Scott still owes the Sentinel and others an explanation for his ‘fake news’ posts and comments

April 19th, 2017

ColoradoPolitics.com reported the response of Colorado State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) to Sunday’s announcement by Ray Seaton, publisher of the Grand Junction Sentinel, that he will not sue Scott for tweeting that the Sentinel is “fake news.” The blog reported:

Scott meanwhile seems bewildered by the latest development as well as the whole saga. He told our Joey Bunch late Monday, “It’s just weird.”

“The whole thing … is bizarre,” he said. “Now if I say this is a ridiculous op-ed he wrote, is he going to sue me? People can interpret that however they want, because it is bizarre and it is strange. Do I get sued for saying that?”

Scott won’t return my repeated calls, but someone should ask him for more details.

Why did he call the Sentinel “fake news” in the first place, undermining the newspaper’s credibility and viability, when he repeatedly posts Sentinel articles on Facebook that support his views or agenda.

And why does Scott post fake news (defined as “news” that’s been proven false by credible news outlets) on his own Facebook page? And refuse to take such items down, despite repeated requests to do so? (And while I’m at it, why doesn’t he sign the Fake News Pledge? He needs to do so.)

Scott has ducked questions by saying he’s been silenced by Seaton’s lawsuit. Now it’s time to get a full explanation from him.

Brauchler apparently thinks twice about marrying his fate to grassroots activists at the state GOP convention

April 11th, 2017

Reporters covering the weeds of the gubernatorial race should note that GOP candidate George Brauchler is contradicting himself about how he’ll try to access the ballot.

He told The Denver Post he’d rely solely on the decision of delegates at the State Republican convention, while telling a conservative radio host he’d leave open the possibility of getting on the ballot via the petition process that upended the senatorial campaign of former state Rep. Jon Keyser (R-CO Springs).

This is the second time in two weeks of campaigning that Brauchler has made conflicting statements to The Post and talk-radio hosts. Contradicting a 2015 statement he made to The Post, Brauchler claimed last week on air that he was on juror away from securing the death penalty in the Aurora-shooting case, when, in fact, he was three votes away.

With respect to accessing the ballot, here’s what Brauchler told The Post’s John Frank just before his April 5 campaign announcement:

Positioning himself as one of the more conservative candidates in the race, Brauchler said he plans to seek a slot on the primary ballot through a nomination at the Republican Party’s convention, rather than collect petition signatures to qualify.

The political gamble is paired with a not-so-subtle dig at his expected rivals. “Every single one of them is a potential self-funder or has long family connections to politics. I’m not that guy,” he said without noting Stapleton’s ties to the Bush family. “I’m the guy who has spent his entire life in Colorado, and I’m going to get around this state and win it through the grassroots effort.”

And here’s what Brauchler said to KHOW’s Ross Kaminksy the next day, Thursday, April 6:

Kaminsky–One interesting thing, you have said that you plan to get your position on the primary ballot by going to the convention rather than getting signatures. This is a little bit of insider baseball, but I think it says something about you as a candidate, as well.  Can you explain, please?

Brauchler–And I’ll say this:  I haven’t publicly foreclosed the possibility of petition. But honestly – and this is the way I got to be District Attorney – I’m invested in the grassroots aspect of getting elected. I think we have reached a place with campaign-finance and social media where you can have people who have the means — either their own or through third-party efforts — to simply bypass the individual, face-to-face requirements of going out and earning votes. You just show up on TV, show up on the Internet, you put things into people’s mailboxes.  Now, we’re going to do all those things.  But at the end of the day, there’s only one process to get on the ballot that guarantees you are going to get around the state and do retail politics, to press the flesh, look people in the fac,e and answer their questions about who you are and what’s important to them.  And so, I’m invested in really trying to look hard at how we’re going to accomplish getting on the ballot through the assembly process.  But I haven’t foreclosed any other options.

He hadn’t publicly foreclosed the petition option? That’s not how I read The Post interview, which hasn’t been corrected.

Frank was correct that, for Brauchler, relying on Colorado’s State Republican convention would be a “political gamble”–which is probably why the Arapahoe County District Attorney thought twice about it. The outcome of convention is predictably unpredictable, as demonstrated the jaw-bouncing decision of Republicans there last year to hand the GOP senatorial nomination to Darryl Glenn, who went on to lose to Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

Well-heeled candidates like Brauchler usually try to access the ballot via both the convention and petition routes, giving them a backup if they get Glenned, so to speak. Colorado State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) eschewed the petition process and watched his U.S. Senate dreams die when he was upset by Glenn at the convention last year. Brauchler wants to avoid Neville’s fate.

But the state convention is the stronghold of the GOP’s grassroots contingent, whose support is critical to winning the Republican nomination, even in an open primary–even more so this year because Trump seems to have energized and emboldened Colorado Republicans.

So, by initially saying he’d skip the petition process Brauchler was sending a love note to GOP grassroots activists. But it turns out Brauchler isn’t ready to commit to the marriage. Honestly, I don’t blame him. They can be so difficult and hard to live with.

Listen to Brauchler on KHOW April 6:

Coffman Refuses Interview with Huffpo Journalist, But He Loves Talk Radio!

April 6th, 2017

Huffington Post reporter Matt Fuller tweets this morning that U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman refused to talk to him because, Coffman told him, he’s “not a legit journalist.”

This prompted former Coffman deputy Tyler Sandberg to tweet that “Huffpo is a left-wing blog, not a bastion of journalistic legitimacy.”

That might be true for some Huffpo writers, but not for Fuller, as you can see from his resume.

But even if it were true, Coffman doesn’t use “journalistic legitimacy” as his litmus test for talking to media figures, as demonstrated by the fact that he’s been on conservative talk radio shows at least seven times this year alone. And hundreds of times over the years.

I have nothing against KNUS 710-AM’s Craig Silverman, Krista Kafer, Steve Kelley, and Jimmy Sengenberger–all of whom Coffman’s talked with just this year. Ditto for KHOW 630-AM’s Ross Kaminsky.

But none of them is a “legit journalist.”

I’m not saying Coffman shouldn’t chit chat with conservative talkers, who usually, but not always, scratch his back. He just shouldn’t offer fake excuses to avoid reporters like Fuller.

What can you do to fight fake news?

March 30th, 2017

Common Cause Fake News Discussion & Happy HourFake news is obviously one of the greatest threats to democracy, yet there’s little grassroots activism combating it.

That’s why it’s great, necessary, and essential that Colorado Common Cause is hosting a discussion Thursday, April 6, on “Fighting Fake News in the Digital Age.”

The focus is on what we can do to combat fake news, besides complain about it and hope Facebook and Google do something for us.

Join the fake-news discussion and happy hour Thursday, April 6, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Irish Snug, 1201 East Colfax Ave. The program starts at 5:30.

RSVP via Colorado Common Cause’s Facebook-event page or by emailing cfry@commoncause.org.

One way to take action, which liberty advocate Ari Armstrong and I will discuss at the Common Cause event, is the Fake News Pledge. (Armstrong opposes it.)

By signing the pledge, lawmakers and citizens promise not to spread information, packaged somehow to look like news, on Facebook if it’s “deemed false or inaccurate by Snopes, Politifact, Factcheck.org, or by a respected news outlet.” If such information is accidentally posted, it will be removed unless “detailed reasons for not deleting it” are provided.

“We’ve all seen it before,” states Colorado Common Cause’s Facebook page promoting Thursday’s event. “Our neighbor, uncle, or friend posts something on a social media site that is factually inaccurate. How should we react? Can we agree on what is truth and what is fiction? And how do we combat “fake news” at a time when this term is thrown around so casually?”

“The Media Are The Enemy.”

March 28th, 2017

marble on news media 3-17Last month, Rocky Mountain Community Radio’s Bente Birkeland broke the news that Colorado Republicans are taking concrete steps, including more frequent press briefings, to improve their relations with Colorado journalists.

In response, I offered the free advice that GOP lawmakers should consider a halt to sweeping accusations of liberal media bias.

State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Ft. Collins) didn’t take my advice–or she isn’t one of the three people who read my blog posts–because she hit reporters with the salvo in a recent Facebook post, forwarded to me by a source.

Marble apparently “liked” a meme that read:

THE MEDIA ARE THE ENEMY. FIGHT THEM, OR LOSE AMERICA.–Ben Shapiro.”

“Do you believe the lies of the liberal media? LIKE if you agree we need to fight back,” reads the comment atop the meme, sponsored by the Daily Wire, founded by Shapiro, who’s a former Breitbart editor.

Marble, the state Senate majority caucus leader, isn’t alone, as 1.5 million others also liked the meme, according to the ad, if you can believe that. You’d be excused doubting it, given that a Daily Wire headline last week read, “Trump Is 100% Vindicated On Wiretapping, and 7 Other Things You Should Know.”

It’s one thing to “fight back” with reporters over facts; it’s another to suggest that they are the enemy.

In any case, I can understand if you’re wondering why I’d bother writing this post about a small deep-swimming fish like Marble, when we have Trump regularly calling professional journalism fake news.

But that’s why I’m writing about Marble. Marble is the fish in our tank, and her colleagues, who seem to want to respect journalism more, should talk to her about whether suggesting the media are the enemy helps their cause or anyone’s. She didn’t return an email from me.

Former GOP state chair, charged with voter fraud, does the right thing and resigns from radio show

March 23rd, 2017

The morning after voter fraud charges were filed against KLZ 560-AM morning host Steve Curtis, there he was, on the air, interviewing William Gheen, who’s on a “mission” against illegal immigration.

But things changed during the day, as you know if you were one of the lucky people listening to KLZ’s afternoon show, where Dan Meurer announced the resignation of the former GOP state chair:

Dan Meurer: All over the news is our morning show host Steve Curtis. So Steve has been brought up on charges, as we all know. And Steve resigned this morning. And basically that’s all we are going to say about it. It’s all we really know. And as a friend of Steve’s I wish him the best of luck. Prayers are with him. And there we go.

In an email today, Don Crawford of KLZ’s owner, the Crawford Broadcasting Company, confirmed Curtis’ resignation.

It appears that Curtis resigned on his own volition, because Crawford Broadcasting was prepared to keep him on the air until he was found guilty, according to Fox 31 Denver:

Curtis’ bosses at Crawford Broadcasting in Dallas said Curtis is innocent until proven guilty and it has no intention of taking disciplinary action unless and until he’s convicted.

Crawford Broadcasting clearly should have suspended Curtis, pending the outcome of the legal proceedings, because the serious nature of the allegations stripped him of his credibility.

Strangely enough, a couple years ago, Crawford Broadcasting quickly suspended interviews with Tom Tancredo, after the former Congressman teamed up with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman to try to oust GOP state chair Steve House. The temporary Tancredo-interview-ban led to the resignation of Randy Corporan, who hosted KLZ’s morning show prior to Curtis’ tenure there.

Crawford’s innocent-until-proven-guilty approach to Curtis was not used by Clear Channel, the owner of Denver’s KHOW 630-AM, when it immediately suspended host Peter Boyles after he reportedly grabbed the lanier of producer Greg Hollenbeck during a violent exchange. Boyles was immediately suspended and later fired.

Listen to KLZ’s announcement of the resignation of Steve Curtis:

This post was updated with the email from Crawford.

CNN reports political background of Gorsuch critic but not of his defender

March 21st, 2017

CNN reported this morning that Jennifer Sisk, who complained that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch made disparaging comments about women during a lecture to his law school class, was “a registered Democrat who once worked for former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado.”

Fair enough.

But the political background of a former Gorsuch law student who defended the SCOTUS nominee was not provided.

CNN quoted former Gorsuch law student, Catherine Holtgrewe, as saying Gorsuch never spoke “disrespectfully to or about anyone” — without identifying Holtgewe as a former Romney staffer and the volunteer coordinator of the failed 2006 gubernatorial campaign of Bob Beauprez. She works for a conservative think tank.

CNN quoted a letter, first reported by NPR, that Sisk wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee, claiming that Gorsuch told her class that “companies must ask females about their family and pregnancy plans to protect the company,” CNN reported.

Sisk writes that she was “distressed by the tenor of his comments” and made her concerns known to the law school’s administration.

Sisk, a registered Democrat who once worked for former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, confirmed to CNN that she authored the letter.

In discussing Holtgrewe, CNN reported:

Another former student, Catherine Holtgrewe, said she “never heard Judge Gorsuch ever speak disrespectfully to or about anyone.”
“As a former student, I am a witness to the respect that he showed towards his female students and fellow professors at Colorado Law,” she said in a statement. “The supposed remarks he made in his 2016 Legal Ethics class are completely out of character, and I find very hard to believe are accurately relayed.”

Obviously, Holtgrewe’s political background is relevant to the story, as is Sisk’s. CNN need not have included Sisk’s political party.

I did not immediately receive a response to a tweet to Ashley Killough, a CNN political producer, whose byline appeared on the piece.

 

Fake news pledge requires left and right to compromise

March 20th, 2017

If we’re going to fight fake news together, as conservatives and progressives, we have to agree on 1) a definition of fake news and on 2) a set of arbiters that will determine if a news story is fake.

In a post last week, Ari Armstrong argues that any news outlet can produce fake news, even the New York Times. I’d rather say outlets like the New York Times never produces fake news, because when they do it’s by accident, but I gave up on that a while ago and now agree with Armstrong that the definition of “fake news” should focus specifically on the accuracy of a news article, not its source.

That’s the definition embodied in the Fake News Pledge, which defines fake news as “inaccurate information, packaged to look somehow like news.”

This definition should be acceptable to both conservatives, who are skeptical of the New York Times, and progressives, who see look askance at Fox News.

But the sticking point is arbiters. Can conservatives and progressives agree on a way to decide what’s fake news and what isn’t?

Again, the Fake News Pledge offers a compromise.

The Pledge states that if a “news” item on Facebook is “deemed false or inaccurate by Snopes, Politifact, Factcheck.org, or by a respected news outlet, information from my Facebook page will be removed as soon as possible–or detailed reasons for not deleting it will be provided.”

Notice the phrase “respected news outlet” is not defined, so there’s space for progressives and conservatives to rely on different arbiters of truth. And there’s room to reject any arbiter simply by providing an explanation.

What good would this do? Signing the pledge shows a shared commitment to a set of loose ground rules for rational discourse, which is especially needed now on Facebook. The pledge is a statement that facts matter and that people, especially our elected leaders, who toss out dubious facts at least have the obligation to explain why they they think their facts are true.

 

Fake News Pledge edited to focus on inaccurate news, not on unproven news

March 20th, 2017

In response to suggestions by readers, the Fake News Pledge has been edited to focus narrowly on eliminating “false or inaccurate” fake news from Facebook, not on items that are “unproven.”

Under the slightly edited guidelines of the Fake News Pledge, Facebook users can post or share unproven information on Facebook, if they do not claim that such unproven information is true.

This does not mean that posting unproven news items is encouraged by the Fake News Pledge. On the contrary, some, but not all, unproven news can poison rational discourse in much the same way falsehoods do. But the purview of the Fake News Pledge covers accuracy only.

For example, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) recently called for an investigation into FBI leaks. And U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) called for in investigation into Trump’s actions in Russia. Both of these news items are unproven but neither is presented as true. Therefore neither would be considered fake news, under the new guidelines of the Fake News Pledge. On the other hand, Donald Trump’s statement that millions of illegal ballots were cast against him in the 2016 is unproven and false, under the guidelines of the Fake News Pledge.

The change was made after critics pointed out that unproven allegations, from trustworthy sources, have a place in civic discourse, as long as they not presented as true. It’s not the role of the Fake News Pledge to define the criteria that make unproven news, not presented as true, credible enough to spread on Facebook.

With respect to accuracy, which is now the sole purview of the pledge, the Fake News Pledge states that information, packaged somehow to look like news, should not be spread on Facebook if it’s “deemed unproven or false or inaccurate by Snopes, Politifact, Factcheck.org, or by a respected news outlet.” If such information is posted, it will be removed unless “detailed reasons for not deleting it” are provided.

Sentinel publisher still preparing to sue lawmaker over “fake news” allegation

March 16th, 2017

The publisher of the Grand Junction Sentinel insisted last night that he’s getting his “ducks in a row” in preparation to sue State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) for labeling the Sentinel “fake news.”

“Have you attempted to patch things up with Sen. Scott?” 9News anchor Kyle Clark asked Jay Seaton, publisher of the Grand Junction Sentinel last night, prior to the streaming of a panel discussion on media issues streamed on Facebook. “You’re going to be covering him for years to come. There’s nothing to be gained by media outlets fighting with public officials like this.”

“The only valuable currency in the court system is truth, and so I would like to see how a court actually handles this kind of false allegation,” responded Seaton, insisting that he’s preparing to file a lawsuit against Scott for his claim that the Sentinel is “fake news.”

The panel, titled Getting to Truth in the Age of Alternative Facts, was held to mark “Sunshine Week,” which promotes openness in government. The event was organized by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, and it was hosted by 9News.

Panelists offered varied takes on fake-news issue, ranging from, “It’s all in the eye of the beholder,” according to State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), to, “It’s become incredibly cliche; it’s an easy way out for people to attack us,” according to Denver7 investigator Tony Kovaleski.

In its online description of the panelists, 9News pointed out that Neville “recently posted an article that that was found to be 100% false by Snopes.com.”

“Politicians know how to weaponize [fake news] against us,” said Corey Hutchins, a reporter with the Colorado Independent, a progressive news site. “That’s what we’re seeing. The new problem is, it’s being weaponized by politicians against the media.”

Libertarian writer Ari Armstrong, also on the panel, argued that it’s inevitable that journalists will make mistakes, and he’s troubled when folks conflate “actual fake news, people intending to mislead their readers, with reputable newspapers.”

“What I want to strive to do is, yes, point it out when I think journalists get it wrong, but be quicker to applaud all those times when they do a great job, which is most of the time,” said Armstrong.

Also on the panel was Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute in Tampa Florida, Linda Shapley, managing editor of The Denver Post, Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch, Anastasiya Bolton, a reporter at 9NEWS.

Watch the entire panel discussion here. You’ll definitely enjoy it.