Watchin’ Scotty Grow

(With apologies to all who now have the Greatest Hits of Bobby Goldsboro stuck in your head.)

A rather curious thing showed up on Channel 3’s news earlier this week: a lovely little puff piece about the maybe-candidacy of Scott Milne, second-generation head of Milne Travel and son of Marion Milne, an authentic political hero.  

Which says nothing about the strengths or weaknesses of her son, as yet untested in state politics and actively pondering his acid test: a run for Governor. “As we first told you,” as Channel 3 is ever-quick to point out. Their scoops are rare and precious things indeed.

The station called WGOP by the late great Peter Freyne couldn’t resist following up on its scoop — and giving Milne some free publicity — by “covering” a singularly odd event: a visit by Milne to a diner in White River Junction. A visit attended by a WCAX camera and reporter Adam Sullivan, who managed to wangle an interview with the non-candidate at an empty table. As far as can be told, no other reporters were present.

How, I wonder, did this happen? Did Milne’s non-campaign organization arrange the diner meet-and-greet? Did they invite Channel 3 and only Channel 3? Was there collusion between Republican-friendly TV station and local businessman who does a ton of advertising in local media? (And is Channel 3’s go-to “expert” for stories on travel.)

Something smells, and it’s not the Friday Fish Fry at the Crossroads Cafe.

As for the alleged substance of this journalistic handjob, Milne slipped a cagey hint to Sullivan:

“I have a great idea that I want to do it, Adam,” Milne said.

Ooh, “Adam.” Way to be fake-friendly with the media, Scotty!

Sullivan and Milne then dipped into my suggested treasure trove of travel-related metaphor:

Milne is seriously considering a run for governor of Vermont. He likens the current state of affairs in the Green Mountain State to a sinking ship.

“These seem pretty good in Vermont right now, but somebody has got to keep an eye out for the icebergs and figuring out how we get around them,” Milne said.

Ah, Captain Milne, a reliable guide through the treacherous waters engulfing our Ship of State. He can get you to Fenway Park by bus; surely he can get Vermont to a prosperous future. Heed his warning: The buffet on the S.S. Shumlin might look tasty, but there’s salmonella lurking in the lobster salad.  

Milne’s line about things seeming pretty good right now reminds me of then-Governor Douglas’ fervent warnings that the Legislature was driving Vermont off the cliff, if you don’t mind me switching travel-related metaphors in midstream. (Oops, I did it again.) The linked warning came in 2009, and we’ve been waiting for the Douglas-promised Doomsday ever since.

(At the same time, Republican Rep. Heidi Scheuermann echoed Douglas’ warnings of imminent catastrophe, in language almost identical to that of today’s VTGOP:

… the budget that was passed increased spending at a rate greater than inflation, raises taxes by over $26 million and leaves us with a $200 million hole the next two years.

So, five years ago we faced disaster any day now. Funny, it keeps receding just over the horizon. Scheuermann then bemoaned the “imbalance” of political power and predicted that Vermonters would punish the Dems in the 2010 election. Yeah, still waiting for that to happen. And the Republicans are still pushing this tired, failed meme of “restoring balance.”)

Oh dear, I seem to have left Scott Milne and Adam Sullivan sitting at a table. Where he was, ahem, mourning the partisan imbalance in Montpelier.

“If you believe that you need balance in Montpelier, that balance is the best way forward, there is really an easy way to do that and that is to change the governor,” Milne said.

Some things never change.

To sum up: non-candidate Scott Milne acts like a candidate in a highly prepackaged setting. WCAX just happens to be on hand to chronicle a few handshakes and a substance-free interview. It broadcasts the segment, giving Milne a nice chunk of free media. To quote The Church Lady, “Isn’t that special?”

8 thoughts on “Watchin’ Scotty Grow

  1. a hard hitting follow-up interview by veteran political analyst Chris Graff.Summer is soft-ball season after all.

  2. Eventually someone will get around to filing charges, long after the election, and WCAX will have it’s PAC pay a tiny fine, and they’ll do it again for 2016.

  3. with the lobster salad. wonder when the last time the Good Captain went slumming in WRJ? Perhaps it’s the authentic Turkish cuisine at the corner by the RR station that whet his cosmopolitain whistle.

    …we’ve been waiting for the Douglas-promised Doomsday ever since.

    God, I miss him: “Well, Bob, I get around the state a fair bit and I think the people of Vermont…[wonder what I do for a living, are too busy screwing sheep to pay any attention, probably would like me give away more of our precious natural resources to other countries…and with two you get eggroll.]”

  4. was kept in the VT MSM clique faaar to long following his “mysterious” shitcanning by AP which I’ve alays believed was due to his moonlighting as media-publicist & sheilding of old college buddy Jimmy Douglas whenever possible.

    Following the revelation that Douglas used his entire staff as a taxpayer-funded PAC w/a budget of nearly half a million & dutifully served the guv as PR agents & press secretaries, Graffs fingerprints were all over this surreptitious undertaking.

    VT MSM also conveyed the patently false impression to the gullible public & continued to use Graff as a political “consultant” & go-to person for many if not nearly all issues. Failing to inform the public that Graff was no longer a journalist but in fact a mere lobbyist for VT Life and in fact was fired in 2006 but this “arrangement” continued until at least 2010 the public including myself none the wiser.

    The mantle has now fallen upon Eric Davis.


  5. though that as the “official” (one of them) reason(s), Graff himself still claims he doesn’t know the reason. I’ve read about it extensively & have seen all of those stories.

    My belief is my opinion only. I personally believe it as the reason — other tea-leaf readers have a right to their opinions as well.

    I also think linking the AP with Herald/Times Argus may have made their relationship “seem” a bit too cozy for AP’s comfort.

    Correction: I have stated in comments that Douglas budget for staffers was in the $500,0000 ballpark, it was in fact in the $1 million ballpark as he cut services for the neediest Vermonters to use his taxpayer-funded personal publicists to do little else but keep him in office, put a Douglas-friendly spin on all news stories & events shining halo & burnishing legacy. Correct me if mistaken but this level of regime-rigging is unprecedented in VT.

    And the “communicators” will likely keep their jobs. Those are the public relations folks hired by Gov. James Douglas at an annual cost of about $1 million.

    Anyone following politics knows that this was a huge issue in the legislature @that time.

    This Reformer editorial by Sabina Haskell, managing editor @ the time was the eye-opener for me:

    PR before people?

    Posted:   08/29/2008 03:04:05 AM EDT0 Comments


    House Assistant Majority Leader Floyd Nease suggested that seven of those taypayer-funded communicators ought to be eliminated. We would agree. In our experience, they do a great job promoting the Douglas administration and a not-so-good job delivering timely information when our reporters need it.

    Vermont is still a small state where journalists can call up a department head and, in most cases, get a prompt answer to a question. Administration Secretary Neale Lunderville may maintain that the PR Brigade “have an important role in state government,” but it looks like it’s more important to the governor to preserve his spinmeisters than to fund education or transportation programs.

    I dropped my teeth when I read this @ the time. Though I did not closely watch or understand the intricisies of the inner workings of VT government I did read & watch Graff’s writings & I think he was on VT television news shows frequently. Funny, as a news junkie closely watching VT MSM & reading several papers daily, though I certainly could miss a story or two, this is one I would not have missed. To my recollection — nary a peep from old college buddy Graff. I happen to suspect he was manipulating the flow of information a bit more than the average MSM correspondent with thumb on the scale as to what stories have the more “weight”.

    For the VT AP correspondent, Graff, as someone covering the state but seemingly ignoring this outrage I found to be interesting. Perhaps I’m not alone, or have missed something here.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *