In Trump era, what to do about Muslim haters on Colorado talk radio?

November 30th, 2016

Bigotry toward Muslims is part of the hot air on some Colorado talk-radio shows, so much so that you get inured to it and kind of accept it.

But now that Trump is about to be president, the air seems a lot hotter, and it’s impossible to ignore right-wing bigotry as fringe craziness.

How can you not worry about the safety of Muslims in our community when you listen to, for example, KNUS radio’s Peter Boyles, who’s a notorious birther and bigot?

At this moment, with Trump on the White House doorstep, can we/ should we/ pretend not to hear Boyles’ hatred? And what to do about it?

In an on-air discussion yesterday morning with a fellow bigot named Tim Furnish, Boyles denounced Islam and said Muslims are incapable of respecting the U.S. Consitution and the fundamental values of the United States, due to their religious beliefs, essentially saying there is no place for Muslims in our country.

FURNISH: There’s a real incompatibility between Islam and Western-style government democracy. There just is.

BOYLES: It doesn’t work! They don’t work!

FURNISH: They don’t work together. This incompatibility is not extremist. It is intrinsic to Islam.

BOYLES: Agreed.

FURNISH: … Islam has never come to terms with, as they say, modernity. Islam has never come to terms with the idea of a secular state that has not imposed a religion –even the majority religion–on people. Because at the heart of Islam–going back to Mohammed himself, the Quran, the Hadith, so-called sayings of Mohammed, and 1400 years of Islamic practice– is that where there is a majority of Muslims, Islamic Law must be instituted. And where there is a minority of Muslims, they should fight – at first, maybe peacefully and then later through jihad – for the imposition of Islamic Law. This tension will not go away.

BOYLES: Yeah, it’s, “First – first—“.

FURNISH: And you cannot make Western democracy work with Islamic ideals. They are incompatible.

BOYLES: “First we crawl, then we walk, then we run.”

FURNISH: Right.

BOYLES: That’s why — I mean, it’s happening before your very eyes. Hillary Clinton got all twisted up about all of the stuff, and went after Trump. Trump is telling the truth.

If you’re saying Islam “doesn’t work” with “Western-style government democracy,” and you’re agreeing that even a minority of Muslims in a country will eventually wage jihad, then you’re basically saying Muslims have no place in the United States. Worse, you are saying all Muslims are a constant threat. How else to interpret this?

Elsewhere in this interview, Boyles said Muslims aren’t the ones who are the victims of a McCarthy-like attack. It’s Peter Boyles who’s actually under attack, according to Boyles!

“Progressives,” Boyles said on air, “They hunt for victims.”

In this case, in Boyles view, progressives are hunting for people who promote “Islamophobia,” decried by Boyles as a “created term” designed by progressives to stifle criticism of Muslims.

“This is a new McCarthy-ism,” Boyles said.

But today’s attacks on Muslim haters are worse than what happened in the McCarthy era, Boyles went on to say, because the press is on the side of the Muslims, instead of supporting people like Boyles—whereas before Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly were there to “stand up to the McCarthyists,” said Boyles.

“We don’t have Big Journalism standing up as Edward R Murrow did, as Fred Friendly did,” said Boyles, who was once a respected, even beloved, media figure in Denver, if you can believe it. “We have a bunch of fill-in-the-blanks who are just desperate to lay down in front of this train. And you know what? As they say, they will come for you. They may eat you last, but they will still eat you.”

Boyles is mad at journalists for defending the basic civil rights of Muslims and exposing bigots like him.

Again, Boyles’ ugliness would be bad enough if our country didn’t have a Muslim-hating bigot as president-elect. But since we do, we have to fight back now or at least be ready to help our Muslim neighbors if people like Boyles begin organizing attacks against them—with or without the backing of Trump and our own government. We’ve reached that point.

ProgressNow Colorado has set up a “rapid response” network to, among other things, mobilize people in support of Muslims and others if Boyles, Trump, or anyone goes after them. We have to be ready. Sign up here.

LISTEN TO BOYLES’ NOV. 29 INTERVIEW FURNISH BELOW.

Advocacy journalism is expanding in Colorado. Can you trust it?

November 28th, 2016

While most people were asleep last week, the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reported Denver Post political reporter John Frank’s view, offered during a panel discussion Nov. 15, that partisan news seems to be expanding in Colorado.

The Colorado Statesman is run by a former Republican lawmaker, The Colorado Springs Gazette started a great new political experiment I’m super excited about but their lead writer on their new political vertical is a former Republican staffer,” he said. “I am very concerned about us moving toward that partisan side of news but I think there’s a reason we’re moving in that direction— it’s because I think that’s where the money is.”

Not only is the Statesman run by a former Republican lawmaker, it’s controlled by Larry Mizel, a major GOP donor and supporter of Trump. (What’s worse, Mizel and the Statesman are mum about who owns the newspaper.)

It’s pretty clear that Frank is right that advacacy journalism is expanding here.

The sad story of the demise of Colorado Health News, as told to me last year by the publication’s former editor, Diane Carman, reinforces the point.

“You step on everybody’s toes when you are an objective journalism organization,” said Carman, who was editor and founder of Health News Colorado. “Everybody got burned a little bit at some point, because we took the role of watchdog seriously. So, when you do that, it makes it really easy for people to say, ‘I’m not so sure we have the money for that this year.’ I never got the impression we were being censored. There was never an impression of that. But I do feel that if we had been willing to cross over into the advocacy world, that we would still be alive.”

It not hard to see that a news outlet of any kind, nonprofit of for-profit, that’s struggling financially is more likely to lower its journalistic standards in order to stay afloat. You don’t have to be much of a media critic to see it happening in Colorado and beyond.

At some point, news consumers will have to trust individual journalists, more than their publications. For example, I trust some reporters at the Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Statesman, even though the publications have mostly lost my confidence.

The same goes for advocacy jounalists and bloggers, who come clean about their orientation and/or their funding. Some of them I trust; others I don’t, based not on their claims to be accurate but on their work. Do they admit mistakes and make corrections? Do they respond to questions or have a by-line and contact information at all? Do they seek opposing views? You have to decide whether you trust these types of journalists (and, obviously, I’m one of them).

Don’t steal my liberal flag

November 25th, 2016

If you read longtime Colorado writer Ari Armstrong, you know he swims in conservative circles, but he’s frustrated with liberals and conservatives. He’s an outspoken proponent of abortion rights and drug legalization, for example, but he also opposes, generally, progressive government do-good programs. He doggedly tries to apply a logical philosophical framework to the stuff he advocates.

So you’re not surprised to find him as the author of the book Reclaiming Liberalism: And Other Essays on Personal and Economic Freedom.

Armstrong is uber uncomfortable with the current conception of “conservatism” and “liberalism,” as he should be, because he’s caught in the middle, or on the right side of the middle.

He writes that liberals and conservatives lack a “logical coherence of beliefs about ideology or policy,” and they “often engage in ad-hoc rationalization rather than true reasoning about their beliefs.”

He bemoans conservatives who ”pragmatically embrace a huge array of statist measures,” and he wants to create a version of “liberalism” that fits his own ideology, a liberalism that would mostly reflect the logic of libertarianism, without a libertarian’s “animosity” toward bare-bones government. But, still, minimal state intervention is essentially his litmus test for acceptable policy.

So he wants to steal my liberal flag and fly it himself, leaving me in the lurch, like he is now.

But I’m more or less happy with the internal logic of “liberalism,” as it’s broadly understood today—as a utilitarian set of policies that promote opportunity for individuals. (I’d tweak liberalism to be more statist and less politically correct and identity driven, but I’m broadly ok with it.)

Liberal policies shouldn’t always maximize personal freedom, because as a practical matter, this would come at the expense of liberty and opportunity for all, especially the disadvantaged.

From Armstrong’s perspective, liberalism today is inconsistent, favoring nasty restrictions on individual liberty in some cases (gun regulations, smoking bans, welfare, minimum wage, corporate restraints) while standing up for them in too few (abortion rights, speech, press).

But the core flaw with Armstrong’s readable, clear, and challenging book of essays (highly recommended) is that, as long as you accept that government should have any power at all, and Armstrong is willing to allow government to “protect individual rights,” liberalism and conservatism, even as defined by Armstrong, will never be completely logical philosophically. They will both require inconsistencies.

