It’s Not Too Late For Reporters To Ask More Colorado Candidates Where They Stand On Trump

October 17th, 2018

It’s past time for reporters to start asking more key Colorado candidates where they stand on Trump.

Don’t yowl that it’s an unfair question, somehow beyond-the-pale partisan because Trump is so unpopular in Colorado and not relevant to state races.

If that’s what you think, you’re wishing you lived in a different America.

Trump’s presidency permeates every single political race and decision in our country, affecting every aspect of government (Bill of Rights, courts, press, FBI, EPA, voting, and so much more). His rhetoric and style upend civil discourse.

Whether you agree with that or not, you have to admit that Trump is a revolutionary-type force in our country.

As such, the opinions of all candidates about Trump should available to voters.

I don’t mean to say journalists have ignored candidates’ views on Trump, but the reporting has been spotty and, in the legislative races, it’s been absent in many cases, even in the state senate races that are so critical in this election.

I’ve scoured the public record, and called candidates, to find out which Colorado Republicans voted for Trump. Will they do so again? What do they like and don’t like about what he’s done? (I’m assuming Democrats oppose Trump.)

Objectively, these are legitimate questions for any candidate in the year 2018. Yet, many Republicans in key Colorado races have yet to answer them. Here’s what we know so far.

GOVERNOR

Walker Stapleton (embraced Trump’s endorsement.  Wants Trump to campaign with him here in Colorado)

Lang Sias (backs Trump now and is already dedicated to voting for him in 2020)

U.S. CONGRESS

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (backed Trump in 2016; 88 percent pro-Trump voting record)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (voted for Pence in 2016; 96 percent pro-Trump voting record)

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (backed Trump in 2016; 94 percent pro-Trump voting record)

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (backed Trump in 2016;  96 percent pro-Trump voting record)

COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL

George Brauchler (says we’re “in pretty damn good hands” with Trump; voted for him)

COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE

Wayne Williams (expressed support for Trump’s candidacy)

COLORADO TREASURER

Brian Watson (supports Trump)

KEY STATE SENATE RACES

Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton — (unknown, but she praised Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke)

Christine Jensen of Wheat Ridge — (did not respond to a voice message asking for her views on the Trump presidency)

Olen Lund of Paonia — (did not respond to a voice message asking for his views on the Trump presidency)

Tim Neville of Littleton — (a loyal Trump backer, who celebrated Trump’s “Year of Greatness”)

Tony Sanchez of Lakewood — (did not respond to a voice message asking for his views on the Trump presidency)

KEY STATE HOUSE RACES

Kristina Alley of Lakewood — (voted for Trump)

Grady Nouis of Westminster — (stands with Trump 100%)

Toren Mushovic of Greenwood Village — (did not respond to a voice message asking for his views on the Trump presidency)

Kit Roupe of Colorado Springs — (wrote in 2016, “I ask you to vote and to vote for Trump.“)

Colorado Lawmaker Promotes Fake News Story About Elway Firing Kneeling Broncos

September 29th, 2018

State Sen. Randy Baumgardner (R-Hot Sulphur Springs) shared a fake news article on his Facebook page this week titled, “BREAKING: Broncos VP John Elway Storms Field, Fires 3 Kneeling Players on the Spot.”

You’d think that little or no depth of thought would be required to question the veracity of this alleged news article, in part because everyone in the state of Colorado and the world would have heard about it–and seen it on TV ad nauseum–if it were a fact.

But who would expect Baumgardner to take five-and-a-quarter seconds to visit the Google and check his own facts before hitting the share button on Facebook, given that Baumgardner has repeatedly poisoned us with fake news in the past? And he’s an elected official?

Actually, it took me three-and-a-half seconds, not five-and-a-quarter, to confirm that the Elway news was fake. Read it in Snopes, the fact-checking entity used by Facebook itself:

None of these events took place. The Broncos have no players named Mavius Malphner, Ladamian Brown, or DeShaq Darq. Like everything published by America’s Last Line of Defense, the article is fake.

