Despite his promise to answer “any question ever about what we do,” district attorney continues to conceal court documents explaining what his office does

February 9th, 2018

The Colorado Independent took a step yesterday toward winning its battle for the release of court documents illuminating why prosecutors messed up a death-penalty case in suburban Denver against Sir Mario Owens, who was found guilty in 2005 of killing two people.

Arapahoe-County-area prosecutors George Brauchler and his predecessor Carol Chambers wrongfully withheld evidence that might have helped Owens’ defense, according to a Colorado court ruling. But the documents explaining the screw-up were sealed.

The Independent asked a court to unseal the records, but a  judge said no, arguing that Owens would have been found guilty anyway, even if his defense had been given access to the records. Yesterday, the Colorado Supreme Court asked the judge to explain his legal reasoning for keeping the records sealed.

But here’s the interesting part, from a political perspective.

Not only are the prosecutorial-misconduct documents themselves sealed but so are documents from Brauchler’s office, filed in response to the Independent’s lawsuit, outlining his office’s arguments for keeping the documents sealed. 

That’s kind of jaw dropping for two reasons. First, Brauchler is running for the job of Colorado attorney general. And second, as Susan Greene, the Independent’s editor, wrote a post about the case, “Brauchler’s chief deputy wrote our lawyer, Steve Zansberg to say his office fears that the documents, if unsealed, would be used ‘to gratify private spite or – promote public scandal’ and ‘to serve as reservoirs of libelous statements for press consumption.'”

In other words, Brauchler’s office admits that he doesn’t want them released for political reasons.

So it’s no surprise that Brauchler, a Republican who dropped out of the race to be governor last year to pursue the attorney-general office, isn’t talking about why he wants to keep them sealed.

Yet, at the same time, he’s saying publicly that “I will answer any question ever about what we do.”

“Once you’ve announced you’re running for office, there are certain people who are going to view every decision you make as having been motivated by politics,” Brauchler told KNUS host (and Brauchler friend) Steffan Tubbs Feb. 6.  “Even this, someone sitting there right now, recording this, the Brauchler Haters for AG Group or whatever, and they are like, ‘He’s just talking about that.’ Look, this is just who I am. I’m the DA out here. I love the job that I do. It’s an awesome responsibility. And I will answer any question ever about what we do.” [Listen below.]

Any question ever? Why not tell us why you won’t release the documents? Brauchler’s office did not return an email seeking an answer to this question. (He’s stated that Owens received a fair trail.)

Undoubtedly, Brauchler, who’s known for being readily available to talk to reporters and others, may have legal reasons for keeping the Owens’ documents sealed.  But it looks as if politics is playing a big role, if you believe his deputy. But who knows without seeing the docs?

And regardless, as Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Jeff Roberts told Greene, access to to such court documents is “only way Coloradans can know whether the system is working properly.”

At the end of the day, beyond one election, that’s what really matters here.

Listen to Brauchler on KNUS Feb. 6:

Colorado lawmaker “likes” false Facebook meme claiming flu shot recipients are more likely to have learning disabilities

February 6th, 2018

State Sen. Vicki Marble of Ft. Collins “liked” a recent Facebook meme last depicting a woman getting a shot along with the statement, “5x MORE LIKELY to be diagnosed with a LEARNING DISABILITY.”

The image on the post comes from a YouTube video on how to administer a “flu vaccine.”

But Marble says her Facebook “like” does not necessarily mean she agrees with the post.

There are remote dangers associated with getting a flu shot, which are far outweighed by the potential benefits, according to the overwhelming consensus of scientific opinion.

Yet, each year, Facebook and social media sites become sickened with falsehoods linking the flu vaccine to various maladies. Snopes, along with other credible sources, have found these to be false, while acknowledging the remote risks.

There is no factual basis for the assertion that you are more likely to be diagnosed with a birth defect after getting a flu shot, much less “5x MORE LIKELY.”