In fact, at the end of the day, as a practical matter, a guy who’s as free thinking as Armstrong won’t ever be satisfied with the rational basis for groupings of policies (liberalism or conservatism) advocated by politicians who have to deal with the real world.

Bottom line, my advice for Armstrong is to give up trying to reclaim liberalism. He should chill out and  accept his position as an outlier, a rogue in the conservative shark tank. Or better yet, he should jump out of the infested water and join me in my liberal tent. He’s welcome there.

Beauprez tells radio hosts he’d “very much enjoy” secretary of interior job

November 22nd, 2016

In what appear to be his most extensive comments yet on his possible appointment as Trump’s Secretary of Interior, former congressman Bob Beauprez told KOA 850-AM listeners this morning why he’d be a good fit for the job.

“This is where most of the federal land is,” Beauprez observed a day after ColoradoPolitics.com first reported that he was being considered for the job. “And I think, to get someone in that role who understands water, natural resources, land, wildlife, mixed-use of those lands and resources, I think it’s very important.  So, I’ve long thought that it might be a job that I would very much enjoy.  And I think my life as a rancher/farmer would fit the job very well.”

Beauprez, who lost his second gubernatorial race in Colorado in 2014, told hosts Steffan Tubbs and April Zesbaugh that building pipelines like the Dakota Access project, is “something that has to happen,” but, as Interior Secretary, he’d like to find a compromise that “everybody can live with.”

“I know that the Indan tribes have had some concerns about their sacred lands,” said Beauprez. “And those, I think, are legitimate concerns.  The important thing, I think, in a job like that is to try to find a good compromise that everybody can live with.  But I’ve long thought that we needed to improve – and I’m not alone on this.  We need to improve the transportation infrastructure for our oil and gas reserves, as well.  So, building pipelines is something that has to happen.  And in the West, where we’ve got so much federal land, that land is going to be part the mix.  No doubt about it.”

Beauprez said there “has been some limited communication between myself and some of the folks that are part of the transition process.”

He said on air that he’s spoken with people “very close” to both Trump and David Longley Bernhardt, who’s apparently from Colorado and part of the Trump transition team.

Beauprez said his wife, who he referred to as his “biggest cheerleader” is supportive of his joining the Trump Administration.

Pueblo Republicans see reporters doing “anything and everything” to make Trump look bad

November 21st, 2016

Trump today called respected journalists “liars,” continuing an unprecedented attack on journalism that’s reflected in GOP circles across the country.

In an email last week citing an NBC story about Trump dodging reporters, the Pueblo County Republican Party claimed that the “liberal news media” tried to “submarine” Trump during the election, and it urged Republicans to “be even more skeptical” of the news in the coming years, because reporters are doing “anything and everything to try to make [Trump] look bad.”

“A word to fellow Republicans,” wrote Pueblo Republicans. ” A leopard doesn’t change its spots. The liberal news media did everything they could to submarine President Elect Donald Trump’s campaign.  Now they continue to do anything and everything to try to make him look bad even if it’s a lame report on going to a steak dinner without notifying them.  We have been skeptical of the liberal news media, both printed and televised, in the past but especially during the election.  We should be even more skeptical for the next four (eight) years.”

Reached by phone to discuss the comment, Pueblo County Republican Chair George Rivera said he believes news consumers should “always follow up” and “do background reseaarch” to make sure what they are reading or hearing is accurate, “whether it be on CNN or Fox News.”

Rivera, who served briefly as Colorado state senator after a Democrat was recalled in 2013, said he believes that media are often biased against the “conservative side,” based his own observations.

Will Colorado public officials be more careful about spreading fake news?

November 17th, 2016

Colorado Republicans did their part in spreading fake news and/or falsehoods on Facebook during the election, as Charles Buchanan has been pointing out on the Colorado Times Recorder.

Below, I’ve pulled together a few examples from Buchanan’s posts (See more here.), and they raise the question of whether public officials, as well as partisan entities, will be more careful, going forward, about fact checking information before they post it on Facebook.

Before and after the election, reporters have been spotlighting fake news and its possible impact on Clinton. Fake news appears to be especially popular among conservative audiences.

In the coming months, I’ll check in with public officials, Republican or Democrat, if they’ve posted or shared fake news or falsehoods on Facebook.

We’ll see if they have sufficient respect for public discourse to remove their inaccurate information, once it’s been proven false.

Here are recent examples, from Buchanan’s work:

In August, Colorado State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada), who lost her seat to Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, shared a false meme that vaccines causes autism.

In August, the Gunnison County Republican Party apparenlty shared a meme quoting that Diane Feinstein as saying, “When the gunman realizes that nobody else is armed, he will lay down his weapons and turn himself in…that’s just human nature.” Feinstein did not say that. 

Failed GOP state house candidate Raymond Garcia, who seemed outright averse to fact checking his Facebook posts during the campaign, shared a meme stating that Hillary Clinton’s great-great uncle was hanged for horse stealing. This isn’t true.

GOP Vice Chair Derrick Wilburn shared a meme claiming that Obama’s Department of Justice would no longer use the word “felon,” so as not to hurt the feelings of criminals. In fact, this was not a department-wide policy but would only apply to those who’d served time and were released, in an effort to help them succeed.

In July, Saguache GOP Chair Richard Drake shared a meme with an alleged quote from Jimmy Carter stating, “The novelty of electing ‘the First Woman President of the United States’ should not outweigh our duty in electing an honest and ethical president.” Carter didn’t say this.

GOP U.S. House candidate Casper Stockham shared a meme falsely claiming that purple lights decorated the Obama White House when Prince died but was unchanged when “5 Dallas cops died.” In fact, the purple lighting never occurred.

Failed state house candidate Garcia also shared a meme on Facebook falsely claiming to picture a topless Hillary Clinton as a lesbian. It’s not Clinton.

screenshot-www-facebook-com-2016-11-01-08-38-29

Former vice chair of the Adams County Republican Party, John Sampson, shared a meme claiming to show Michelle Obama texting during the plede of allegiance. It’s not Obama.

screenshot-www-facebook-com-2016-10-28-08-11-35

In September, former State Rep. Robert Ramirez posted a meme falsely quoting Obama as saying, “Muslims Built the Very Foundation of our Nation.” This is also false. Obama never said it.

ramiriez-false-quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please send me any examples of officials spreading fake news. We know there’s more where this came from

Patrick Neville, a frequent voice on conservative talk radio, takes leadership role in Colorado House

November 14th, 2016

State Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock), whose voice is familiar to listeners of conservative talk radio, was elected to the position of Republican state house minority leader Thursday.

Asked if he could see anything beyond gridlock coming out of next year’s legislative session, Neville said he had a “decent” and “productive” lunch with Gov. John Hickenlooper, leading him to think there is “common ground” to be found on some issues, like on regulatory reform.

On the radio, Neville talks frequently about guns, and he’s widely known as one of the most ardent opponents of gun safety laws in the state.

But his conservative positions go beyond firearms, and The Denver Post described him last week as a “conservative ideologue.”

The Women’s Lobby of Colorado scorecard rates Neville, an early Trump supporter, at or near the bottom among state legislators n votes related to women’s issues.

“I’m pro-life, and I don’t make any bones about it,” he told me last week.

In fact, Neville is a hero among anti-choice activists in Colorado for, among other things, his sponsorship this year of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would step up licensing requirements at clinics where abortions are performed.

Colorado Campaign for Life activist Christy Rodriquez cited this bill as a reason her organization gave Neville its 2016 Pro-Life Legislator of the Year Award in September.

“I’m truly humbled.… It doesn’t get better than this,” said Neville, after being introduced by Rodriquez.

During his speech (at 7 minutes) at the award ceremony, Neville described testimony on his bill by a doctor who performs abortions, saying that after he greeted her he felt like he’d “shaken the devil’s hand and smiled at him.”

Neville: This one person, I didn’t recognize her name, she comes up. And I went to shake her hand, and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve never had this feeling in my whole entire life. I had this crazy feeling of impending doom that came over the whole room. I came over me. And it was crazy. I don’t know how to explain it. But the best way to explain it is, I felt like I had just shaken the devil’s hand and smiled at him.  It was something else. And as testimony proceeded, we came to find out that that person was an abortionist… That feeling stuck with me for the longest time….

Let’s recognize what’s going on in this country. We’re supposed to be the most civilized nation in the history of the world. Yet, babies can be torn apart and their hearts sold for profit. We got to recognize that that’s wrong.

In fact, federal law prohibits selling fetal tissue for profit, and recent investigations of Planned Parenthood have not produced evidence that these laws are being broken.

“In a state where both Hillary Clinton and a raise in the minimum wage won, and one in which we increased the pro-choice majority in the House, Colorado voters sent a clear message of moderation,” said Karen Middleton, Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “Coloradans have said – and voted – repeatedly that decisions about abortion are a matter of individual liberty and privacy, not something that belongs to politicians or the government. They deserve to be listened to.

So by picking leaders like Representatives Patrick Neville and Lori Saine, two legislators that have spearheaded failed anti-choice legislation in the last General Assembly, it appears in 2016 House Republicans didn’t get that message. While I am disappointed in these leadership decisions, I hope that our strengthened pro-choice majority in this state will work with us to engage our elected leadership and defeat any ideological overreach.”

Another key issue facing the state legislature is the proposal by Democrats to reclassify a hospital fee as an enterprise under the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, a move that would free over $300 million for roads, schools, and other projects.

Emphasizing that he didn’t speak for his caucus, Neville said discussions about the hospital provider fee were not off the table, and he had a “good conversation with the governor about it.”

“We’ll have to look at the details,” said Neville.

Rolly Fischer, whose honesty and integrity helped sink a Republican gubernatorial candidate, dies

November 11th, 2016

Rolly Fischer, who bravely fought off 2o1o GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis’ attempts to blame him for McInnis’ plagiarized water articles, died last week in Glenwood Springs.

Fischer went from “irascible” water nerd to cult hero in Colorado political circles after some of McInnis’ articles, commissioned by the Hasan Family Foundation, on Colorado water issues turned out to be substantially lifted from the writings of then Colorado Supreme Court Judge Gregory Hobbs.

After the plagiarism came to light, McInnis blamed Fischer, who was 82 years old at the time.

“I had staff assistance, I had research, and as you know, the research – that’s where the problem is here,” McInnis told Denver 7 at the time. McInnis added on the radio that his assistant felt “very remorseful” and “sick about it.”

But, oops, Fischer soon told the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, “Scott’s responsible for it.”

The piano fell through the floor when Fischer spoke with then Denver 7 reporter John Ferrugia in one of Colorado’s greatest political TV-news moments.

Ferrugia asked, “Rolly, is Scott McInnis lying to us?”

After some thought Fischer said, “Yes.”

The 82-year-old said, “I never knew about the foundation or any foundation Scott was associated with.”

“Did you know how he was using these?” Ferrugia asked, referring to the articles.

“No. I had this sophomoric assumption that he wanted them for his own inventory,” said Fischer.

Turned out, McInnis even tried to get Fischer to sign a letter saying the plagiarism was Fischer’s fault.

After the Ferrugia interview, McInnis sort of took responsibility for the plagiarism, telling The Denver Post, “I made a mistake. . . . I immediately owned up to it. It’s my responsibility. I’ve got to fix it. I’ve told my side of the story. So that’s where we are on that. I’d love to talk to you on jobs and some of these other things.”

He gave his two-year stipend of $300,000 back to the foundation. (He’d paid Fischer a few hundred dollars per water article.)

But in 2014, McInnis appeared to throw Fischer under the bus again, telling the Grand Junction Sentinel that he “didn’t plagiarize, period” and that he’d “used ghost writers my whole career” and “didn’t make the mistake.”

Still, in a Nov. 7 obituary in the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, McInnis had kind things to say about Fischer.

Scott McInnis, a former U.S. representative and current Mesa County commissioner, called Fischer “a water giant in his time,” who prepared the district for the issues it faces today…

Fischer figured in the collapse of McInnis’ campaign for governor in 2010, but McInnis said he never held the incident against Fischer.