However, some readers mistakenly believed it to be authentic, as demonstrated by the many earnest comments on the Facebook page of America’s Last Line of Defense.

That Facebook page and website (currently operating at the URL “trumpbetrayed.us”) are part of a network of junk news sites that engage in political trolling, much of it racially-charged and inflammatory, presented as “satire.”

Baumgardner once posted a fake story claiming that Obama actually replaced American flags in the White House with “Muslim prayer curtains.” (Read about this and more here.)

Only seven Colorado legislators have signed a pledge not to post fake news on their social media accounts, even though elected lawmakers in Colorado have been repeatedly caught posting false information, made to look like real news, on Facebook.

Gazette is latest to try–and fail–to explain away Coffman’s pro-Trump voting record

September 21st, 2018

The conservative Colorado Springs Gazette tried today to argue that U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) isn’t as pro-Trump as his 96 percent pro-Trump voting record would have you believe.

The Gazette argues that the 96-percent score includes “bills most rational members of Congress support, from both parties.”

The newspaper lists 15 examples, including bipartisan measures to provide hurricane relief and reduce opioid addiction.

Trouble is, if you throw out these 15 bipartisan votes from Coffman’s list of pro-Trump votes, the Aurora Congressman still has a 95 percent pro-Trump voting score.

And if you subtract 15 more votes, among the 90 House votes on which Trump had a publicly known stance, Coffman’s pro-Trump score is 93 percent.

Coffman’s core problem is that he voted just four times against Trump.

One of those four votes was on an important healthcare bill, as the Gazette points out, but Coffman later expressed support for another Trump-backed bill to kill Obamacare. It was defeated in the U.S. Senate, due to the downward thumb of former Arizona Sen. John McCain.

With Coffman in danger of being washed out of office by the blue wave, the conservative Gazette will try to argue that Coffman isn’t as Trump-loving as he appears, but his pro-Trump voting record won’t prove the point.

Where’s The Alleged “Established, Left-Wing Media” That’s Batting for Polis in Colorado?

August 15th, 2018

Writers love to add stuff after they’re done writing something, but usually they tweak rather than blow up their work with a completely new idea.

But Colorado Springs Gazette dropped a last-minute bomb in an editorial yesterday.

The piece argued that Democratic candidate for governor Jared Polis’ ties to the KKK run deeper than Republican Walker Stapleton’s, even though Stapleton’s great-grandfather was a leader of the KKK in Colorado. And Stapleton has refused to denounce the KKK or his family ties to it, while instead praising his great-grandfather in campaign ads.

And Polis has no ties to the KKK.

Westword’s Chris Walker noticed that the original version of the Gazette’s editorial didn’t have the closing line that Polis is the “candidate our established, left-wing media hope to elect.” This was added later.

So it was an afterthought!

You’d think news like this would be the headline of the editorial (with lots of supporting evidence). Something like, COLORADO MEDIA IN THE TANK FOR THE LEFT.

But the Gazette, which is owned by Republican mega-donor Phil Anschutz, provided no evidence for the assertion.

And the election of Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, with The Post’s endorsement in 2014, would tend to make you think otherwise about any liberal leanings of the media in Colorado.

Denver Post letter writers debate relevance of Stapleton family KKK family ties

August 8th, 2018

The Denver Post published a few thoughtful letters over the weekend about whether the New York Times erred in reporting on the potential impact of Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton’s family ties to the KKK.

The letters responded to Post columnist Mario Nicolais’ June 29 piece titled “The New York Times kneecaps Walker Stapleton.”

In his column, Nicolais complained that the Times article, titled “Family History Haunts G.O.P. Candidate for Governor in Colorado” by Julie Turkewitz, was a “hit piece.” “It’s dirty, it’s wrong, and it contributes to the dumbing-down of the electoral process,” wrote Nicolais.

One letter writer, Ryan Bauer of Thornton, points out that Nicolais, who’s normally super detail-oriented, somehow failed to note that Walker Stapleton once bragged about his great-grandfather, Benjamin Stapleton, who was a leader of the Colorado KKK in the 1920s,

As the Times article points out, Stapleton touted his great-grandfather’s public service in at least one campaign ad as a candidate for state treasurer in 2009. He has avoided the issue more recently with rising public awareness of Benjamin Stapleton’s Klan affiliation, i.e. efforts to rename the Stapleton neighborhood as well as an eponymous school.