Asked about the “like,” Marble said via email:

Marble: A “Like” on FB to many people, including myself, means “Thanks for the information” or “Thanks for posting”. There are things on FB I do not like reading, but, it
gave me heads up on a subject I may not have been aware of. Perhaps it gave a different look into the other side of the debate. I appreciate that. It’s pretty simple. Tweets/Blogs/FB/social media are where people voice opinions on events, other people, or, whatever they feel important. It isn’t considered investigative reporting. It may serve to perk the interest of the person reading the social media post to do more in depth research of the subject. That is a purpose served.

The Republican lawmaker once sponsored legislation affirming that parents can opt their children out of recommended vaccines in Colorado.

Marble’s comments on health issues have draw attention in the past.

Marble made national news last year for her dismissive response to a cub scout who asked Marble why she’d said that African-Americans suffer from poor health because they eat so much fried chicken.

Back in 2014, Marble asserted that immigrants bring previously eradicated diseases to the United States. She never provided evidence supporting this mean falsehood.

This post was updated after initial publication with a response from Marble.

Gubernatorial candidate Coffman implies that journalist is in the tank for GOP mega-donor and newspaper owner Anschutz

February 5th, 2018

During a KNUS radio interview Saturday, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman implied that ColoradoPolitics reporter Joey Bunch is writing unflattering articles about her gubernatorial campaign at the behest of Republican mega-donor Phil Anschutz, who owns ColoradoPolitics and the Colorado Springs Gazette through Clarity Media.

KNUS 710-AM HOST CRAIG SILVERMAN: [at 12 minutes] I don’t know if your ears were burning last night, but on “Colorado Inside Out”, Joey Bunch — veteran political reporter — said, “What’s up with Cynthia Coffman? She doesn’t really have a campaign.” I know you have a website now. But, do you have a full- blown campaign? Do you have a campaign manager? Are you ready to really participate in this race?

COFFMAN: You know, I’m going to say, “Baloney!” to Joey. Joey Bunch works for the Colorado Springs Gazette, owned by Phil Anschutz, who has already put out an editorial saying everyone in the Republican primary field should just clear the way for [Colorado Treasurer] Walker Stapleton, because that’s who [Anschutz] supports. So, I think you need to consider the source. Yes, I have a campaign. As I told you, I won Attorney General statewide by a higher percentage than anyone else. I know how to run a statewide campaign and I think people need to stop worrying about the girl in the race.

In fact, the Gazette published a finger-wagging editorial last month stating that Coffman and the other GOP gubernatorial candidates, except Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, “would do themselves and their party a favor by selflessly clearing the field and helping [Stapleton] win against the odds.”

And, in fact, Bunch appeared on Colorado Inside Out Friday, saying, “You know what is holding up? The fact that Cynthia Coffman doesn’t have a campaign or a message or any momentum at all. And she also doesn’t have any money.”

And, in fact (again), Bunch has posted multiple articles that raise questions about Coffman’s campaign (e.g., herehere, here, and here). ColoradoPolitics reporter Ernest Luning has written one as well.

But unfortunately, those three facts don’t come close to proving  that Anschutz is dispatching Bunch to attack Coffman in hopes of promoting Stapleton.

Coffman’s implied accusation is the kind that’s heard when a journalist is reporting information that a candidate doesn’t want to hear.

And in this case, Coffman hasn’t responded to Bunch’s specific points, made by other political observers as well, about lack of money, momentum, or campaign operations. So the evidence-free implication about Bunch being in Anschutz’s tank serves as little more than the ultimate insult for a professional journalist.

In an email, Bunch stood behind his reporting, writing, “I’ve reported what’s she said, her financial report and what appears to be a lack of an organized campaign or clear message on transportation and where she stands on abortion, something that matters deeply to the Republican base. Her first quarter in the race she spent about $14,000 and raised a little less than $100,000. I haven’t heard from any press person she’s employed, and it’s not clear who her campaign manager is.”

BUNCH: “I’ve said worse about her. I’m flattered she cared enough to mention me by name. I can live without positive attention.

Maybe I’m wrong, Maybe she actually does have a campaign.

Man, what a world, a conservative criticizing me because I work for Anschutz. I thought the liberals were supposed to do that.

