Archive for September, 2010

Reporters should correct Buck when he says media found Bennet ad untrue

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

The Denver Post yesterday references an exchange between U.S. Senate candidates Ken Buck and Michael Bennet over a Bennet TV ad showing Buck making a series of statements. The Post reports:

The candidates had a sharp exchange over that ad during their first head-to-head debate Saturday. Buck said media examinations had found its assertions to be untrue, while Bennet stood by the claims.

Assuming Buck is referring to the fact checkers CBS4, 7News, and 9News (and I don’t know other news outlets that have checked the ad), this statement is false.

Those fact checkers found numerous portions of the ad to be true.

For exmaple, CBS4 and 9News deemed it true that, according to the ad, “Buck wants to privatize Social Security.” As a Post report recently put it, Buck’s Social Security plan would “offer private Wall Street investments.” And Buck is quoted on The Fix as saying Wall Street historically gets a higher rate of return than Social Security.

9News found it true, as the ad stated, that “Buck even questioned whether social security should exist at all.” On its website, 9News stated: “Buck has said numerous times, including at the Constitutionalist Today forum in March, that the …the idea the federal government should be running health care or retirement or any of those programs is fundamentally against what I believe and that is that the private sector runs programs like that far better.’ (Source: Constitutionalist Today Forum, March 9)”

7News and 9News found it true, as asserted in the ad, that Buck opposes abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. 7News on its website quoted this Buck radio interview:  “If you believe that life begins at conception, which I do, then the exception of rape or incest, you’re taking a life as a result of the crime of the father, and even though I recognize that it’s a terrible misery that that life was conceived under, it is still taking a life in my view, and it’s wrong.”

7News and 9News (on the video version) also found the ad’s statement, “Buck even wants to ban common forms of birth control,” to be true. 9News website states: “Buck believes life …begins at conception,’ so birth control methods that don’t impact that (i.e. condoms, some forms of the pill) are fine with him. Others that would keep a fertilized egg from implanting like hormone-based birth control methods, some other forms of the pill, IUDs, RU-486 and what’s known as the morning-after pill, are not supported by him. (Source: E-mail from Buck spokesman Owen Loftus to 9NEWS, Aug. 26)  As you can see from my blog post on this topic, featuring an interview with the Chair of the Obstetrics Department at the University of Colorado Medical School, all forms of the pill could potentially prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.

As the TV fact checkers might say, here’s the bottom line: Aspects of the ad were found to be true, others out of context or misleading, and just a couple points were deemed false or opinion.

The fact checkers did not say the Bennet ad was untrue, and reporters should correct Buck if he tells them so.

Can bloggers and reporters just get along?

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

As a lowly blogger, I’ve of course followed the Bartels-stole-my-story controversy. How could I not, even with the election raging around me?

You recall a ColoradoPols blogger, Half Glass Full, first wrote Sept. 9 about the possibility that the GOP would become a minority party in Colorado, if Dan Maes’ gets less than 10 percent of the vote in November. Great story, and funny.

Then The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels blogged on the same topic Sept. 11, and The Post ran a story Sept. 13.

Half Glass Full then posted a blog, eloquently titled, “Lynn Bartels stole my story.”

The story was advanced by State Bill News, which contained the Associated Press’ and Post’s guidelines for credit and attribution.

State Bill News also quoted Half Glass Full’s blog post,  “Gee, thanks Lynn.”

But neither Glass Half Full, nor State Bill News, checked with Bartels to get her take on the story theft.

She claims today, in a blog post, that she got the story independently and didn’t see it first on Pols. (I know Pols readers may find this incomprehensible.) She didn’t apologize, like I would have, but that’s ok.

To her credit, she invited Glass Half Full (and by extension ALL bloggers) to email her ( if they have questions in the future.

Asked why State Bill News didn’t contact Bartels for its piece, Editor Don Knox wrote:

I felt I got the Post’s (and Lynn’s) side in by citing and linking to their ethics policy, which is silent on attribution except in cases of plagiarism. The Post didn’t attribute because it doesn’t have a policy explicitly requiring attribution. Lynn is following her company’s rules — which are weak.

AP’s policy is much stronger.

Of course, it would have been even better had I called her AND she had responded. But I think the issue of knowledge beforehand is sideshow at this point. As soon as this was brought to Lynn’s attention, she should have amended her reports to reflect the earlier story. Even to this moment, she hasn’t done that. And that’s where the blogger’s point has merit.

I’m hoping this story ushers in a new era, in which bloggers feel comfortable contacting reporters directly, if they find an error in their work OR if they’re own work isn’t properly attributed by a reporter.

And I hope we enter a new era, in which reporters err on the side of giving too much attribution to bloggers (like me!) and not too little. And they do it, as Knox suggests, even after the fact.

Bigmedia question of the week for reporters: Would Buck have voted for laws establishing Social Security and Medicare?

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Michael Bennet’s recent TV ad claims that Ken Buck has “even questioned whether Social Security should exist at all.”

The ad then shows a clip of Buck stating, “I don’t know whether it’s constitutional or not. It is certainly a horrible policy.”

In assessing this segment of the Bennet ad this month, most Denver media outlets (e.g., CBS4, 7News , 9News, and a Denver Post editorial ) have said it’s true but misleading. As 9News reported: “It is true that Buck has questioned whether the federal government should be providing a retirement plan instead of the private sector, but it’s false to say he called it a horrible policy.”

9News and other outlets pointed out that Buck wasn’t referring to Social Security when he used the “horrible-policy” line but instead to the practice of borrowing Social Security funds to pay for other federal expenses.

It’s fair to say that Buck’s specific “horrible-policy” line was directed at a narrow aspect of Social Security, and in that sense it’s misleading as used in the ad. But media outlets are being misleading themselves by not analyzing a larger collection of Ken Buck’s statements about Social Security.

Such an analysis, which was done very well by a news reporter at The Post in August and by 9News on its website, reveals the larger point that Buck indeed considers Social Security a really lousy idea, if not a horrible one, even if he doesn’t want to abolish the program. (CBS4, News7, and the Post editorial did not reference the Buck comments below.)

First, there’s this comment by Buck in March:

“But the idea that the federal government should be running healthcare or retirement or any of those programs is fundamentally against what I believe and that is that the private sector runs programs like that far better.”

Then, in an August interview with John King, Buck again said Social Security should be preserved, but he implied that the decision to establish the retirement program was a mistake:

KING: So let’s make clear to anyone, many people just getting to know you across the country, Social Security, 75th anniversary this year. A good policy? Or would you prefer the federal government not get involved in retirement policy?

BUCK: I certainly don’t think it’s what the Founding Fathers intended but we have the policy. We’ve made a promise to our seniors. We need to keep that promise. I think we need to make sure that we are putting Social Security on a sustainable path. It’s absolutely something that the federal government is going to be involved in, in the future. We can make it the best program we can make it.

To get more facts on the table, reporters should ask Ken Buck Bigmedia’s question of the week:

Given that Ken Buck has said “the idea the federal government should be running health care or retirement or any of those programs is fundamentally against what I believe and that is that the private sector runs programs like that far better,” would he have voted for the original act that established Social Security or the one that started Medicare, if he’d been in the Senate at the time?

Signs of anti-Muslim bigotry deserve media spotlight

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

The 9-11 tragedy had nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with criminal mass murderers.

But today, on the anniversary of 9-11, you wonder how many of us understand that, as anti-Islamic hatred connected to 9-11 appears to be growing and polls show outright bigotry toward Muslims rising.

Against this backdrop, you want reporters to cover the story about a pastor threatening to burn a Quran. I know it becomes a spectacle when you see the small-time religious figure hopping from one national media appearance to another, but I’d rather see stories like that overplayed than ignored.

Denver’s media should take extra steps to air out signs of bigotry toward Muslims in our own community. The stories are out there, I’m sure. They just have to be told.

Here’s the kind of story I mean.