If Walker Stapleton felt it was appropriate to highlight his great-grandfather’s accomplishments for electoral gain, he also must decry the ugly, racist side of that legacy. It’s a loose end that, unless Stapleton officially comments, voters will be left to wonder whether his sympathies lie with the white nationalist bloc under the Trump-GOP tent.

A second letter, by Nancy Banks, states. in part:

Nicolais correctly argues that Walker Stapleton isn’t responsible for the sins of his great-grandfather; however, he ignores the fact that Walker Stapleton is not a self-made politician, but instead is the beneficiary of the political dynasty started by his great-grandfather — a dynasty that had initial success based on Benjamin Stapleton’s support for white supremacy and his support by white supremacists.

Voters are entirely within their rights to ask Walker Stapleton what that dynasty means to him, and to get a clear answer from him.

A third letter writer wrote:

I note that Denver attorney Mario Nicolais in his op-ed justifiably lambastes the New York Times for its association of Colorado gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton with the membership of his great grandfather Benjamin Stapleton in the Ku Klux Klan.

It is rather ironic to say the least that on the very next page George Will begins his criticism of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez by noting that “For three months in 1917, Leon Trotsky lived in the Bronx, just south of the congressional district where Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez recently defeated a 10-term incumbent in a Democratic primary.” C’mon George.

PILLS MAY REPLACE DIAPERS AND PADDED UNDERWEAR: Ads Disguised As News Illuminate Plight Of The Denver Post

July 25th, 2018

20180718_070629Much has been made of The Denver Post’s hedge-fund owner’s strategy of sucking profit from the enterprise while sending it into a death spiral with staff cuts that undermine the core journalistic mission of newspaper.

But everyone who tracks The Post knows that the paper’s problems run much deeper than Alden Global, its owner.

The core subscriber base of The Post’s print edition, which is still a major revenue source for big city dailies, is getting older and dying–while younger people don’t want to pay for journalism at all–online and certainly not in print.

Ironically, the newspaper’s precarious financial condition is undoubtedly the major reason its accepting fake news advertisements that brazenly aim to manipulate the loyal audience that continues to love and cherish the newspaper: old people.

Since March, I’ve tracked some of the fake-news ads that run in the Post’s print edition. To me, they’re shocking, funny, and heart-breaking, especially because I’ve seen them work on my very own mom.

I’m sure they’re hated by the fine journalists who work at The Post, but that doesn’t make the ads, often with fake bylines and disclaimers too tiny for the eyes of many oldsters, any less disgraceful.

Tuesday’s ad, for example, was headlined:

“New arthritis pain killer works on contact and numbs pain in minutes.”

“David Watson Associated Health Press” was the journalist-ish name atop the article. A Google search for this person revealed ads in newspapers across the country, including one with his name on it from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, which surely has the same audience problem as The Denver Post. The title of the St. Louis Post ad: “New Numbing Drug Relieves Crippling Arthritis Without Pills or Needles.” (A previous ad on a similar topic had “Robert Ward, Associated Health Press, as the author).20180723_071417

To its credit, The Post labels the ads as advertisements, but the warning is too small and does not get the newspaper off the hook for promoting the same fake news it purports to hate.

The ads undermine The Denver Post’s most valuable asset, which is its credibility as a trusted news source.

Here’s some other sample headlines of ads printed since March 13 in The Denver Post:

New pill reverses memory loss in amazing way. Subhead: Developed by Israeli doctor. Study shows key ingredient reverses years of mental decline and may also prevent dementia (July 23).

Pills may replace diapers and padded underwear at stores. Subhead: Clinical studies show new pill may be effective enough to replace diapers for bladder control. Initial users show dramatic reduction in trips to the bathroom, embarrassing leaks and nighttime urgency (July 18).

Why haven’t senior homeowners been told these facts? Subhead: Keep reading if you own a home in the US and were born before 1955 (July 7).