But in this race Cynthia doesn’t know who she is, and that’s a big part of her problem: no money, no message, no base. Is she Cynthia who shouted “Go Trump” on Election Night, or is she Cynthia who told the NYT people lament not electing a woman president the same night?”

Coffman’s office did not respond to my request for evidence that Anschutz is directing Bunch’s reporting.

As Bunch points out, you’d expect to see the red flags about Republican donor Anschutz and ColoradoPolitics being waved by progressives. My response to them is, I trust the journalists at the Anschutz-owned outlet to let us know if the owner’s fist pounds the table and demands bias. They’d know, and I think at least some of them would tell us what’s going on.

 

Radio host calls himself “very, very middle-of-the-road” but says he voted for Trump and thinks Clinton “should be in jail”

February 1st, 2018

Tubbs announces new show on KNUS -2018-02-01-11-29-06-918If you’re one of the three people who follow the Denver radio scene closely, you know that longtime KOA morning host Steffan Tubbs was fired last year, after his arrest on domestic-violence charges, which were later dismissed.

Now Tubbs is jumping over to conservative KNUS radio, joining a lineup of ultra-conservative local yappers. The local part I like; the monolithic conservatism is ugly and getting uglier in the age of Trump.

So I was glad to see that KNUS was adding Tubbs, who I thought was less of a predictable conservative than other KNUS hosts. Tubbs often asked decent questions of his guests on his KOA show, and I admired his book about an African-American serviceman.

But it looks like Tubbs is a moderate no longer, if he ever was one. Judging from a KNUS guest appearance Jan. 19, it looks like his departure from KOA has sent his right wing flapping.

“If you’re just tuning in, and you wonder who I am, I consider myself very, very middle-of-the-road. I consider myself to be a reformed Democrat. When I was younger, let the government help, and all this sort of thing.

“And as I’ve become more mature, and I hope a little fiscally more responsible, you know where I am voting now. And so, just to be clear, as my old friend at KOA Mike Rosen said, let me know where you stand before you sit, I think Hillary Clinton right now should be in jail, I voted for President Trump, I wish the President didn’t tweet as much, but I think we need more common sense.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Wishing Hillary were locked up. Voting for Trump. Moderate?

I tried repeatedly to reach Tubbs to discuss this, but alas he did not respond to me. In response to my first attempt to contact him last week, he asked for my email address. But radio silence ever since. Oh well.

“I’m not trying to big time, but I am a text away from Senator Cory Gardner,” said Tubbs on air, illustrating his conservative connections, while it’s “very, very tough” for him to reach U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), whom he did say was a “very decent man.”

Tubbs will be taking the KNUS slot currently occupied by social-conservative lawyer Dan Caplis, who announced Jan. 18, that he was going to take “a little sabbatical” from the regular radio show to spend more time with his family and write the definitive book on the “Colorado disaster” with marijuana. He said he plans to return to radio work after his daughter goes to college.

I’m hoping Tubbs won’t turn into another Caplis on the ideology scale. But it’s not looking good.

Listen to Staffan Tubbs say he’s a moderate despite voting for Trump and saying Clinton should be in jail.

 

Tancredo cites unfriendly relationship with media as a factor in his decision to exit governor’s race

February 1st, 2018

I caught up with former Congressman Tom Tancredo the day after he announced his decision to abandon his campaign to be governor of Colorado.

“I’m here with a truck load of furniture that I have to unload entirely by myself,” Tancredo told me, saying he was backing his truck into his driveway as he was talking. “And I’m thinking, ‘You know, did you count on this, Tom? You’re going to have to deal with all this crap by yourself. Maybe I should have thought this whole thing through. I wouldn’t have to unload all of this if I were still a candidate.”

Westord’s Michael Roberts got it right Tuesday, when he reported that Tancredo “speaks in the sort of unfiltered manner that is incredibly rare for any politician, no matter his ideological beliefs.”

Tanc’s comments upon his departure from the race were no exception.

He talked openly about his surprise and disappointment at not being able to raise the money that he felt he needed to win the general election, even though he thought he could win the GOP primary.

He called Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who’s still in the gubernatorial race, the “ultimate insider.” At the same time, he was openly envious at the Bush cousin’s fundraising abilities.

Tancredo said it will be “hard for any Republican to win.” But he didn’t say it was out of the question either, just impossible for him without money he didn’t have.

He said his relationship with the media would also have hurt him:

Tancredo: “I do not have the luxury of a friendly relationship with the media, The Denver Post, Channel 9, and certainly the Colorado Springs Gazette.”

But he pointed out that the Gazette, which backs Stapleton, warmed to him after he dropped from the race,  even calling him “iconic” after lambasting him last month.

The Gazette used Tancredo’s departure to again call on other Republicans to exit the race: “Despite Tancredo’s move, the Republican field remains crowded with eight declared candidates. Others would do themselves and their party a favor to follow Tancredo’s lead if they can’t raise big money soon and achieve good name recognition.”

All of this, plus the prospect of facing a well-funded Democrat in the general election, led Tancredo to conclude it was time to drop out. He’d promised from the beginning that if he did not think he could win the general election, he’d leave the race to others.

For progressive journalists, like Mike Littwin, Tancredo’s exit is mixed blessing. As Littwin wrote toward the end of a column on Tancredo’s sudden departure, “And, on a personal note, with the race still in its early stages, I just lost about half my material.”

Spreaders of fake news seek public office again

January 26th, 2018

Two 2016 GOP candidates, known for posting false and inflammatory information on Facebook, are running again in 2018.

Two Republican candidates, who hurled false material on Facebook in the 2016 election, are again running for political office.

Raymond Garcia landed in The Denver Post in 2016 after he posted a Facebook item promoting a “Hillary Meal Deal, 2 fat thighs, 2 small breasts, and a bunch of left wings.”

Garcia was soundly defeated by State Rep. Susan Lontine of Denver, but he’s moved and is now challenging State Rep. Lois Landgraf, of Fountain, in the Republican primary.

Among numerous posts on Facebook, he once wrote, “OMG! This is perfect” above a fake photo of Trump attacking Hillary Clinton.

And he shared what turned out to be a deadly fake news item about the Clintons running a pedophile sex ring from a pizza joint. Still, Republicans in Colorado embrace Garcia.

The candidate isn’t worried about turning voters away with his Facebook posts.

“I couldn’t care less,” he said. “If somebody is not going to vote for me because of a Facebook post, they weren’t going to vote for me in the first place. They are liberals who weren’t going to vote for me.”

“The only time I have anything controversial on Facebook is when I’m going against a liberal. And any time I post something like that, it’s in response to something liberals have posted.

Garcia said he doesn’t understand how liberals can be so offended by what he posts and then get so upset by his responses, which, he says, are not as extreme as those of liberals.

A second Facebook offender, Casper Stockham announced recently that he’ll seek to unseat U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette.

Among other extreme and inaccurate information he’s spread on Facebook, Stockham once posted fake news depicting a Target cashier dressed in a burka, with a sign in front of her stating, “Attention customers, if you order contains pork or alcohol products, we respectfully as that you you use another lane.”

“DeGette posts some things that are inaccurate as well,” he said without specifying what. “I’m more accurate with a staff of one than she is with a million-dollar budget.

“I trying to illuminate the truth as I see it. I don’t think anyone on this planet is perfect, but I do the best I can.”

Stockham says he encourages his Facebook connections to be honest on Facebook and to be kind to one another.

Stockham has posted false information about liberals leaving their trash on the ground after an Earth Day party, and he calls professional media fake.

Both candidates received 2017 fake news awards from BigMedia.org.

Garcia got a “Mr. Congeniality” award for his offensive, inaccurate, and gross posts.

Stockham got the “Who the Fuck Cares about the Facts” award, after posting fake news even though he stated it “probably wasn’t true.”

A reporter explains, in 33 tweets, why it’s so important to subscribe to The Denver Post. Please do so.