“That’s water under the bridge now. I always thought Rollie was one of the brightest water people on the Western Slope,” McInnis said.

Did McInnis really say water under the bridge? A new water musing?

In any case, Fischer’s uninvited but starring role in the story of the downfall of McInnis deserves more than an asterisk in Colorado history. It was game changing.

If you were around at the time, you know that McInnis’ treatment of Fischer was far more damaging politically to McInnis than the plagiarism itself. It lead directly to McInnis’ loss in the GOP gubernatorial primary to Dan Maes, whose many flaws (and despite the best efforts of Tom Tancredo) paved the way for Hickenlooper to be governor.

Unlike now, Hickenlooper, you may recall, was weak and flailing during the 2010 election, and Hick would might have lost to McInnis in a general election. And McInnis might have won the GOP primary had Fischer lied and taken fake responsibility for the plagiarism, as McInnis asked him to do. I mean, Tancredo and Maes, who both ran for governor in 2010, together had nearly as many votes as Hick.

It clearly wasn’t easy for Fischer, who served as a Colorado Water District Chief, to stand up to his long-time friend McInnis, but apparently in keeping with his personality, he did, and it brightened the spotlight not only on the plagiarism but on a nasty side of McInnis that GOP voters didn’t like. Can you blame them?

We owe Fischer our collective gratitude for his honesty and integrity.

Fischer’s memorial service will take place tomorrow, Saturday, November 12, at 10:30 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs. Contributions should be sent to the National MS Society, in care of S. Reel, 521 Rood Avenue, Suite B, Grand Junction, CO, 81504.

Panel discussion: Journalism and the 2016 election

November 10th, 2016

Share your love or hatred of political journalism by joining a panel of journalists and media observers Tuesday, Nov. 15, for a discussion of media coverage of the election, particularly in Colorado.

The panelists are:

  •  Lisa Cutter, former president, Denver Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America
  • Hope Elizabeth, Denver University’s Roosevelt Institute
  • John Frank, political reporter, The Denver Post
  • Greg Moore, former editor, The Denver Post
  • Marshall Zelinger, political reporter, Denver 7

It will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at The Denver Post auditorium, 101 West Colfax Ave., followed by further discussion, light appetizers, and cash bar at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Pl.

Paul Teske, Dean, University of Colorado Denver, School of Public Affairs, will make introductory comments.

Moderators Laura Carno, founder of I Am Created Equal, and yours truly are soliciting questions in advance of the event—and queries from the audience will be encouraged on Tues.

The event is free and open to the public but register via tapthevote2016.eventbrite.com

You can submit questions in advance to Laura Carno (lauracarno at gmail.com) or me (jason at bigmedia.org).

The event is part of a series of political forums that have taken place at The Denver Post and the Press Club this election season. Sponsors: Denver 7, Denver Press Club, Public Relations Society of America, Roosevelt Institute, and The Denver Post.

Brauchler announces possible gubernatorial run in 2018

November 9th, 2016

In an interview on KNUS 710-AM Saturday Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler announced he’s considering a run for governor in 2018.

Asked by host Craig Silverman what he thought about going for the governor’s job in 2018, Brauchler said:

Brauchler: “I am going to consider it, Craig, of course. I am going to look hard at it. And I have been really encouraged by a bunch of different people across the spectrum… It’s surreal for people to be saying, ‘Hey, you should consider taking a stab at the biggest statewide office in Colorado.’ That’s kind of bizarre.”

When Brauchler announced his decision in September, 2015, not to run for U.S. Senate, he told The Denver Post he “”had gone pretty far down the road” toward running but had decided against it for family reasons.

But now, looking ahead to 2018, he said:

Brauchler: “It’s something I would definitely consider. I wouldn’t say no. I love this state. I’ve been here almost every minute of my life. And I want my kids to want to be here. I want other kids from across country to move to Colorado and have the same opportunities I had. And I’m concerned that that may not be the case. So for those reasons, yeah, I will definitely consider it.”

Brauchler is the first candidate, Democrat or Republican, to announce a possible gubernatorial run.

Listen to Brauchler on KNUS 710-AM here: