On Tuesday, when I was preparing to write my Sat. Rocky column, I sent Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman, hosts of the Caplis and Silverman show on KHOW radio in Denver, the following questions.
I didn’t think I’d have any problem getting answers out of them, because they regularly respond to reporters questions. And they interview people themselves for a living. You’d think they’d get back to me.
Here’s my questions. Notice that I didn’t ask them to answer all the questions, just some of them, to help me place them on the political spectrum:
Hi Dan and Craig —
I’m considering a column saying that I like your show but I wish there were another talk show in Denver with a real leftist, a David Sirota-type, to counter a right-winger like Dan. I’m not saying Craig, who I consider a centrist Dem, should be replaced. I will say directly that the two of you have a good thing going.
Here are a few questions to help me place the two of you on the political spectrum. Please try to answer yes or no, when appropriate. I understand if you can’t answer some of these. That’s one reason I’ve listed so many.
I need to finish my column by tomorrow night.
How would your describe yourself politically?
Very right of center
Right of center
Left of center
Very left of center
· Do you support raising the federal minimum wage to $11.00?
· Do you support a federal law requiring time-and-a-half overtime pay for work exceeding 40 hours per week?Do you support raising the federal minimum wage to $11.00?Do you support a federal law requiring time-and-a-half overtime pay for work exceeding 40 hours per week?
EnvironmentDo you support raising the federal minimum wage to $11.00?Do you support a federal law requiring time-and-a-half overtime pay for work exceeding 40 hours per week? · Do you support regulating CO2 emissions?
· Do you think the US should join the Kyoto Protocol?
· Do you favor banning construction of all new coal-fired power plants?Do you support raising the federal minimum wage to $11.00?Do you support a federal law requiring time-and-a-half overtime pay for work exceeding 40 hours per week?Do you support regulating CO2 emissions?Do you think the US should join the Kyoto Protocol?Do you favor banning construction of all new coal-fired power plants?Abortion
· Are you pro-choice?
· Are you pro-choice when it comes to partial-birth abortion?Do you support raising the federal minimum wage to $11.00?Do you support a federal law requiring time-and-a-half overtime pay for work exceeding 40 hours per week?Do you support regulating CO2 emissions?Do you think the US should join the Kyoto Protocol?Do you favor banning construction of all new coal-fired power plants?Are you pro-choice?Are you pro-choice when it comes to partial-birth abortion?Health Care
· Do you support a universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care system?
· Do you favor the free distribution of condoms in public high schools?
Do you support raising the federal minimum wage to $11.00?Do you support a federal law requiring time-and-a-half overtime pay for work exceeding 40 hours per week?Do you support regulating CO2 emissions?Do you think the US should join the Kyoto Protocol?Do you favor banning construction of all new coal-fired power plants?Are you pro-choice?Are you pro-choice when it comes to partial-birth abortion?Do you support a universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care system?Do you favor the free distribution of condoms in public high schools?Media
Do you favor federal legislation requiring local TV stations to air 5 minutes of news about “electoral issues” each night in the month prior to each federal election?
· Did you support H.R. 1072, which was vetoed last session?
· Did you support Gov. Ritter’s executive order allowing state workers to form partnerships?
· Do you support gay marriage?
· Do you think gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered persons deserve formal civil rights protections, like women and minorities enjoy?
· Do you support affirmative action?
Did you support Hicks proposal, before it was rescinded, to eliminate “Merry Christmas” from City Hall decorations.
· Do you favor eliminating all funding for the Defense Department’s single biggest weapons program, the National Missile Defense Program, sometimes called Star Wars?
· Do you favor elimination of the Estate Tax?
· Did you support Refs C and D?
· Do you believe the federal capital gains tax should be increased?
Are you opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances?
Do you favor the legalization and taxation of marijuana for adults?
· Did you support Hick’s new Justice Center?
· Do you believe America should join the International Criminal Court?
· Do you favor the repeal the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, the Brady Law?
Did you support Hick’s new Justice Center?Do you believe America should join the International Criminal Court?Do you favor the repeal the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, the Brady Law?
· Do you favor the concept of public education institutions issuing vouchers for use by citizens to help pay for private school tuition?
· Do you favor federally-funded pre-school for all?
Thanks for answering this questions.
On Thursday, after leaving various emails and two phone messages for Craig Silverman, I got this astonishing letter:
CAPLIS &SILVERMAN SHOW
630KHOW …• DENVER’S TALK STATION
4695 S. Monaco Street
Denver, CO 80237
January 17, 2008
Writer, Activist, Media Consultant
Cause Communications 1836 Blake Street #100ADenver, CO 80202Re: Saturday RMN column re: Caplis & Silverman ShowDear Jason,Thanks for your interest in the Caplis & Silverman Show, Dan Caplis, and me. Dan and I are well into our fourth year doing Denver drive time radio and I believe our show is unique, thought provoking, and entertaining. As you know if you listen regularly, we tackle several current event topics every day including frequent forays into politics, lifestyles, the culture, and legal matters. It is my experience as a talk show listener that many hosts set up straw man arguments and shoot them down with the aid of callers and guests who say “ditto” or “you are a great American.” On far left radio, the callers and the guests are also generally members of the preacher/host’s choir. On our show, we often engage in an adversary process which hopefully provokes amusement, thought, and truth for the listener. This back and forth oratory befits our legal education and courtroom experience. The listening audience serves as a jury; thus, our intro about the court of public opinion.
