Bill McKibben on the pandemic, VTDigger, and Vermont’s deplorables

By John McClaughry

Here’s a recent comment by Middlebury College’s enviro activist in residence Bill McKibben, which makes an interesting point.

“The pandemic has also been hard on [Vermont’s] newspapers, which have been curtailing editions and laying off staff. But Vermont is also lucky to have two more-or-less statewide independent media outlets: the entirely Web-based VTDigger and the Burlington-based alternative weekly Seven Days.”

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Bill Mckibben

“Both have done something unusual and useful during the pandemic: they have shut down their comments sections. They did it to make sure that people weren’t spreading bad information about public health, but the secondary effect has been to isolate the small number of soreheads and malcontents who monopolize such venues.”

That reminds you of Hillary Clinton’s characterization of her detractors as “Deplorables,” doesn’t it?

In the case of VTDigger, which I readily admit performs a valuable service for the state, I did a quick analysis of the first 10 comments posted on the report of the July Senate passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act. Seven commenters were opposed to that bill, and three were supportive. I added up the positive and negative responses and found that the opposition prevailed by a ratio of 1058 to 103 (91% opposed).

Two weeks later VT Digger discontinued comments on the dubious grounds that it took too much staff time to moderate them. In my view, it’s more plausible that they got tired of publicizing the views of McKibben’s soreheads and malcontents who opposed the Digger-favored climate agenda.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Images courtesy of Dave Brenner/Wikimedia Commons and Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
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32 thoughts on “Bill McKibben on the pandemic, VTDigger, and Vermont’s deplorables

  1. So let me see if I understand…the near total lock down of media by the left was found to have leaks; the comment sections of their two flagship propaganda organs. So they shut them down? …and they think that’s a good thing…to muzzle the racist, rude, unwoke, deplorables because they don’t belong at the cool kids lunch table anyway. Don’t you just love the enlightened elite leading us out of the darkness?

    • Breaking:
      Plandemic II Indoctornation:
      “Guided by the meticulous work of Dr. David E. Martin, Plandemic II: Indoctornation, tracks a three decade-long money trail that leads directly to the key players behind the COVID 19 pandemic.

      Plandemic II will connect the dots between all forms of media, the medical industry, politics and the financial industry to unmask the major conflicts of interests with the decision-makers that are currently managing this crisis.”
      https://ise.media/video/plandemic-ii-indoctornation-23.html

  2. VT Digger has only had one mission, to be a Political Action Committee…a PAC. That is in total violation of their tax exempt non proft status. It is a federal criminal issue since they are INTERSTATE in who funds them and their reach. They were scamming the system for their own agends….which is how progressives operate. HOWEVER, something happened there….sooon after the BANNED all comments…simpy because it was usually 10-1 negative on what they wrote….VT Digger has also somehow been “sanitized”. You don;t see many of theiir progressive, socialist, cub reporters going off the rails on enviro issues, glbal warming, fertilires, BLM, ANTIFA and they God’s they worship at the Conservation Law Foundation. SOMETHING changed. I hope SOMEONE finally got the Govt to investigate them for TAX fraud….most of what they post now is just FLUFF NEWS! Yipee!

  3. Bill Mckibben is a rich snob who owns property in both New York and Vermont.

    Bill Mckibben’s quote, “Both have done something unusual and useful during the pandemic: they have shut down their comments sections. They did it to make sure that people weren’t spreading bad information about public health, but the secondary effect has been to isolate the small number of soreheads and malcontents who monopolize such venues.”

    VTDigger and Seven Days are not “independent media outlets” nay they are merely tools for the cultural erosion of Vermonts wellbeing under the guise of “reporting.” VPR is the worst constantly harping on emotionally manipulative topics to condition folks to go along with an ever more restrictive surveillance state of thought control. Also shutting down comments sections that go against the narrative of a media outlet is not freedom, nay it is the cowardly dog with its tail between its legs shirking from even the merest hint of opposition and running over to a “safe space.” Liberal authoritarianism is at play.