January 17th, 2018

Veteran Denver Post reporter John Ingold banged out a beautiful tweet storm Monday about why it’s so important to subscribe to The Denver Post right now.

Click here and do it now (first month is 99 cents), and here are Ingold’s tweets. (Ingold is the health and medicine reporter for The Post.)

Ingold: Friends, we are undergoing an exciting change here at The Denver Post, but it might not seem like a great deal at first. Please give me a minute to convince you otherwise… (Thread 1/?)

Starting today, we are limiting how many stories you can read online for free and asking — begging — you to buy a digital subscription. It’s a good deal: $11.99 per month. [even better is the 99 cent deal for the first month.]

But it’s also something much more than access to articles. It’s an investment in your community.

The Denver Post is not nearly as big as it was, and it doesn’t cover as much ground. That makes me sad, too. But it’s still the state’s biggest news organization, it’s part of Colorado’s history and it produces dozens of important stories every year you won’t see elsewhere.

Remember @KSimpsonDP’s heartfelt portrait of the practical flaws in Colorado’s aid-in-dying law?

Or @JBrownDPost’s searing reporting on immigrants who have to wait until they are near death before they can get dialysis?

What about our Colorado Divide series showing how rural Colorado is being left behind — a conversation that @GovofCO picked up in last week’s State of the State address? https://www.denverpost.com/tag/colorado-divide/ …

I’ve been here 17 years, and in that time laws have been passed, bad people have gone to jail, crimes have been thwarted and good lives have been saved because of the work of The Denver Post.

I’m not exaggerating this. I once wrote a story about a woman suffering from HIV/AIDS and chronic pain. She felt alone, abandoned. Years later, I saw her again and she looked amazing. And she told me that our story, photos and video saved her life — by showing her someone cared.

But here’s the thing about all these good works: As much as we at The Denver Post want to think of ourselves as a nonprofit community organization, we aren’t. We’re a business owned by a New York hedgefund that demands it gets its cut every year.

And death is on our heels.

The basics of our looming death are familiar: Advertisers are leaving print media, and pretty much every newspaper in America — including the New York Times — is seeing declines in print advertising dollars.

We and just about everyone else have tried to compensate for those losses by putting greater emphasis on online advertising. There’s a reason the company that owns us is called Digital First Media. But this won’t work.

Why? Because it does two things. First, it gives a lot of power to the tech platforms where readers find us — like Google and Facebook. And those platforms have been making decisions that stab virtual knives in our backs.

Take, for instance, Google’s latest changes to discourage websites from hosting auto-play and take-over ads. That’s great, right? I hate those things!…

…Except, annoying as they were, those ads brought in money that helped sustain our journalism.

Or what about Facebook’s newly announced changes to the news feed — designed to make you interact more with friends and family?…

…Well, they mean you’ll be seeing (and clicking) fewer Denver Post stories. Right now, Facebook accounts for about 13% of the traffic to my stories.

There’s another thing this focus on digital ad revenue does: It can warp news judgment and news values.

Think about what kinds of stories you want your local newspaper to cover. Does that list include Golden Globes red carpet slideshows? What about bizarre crimes committed by Florida Man? In a model where clicks = cash, you’ll likely see a lot of those latter stories.

Here’s an example: I’ve spent much of the last six months writing about health policy, Medicaid, CHIP, and Obamacare — big state and national issues that affect a lot of people. What’s my most-clicked story? A goofy thing about eclipse glasses.

Meanwhile, this story looking at what Colorado Medicaid is doing to reduce opioid overdoses got fewer than 1,000 clicks.

I get that it’s wonky and incremental and not at all sexy. But here’s the question: Would you rather have someone reporting on this kind of thing or not? Because that’s the choice. It’s not between fun stories and dull ones. It’s between community-centered journalism and oblivion

There might be quality publications that can make a business model based on online ads work. But they will be national ones, with enormous reader pools to draw from. Local publications don’t have that advantage.

And the hedgefunds taking over local media don’t care. They want revenue. If that means fewer stories about the local city council and more about celebrity sideboob, that’s what it means.

