It began with the news that J.R. Romano was denying press credentials to Neil Vigdor, a longtime reporter for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, which includes four large dailies in the west and south of the state. Romano has not, as far as I can tell, been specific about Vigdor’s reporting offenses. He non-specifically claimed that Vigdor is unfair and uses unnamed sources. (About what?)
This kind of thing doesn’t go over well. If you are a smart state chairman, if you are not under the feverish delusion that you are some kind of fourth-rate Donald Trump, you meet the reporter for coffee. You tell him you’d like to find a way to work with him. If that doesn’t fly, you still have a series of four or five other moves you can make before you even consider a stunt like pulling his credentials. Which you don’t, ultimately, do anyway. If you are not an idiot. There may be some precedent for this in the history of Connecticut political journalism, but I can’t think what it is.
But it gets worse. Romano then sent out a bulk fund-raising email. He embedded a (broken, of course) link to Vigdor’s email address, urging his troops to “tell him you’re with me in this fight! Tell him to treat Republicans fairly and equally, or he’s no journalist.”
Then, to cap off the evening, Romano tried to raise money. Off his fight. With a journalist. Over unspecified crimes. “After you’ve emailed Neil, could you chip in $5, $10, or even $25 to help us keep up the fight against liberal bias?” OK, I’m pretty comfortable saying this has no precedent.
The weird thing is, although I don’t really know Vigdor, I’ve never thought of him as some kind of gonzo journalist. Have I been missing some Taibbian assaults on the GOP?
Romano, on the other hand, has exhibited signs of being stupid and unscrupulous on at least one other occasion. Earlier this year, he fell for a crude internet hoax, issued a statement ripping President Obama under false pretenses and then, as far as I could tell, never apologized or retracted once his mistake became public.
Is this how it’s going to be? Have we entered the era of bozo Trump wannabes? Did DOTUS bite Romano when he blew through the state? I have a suggestion, dude. Before you throw your weight around, win something. Run a successful Congressional race or topple one of the constitutional officers. Then you can tell us how badass you are.
And if you don’t like this, you can tell people to email me. Have one of the interns help you with embedding the address, because that seems like another thing you’re terrible at.