The shocking news Wednesday that Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) has abandoned plans to introduce his long promised single-payer health care system to the Vermont Legislature in 2015 was a huge victory for conservative new media.
As observers on the ground in Vermont confirmed Thursday, Breitbart News led the way.
“Governor Shumlin would not have reversed course without Breitbart News and Michael Patrick Leahy exposing the Gruber factor and bringing the story to front of the public discussion in Vermont,” Darcie Johnston of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom told Breitbart News on Thursday.
“Breitbart News and Michael Patrick Leahy’s laser focus on Jonathan Gruber’s contract with Vermont was critical to further undermining Governor Shumlin’s remaining political capital,” Johnston added.
Though Vermont’s two mainstream outlets–WCAX television and Gannett’s Burlington Free Press–did little to move the story forward, new media outlets and talk radio were all over it.
“The mainstream media in Vermont are the Burlington Free Press and WCAX, the CBS affiliate. You can’t say they dropped the ball on this because they never even picked it up. They were the watchdogs that didn’t bark. Sound familiar?” Howie Carr, whose Boston based radio program is syndicated in 17 New England markets, told Breitbart News on Thursday.
Breitbart News, Vermont Digger, the Vermont Press Bureau, WVMT talk radio 620 am in Burlington, and Carr’s syndicated radio program (which is carried by WVMT in Burlington) all helped drive the narrative.
“The media that torpedoed Shumlin, Gruber and single-payer were non-traditional, both old-fashioned and Internet. The Vermont Press Bureau, feeding two smaller dailies in Rutland and Barre, broke the ‘hater’ story, which went national after Breitbart picked it up, and I followed with a column in the Boston Herald. Breitbart (Leahy) ran with it, came up with the unanswered questions about Gruber’s bills, enlisting Democrat dissidents as well as Republicans, and at that point WVMT — an AM radio station in Burlington — picked it up,” Carr told Breitbart News.
“I’m sure the pressure from the Breitbart coverage on Gruber and our relentless critique of how single-payer would not work were instrumental in [Governor Shumlin’s] decision to pull the plug,” Charlie Papillo, co-host of the popular WVMT Radio 620 AM morning talk show Charlie + Ernie + Lisa told Breitbart News on Thursday.
“I had Michael on my show on Dec. 10, then the morning show at WVMT in Burlington had him on a few days later (Monday) and on Wednesday, single-payer died,” Carr added.
On his Monday appearance on WVMT, Leahy outlined the series of unanswered questions surrounding Jonathan Gruber’s contract with the state of Vermont to develop a financial and economic model for the state’s single-payer plan. In particular, Leahy focused on the serious questions that remain about Gruber’s billing practices.
“Our listeners were filled with mixed emotions,” WVMT’s Papillo told Breitbart News. “Happy that single-payer is not going forward but concerned about how much time was spent on this while our property taxes continue to rise, and pissed that we spent millions on it.”
“We still want to know where the money went and for what, with Mr. Gruber,” Papillo said. “This early gift in no way gives Gruber a pass from producing invoices, cancelled checks or emails. It’s going to be a very interesting start to the new year!”
Howie Carr thinks Shumlin made his decision in response to political pressure.
“As I said to Breitbart’s Michael Patrick Leahy on the show, the closer-than-expected election undoubtedly sobered Shumlin up, but this single-payer right on top of it undoubtedly put the fear of God, or at least the voters, into him,” Carr told Breitbart News.
Politicians in Vermont did not fail to notice the rise of the new media in the reporting of this story.
“Governor Shumlin seemed to be a media darling at the outset, but reporters have begun to scrutinize him more as time goes on…missed health care deadlines, the land deal with his neighbor, his many absences from the state…they’re willing to dig deeper now.” former Governor Jim Douglas, a Republican, told Breitbart News on Thursday.
Nationally, Breitbart’s investigative work on the Vermont single-payer story received praise from Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, chairman of Shirley-Banister, one of the nation’s most respected conservative friendly public relations firms.
“In an era where the media is dominated by opinion, Thank God Breitbart and its reporters like Michael Patrick Leahy still pursue the honored tradition of good old fashioned gum shoe journalism and investigative reporting.
“Breitbart,” Shirley continued,”is the disinfectant and the worst nightmare for the criminal enterprise some still call Washington, DC.”