  4. Vermont Digger & Seven Day, both are a joke !!

    Just try and submit something against there narrative and for some
    reason, it will not get posted ……… coincidence ??

    Like stated through out all the responses they eliminated the comment
    sections…… yeah, they can’t handle the truth and they surely don’t want
    their minions to hear it ……..

    As the political rhetoric starts this fall, let’s see if ” True North ” will buckle
    from outside pressure………..they will !!

  5. Hi Neil, I thought you might like to know that Ezra Levant has started a GoFundMe for Millie Weaver.
    I happened to read that last night. I don’t know if you know Ezra, he’s a good one, look him up.
    Just an FYI, as we all know, Lawfare cost a fortune and this is a 29 year old lady with a 4 year old and a 9 month old baby.. it’s a shameful situation.

    • I replied under Neil’s comment, but yet it posted at the top?
      Apologies that this appears off topic, musta been a glitch at the site.

      • Thanks, I gave to the gym owner in Rutland….I’ll probably wait to see what unfolds and what happens monetarily in my personal finances before doing anything on this one. There is too much conflicting information to know where the truth might be, I do support all the works she’s done, she’s pretty fair and good, so I suspect her story may contain a bit more truth, who knows…..

  6. Vermont is an ideological petri dish of the D/P Legislature Super majority agenda promoted relentlessly by Vermont major public institutions : Academia, Legislature , media ( VPR, Digger, SevenDay) . To their surprise and absolutely yes with the help of the comment section, the media has realized that Vermont is not monolithic and not completely on board with their propaganda . Horror, horror, there is a Resistance !!
    The elite media has lately been suffering indeed from a powerful group of activists and thinkers who have disturbed their fundamental drivel : Wind power on ridges for the sake of improving the planet ( false ). Regulated energy goals into law with zero empirical reasoning ( insane and unscientific) and yes with the possibility of the State to be sued (i.e taxpayers if the goals have not been met, will fork the cost of the lawsuits( illegal ) . Total sate control of education ( Act 46 ). Accusation of every white Vermonters with the sin of the murky concept of systemic racism unsubstantiated (it is just “there “,you can find it lurking everywhere ) and induced paralysis of their ability to question that accusation with the risk of being labeled racist.
    And how surprise for Anne Galloway and her very angry comrade in arm and who “ spends so much time supporting the Digger “ Kevin Ellis !!!
    Ellis writes a blog with delightful niceties like “ And we send black people to prison because we don’t like them, because we need their cheap labor, because we are addicted to the racism embedded in a Constitution that we wrote for ourselves “. Ellis must be a master at the use of the majestic “ we “ …. He also wrote “-“give us a couple of years to right some wrongs. Fly your flag and sing God Bless America and honor the police. No problem “ …Nice guy Ellis: Our flag …not his?
    Obviously people (the deplorable sore heads )have reacted , fought back the climate bills, the systemic racist insinuations , the state control in every aspect of Vermont life, the commercialization of cannabis, the establishment of sanctuary cities . People reacted…. in the comment section !
    So the progressive elite got their butts kicked in the comment section and the bourgeois intellectual elites like Galloway and Ellis are now taking their clues from more than 70 years of intellectual terrorism started by the French Communists after the war whey they purposefully hid the crimes of Stalin to the French youth by establishing a revisionist history of communism . Fascists first step to maintain power is to silence the enemy…the Digger and the Seven Days did just that.
    As far as Mc Kibben , his luster of purity had been tarnished by the revelation of Michael Moore movie of his cozy and laughing relation with capitalists and this is worthy for the reactionary the mob to take down his yet symbolic statue .I will vouch for that.

    • The most intelligent voices in Vermont are in the comment sections.
      The commenters at the Digger were very often writing much better stuff than the young,dumb writers.
      I feel actually, this is a big reason they took the comment section down, they made the writers look bad. Which wasn’t that hard to do actually.
      They don’t call them Snowflakes because they are so smart and tough.

    • Talking with a contractor friend of mine who worked on the UVM campus, he said workers would have to duct tape over a t-shirt if it was of a concert or singer someone found offensive or said something that wasn’t appropriate. Meanwhile students could wear what ever they chose, isn’t that remarkable strange? I do agree that people might want to choose wisely what they say, but clothing police? Strange times, strange times.

  7. Right around the time Digger stopped comments, they took down my essay on systemic paternalism. Their reasons for doing so were vague and meaningless, something about not conforming to their standards. It made me think of Tom Cotton and the New York Times. Not bad company from my perspective.

    Great article as usual, John.

  8. VTDigger used to publish a lot of comments and allow a lot of back-and-forth. Then it decided it didn’t like the back-and-forth so much, which was understandable. But then they progressed to censoring views they didn’t agree with, and this in ways that were subtle. I was a victim of this censorship; I was forbidden to comment due to a technicality, but in reality because I strongly disagreed with their stance on global warming. I contacted them to explain the issue under dispute, but they’d have none of it; I was banned despite that I’d never been disrespectful. I’m certain that if I’d been pro- global warming there would’ve been no problem.

    I now rarely read VTDigger, as it’s the same-old same-old.

    • My experience as well. I’d say that probably half of my comments on their Covid stories were blocked, despite conforming to their guidelines. Their stories usually averaged a dozen comments each, yet that’s too many for the staff to handle? I wonder how they do it at larger papers that have hundreds of comments per story.

  9. For quite a while I read VTDigger wall to wall every day. I found the comments to be informative on articles I had no information on and read them diligently. I seldom found them racist but I did notice that certain commenters were allowed a lot of license if they were pc and liberal in their views.
    Now I go to the digger and if the articles are of interest I might read them. A half hour reading digger has morphed into 5 minutes, and then it is delete.
    No, I have never said this before, not a duplicate. Goodbye.

  10. For quite a while I read VTDigger wall to wall every day. I found the comments to be informative on articles I had no information on and read them diligently. I seldom found them racist but I did notice that certain commenters were allowed a lot of license if they were pc and liberal in their views.
    Now I go to the digger and if the articles are of interest I might read them. A half hour reading digger has morphed into 5 minutes, and then it is delete.

  11. Anne Galloway was on Vermont This Week recently https://www.vermontpbs.org/vtw/. Go to 25:40. She said, “…comments section flooded with rascist comments for years, and we had enough a few weeks ago and we shut the thing down, it’s just overwhelming and ugly…”

    • I’m sure there were ugly, racist comments submitted to VT Digger. And censoring them is reasonable. But Digger censored many comments that were anything but ugly and racist.

      Digger may or may not have shut down the comments because the vast majority of them disagreed with Digger’s progressive left narrative. The fact of the matter is that the comments did demonstrate a majority disagreement with Digger’s narrative.

      This is fine. Seven Days did the same thing. But Seven Days isn’t a non-profit 501 C3 corporation. VT Digger, and its sister media, VPR, are both non-profits and as such are required to be nonpartisan.

      Clearly, VT Digger and Vermont Public Radio should have their non-profit status revoked. Digger’s continued exclusive publication of the repugnant Danziger cartoons are the best example of Digger’s breach of its non-profit neutrality. Complaints (i.e. referrals) should be submitted to the IRS.

      Filing a Complaint

      Members of the public may send information that raises questions about an exempt organization’s compliance with the Internal Revenue Code by submitting Form 13909, Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) Form.

      Form 13909 and any supporting documentation may be submitted in a variety of ways.

      They can be sent via:
      Mail to IRS EO Classification, Mail Code 4910DAL,
      1100 Commerce St.,
      Dallas, TX 75242-1198,

      Fax to 214-413-5415, or

      Email to eoclass@irs.gov.

      https://www.nonprofitexpert.com/nonprofit-questions-answers/how-do-i-file-a-complaint-against-a-nonprofit/

    • I guess Annie’s “readers” views weren’t to her liking . . . so she shut them up !

    • I don’t doubt that some comments were racist, but my guess is that they classified all comments that disagreed with the consensus stance as “overwhelming and ugly.”

      Before they stopped comments, I was impressed by how many of the comments disagreed with the pro-global warming consensus that the paper favors. Maybe this sort of disagreement, and the thorn in the side on the paper’s sponsors this must have been, was the real problem.

    • This is because anything that they don’t agree with is “Racist”.
      Any amount of disagreement, challenge, or pushback is “Overwhelming and ugly”.

      No this is not Racism.. when do we have a conversation about the need to take back our Language?

      Besides that, every comment is “approved” by the Moderators, so how could it have been flooded with racist comments? they wouldn’t have posted them.
      She flat out lied.

    • I didn’t see much racism, just opposition to BLM. In a liberal’s mind anyone who opposes their views is a racist. Liberals will NOT tolerate opposing views.

  12. After reading this piece one has to wonder: Who’s telling the truth……The VTDigger or Bill McKibben. Or what is the real motivation behind McKibben’s comments?

    The VTDigger has told its readers that it closed its very popular “comments section” due to cost considerations…… Bill McKibben tells us that the VTD closed the comments sections: “…. to make sure that people weren’t spreading bad information…….., but the secondary effect has been to isolate the small number of soreheads and malcontents who monopolize such venues.”

    The VTD and McKibben stories don’t jive…..So who’s telling the truth?……….Or, how about McKibben’s apparent affinity to isolate and silence “soreheads and malcontents” aka people who don’t agree with his thinking?

    It’s always easier to rid society of those who may not agree with you than to engage in debate.

    • I think you’re missing the gist of this article. VT Digger and McKibben are on the same page. Just Google [VT Digger McKibben] to see the myriad stories Digger has published. John McClaughry is the one pointing out that Digger and 7 Days have stopped publishing comments. And while John’s assertion that that: “…they got tired of publicizing the views of McKibben’s soreheads and malcontents who opposed the Digger-favored climate agenda” is plausible, it can’t be proven. What can be proven is VT Diggers continuing breach of its required non-profit neutrality.

      Again: Members of the public may send information that raises questions about an exempt organization’s compliance with the Internal Revenue Code by submitting Form 13909, Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) Form. See above.

      • No missing the gist.

        John writes in his first paragraph: “Here’s a recent comment by Middlebury College’s enviro activist in residence Bill McKibben, which makes an interesting point.” John then directly quotes McKibben when referring to VTD and Seven Days stopping publishing comments and getting rid of soreheads and malcontents . He puts quotation marks around McKibben’s words.

        John’s article basically relates to what McKibben said……and what he said about shutting down the VTD comments (Spreading bad info and getting rid of soreheads and malcontents) differs from what we were told by the VTD, which was cost. It looks like the VTD didn’t really level with readers on the reasons for closing down a very popular feature for readers……Some would say a weak kneed justification for someone as strong as Anne Galloway.

        So who’s telling the truth about VTD shutting down the comments section….It’s really a rhetorical question.

        • Again, my point is that McKibben didn’t speculate that “they (VTD) got tired of publicizing the views of McKibben’s soreheads and malcontents”. That VTD ‘got tired’ of doing so is John McClaughry’s assertion. Personally, I think VTD’s motivation (and the foundations supporting them) was significantly more insidious.

  13. Great Article,

    Censorship and propaganda costs a ton of money, ask the Russians and the Chinese, ask VNRC, VPIRG or Planned Parenthood….ask any PAC!

    If they let people talk freely, it costs nothing. The lie phone aka propaganda phone is a serious tool to influence people, it’s a propagandist dream.

    https://www.brighteon.com/fde592b6-4efd-415a-8268-f29bf288ac65

    Above link is for Milley Weaver, shows how corrupt all our political officials are and the contractors are even worse. These people can’t handle the truth, nor win an argument without controlling the narrative.

    Vermont is probably one of the most isolated and corrupt government in our nation, it’s why we got one of the lowest ethics grade, a D-, by an independent in the United States.

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