by a thread. I say so, first of all, because if VHCF had any money, do you really think she’d be spending this election season in Arizona?
Second, the Freeploid reports that a recent VHCF fundraising appeal seems not to have produced much return: Johnston is still bemoaning the lack of resources for any kind of media campaign.
And third, Johnston bestie Wendy Wilton conspicuously referred to VHCF in the past tense:
As for Johnston’s legacy, Wilton in Rutland suggested, “Whether Vermonters for Health Care Freedom made any kind of mark will be seen in the legislative races in the fall and in how hard lawmakers look at alternatives to single payer in the next session.”
Which, again, leaves me honestly puzzled by the Freeploid’s decision that Johnston was worthy of full-length treatment and front-page placement.
There is, however, a story worth exploring about Darcie Johnston: She sent that VHCF fundraising letter earlier this month — when she was already in Arizona, engaged full-time on the Riggs campaign. Unanswered in the Freeploid piece: is anybody running the show at VHCF? (Someone actually based in the state of Vermont, I mean.) Is VHCF conducting any activities in Johnston’s absence? What, exactly, can potential donors expect to get for their money?
And finally this: is Johnston collecting any compensation from VHCF? And is she doing any work?
Besides, y’know, the occasional Facebook post.