New drug numbs arthritis pain exactly where it hurts (June 18).

America is hungry for Martha Stewart’s new 30 minute dinner kits (April 30).

New non pill sex cream for men gets amazing results. Subhead: Recent warnings on sex drugs could lead to the creation of an amazing no-pill option. Key ingredients activate sensation pathways triggering erections and arousal.

New prostate pill reduces urge to pee especially during the night.20180724_081300

Adult diapers may no longer be needed thanks to amazing new pill (March 15).

Pill used in Germany for 53 years relieves joint pain in 7 days without side effects. Subhead: Now available in the US without a prescription! By JK Roberts, interactive news media. (March 14).

Americans report improvements in memory, concentration, and thinking power. By Daniel Ward as health press (March 16).

I don’t mean to hit The Denver Post when its down, but the victims of these ads deserve to know that none of this is news that’s been vetted by their trusted Denver Post. The deception is probably working. Otherwise these ads would have stopped months ago.

More Ads:20180417_07101320180419_07335220180420_07503020180430_07214120180228_071314

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“This Is a Clear Example of the Media Training Your Brain.” Not.

July 3rd, 2018

It’s the kind of conservative Facebook post you might roll your eyes at and move on, except it was posted just before last week’s murder of five staffers at a Maryland newspaper.

“Look at this….!!!” wrote the Montrose County (southern Colorado) Republican Party on its Facebook page, referring to a meme showing two editions of the Wall Street Journal with two different headlines about the same story.

“Same exact newspaper, same exact date, sold in different areas depending on the level of political parties in that area,” states the meme (on your right). “This is a clear example of the media training your brain people. Open your eyes before it’s too late.” [emphasis added]

Except it’s not the “media training your brain people.”

As explained by the nonpartisan fact checker Snopes, newspapers print different editions at different times during the day, and sometimes the headlines and content changes as stories develop:

This image was passed around on the Internet accompanied by the claim that the Wall Street Journal had deliberately published one headline, “Trump Softens His Tone,” in a pro-Trump market area in an attempt to sway readers away from the the GOP nominee, and the other headline, “Trump Talks Tough on Wall,” in a non-Trump market area to bolster support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

However, these opposing headline editions were not distributed to different political or geographic markets, nor were they intended to influence voters.

This picture shows two editions of the Wall Street Journal published at different times of the day. The paper on the left came off the press early in the day, while the paper on the right was produced later in the day. Print newspapers sometimes undergo revisions throughout their daily runs and typically employ marks to distinguish the various editions — in this case the differing WSJ editions are distinguishable by the number of stars displayed in the masthead:

You hope that the Montrose Republicans remove the WSJ meme from their website, and I’ve asked them to do so. No response.

In any case, they’re a Colorado example of a problem that’s obviously stoked by conservatives across the country, starting with Trump and his “fake news” propaganda.

They’re not only trashing the profession of journalism, which is bad enough given how much we need reporters to hold Trump and every other politician accountable.

But they’re also putting working-stiff journalists at risk. I’m not going to blame the deaths at the Capital newspaper in Maryland on the rhetoric of conservatives. But it creates a hostile climate for journalists, to be sure, which is not deserved or supported by the conservatives who are doing the attacking.

And, again,  it de-legitimizes the honorable profession of journalism.

Take Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who said last month the media wants conservatives to “fail.” His evidence for this? Zippo.

Gardner has also said, without evidence, that the “press” is biased against conservatives like him. And he blamed the media for Mitt Romney’s loss to Obama in 2012.

If you watch FOX News or follow politics at all, you know that evidence-free news-media bashing plays a leading role in the Republican playbook, going back way before Trump.

So you wonder what conservatives have to say to the journalists in Maryland, like the Capitol newspaper’s website editor, who defended his besieged profession after the shooting last week. The Washington Post reported last week:

Jimmy DeButts, an editor for the [Maryland newspaper’s] website, published a tribute on Twitter about the craft of his fellow journalists, with a nod to the struggles of many local newspapers to continue working under tough economic conditions.

“There are no 40 hour weeks, no big paydays — just a passion for telling stories from our community,” DeButts tweeted. “We keep doing more with less. We find ways to cover high school sports, breaking news, tax hikes, school budgets & local entertainment.”

DeButts added: “We are there in times of tragedy. We do our best to share the stories of people, those who make our community better. Please understand, we do all this to serve our community.”

Maybe the Montrose Republicans, Trump, Gardner, and other conservatives think they’ll maintain power by undermining journalism.

I’m hoping journalism–and our country–prevails, and I read about Trump’s and Gardner’s demise in the newspaper.

ColoradoPolitics Gives Coffman a Platform to Blame Everyone But Himself for Not Helping Dreamers

May 10th, 2018

It was good to see ColoradoPolitics dedicate a post to U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) announcement Wednesday that he supports a parliamentary maneuver to force a long-stalled vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Dreamer issue. Who’s not hoping this works? And it might.

But the ColoradoPolitics piece allows Coffman to blame everyone except himself for ignoring the Dreamers, when he’s been a major part of the problem.

Especially in this boisterous election season, ColoradoPolitics should not have posted this quote from Coffman without offering someone, somewhere, the chance to critique it:

“Democrats failed to make immigration reform a priority when they had control of the U.S. House, and Republican leaders have not made any progress to date,” Coffman said in the Wednesday statement. “I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort to finally bring these important immigration reform bills to a vote.”

While it’s true that Democrats did control the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007-2009, Coffman is flat-out wrong to blame “Republican leaders” for the lack of progress on the Dreamer issue, as if he wasn’t part of the problem, even in recent years.

In fact, as anyone who’s tracked the heart-breaking immigration issue knows, the best chance that Dreamers had at gaining protection from deportation died in the Repubublican-controlled House in 2013, after the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly and bipartisanly passed a comprehensive immigration bill by a vote of 68-32. The immigration bill included the Dream Act, which includes a path to citizenship.

ColoradoPolitics even cited the 2103 immigration bill in its post that featured Coffman slamming his partisan colleagues and patting himself on the back.

“Whichever bill makes it to the Senate has at least a fighting chance. The Senate is where Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet had success with the Gang of Eight in 2013 to pass a bipartisan immigration reform bill, only to watch it wither away in the House,” reported ColoradoPolitics.

But the post left out the fact that Coffman opposed the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill, and did nothing to stop his colleagues form killing it, leaving Dreamers desperate for help and the rest of us crying.

 

 

Post Journalists: “Hey Hey. Ho Ho. Alden Global Has Got to Go”

May 8th, 2018

A flock of journalists, from an array of media outlets, covered a rally of about 100 people at The Denver Post headquarters today, pointing cameras at marching and chanting Post reporters, who called on the newspaper’s hedge-fund owner, Alden Global, to find a buyer who cares about journalism and the community.

One of the journalists covering the rally didn’t want to be interviewed about it, saying he needed permission from his bosses before commenting to the press.

But another,  KOA 850-AM’s Jerry Bell, quickly offered his take.

“It’s horrible,” Bell said when asked how it felt to cover the rally. “A lot of those people are my friends. I’ve worked side-by-side with them for years. It’s heartbreaking.”

Despite somewhat strong chants of, “What do we want? A new owner. When do we want it? Now,” an undercurrent of horribleness and heartbreakingness, not to mention vulnerability and sadness, indeed pervaded the rally today at the industrial-scale Post headquarters.

That’s because no one at the rally, or chit chatting on the side or anywhere on the internet, explained how The Post’s predicament, with a hedge-fund owner that’s chopping away at the newsroom, ends well.

No path toward a solution is on the table, but, still, the goal was clear, as expressed in a chant that went, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Alden Global has got to go.”

A dubious group of potential buyers, who rode a media wave after the Post’s former Editorial Page Editor Chuck Plunkett penned an editorial critical of Alden last month, has disappeared, at least for now. Plunkett himself resigned, after a follow-up editorial was rejected by Alden executives.

Plunkett spoke at the rally, expressing the painfully obvious truth that the journalists in front of him were uncomfortably protesting and marching.

But Plunkett also told the crowd and the reporters present, “Local journalism is way too important to be neglected, as it has been over the past few years. Local journalism is way too important to be censored, as we are starting to see now. We really need Alden Global to come around and start reinvesting in its newsrooms and start looking for a way to preserve journalism across all its holdings, particularly at the Denver Post. Or they need to sell to more responsible owners. That’s the message these people are trying to get out. And these people have been working hard, under impossible conditions, for way too long. And it’s time for the people of Colorado to stand up and help these folks, if they care about local journalism, and they should.”

Plunkett is soft-spoken and precise with his words, which makes him a somewhat unlikely character to become the poster child for saving journalism in Denver, but most journalists would be similarly ill-suited for the role. That’s their nature, as Plunkett himself expressed.

Yet, as the signs carried by The Post journalists read, “Democracy Depends on Journalism.”

So there’s hope. There’s still a lot of great journalists in Denver, outside The Post.

And the Post’s cause is so noble that big civic-minded money may well flow its way. That’s what I’m waiting for, at least.

What if everyone at The Post and Camera went rogue? And should they?

April 30th, 2018

The Boulder Daily Camera’s Editorial Page Editor Dave Krieger was “terminated” last week after the Camera’s publisher spiked an editorial, written by Krieger, that took aim at the Camera’s hedge-fund owner, Alden Global, which also owns The Denver Post. Krieger’s piece was titled, “Private Equity Owners Endanger Daily Camera’s Future.”

Krieger published the spiked editorial the week before he was sacked.

Here’s why Krieger published it:

Krieger: “This is a story about an important, longstanding Boulder institution. As journalists working in that community, we have an obligation to our readers to tell it.”

Does that mean that Post and Camera journalists should risk their jobs and start investigating and publishing articles about Alden? Do all journalists have that “obligation” to their readers?

If so, the scribes at the Camera and the Post have some work ahead of them. I had this vision of mass rebellion at the Post and Camera, not just from the editorial page editors, but from the entire staffs, refusing to write about anything but Alden Global, defying management and turning out newspapers until Alden had to call the police to forcibly shut down the newspaper and fire everybody. A mass strike and act corporate disruption.

Not gonna happen, but should more journalists at those newspapers risk getting fired over this, like Krieger did?

Krieger, who’s answering questions at 6:30 tonight at the Denver Press Club, undoubtedly knew there was a chance he’d be fired if he went rogue, just as I did when I published a column, spiked by Rocky Mountain News editor/publisher John Temple, arguing that maybe the Justice Department could intervene and force the Rocky to stay open a bit longer. (Temple got really mad but didn’t fire me.)

But I had almost nothing to lose, because the Rocky was a holiday-season away from closing, and I was freelancer anyway and could afford it.

Krieger’s full-time job was on the line.

And so was Plunkett’s, even though, as I understand it, he never disobeyed his bosses when he orchestrated his newspaper’s editorial attack on Alden Global from the pages of The Post. So maybe his firing seemed a bit less likely than Krieger’s, due to Krieger’s outright insubordination.

Actually, Krieger might not call what he did insubordination, because he works for his readers, or at least partly.

But if journalists put their readers first, what should the remaining staffs at the Post and Camera do now?

It sounds kind of ridiculous to spell it out, but all of us have the option of civil disobedience, if laws violate our higher ethical bearings, and we can tolerate it no longer and are willing to accept the consequences. See David Thoreau.

Whether we, as citizens, break the law obviously depends on a lot of things, including our personal circumstances (ethical, religious, financial, health, and more) and possibly our assessment of whether our law-breaking would help right the ship.

The same holds for journalists who have to decide when they owe it to their readers to disobey the corporate master and rebel, like Krieger did. Or go on strike. Or carry on, under the circling vultures, if they think a rebellion would just hasten the demise of journalism in Boulder and Denver.

Of course, journalists have faced dilemmas like this before, when they’ve battled managers and owners, but Alden Global is forcing a lot of them in our community to think about it at the same time, like right now.