I have not formulated final public positions on a few of the many issues you raise in your lengthy letter to me. My views on other of the many issues you raise are well known to my listeners and/or the followers of my lengthy public career. Given the need for you to meet your deadline and me to satisfy the needs of my clients, radio job and family, your lengthy questionnaire will go unanswered. Besides, are you writing a half page (600 word) column or a NYT Sunday magazine feature?
I think I appreciate the gist of what you want to understand and express to your readers. Let me try to help. I defy easy labels. As a prosecutor, I was known for prosecuting, to the full extent of the law, Denver’s worst criminals. In 1996, I ran as an Unaffiliated/Independent candidate for Denver DA against incumbent Bill Ritter in a race where I was perceived to be politically to the right of Ritter. My campaign theme was that “politics and prosecution are a poor mix.” In 2006, I wrote an RMN op-ed piece in support of my old friend and former adversary, Bill Ritter, as he ran for Governor.
My history in Denver is well known. I am a fourth generation native who went to Denver Public Schools, Colorado College and then CU Law School before embarking on my well chronicled sixteen year career in public service as a prosecutor in the Denver DA’s Office. Now, I am an attorney in private practice with my own busy law firm, Silverman & Olivas, P.C., a thriving radio show, and a young family.
Dan and I have a lot in common as Colorado lawyers of a similar age with (to quote Barack Obama) exceptional wives and above average children. Accordingly, we share a lot of experiences with the typical family man or woman driving to their appointed tasks in the afternoon. Beyond that, both Dan and I are talkative, ambitious, competitive, and interested in current events. We also both look for opportunities to express our diverse senses of humor.
Sometimes, Dan and I agree on matters. We both perceive a serious threat from radical Islamists and an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Together, we exposed and critiqued the wrongful writings and relatively obscure recorded rants of Professor Ward Churchill. Currently, we are leading the charge against the unfair and immoral land grab up in Boulder.
Dan and I have never held our show out as a perfectly balanced left …• right forum. Indeed, there are some issues where I may even be to the right of Dan. However, I am a registered Democrat and Dan is a registered Republican. While I am a Democrat, I am neither wed to Democratic Party politics nor any particular Democratic candidate.
I call them as I see them and that is usually well to the political left of Dan. I am quite aware that I am too centrist to ever be a host on progressive radio like Air America. Unlike a lot of successful radio hosts, I frequently see shades of gray, and that truth is to be found in the middle. It is to my delight that Dan will often vigorously express a point of view with which I keenly disagree. That energizes me and my desire to debate.
Thank you for allowing me to express myself and I hope this helps you write your column. I have attached some photos and other items that may aid you in this effort.
For his part, Caplis assured me he’d call, but twice failed to do so because he got side-tracked helping his kids do homework and he was busy all day, according to an email, to which I responded:
Hi Dan …•
I understand. No problem.
Craig sort of responded, and at this point I can write my column. I could have written it without trying to contact you, actually.
It boggles my mind why you guys couldn’t have taken ten seconds and tried to answer any of my many questions that were possible for you to answer with a YES or a NO. I know you could have done this, at least for a few of them, and that’s all I wanted, in addition to your possibly calling me.
But I’ve listened to your show long enough to know where you both stand on many issues. All I wanted was to be sure, so I got it right. I try very hard to be accurate and fair, if hard-edged, just like you. Jason
On Friday morning, after I got an deadline extension for my column, Caplis wrote:
Hi Jason-Thanks again for your interest in our show. I appreciate the point that you aren’t seeking to deride our show, but to advocate the need for a different type of show. I respectfully disagree with the premise that our show only covers a limited portion of the political spectrum. To the contrary, because neither Craig nor I walk lockstep with either political party, we cover a much broader portion of the spectrum than the typical hard left v. hard right show which you advocate. I also think that the fact that Craig is not a mindless slave to the far left talking points, but instead a free thinker, helps the left much more than another Daily Kos mouthpiece would. He opens some minds that would otherwise automatically shut down as soon as the typical lefty extremist vitriol started flowing.
I appreciate your right to apply any label you choose to me. But with all due respect, I think that is a simpistic and incomplete way to describe my positions and philosophy. I just try to find the truth and do the right thing, issue by issue. That is what led me to leave the Democratic Party, after investing a lot of years in Democratic Party candidates and causes.
Regarding the questions you submitted, most can’t be answered thoughtfully or fully with a simple yes or no. As to the 3 in this e-mail, I’d say:
1.Do you favor legislation banning the morning after pill?:
No. I do oppose RU486 (the abortion pill).
2. Do you favor staying the course in Iraq?:
What does “staying the course” mean? That can’t be answered yes or no. I favor protecting this nation by completing the mission and keeping our promises. I oppose arbitrary withdrawal, without regard to conditions on the ground. I oppose telling the enemy we’re quitting and giving them a timetable for our surrender. I oppose defeat.
Do you oppose Ritter’s “partnership” (your words) executive order with state employees?:
If I answer that yes or no I would be implicity accepting your premise that this was a “partnership” order. I don’t. This was an order permitting collective bargaining for state employees. I think its unnecessary and bad for the state. I also think it was done in a very weak and timid way, which undermines confidence in our government.
Thanks again for considering my thoughts.