In an Aug. 2 column in the Huffington Post, Republican Ali Hasan asked his “fellow conservatives” to “quit lying,”

“If you are against the mosque,” he wrote, “then call yourself a bigot and give us the gift of an honest dialogue, the kind we carry on so proudly here in America.”

As you might imagine, this wasn’t received very well in GOP circles, and the anger reverberated on talk radio, blogs, and, of course, Facebook.

Writing on her friend Nikki Mata’s Facebook page the day Hasan’s column appeared, prominent 912 activist Virginia Young expressed her view.

Young is the founder of the IN GOD WE TRUST 912 PROJECT and the Broomfield 912 Project , which is apparently one of the most influential 912 groups in Colorado. Tea Party groups like hers had a major impact on the Republican Party this election cycle, producing GOP candidates like Ken Buck and Dan Maes.

“I am bigot,” she wrote. “Latisha I am still waiting after 9 years for American Muslims to take to the streets and denounce the events of 9/11. Why hasn’t that happened? Taqiyya perhaps?”

Latisha’s post, to which Young was responding, stated, “I am a Republican and I do not have a big issue with the mosque being built near Ground Zero. It is simply place of prayer. I DO NOT agree with calling people bigots just because they don’t agree with you…”

Young had a different view, and as a 912 leader in Denver, her opinion means something. Was she serious? Is she a bigot? What did she mean?

I emailed her to find out. I asked to interview her about the mosque issue.

Salzman [Sept 1]: I have a copy of something you apparently wrote on Nikki’s Facebook page. I spoke with Nikki about her comments. I’d like to discuss yours with you.

Young [minutes later]: Please forward a copy to me.

Salzman: [an hour later}: You wrote-“I am a bigot,” and a few other comments. I don’t want to report this without hearing what you have to say about it.

Young [minutes later]: Oh yes, I said I guess I am a bigot then, if that is what Ali Hasan defines us as, if I oppose the Mosque at Ground Zero. What are your thoughts on the Ground Zero Mosque?

Salzman [minutes later]: Where does ground zero mean to you? Do you think mosques should be built anywhere in America?

Young: No response

Salzman [next day]: Did you get this? Thanks.

Young: [no response]

Salzman [a few days later]: Before I publish your “bigot” comment, I hope you’ll give me a more detailed response than you’ve provided below. I want to be fair to you. I also hope you’ll explain the rest of your facebook comment, “Latisha I am still waiting after 9 years for American Muslims to take to the streets and denounce the events of 9/11. Why hasn’t that happened? Taqiyya perhaps?”

If you’d like to talk on the phone, just let me know.

In any case, I hope you’ll have time to drop me a quick explanatory note.

So that was about a week ago, and I haven’t heard back from Young. So I don’t think she wants to converse about it anymore, do you?

But Young’s Facebook friend, Mata, who also wrote in the Facebook conversation that she was a bigot, but with less severe overtones, readily explained herself to me in a phone interview.

“I was being facetious,” she said immediately, explaining that she’s against the mosque personally but doesn’t believe the government should stop it.

“The backers of the mosque say they want to do outreach,” she told me. “If you want to do outreach, that indicates that you want to foster good feelings, but if depending the poll if 60-70 percent are opposed to what you’re doing, how does that foster positive feelings?”

“If it puts people in such an uproar, aren’t you undermining what you are trying to accomplish?” she said, adding that she does not oppose the construction of mosques elsewhere in America.

But plenty of other Americans do. Even if you don’t follow this issue very closely, you probably remember last month’s Economist poll with these shocking results:

  • 14 percent of Americans believe no mosques should be built.
  • 45 percent of Democrats and 80 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Islam.
  • 48 percent agree that “there are some places in the United States where it is not appropriate to build mosques, though it would be appropriate for other religions to build houses of worship.”

Commenting on the poll last month, The Denver Post’s Mike Litwin wrote:

There’s bigotry at work …- bigotry that needs to be called out …- but it’s not exactly old-line religious bigotry. We were attacked by radical Islamists. There are many radical Islamists who say they want to see America destroyed. We have been fighting for nearly a decade against Islamic terrorists but also fighting on the same side as Muslims.

