Gardner cancels interview with journalist but keeps his appointment with right-wing radio host

December 8th, 2017

I was really looking forward to U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-CO) appearance yesterday on Colorado Public Radio, especially after reading the outpouring of questions submitted in response to CPR journalist Ryan Warner’s request for queries for Gardner on the tax bill.

Here are the 100-plus questions, from Warner’s Twitter feed. They give you hope for representative government in these dark times.

But alas, Gardner canceled, leading Warner to Tweet:

I’m grateful for all the questions you’ve shared for @SenCoryGardner. His office says they must reschedule. Stay tuned.

You have to take Gardner at his word that he had a real conflict, but it’s worth noting that our senator did not cancel his radio interview with arch conservative Jimmy Sengenberger, over at KDMT, this morning at around 7 a.m.

Sengenberger started off by confirming Gardner’s previously announced position against backing Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who faces accusations of child molestation. Sengenberger told Gardner he “appreciates” Gardner’s stance.

“Thank you. Thank you,” said Gardner.

Then the tax bill.

“Where do we go from here?” asked Sengenberger, pulling out his big guns.

“I was very excited about the passage of the tax relief bill. Every income bracket, every income level in America will see tax relief as a result of this bill legislation. It’s going to grow the economy, create a million jobs, and most importantly for the people of Colorado, this will lead to higher wage growth. We’ve seen for far too long, over the past decade, stagnant wages, people working harder than ever, and they are not bringing home more money. As a result of this legislation, businesses bringing investments back into the United States, more competitive around the globe, we’re going to see those dollars come back into the United States and it’s going to result in competition for workers. And as a result we’ll see wage growth. That’s a very powerful tool of economic growth and economic activity, and that’s what we’re going to see…This makes us competitive again.”

Help! Journalistic intervention needed. But alas, no Warner-type person exists in the KDMT studio.

Instead, we have Sengenberger. All he could come up with was a trickle of a question about whether the individual tax cuts would be made permanent.

No doubt they would at some point, said Gardner, and the interview continued with this:

Sengenberger: “How much of an impact do you think this could really have on wages and other forms of investments that businesses might want to make, Sen. Gardner, in their businesses?”

Gardner: “Well, I think significant. If you look at the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, their estimates in Colorado for net increase in income for the average family is over $3,000…”

Sengenberger’s response: None. (Complete acceptance of trickle-down economics and of the Tax Foundation as nonpartisan, when it’s in fact right-leaning)

He moved on to praising Gardner for the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate.

“That one could affect a large swath of people, myself included,” Sengenberger told Gardner.

“This simply says to people, ‘You have a choice,” responded Gardner. “You can either buy insurance or not. It’s about freedom. It’s about opportunity….

“[This bill] doesn’t take anybody’s health care away. That’s simply a hysteria out there that is just not founded in reality.” [emphasis added]

Nothing from Sengenberger about the truly nonpartisan Congressional estimates that 13 million people will lose health insurance as a result of the repeal, and premiums will rise by 10 percent more than anticipated.

Instead, Sengenberger’s follow up question puts an exclamation point on why we can’t afford for journalism to die in America.

“How optimistic are you at being able to get this bill through Congress by the end of the year, if not by Christmas?” asked Sengenberger.

“You know, I’m very optimistic….” said Gardner.

Listen to Gardner’s interview on KDMT 1690-AM Dec. 6.

Former Colorado lawmaker refuses to remove factual error on Facebook page

November 26th, 2017

Former Colorado State Sen. Shawn Mitchell, a Republican, is refusing my request to correct an error on his Facebook page.

Mitchell stated on Facebook that “an Antifa dude” opened fire in a church. In fact, the shooter had no connections to Antifa, as has been widely documented by Factcheck.org, Snopes, which called the allegation “fake news,” and other fact checkers.

