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Monday, April 23, 2018

Sean Hannity's Real Estate Empire Includes Okemo Condo

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 6:32 PM

  • Dreamstime/Zhukovsky
  • Sean Hannity
An investigation by the Guardian revealed Sunday that Fox News host Sean Hannity spent at least $90 million on more than 870 properties in seven states — including Vermont.

The story was sparked by the revelation in federal court last week that Hannity was a client of President Donald Trump's attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, whose home and office were raided the week before by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Speaking on Fox News after the court hearing, Hannity said his work with Cohen focused almost exclusively on real estate.

"I hate the stock market," he said. "I prefer real estate. Michael knows real estate."

Hannity loves real estate so much that he bought dozens of properties out of foreclosure over the past decade, according to the Guardian. Some of those were purchased with support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — a fact that Hannity failed to disclose during an interview last June with HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

So where, exactly, are the Fox News host's Vermont holdings?

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

HuffPost: Notorious White Nationalist 'Ricky Vaughn' a Waterbury Native

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 5:57 PM

A social media profile image of "Ricky Vaughn" - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • A social media profile image of "Ricky Vaughn"
Updated at 9:36 a.m. April 6, 2018, with a statement from the Mackey family.

An infamous white nationalist troll who went by the online moniker "Ricky Vaughn" is a 28-year-old Waterbury native whose father is a prominent Montpelier lobbyist, the Huffington Post reported Thursday.

The man known as Ricky Vaughn, whose online profile grew during the 2016 general election, is actually Douglass Mackey. He graduated from Harwood Union High School and Middlebury College, and now lives in Manhattan, the Huffington Post reported.

His father, Scott Mackey, is a partner at Leonine Public Affairs and served on the Harwood Union School Board.

“We were devastated to learn this week of Doug's beliefs and on-line activities as reported in the Huffington Post," Scott Mackey said in a statement released Friday. "They are antithetical to the values we hold and with which he was raised. We are still trying to understand how he could have done something like this and hope he will find some way to make amends for the harm he has caused.”

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Media Note: Pennsylvania Chain to Buy Rutland Herald, Times Argus

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2018 at 6:56 PM

The headquarters of the Rutland Herald - FILE: CALEB KENNA
  • The headquarters of the Rutland Herald
The Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus are changing hands — again.

Sample News Group, a Pennsylvania-based chain of 75 newspapers, plans to buy the Vermont dailies by the end of the month, owners Reade Brower and Chip Harris said in a press release issued Thursday. The pair bought the Herald and Times Argus just 18 months ago from the Mitchell family, which had owned them for decades.

"I was as surprised as anyone," said Herald and Times Argus editor Steve Pappas, who first learned of the deal Thursday morning. "I had to Google them."

Details of the transaction were scarce. Sample News Group president George "Scoop" Sample referred an inquiry to Herald general manager Rob Mitchell.

"He's excited to work with us," said Mitchell, who remained with the papers after his family sold them in September 2016. "Obviously there's going to probably be changes in certain ways, like philosophically and all that, but in general he believes in running good newspapers."

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Media Note: VPR Hires New CEO

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2018 at 12:41 PM

  • Courtesy West Virginia Public Broadcasting
  • Scott Finn
Vermont Public Radio named a new chief executive Thursday. Scott Finn, who is currently chief executive officer and executive director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, will replace Robin Turnau as VPR's president and CEO.

Turnau announced in August that she would step down after a 29-year career at VPR and nine years at the organization's helm. Her tenure was marked by expansion of VPR's revenues and programming, including the establishment of a statewide network devoted to classical music and a $10 million capital campaign that funded, among other things, a new headquarters in Colchester.

The 46-year-old Finn was selected after a lengthy national search. In a VPR press release, Peggy Williams, chair of the VPR board, called him "a forward-thinking and experienced leader" with "extensive experience in public media."

Finn comes from a background in journalism, both print and public media, before moving into management. He spent the past five years at WVPB, where he oversaw an expansion of operations despite significant reductions in state funding, which once accounted for nearly half of the service's revenue.

Finn is scheduled to join VPR on May 7. Turnau will stay on until early May.

Correction, March 22, 2018: An earlier version of this story misstated Turnau's departure date.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Media Note: David Moats Out at Herald, Times Argus

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 3:26 PM

David Moats - FILE
  • File
  • David Moats
The Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus have eliminated the position of editorial page editor and laid off its longtime occupant: Pulitzer Prize-winner David Moats.

Moats had worked for the papers since 1982 and helmed their editorial pages since 1992. He won the Pulitzer in 2001 for a series of editorials about the debate over civil unions, during which Vermont came to grips with a state Supreme Court decision mandating official recognition of same-sex relationships. He remains the only Vermonter to win a Pulitzer for journalism, according to Sean Murphy, digital content manager for the Pulitzer Prizes organization.

"This is a business decision that has more to do with the future of the organization than the present," the papers' general manager, Rob Mitchell, wrote in an internal email obtained by Seven Days. "As we constantly re-evaluate legacy positions, we must make decisions on which ones to keep over the next several years as we transition to a new model for local newspapers."

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Media Note: WDEV Hires Veteran Journalist Dave Gram

Posted By on Thu, Feb 15, 2018 at 4:06 PM

  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Dave Gram
One of Vermont's most respected journalists is about to take on a new medium. Dave Gram, an editor for who spent 31 years covering the Green Mountain State for the Associated Press, has been hired by WDEV Radio as the host of its daily two-hour talk show.

Gram's first day behind the microphone will be February 26. He replaces Mike Smith, who is leaving on February 19 after two and a half years as host of "Open Mike." The program will get a new name, which has yet to be determined, according to station owner Steve Cormier.

The search for a new host, he said, involved calling people and soliciting suggestions. That's when Gram's name surfaced. "He came in, we talked to him and we offered him the job," said Cormier. "Sometimes it's that simple."

Gram's a serious newsman, but he's known in Statehouse circles for a sharp sense of humor that seems likely to translate well to radio. In both respects he's not unlike Mark Johnson, who hosted the show at WDEV for 16 years before, ironically, becoming an editor at VTDigger in 2015.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Media Note: Mike Smith Leaving WDEV Radio

Posted By on Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 7:27 PM

Mike Smith at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew THorsen
  • Mike Smith at the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies
Mike Smith, host of the daily "Open Mike" program on WDEV Radio, began his show Thursday with a surprise announcement: He is leaving the station in less than two weeks, on February 19. He is also suspending his political column, which is posted weekly on and runs in the Vermont Business Magazine. His statement was posted Thursday evening on the magazine's website.

He said the decision "is mine, and mine alone," and had nothing to do with last year's ownership change. Longtime owner Ken Squier sold the station to sales director Steve Cormier, who is now cohost of the weekday "Morning News Service."

Smith gave no specific reason for the sudden move. He alluded to the pressure of hosting two hours of live radio every day and his personal need to find "on a regular basis, new challenges to try." WDEV hired Smith in mid-2016 after longtime host Mark Johnson left for a post at VTDigger.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Media Note: Ashworth Returns to VPR as News Director

Posted By on Wed, Feb 7, 2018 at 12:31 PM

  • Courtesy Vermont Public Radio
  • Sarah Ashworth
Sarah Ashworth, a former producer of Vermont Public Radio's "Vermont Edition," is returning to the station as news director. She will replace John Dillon, who is moving to the regional New England News Collaborative, which produces news for eight stations in the region.

Ashworth worked at VPR from 2007 to 2010. Since then, according to a VPR press release, she has been a producer at the nationally distributed Diane Rehm Show, news director at New Hampshire Public Radio and a news editor at Minnesota Public Radio, where she currently works. She will start at VPR on March 12.

“Vermont is a great place to practice journalism, with its engaged population of listeners and readers and people who care deeply about their communities,” Ashworth said in the VPR release. “I’m looking forward to producing memorable stories and essential news to Vermonters.”

John Van Hoesen, VPR's senior vice president and chief content officer, praised Ashworth's "leadership and experience," and added, "We are excited to welcome her back to Vermont."

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Media Note: Kilian Returns to Lead the Burlington Free Press

Posted By on Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 6:24 PM

  • Courtesy Burlington Free Press
  • Michael Kilian
Michael Kilian, a former associate editor of the Burlington Free Press, is returning to the paper to lead its newsroom.

Kilian held the No. 2 post at the Freeps from 2010 to 2013 before decamping for the Daily Times of Salisbury, Md. He's spent the past two years as news director of the Cincinnati Enquirer. He returns to the Free Press as executive editor, the paper reported Thursday afternoon.

“Burlington, the communities surrounding it and indeed the entire state of Vermont have more news per capita than anywhere else I’ve been a journalist,” Kilian told the Freeps. “I’m excited and thrilled to be returning to the shores of Lake Champlain and guiding the talented Free Press team.”

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Sound of Silence: Bernie Sanders Spurns Seven Days for 1,000 Days

Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2018 at 4:00 AM

Sen. Bernie Sanders clams up around Seven Days staff. - PHOTO ILLUSTRATION
  • Photo Illustration
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders clams up around Seven Days staff.
On April 30, 2015, NASA's Mercury spacecraft crash-landed on the surface of Mars, ending its four-year mission. After 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk!" finally dropped to the No. 2 spot. And in theaters the previous weekend, Furious 7 barely edged out Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 as the nation's highest-grossing film.

That afternoon — 1,000 days ago Wednesday — also marked the last time Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) granted an interview to the largest newspaper in his home state, Seven Days.

Sanders, who announced his presidential candidacy that morning on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, took roughly 10 minutes to explain to Seven Days by phone why he was seeking the Democratic nomination and how he'd balance the task with his job representing Vermont in the Senate.

"I am a hard worker and I will — we have a very strong staff, and I will devote a considerable amount of time to Vermont's issues as I run for president," he said.

In the 1,000 days since, Seven Days has made dozens of interview requests. Each time, the independent, locally owned newspaper has been rebuffed or ignored — even as Sanders has made time for the out-of-state "corporate media" he regularly slams.

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