It’s confusing. Obviously, the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists. Just as obviously, Islam is not a monolith. As far as anyone knows, there are no terrorists involved in the Lower Manhattan mosque/community center/swimming pool. In any case, the hard part of freedom of religion comes when the religion is not popular.

In this blog post, I’m calling out Tea Party leader Virginia Young for being a bigot, until she directly states otherwise. I take Niki Mata at her word that she’s not. I believe her.

Littwin is right that bigotry should be called out. We owe to Muslims and of course we owe it to ourselves and to this country.

It’s also why I called Phil Wolf, who owns the Wheat Ridge car dealership that erected a billboard last year showing President Obama dressed in a turban and stating, “President or Jihad.” His billboard got a lot of attention, as it should have. I had been wanting to call him for a long time to find out if he was a bigot.

I asked Wolf if he supports the construction of mosques in Denver.

“We got to identify who the enemy is,” he said.  “If the activity of the enemy is building mosques, they shouldn’t be allowed.”

I asked him if he thinks Islam is the enemy.

“That’s what’s out there,” he said. “That’s the public perception. As far as the public knowledge is concerned, they are. And if they are, there should be zero tolerance. We should go back to what happened during World War II. Look what happened to the Japanese.  And guess what? There’s a lot of wonderful Muslim and Japanese people. But we didn’t tolerate the enemy. We just don’t call anybody the enemy anymore.”

Wolf is planning to unveil a new billboard at his dealership along I70 in the next few months. Its theme will reflect what he told me above in my interview. And he had a lot more to say in a similar vein.

I hope 912 activist Virginia Young and other Tea Party leaders will join me in protesting Wolf’s offensive views, and his new billboard.

And I hope Wolf’s story, and other signs of bigotry in America, get the media attention they deserve, along with the protests of those who disagree.

Fact checking the TV fact checkers: Buck would oppose common forms of birth control

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

You’re excused for missing it, but there’s some disagreement among local TV reporters about whether Ken Buck’s anti-abortion stance means he’d oppose common birth-control methods.

Three local TV news stations fact checked the segment of a Michael Bennet ad stating that Ken Buck “wants to ban common forms for birth control,” and each station came up with a different conclusion.

7News called it a fact, lumping it together with Buck’s position against abortion, even in the case of rape and incest, and stating that “this is Buck’s position on abortion.” (No citations are provided.)

News4 called it opinion, using this logic: “Buck’s position is, life begins at conception. By far, the most common forms of birth control, condoms and the pill, work before conception. And Buck is not opposed to those.” (News4 provided no citations.)

9News got uncharacteristically squishy on us and couldn’t decide if the statement was true or false. 9News told viewers that the veracity of Bennet’s ad “likely depends on what you consider common forms of birth control.” (As with all of its Truth Tests, 9News did provide detailed citations, one of which cited an email from Buck’s campaign stating that Buck opposes birth control methods that “would keep a fertilized egg from implanting, like hormone-based birth control methods, some other forms of the pill, IUDs, RU-486 and what’s known as the morning-after pill.” )

To get the facts on the table about the impact of birth-control measures on fertilized human eggs, I emailed Nanette Santoro, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the University of Colorado.

She agreed to provide information, as long as I emphasized that she does not advocate any political position but instead provides current scientific thinking on the topic.

I asked her which human birth control methods don’t damage a fertilized egg.

She emailed me this list of barrier methods: Condom, diaphragm, Essure method of blocking the fallopian tubes. She also included vasectomy and tubal ligation.

I asked which methods cause damage to fertilized eggs.

Her reply:

“Combination birth control pills [made with hormones progestin and estrogen], vaginal rings, or patches interrupt ovulation and do not harm fertilized eggs. Eggs are not released in these cases.

Progestin-only pills, or implants, had been long thought to cause a hostile environment to the fertilized egg. The lining of the uterus is rendered unreceptive in this line of reasoning, and that is why women do not conceive. This conceptualization has led to the belief that these methods interrupt a fertilized egg. Therefore, a person who believes that life begins at conception would understandably be averse to such a method. However, newer research indicates that progestin-only methods make it harder for the sperm to get to the egg by affecting cervical mucus permeability to sperm, and may also interfere with the motility of the fallopian tubes, making it hard for sperm to get up there or for the eggs to get down. Therefore, the accumulated data now weighs more in favor of these methods not interfering with fertilized eggs. This is an important change in thinking.