Mitchell wrote on Facebook Nov. 5:

I am so sick of the blind, morally twisted pygmies who feed us news.
An Antifa dude shoots up a church. A liberal neighbor assaults, batters, and seriously injures a conservative senator. A deranged Bernie supporter shoots up a Republican baseball practice.
Does anyone notice a pattern here? Yet, in all of this, the media is unwavering that conservatives are the dangerous ones, just one brain twitch away from enslaving women, minorities, and shooting adversaries.

Mitchell is worried about the “twisted pygmies who feed us news,” and he posts this obvious falsehood?

Mitchell did not respond to my polite request that he clear up this factual error on his Facebook page.

Colorado Senate press secretary warns of “harassment” and copyright violation if you quote his personal Facebook page

November 21st, 2017

paige on violation of copyright and harassmentU.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona is a “media whore.” Fact-check journalism is “largely phony.”

Those quotes, which I included in recent blog posts, come from the personal Facebook page of Colorado Senate GOP spokesperson Sean Paige.

Going forward, he wrote on his Facebook page, he does not want people like me, who are not his Facebook friends, using quotes like those.

No doubt Paige does not want me to quote his polite request to stop quoting his Facebook material, but here I go anyway:

Paige: “Please note that these are my private and personal thoughts, which I post on this invite-only Facebook page for friends and associates–and which aren’t meant to reflect the views of clients I may have in the professional realm. I’m forced to add this because social media bottom-feeders, in a desperate bid for cannon fodder, relevance and clicks, have been stealing content from this page and republishing it on partisan attack blogs without my consent or permission, which I deem not just a violation of copright and an act of harassment, but a despicable effort to curtail and chill my privacy rights and rights to free speech and expression. So if you are here uninvited, with such aims in mind, please unfriend this page and stop misappropriating and misusing what I post here. Surely there must be better, more honest ways for you to get attention.)” (emphasis added)

When Paige complained on Twitter a few months ago about my quoting his Facebook posts, I responded by asking him if he thought Clinton’s private emails were out of bounds or Obama’s comments about Pennsylvanians who cling to their guns. Or Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R-CO) comment that he was unsure if Obama was an American in his heart.

Paige didn’t respond, but he’s gotta know, as a spokesman for politicians, how journalism and public debate works. Private information gets out. If it’s verifiable and relevant, it gets published. Trump gets mad but that’s life.

You sympathize with politicians and people like Paige who are scrutinized, but it’s tough to keep your thoughts private these days, especially when you blast them out at private fundraisers or post them on your personal Facebook page, which has hundreds of friends.

But now Paige, who did not immediately return a call for comment, is taking a different tack, with new accusations about people who quote his stuff:

An act of “harassment.” Not. It’s closer to bearing witness. In my case, I just quote him and try to explain it or challenge it.

“Curtail and chill” his privacy rights and rights to free speech and expression. Nope. I’m interested in debating him freely and letting his speech blossom into the sunlight.

“Violation” of his copyright. Again, no. Sharing is the way of social media, but Paige actually has an important point that copyright protections exist. But, per fair-use standards, you’re allowed to reproduce portions of copyrighted material for criticism and commentary. So my selective quoting of his Facebook page is ok.

If Paige is serious about trying to keep his stuff personal, he should de-friend all his Facebook friends, except the ones who won’t pass on his posts to me or others. But the person who shares my Facebook posts the most is my mother! She even prints them out and puts them on her fridge for all to see! So if I were Paige, I’d have a hard time keeping my posts under wraps. I mean, I’d never de-friend mom.

 

Former Denver Mayor Webb shows integrity in removing fake news from his Facebook page

November 15th, 2017

webb fake news 11-17Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb gets serious praise for removing fake news from his Facebook page, which falsely quoted Trump as saying:

“If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”

Webb not only removed the post, which had received hundreds of “likes” and “shares,” but he left a note on his Facebook page copping to his mistake and apologizing.

What more could you want from a community leader?

For this, I officially dub him a Warrior Against the Fact-Free World.

It’s great to remove fake news in silence, but Webb went further by acknowledging his error and thus showed by his example how we can all fight fake news. Anyone can make a mistake and post fake news, no matter how hard we try not to. Webb’s action encourages others to act responsibly if they’re in the same boat.

Contrast how Webb handled the situation with the many Colorado officials who refuse to remove fake news, defined as social-media post that looks like news and has been proven false by Factcheck.org, Politifact, Snopes or a credible news outlet.

Current or former lawmakers who’ve refused to remove fake news include former State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt of Colorado Springs, State Sen. Tim Neville of Littleton, State House Republican Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock,  State Rep. Ray Scott of Grand Junction, and former State Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada (most recently here). They are all Republicans.

On the positive side, a growing number of officials, from former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo on the right to Webb on the left, have readily removed fake-news, once they become aware of the rot on their social-media feeds. Yay for that.

Man up and accept fake news?

October 24th, 2017

neville patrick on kaepernick saying he'd stand for anthem if he could play againRep. Patrick Neville, the leader of the Colorado House Republicans, has called me a “snowflake” for politely asking him, in a blog post last week, to remove news from his Facebook page that’s been retracted by CBS and the Associated Press.

Before being hit with the snowflake accusation, I thought Neville and I would quickly agree that he should cleanse the Kaepernick “news” from his Facebook page. It was thought to be accurate when he shared it Oct. 17, but not anymore.

But, alas, no, he didn’t agree. Instead, he tweeted this at me:

Neville: @BigMediaBlog needs to stop being such a #snowflake. End the #fakeoutrage #growup #moveoutofmomsbasement

So I’m a snowflake because I don’t want to see falsehoods on the Facebook page of one of the state’s top Republican lawmakers? Neville Screen shot 2017-10-24I need to man up and accept fake news?

On Twitter, Neville called my blog post “fake news,” and he wrote that on Facebook he was “agreeing with and sharing someone’s post” about Kaepernick.

Neville referred to an an “update” on the Kaepernick “news” that he posted, saying there “are conflicting reports now on whether Kaepernick would or wouldn’t stand for the national anthem.”

But, again, both AP and CBS retracted the Kaepernick news, so it’s false to assert that “Kaepernick tells CBS he’ll stand during national anthem.” So the news is demonstrably false, even if you don’t want to accept Snopes’ identical conclusion.

I reached out to Neville again for this blog post, and I’m still hoping to hear back from him. It’s unusual for him to back off from any debate, especially with snowflake like me.

Tancredo removes fake news from Facebook page

October 23rd, 2017

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, the Colorado Republican who’s considering another run for governor, Tancredo fake photo of Obama honoring Cosby weinstien 2017-10-20-09-31-39-529 has cleansed his Facebook page of the fake news that Obama honored Harvey Weinstein, among other Democrats accused of sexual assault.

The item depicts Obama giving medals to Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, Anthony Weiner, and Bill Cosby.

A headline across the top reads, “I DIDN’T KNOW THERE WAS A SEXUAL PREDATOR AWARD. THANKS DEMOCRATS.”

Tancredo, who ran for president in 2008, told me he had doubts about the Facebook meme before he posted it.

“When I looked at it, I thought, ‘What would Obama be giving Weiner an award for? So I should have paid more attention to that one,” Tancredo told me. “It’s well done, but these days, who can tell?”

The falsehood no longer appears on Tanc’s page.

Tancredo told me he once removed one item from his Facebook page after hearing Rush Limbaugh state it was false. But he isn’t inclined to believe Snopes or the New York Times. 

Elbert County School Board member gets high praise for removing fake news from Facebook

October 20th, 2017

wills fake news about Hillary defending rapistShowing the kind of respect for facts that you’d expect from a school board member, Scott Wills yesterday removed a meme he’d shared Oct. 14 on his Facebook page depicting a Hillary Clinton quote that’s widely been proven to be fake. Here’s the quote from the meme:

“Yeah, I got him off. So what? Who cares? We get the evidence thrown out, so he walked. (Laughs) I mean, sure, we knew he did it. (Laughs) But it didn’t matter.” — Hillary Clinton, audio recording from 1982 discussing a child rapist she defended when she was a criminal defense attorney in Arkansas.

In an interview Thursday, Wills, a Republican on the Elbert County School Board, said he factchecks all items he shares on Facebook, and he agreed with me that conservatives like him and progressives like me don’t want fake information on Facebook.

I explained to him that he’d posted the false quote on Facebook. And I speculated that he may have gotten confused because part of the meme is, in fact, true. As a 27-year-old lawyer, Clinton was assigned to the case and reached a plea bargain. The false quote was used as part of a campaign accusation that Clinton “volunteered” to defend a rapist.

Wills told me he’s too busy to research the item, but he’d just “take it down.” He did so yesterday, earning him respect from me, even though he appears to be on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me.

At least three other Colorado elected officials have removed fake news in the past year from their social media accounts, after being alerted to it. In December, State Rep. Polly Lawrence of Roxborough Park and former State Rep. Kit Roupe of Colorado Springs, both Republicans, removed fake Facebook posts, as did Denver Democratic Rep. Susan Lontine. And U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) removed a tweet in response to criticism.

Why hasn’t Patrick Neville removed fake news from his Facebook Page?

October 17th, 2017

neville patrick on kaepernick saying he'd stand for anthem if he could play againUPDATE: On Twitter Oct. 18, Neville responded to this post with, “Fake news, trying to call out fake news. Classic. I continue to believe “values have no price”. Why should I remove my opinion? #copolitics”

———

“BREAKING: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick tells CBS he’ll stand during the national anthem if given chance to play football in NFL again.”

If I were Colorado State Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Littleton), I would have shared that news, delivered via Facebook by the Associated Press, on my Facebook page.

I mean, it was reported by CBS and and validated by AP, both credible news outlets.

And, in fact, Neville shared it on his Facebook page, with the comment, “Values have no price.”

But it turns out Kaepernick never said this.

Snopes now says it’s not true, and so does CBS itself, which corrected its own report.

So it’s 100 percent fake news, if you define it, as I do, as false information, packaged as news, that’s been deemed false by Factcheck.org, Politifact, Snopes, or a credible news outlet.

So, if I were Neville, I’d delete it from my Facebook page, if a progressive blogger alerted me to the problem with calls and an email. I’d explain what happened, because, as the Republican leader in the Colorado House, I’d want to set a good example and show my commitment to fact-based discourse.

But despite my outreach to Neville beginning last week, the fake news post remains on his Facebook page. I wish I knew why he hasn’t removed it. Maybe he didn’t get my messages? Seems like he and I would agree on this one.

Hey ColoradoPolitics, you’ll lose the war against fake news if you put your credibility at risk

October 13th, 2017

Journalists hate fake news, right? And they hate it when they’re accused of being purveyors of fake news. So why would a newspaper put its most valuable asset, its credibility, at risk by publishing fake-news advertisements that look almost exactly like news? And then not answer questions about it?

Don’t ask ColoradoPolitics, a political news site owned by conservative billionaire Phil Anschutz, because that’s what it did this week.

Corey Hutchins, writing for the left-leaning Colorado Independent, reports that ColoradoPolitics will not respond to questions about a deceptive advertisement, designed to mimic a news supplement, that ran in the online and print editions of ColoradoPolitics last week.

That was disappointing, because I thought ColoradoPolitics would respond to reasonable questions like the one in Hutchins’ headline, “Who paid for ‘sponsored content’ and a ‘paid advertisement’ in Colorado’s weekly political newspaper?”

I noticed that the logo on the ColoradoPolitics’ sponsored content/advertisement appears to matche the one used by Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED). And CRED ran a similar ad insert in The Denver Post a few years ago, with similar pro-oil-and-gas messages. So the answer to Hutchins’ question could well be CRED, but we don’t know for sure. CRED did not return a call.

I had a few other questions about the ad, and I listed them in my email, sent Thursday, to Vince Bzdek, the editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette, also owned by Anschutz. Bzcek oversees editorial direction at ColoradoPolitics. He did not respond, which is too bad because I’ve admired his work and was hoping to hear from him.

Here’s my email to Bzdek. If you happen to know the answers to any of my questions, please let me know.

Hi Vince –

I’m a former freelance media critic at the Rocky, now blogging on media and politics, from a progressive perspective, at BigMedia.org, ColoradoPols, and elsewhere.

…[I thought] you might answer a few questions about the sponsored content that ran in ColoradoPolitics.

I know this is standard industry practice these days, used by The Denver Post and many other newspapers. And I’ve written about The Post’s sponsored content previously here.

My questions are:

  • Why is there no mention of the sponsor of the ad in the print or online editions. The logo matches the one used by Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED), so I’m guessing that’s the sponsor. Is this true? Why not state this on the ad?
  • Did you consider making the “Paid Advertisement” in larger type on the print edition. I was glad to see it on all four pages, and you admirably made “Sponsored Content” very large online, though an explanation of what this phrase means might be useful for readers.
  • When you Google author “Tim Peters,” who’s the bylined author of the sponsored content, along with the phrase “Colorado Politics, you get “Author at ColoradoPolitics.” Click there, and you get his story, which, to your great credit, is headlined as “sponsored content.” Still, this makes it appear as if he’s a real journalist/author.
  • But other than his identification as the author of the sponsored content, Tim Peters appears not to exist. I can’t find him on the energy company websites or on CRED’s site. A fake byline mocks the basic journalistic principle that the author of an article should stand behind it. Do you think the stories should have no byline or the byline of a person that can be reached, even if that person is an energy-company employee?
  • I’ve been told I’m wasting my time on this, and journalism has bigger problems. I would agree, but the sponsored content bugs me, because if you want journalism to survive, why put your best asset, your credibility, at risk by brazenly deceiving readers?

Thanks for considering a response to these question, or as many of them as you want to answer.

Nothing lengthy is needed, and feel free to call me if that’s easier. And if you want to respond, I can wait as long as you need to find time for it.

Much appreciated.

Jason Salzman

 

Will you please connect me with Steve Bannon’s room?

October 9th, 2017

Sometimes a journalist tries the most basic research tactics, and they pay off.

That’s what happened to Colorado Springs’ KRDO reporter Chase Golightly last week when he went to the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs in search of right-wing political strategist Steve Bannon.

Golightly went to the hotel, hung around a for a bit, but didn’t see Bannon. He interviewed staff, who wouldn’t confirm anything. He spoke with guests and workers.

Finally he got the idea to call the front desk. He phoned up the hotel, asked for Bannon, and bingo, the notorious Breitbart editor and former Trump adviser was on the line.

Unfortunately, Bannon apparently hung up on Golightly, but confirmation positive. Bannon was at the conference, sponsored by the Council for National Policy.

It’s one of the details you’ll enjoy in Golightly’s piece last week about Bannon’s presence in Colorado. He takes you through the steps he took to try to find the elusive Bannon.

Unfortunately, Golightly didn’t return an email and call seeking comment, but perhaps he’s just seeing what it feels like to be Bannon. So I don’t hold it against him.

The bigger praise goes to The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews, with help from John Frank, who broke the story that Bannon was somewhere in Colorado and, more importantly, had been talking to Tom Tancredo about his possible run for governor.

But without slighting The Post, it’s great to see aggressive and entertaining journalism from KRDO TV’s Golightly.

Because, as Golightly reported himself, the Broadmoor is “no stranger to gatherings of the highest political and financial ranks,” and we need journalists to try to figure out what’s going inside there–and elsewhere in Colorado Springs’ conservative miasma.