So what’s the solution? We need to join our community values as journalists with a business model for which those values are rewarded. We need to be able to make money *because* we (and you) care about our city. And this is where you come in.

This isn’t a charity pitch. If you pay for a Denver Post subscription, you’re getting more than symbolic value in return. You’ll be getting articles that help you make more knowledgeable decisions and be a more informed voter.

But you’ll also be making a statement that the people and the stories in your community matter, that they’re worth hearing. That you want someone watchdogging city council meetings. That you care about the consequences of state policy.

And because you’re paying for everything together, your money is supporting ALL of our work. Some months you want to read about the Broncos. Others about groundwater pollution. Either way, we’ll have you covered, and a reporter’s beat won’t depend on a few clicks here or there.

This also, frankly, gives you greater power to shape the news coverage in your community. You don’t like something we did? Great, because you’re not just a click on the website, you’re a subscriber! Call us up and give us an earful and demand that we listen.

There are a lot of great news organizations in this state and all of them are worth supporting. This isn’t an either/or. Watch the TV newscasts. Contribute to public radio. Read the alternative publications. Everybody is out there for sincere reasons.

But I can’t state this any more clearly: If you want to see a future where there’s a Denver Post in Denver, buying a digital subscription now is the best idea we have to make sure that happens.

I hope you agree, and, at the very least, I appreciate you humoring me for this tweetstorm. Thank you for reading over the years. Thank you for caring about Colorado. Thank you for thinking about subscribing: https://checkout.denverpost.com/subscriptionpanel … (Thread: End/Phew!)

Thanks everybody for the thoughtful replies to this thread! It’s so heartening to see how many people care about local journalism. Plus, an update: We’re running a special where you can get your first month’s access to The Denver Post for 99 cents:

Durango Herald replaces its Denver Bureau with content from ColoradoPolitics.com

January 16th, 2018

The Durango Herald appears to have axed its much-admired, one-person Denver bureau, once staffed by legends like Joe Hanel then Peter Marcus, in favor of relying on content from ColoradoPolitics, which like the Colorado Springs Gazette, is owned by Phil Anschutz’s Clarity Media.

In a post Thursday, Herald Editor Amy Maestas wrote that the new “partnership” with ColoradoPolitics will “expand the political coverage we bring our readers” with both print an online-only stories.

The Durango Herald has a long-standing commitment to providing our readers in Southwest Colorado news about our lawmakers and the state Legislature. For many years, the Herald had a one-person bureau in Denver to write stories about legislation and issues pertinent to our corner of the state. Those full-time Herald staff reporters were invaluable as coverage from statewide news outlets dwindled.

To continue that commitment, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with Colorado Politics, which will now provide our legislative and political coverage from Denver. Colorado Politics is a print and online publication that launched in January 2017. The news outlet is owned by Denver-based Clarity Media – the same company that owns the The Gazette in Colorado Springs. The Gazette’s editor, Vince Bzdek, is also editor of Colorado Politics…

This summer, Colorado Politics hired two writers to report on legislators and issues from the Western Slope. This includes La Plata and Montezuma counties. Under the leadership of lead reporter Joey Bunch, Colorado Politics journalists will provide daily coverage of statehouse activities, as well as follow the activities of state Sen. Don Coram and state Rep. Barbara McLachlan.

Maestas stops a millimeter short here from saying the Herald’s Denver bureau has been shuttered, and she did not immediately return an email seeking to confirm the death of the bureau. The Herald’s last known Denver Bureau Staffer, Luke Perkins, isn’t filing stories from Denver.

I also asked Maestas if she was paying for the ColoradoPolitics content, if she had concerns about the fact that GOP mega donor Phil Anschutz owns ColoradoPolitics, and if she’d gotten any reader feedback on the arrangement. Is she providing content to ColoradoPolitics?

My take on Anschutz’s ownership: we have no choice but to trust the journalists who work at ColoradoPolitics to alert us if he undermines their ability to practice journalism due to his partisan goals. Right now, there are clearly journalists on staff there who wouldn’t let Anschutz get away with too much.

Asked if ColoradoPolitics has similar relationships with other newspapers, Bunch said via email that his news site may partner with other rural outlets in the future.

The Durango Herald was one of the last rural newspapers in Colorado to staff a Denver/Capitol office. The Grand Junction Sentinel has a presence in Denver, in the venerable Charles Ashby. The Greeley Tribune keeps a few toes in Denver. The Fort Collins Coloradoan pretty much ended its coverage with the departure of the equally venerable Patrick Malone in 2013. The legislative coverage of the Colorado Springs Gazette, helmed previously by Megan Schrader and, before her, John Schroyer, has morphed into ColoradoPolitics.

Conversely, The Denver Post closed its last rural bureau in 2015, with the departure of Nancy Lofolm from the Grand Junction bureau.

Updated Wednesday with my opinion on Anschutz’s ownership.

Is fake news in the eye of the beholder, as Colorado political reporter claims?

January 4th, 2018

In a blog post about Colorado’s 2017 Fake News Awards, which I bestowed last month to a group of Democratic and Republican officials, ColoradoPolitics reporter Dan Njegomir wrote that fake is “in the eye of the beholder.

But aren’t there objective ways a journalist can identify fake news? Like fact checking?

I emailed Njegomir and told him his eye-of-the-beholder view runs contrary to a tenant of journalism (and civility), which is that many facts, but not all, can be proven true (or false). And fact checks can be reported by journalists (and even liberal bloggers like me).

“I in fact agree with you that the news media have a responsibility to sift fact from fiction and put things in perspective,” Njegomir responded. “My point in observing that fake news is in the eye of the beholder is that the expression itself has been so overused and widely appropriated as to have no objective value. So, it can mean whatever you want. If you don’t like my news, it’s ‘fake.’ Same if I don’t like yours. Rarely does the accuser attempt to assess the actual veracity of the news report. ‘Fake news’ has become an all-purpose pejorative, kind of like ‘Nazi.’ But where it took ‘Nazi’ generations to achieve its all-purpose, ever-morphable meaning, it took ‘fake news’ less than a year.”

I’m one of the those people who accuses others of spreading fake news, and though I’m accused of being fake news myself, I honestly try to assess veracity.  But, alas, many who toss out the “fake news” salvo, like Trump, don’t care about the facts.

So Njegomir has a point that the term “fake news” is abused and lacks a precise definition.

But it’s still broadly understood as information from a news outlet that’s false.

As such, a discussion about whether something is “fake news” provides a framework for old-fashioned fact checking that’s less likely to put people to sleep than a discussion about “fact checking” itself, even though a fact checker and a fake-news cop are one and the same. They use research tools to prove truth or fakeness.

And the effort to spotlight and fight the spread of fake news has collateral benefits, like emphasizing the value of real journalism and the role of reporters as the arbiters of truth in civic discourse.

Bottom line, “fake” isn’t in the eye of the beholder. We should take advantage of people’s interest in fake news and argue about whether something is actually fake. And sometimes we can agree with each other.

How do reporters deal with Coffman’s abortion stance?

January 2nd, 2018

Republican gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Coffman told Peter Jones of the South Metro Villager last month that she backs abortion rights. Jones reported:

Coffman is likewise supportive of abortion rights.

“I want abortion to be rare. I want it to be safe, and I want us to be doing things as a society that diminish the need for there to be abortion,” she said.

That’s a pretty straight-forward articulation of a pro-choice position.

So you wonder why Coffman said previously that she was “surprised” that Channel 4 political specialist Shaun Boyd had characterized her as “pro-choice.”

“No! No, I didn’t. I refused to accept a label. And I still do,” Coffman said on air in response to a question about whether she’d describes herself as pro-choice.

Yet, Boyd reported that the Coffman campaign did not want Channel 4 to correct its story labeling Coffman as “pro-choice.”

So Coffman’s words say she’s pro-choice, but that’s not what she wants to be called? What to do with that, if you’re a reporter?  You have to call her pro-choice, because that’s what she appears to be, but maybe there’s more to the story.