Methods like the progestin IUD, Mirena, may also act this way and may not inhibit the fertilized egg but may prevent fertilization from occurring. The copper IUD is more likely to interfere with fertilization.”

I asked her: When you say the data “weighs more in favor” of progestin-only pills “not interfering” with fertilized eggs, do you mean that they could potentially interfere but probably won’t? This would be important to those who believe life begins at conception.

She replied:

“I think it’s unlikely but there is never any definitive evidence in that regard. So if I were a sort of ‘agnostic’ on this question of when life begins, I would feel comfort at the fact that my progestin-only method was unlikely to be interfering with a fertilized egg, and would sleep well at night.  However, if I were a very black-and-white thinker, and could not tolerate the possibility that a fertilized egg might be interfered with by my birth control method–no matter how small the possibility–it would be best for me to choose another method.”

I did a bit more research and then asked her this question: Even if taken properly, the combination pill that stops ovulation has a failure rate, meaning that sometimes ovulation occurs and an egg is fertilized accidentally. Very rare, I know. But if ovulation occurs, is implantation affected? In other words, is the accidental fertilized egg less likely to be able to implant in the uterus of a woman who’s been taking anti-ovulation pills?

Santoro replied:

“It’s not known with certainty what happens when a woman who uses birth control pills regularly ovulates.  Usually there is an error or an interaction with another medication that lowers the pill’s potency.  Because the pill contains both estrogen and progesterone, the lining is likely to be receptive to the fertilized egg.  But in some women, the lining is actually stimulated by too much progesterone.  In these cases, it gets relatively thin and might be inhospitable to a pregnancy.  It is hard to know whether this is even a credible mechanism, though, because the pill also inhibits sperm entry into the uterus and alters tubal motility.”

I asked her one last question: What kind of birth control pill is the most common, combination or progestin-only? Or are they about the same in popularity?

Her reply: I think they are all about the same in popularity.

So you can interpret Santoro’s facts for yourself, since Santoro is not taking a political position here. She’s just offering information.

But as I interpret it, if you believe that killing a fertilized egg is murder, as Ken Buck does, then you wouldn’t tolerate even the most remote chance that your birth-control pill could cause murder by potentially stopping implantation, in rare cases, of a fertilized egg that otherwise could have implanted in the uterus.  

So based on Buck’s campaign statement to 9News that he opposes birth control methods that “would keep a fertilized egg from implanting,” then he would logically oppose all types of birth-control pills, which are the most common type of birth control in America, because all of them could potentially do this.

In an excellent paper released Aug. 31, Ari Armstrong and Diana Hseih arrive at the same conclusion stating:

“While most often the pill acts to prevent fertilization, sometimes it can prevent a zygote from implanting in the uterus,” they write, adding that the birth-control-pill manufacturers, Ortho Tri-Cyden and Trinessa, state that their pills alter the lining of the uterus.”

So as you can see below, only the fact checkers at 7News appear to have properly evaluated the segment of Bennet’s ad addressing birth control.

7News reported categorically that it’s true that Ken Buck wants to ban common forms of birth control, properly combining his abortion position with his birth-control stance. That’s correct.

9News was half right, pointing out that Buck opposes birth control methods but failing to dig deeply enough into the matter to understand that all birth-control pills would be opposed by Buck, based on his own criteria for protecting fertilized eggs.

And News4 got it wrong by claiming Buck doesn’t oppose the pill when, in fact, he has said he opposes some types of birth-control pills as well as any birth-control method that makes implantation less likely, which could include all pills, at least in rare instances.

Now reporters should ask Buck himself what he has to say to women who are using forms of birth control that he opposes. About 17 million women in America who use the pill, plus millions of others who use forms of the IUD and other methods, and would like to know.


News4 Reality Check: Bennet Jumps in with Attack on Buck

News4: The final claim in the ad is aimed at Buck’s pro-life stance.

AD: Ken Buck even wants to ban common forms of birth control.

News4: That’s opinion. Buck’s position is, life begins at conception. By far, the most common forms of birth control, condoms and the pill, work before conception. And Buck is not opposed to those.

7News Investigators: “Fact or Fiction: Is Ken Buck too Extreme?”


Narrator: “Ken Buck wants to ban common forms of birth control. And his view on abortion?”

Buck: “I am pro-life and I’ll answer the next question, I don’t believe in the exceptions of rape or incest.”


This is Buck’s stance on abortion. He has said that the only exception is when the life of the mother is at risk. During an interview with Craig Silverman on KHOW radio, Buck reinforced his position on abortion.

“If you believe that life begins at conception, which I do, then the exception of rape or incest, you’re taking a life as a result of the crime of the father, and even though I recognize that it’s a terrible misery that that life was conceived under, it is still taking a life in my view, and it’s wrong,” said Buck.

9News “Truth Test: More Context for Buck’s comments.”

QUOTE: Does Ken Buck speak for you? Buck supports banning common forms of birth control.

TRUTH: This likely depends on what you consider common forms of birth control.

Buck believes life “begins at conception,” so birth control methods that don’t impact that (i.e. condoms, some forms of the pill) are fine with him. Others that would keep a fertilized egg from implanting like hormone-based birth control methods, some other forms of the pill, IUDs, RU-486 and what’s known as the morning-after pill, are not supported by him. (Source: E-mail from Buck spokesman Owen Loftus to 9NEWS, Aug. 26)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latter category included at least 5.2 million women in America between 2006 and 2008 (Source: CDC website:

Beezley says Camera got his ADA position wrong

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

On Friday, Colorado State House candidate Don Beezley told me he supports the Americans with Disabilities Act, despite disparaging comments he made about it.

He said he’d like to see the state, not the federal government, make and enforce its own ADA-like law, but he nonetheless supports the act.

On Saturday, someone shot me an email pointing out that Beezley had previously told the Boulder Daily Camera that he opposed the ADA. The Camera reported Sept. 1:

Beezley also wrote [in 2005] about his opposition to the ADA, which he said forced him to make costly renovations to a restaurant he owned.

“I spent $5,000 to redo the bathrooms (on a small budget with no money). Prior to that, it had been a pleasure to help a disabled person out with a tray, a door or whatever. After that, I could only think, ‘you better use my d*** bathroom!’ when someone rolled in. ADA took other human beings from being someone with a challenge whom it might be a joy to help, and turned them into a burden. An enemy.” Beezley wrote in 2005.

Beezley said he still opposes the act, which he believes caused a preschool to discriminate against his diabetic son when it denied him admission.

“I think it’s very well-intentioned legislation, but like much other legislation, it’s had unintended consequences,” Beezley said Wednesday.

So, what’s the deal? Did the Camera err in reporting that Beezley opposes the ADA? Or did I get it wrong?

“It’s settled law at this point time, for the most part, and it is what it is,” he said.  “But I think these things need to happen at the state level.

Asked directly if he opposes the ADA, Beezley said, “No.”

Question of the week for reporters: how would Buck have voted on Brown V. Board of Education

Monday, September 6th, 2010

You may recall that last week’s BigMedia question of the week for reporters was, “Does Ken Buck support a ban on the use of morning-after pill, even for a woman who is raped by a family member?

The answer turns out to be yes, as reported by 9News in a story fact checking a Michael Bennet ad. Buck opposes the use of the morning after pill, because it could harm a fertilized egg, according the Buck spokesman Owen Loftus, who was cited by 9News. (More on this topic later this week.)

This week’s BigMedia question of the week for reporters is: If Ken Buck had been a member of the U.S. Supreme Court at the time, how would he have voted on Brown V. Board of Education?

The question arises after ColoradoPols posted a video of Buck last week, in which  he is quoted as saying:

“In the 1950s, we had the best schools in the world. And the United States government decided to get more involved in federal education. Where are we now, after all those years of federal involvement, are we better or are we worse?”

The video got a bit of play nationally, but surprisingly the Colorado media has essentially ignored it.

The truth is, you really can’t conclude anything about Buck’s view on the topic from the video. But the fact that he specifically cites the 1950s does raise legitimate questions about his views on Brown V. Board of Education, especially in light of his general opposition to federal involvement in education.

So reporters should ask him about it. It’s definitely in the public interest to clarify what Buck thinks about one of the most significant Supreme Court cases in American history.

Beezley would rather see Colorado be in charge of access requirements

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

The Denver Post’s Spot blog reported today that Colorado House candidate Don Beezley apologized to members of the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition for his disparaging comments about the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As posted on a Broomfield Democrats website, Beezley said, that the “ADA took other human beings from being someone with a challenge whom it might be a joy to help, and turned them into a burden. An enemy.”

The Post did not ask Beezley if he opposes the ADA. So I asked him, to fill in the journalistic gap.

He told me he supports the government insuring that people with disabilities have “access.” But he’d prefer that the state, not the federal government, make its own laws like the ADA. He’d rather not see the federal government involved.

Nonetheless, despite his frustrations with the federal ADA, he supports it.

Among Denver media, Post and (believe it or not) a talk-radio show had most primary election impact

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Before the memory of the primary elections slips behind us (yes, I know it’s been unforgettable, but still), I wanted to point out the media organ that’s moved off the sidelines to have the second greatest impact on the election.

The Denver Post gets top honors as the most influential media outlet in Colorado, of course, for reasons that are obvious and go beyond the McInnis plagiarism coverage.

But number two is pretty surprising. It’s the Caplis and Silverman show, which airs 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on KHOW 630 AM.

I can’t stand the show sometimes (especially when centrist/right Silverman idles as Caplis acts like a spinmeister for the Republicans), but I mostly like it a lot. And this election season I’ve been floored by the show’s impact, substance, and entertainment-value…-on a regular basis.

The show’s string of major hits began in Aug. of 2009 when Scott McInnis inexplicably lashed out at both Caplis and Silverman and claimed to be more generous than they. The bizarre outburst, in which McInnis “went off the rails,” according to The Post, got quite a bit of media attention and in retrospect set the bizarre tenor of the McInnis campaign to come, including his comment on the show in April, also widely publicized, that he’s the kind of person who donates elk meat to folks in need, rather than giving to nonprofit groups.

That info came when McInnis was refusing to talk to The Post, after the newspaper had asked to review his tax returns. So McInnis explained himself on Caplis and Silverman.

In the same elk interview, Silverman became the first in the media to ask McInnis what he did to earn $150,000 from the Hasan Family Foundation, which was mentioned among McInnis’ 2005 income sources in The Post, where it might have died without Silverman. Silverman asked McInnis if he was trying to help the foundation foster a better understanding between U.S. citizens and Muslim cultures. But no no, McInnis eagerly corrected him and said the foundation paid him to “write” articles on Colorado water.

As the primary wore on, all the major GOP players and many Dems were regulars on Caplis and Silverman. In your car on the way home, it was like listening to a mix of live breaking news bits, in-depth discussions of politics and various issues, and five-star drive-time drama and comedy–and tragedy. It felt like a town hall, showing how great talk radio can be. Unfortunately, John Hickenlooper appears to be avoiding the show, after a contentious appearance earlier this year about his charitable contributions, and Michael Bennet didn’t materialize.

“Dan Maes was a frequent guest on the show, and while they didn’t treat him with kid gloves, his accessibility and willingness to step into the arena helped place him on an equal status with McInnis or even above McInnis,” said Westword’s “Latest Word” blogger and media critic Michael Roberts.

I asked Roberts if he agreed with me that Caplis and Silverman, now in its sixth year on the air, deserves the number two spot among media outlets for impact on this year’s primary.

“In terms of that specific primary, I think you can make a very good argument that it was second to The Post, which clearly had the biggest impact,” Roberts told me, adding that Channel 7’s interview with Rolly Fisher was also a major journalistic triumph. “But the Caplis and Silverman show wasn’t one hit or two, but had an impact over the long haul.”

Roberts also thinks that Caplis’ early abandonment of McInnis, days after the plagiarism scandal hit the news, contributed to the conservative rush away from him.

Silverman, who credits producer Brad Lopez for landing great guests, wrote me that regular interviewees Ken Buck and Jane Norton both had “huge” ad buys on their show, “so they must have thought voters were listening.”

“Dan Caplis and I are both trial lawyers so we should have skills at questioning,” writes Silverman, who’s now an unaffiliated voter in contrast to partisan Republican Caplis. “We try to use courtroom etiquette including no interrupting. I fancy myself a political free agent and ask tough but fair questions to Dems and Repubs.” 

He continues: “Some talk radio hosts (i.e. Limbaugh) call opposition politicians schoolyard names or otherwise belittle or caricature them. I understand why politicos avoid such shows. We do not do that.  Our show is more like a friendly courtroom. Often, Dan and I are on different political sides, so there is usually some balance in the overall experience for the guest and listener.”

Some balance, yes, but no much if you look at the big picture. I mean, the show creates the illusion that the political spectrum in America runs from the center-right (Silverman) to the far-right (social-conservative Caplis). That drives me nuts, as I’ve written previously, and motivates me to find some real balance by listening to progressive David Sirota, who’s doing a great job in the mornings on AM760. But I have to agree with Silverman that pairing Caplis with a guy like Sirota would probably fail…-and the number of quality guests would certainly decrease. Still, I’d like to see a talk-show experiment in Denver with a true lefty and Caplis-like righty.

But we have the Caplis and Silverman, and for this year at least, it’s been about as good as you could hope for from a political talk-radio show.

Fox 21 news director says “Buck’s people are throwing us under the bus”

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

I was rushing out of town last week, and unfortunately I just missed a phone call from Joe Cole, News Director and weekday anchor at Fox 21 in Colorado Springs.

I had called Cole for a comment on a one-sided piece I posted,  alleging that Fox 21 had erred in reporting that U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck held a “U.S. Senate unity rally” in the Springs Aug. 23.

It seemed strange that Buck would stage a “unity rally” without Buck’s GOP primary opponent, Jane Norton, and no unity rally has been held between Buck and Norton to date.

It seemed strange that Buck would stage a “unity rally” without Buck’s GOP primary opponent, Jane Norton, and no unity rally has been held between Buck and Norton to date.

It seemed strange that Buck would stage a “unity rally” without Buck’s GOP primary opponent, Jane Norton, and no unity rally has been held between Buck and Norton to date.

It seemed strange that Buck would stage a “unity rally” without Buck’s GOP primary opponent, Jane Norton, and no unity rally has been held between Buck and Norton to date.

Buck spokesperson Owen Loftus told me Norton supporters were present, but it was not a unity rally, which his campaign would have made a “big deal” of. He said Fox 21 had made a mistake.

I’m grateful that Fox 21’s Cole gave me his side of the story yesterday, and I shouldn’t have published my blog post of last week until I had given Cole a bit more time to respond.

In any case, Cole said that Andy Merritt, the GOP Chair for El Paso County, had sent him an email describing the Aug. 23 Buck event as a “‘U.S. Senate unity rally.'”

“Buck’s people are saying it’s not a unity rally but the people hosting it are saying it is,” Cole told me. “We certainly don’t want to report an error or call it something it’s not, but if your folks there are calling it a unity rally, that’s what we’re going to go with.”

“Buck’s people are throwing us under the bus here,” he said.

Cole also told me he reviewed segments of video that were not used in the station’s story about the Buck event. Buck said he was there “to connect with Jane Norton’s people,” Cole said.

He added that usually Colorado Republicans are “all on the same page” in dealing with his station.

Asked to comment on the unity-rally issue, Loftus told me it was a non-issue.

“It was a Republican event,” he said. “We were happy with the turnout. We had a great turnout. Ken did meet with a lot of Norton supporters, so we were happy with it either way.”