The Entire World vs. Mark Donka

Dear oh dear. One of the three fringey Republican candidates for Congress, Mark Donka, has his knickers in a big ol’ twist.

This is the same Mark Donka who lost badly to Peter Welch in 2012. How badly? Try 72-23. And now we know why: the media is conspiring against him.

Last week, Paul “The Huntsman” Heintz posted a piece about a rather offensive item on Donka’s Facebook page. Donka had posted a link to a far-right-wing hit piece entitled “Why are all the mass murderers Democrats?”

After Heintz took note of the post, there was a quick kerfuffle, and then Donka removed it from his Facebook page — even while offering a very conditional, tortuous rationalization for the post along with the tiniest dollop of regret.

A few days after that, Donka came up with a novel justification for the whole event: he was trolling the media, AND IT WORKED!

Last week I posted a link to an article that was very far out as an experiment.

You see, when I ran for office in 2012 I sent out press releases on an almost weekly basis with not one mainstream media outlet in Vermont publishing even one of them. They included topics such as a plan to reduce tuition costs and actual effective methods of reducing the cost of healthcare. Just recently I sent out a press release calling for the justice department to lead the investigation into the VA problems. No surprise that no one followed through in printing that either.

So I wondered if it was because I am not considered to be a legitimate candidate worthy of mention by the media or because I am a conservative and challenging one of their good old boys. Well I posted the link and waited to see what would happen and I got my answer. This article I linked was so outlandish that it is incomprehensible that anyone would take it seriously. But that is exactly what happened. I even fed Paul Heinz at Seven Days a few quotes just to make it seem a little legitimate.

So at least as far as Seven Days and The Valley News are concerned they are willing to give me coverage as long as it is negative coverage and not informing people that there are better ideas out there than the lame, worn out, and ineffective ideas that our current people in Washington have.

What ever happened to responsible journalism?

See? He didn’t agree with the offensive piece, not at all; he deliberately posted it in order to reveal the media’s hypocrisy: they refused to cover his serious campaign, but pounced at the chance to report a scandal.

It’s just The Man tryin’ to keep Mark Donka down.

Well, a couple of teeny-tiny problems with his great conspiracy theory. Maybe three.

First and foremost, this late-blooming rationalization is pretty transparent. When first confronted with the “mass murderers” post, Donka danced all over the place, offering tentative justifications and pullbacks in quick succession. He gave no indication that he’d just sprung a trap on the media. It took him a few more days to fabricate that story.

Second, it wasn’t the entire Vermont media. Heintz wrote a single online story. The Valley News, which is Donka’s local daily paper, understandably picked it up. And that, as far as I know, is it. Nothing in the Freeploid or Mitchell Family Organ or VPR or WCAX or WPTZ or Fox 22 or WDEV or VTDigger. Even the poo-flinging monkeys of Green Mountain Daily ignored it, because as far as we’re concerned, Mark Donka is pretty close to irrelevant. Except when he goes this far out of his way to make a spectacle of himself.

Third, it’s not unusual for a politician’s press releases to be ignored by the media. It’s done far more often than not. You should see all the stuff sent out by Shumlin, Sanders, Leahy, Welch, and the two major parties. The vast majority are quickly deleted. Just because a politician makes an announcement, or wants to generate publicity about an issues, doesn’t mean it’s actual news. It’s usually not.

Third and a half, it’s not the media’s job to help you create interest and momentum in your campaign. The media focuses most of its attention on candidates who have an actual chance to win. They don’t completely ignore others — witness the Freeploid’s front page story on Emily Peyton a few weeks ago. But the focus of the coverage is on those with a real chance at being elected. Even more of the coverage goes to incumbents, whether Democrats, Progressives, or Republicans, because they’re the ones actually doing stuff and moving the debate.

Besides, when you’re a minor candidate with fringey ideas, no amount of media coverage would change people’s minds. As someone who’s spent his professional life in media, and felt a great sense of responsibility for the quality of my work, I can tell you that virtually all of it makes not a single bit of difference. Most people, even most voters, pay little or no attention to The News. Those who do pay attention don’t allow The News to interfere with their established opinions and beliefs. (Indeed, there’s evidence to show that a story disproving your beliefs can somehow wind up reinforcing your beliefs. Such is the power of the mind.)

Mark Donka didn’t lose in 2012 because the media failed to report his positions. He lost because he had no campaign organization, no money, and no appeal to most voters.

And Mark Donka is blowing smoke out his hindquarters with this “trapping the media” arglebargle. He posted that “mass murderers are Democrats” thing because he agreed with it to some extent, and he thought it would appeal to his Facebook friends. There’s other stuff on his Facebook page that’s almost as offensive: endless yammering about Benghazi, a sad bit of snark about Michelle Obama’s participation in the #saveourgirls campaign, a really misguided rant about how we’re spending billions on foreign aid while our own people go wanting, hate pieces from the likes of World Net Daily.

No, from the totality of Donka’s Facebook page, I conclude that he’s a far-right Fox News conspiracy theorist who’s so far out of step with the Vermont electorate that he has absolutely no chance of beating Peter Welch. And to ask the media to spend significant time on his beliefs is to ask the media to waste its resources and our time.  

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