Archive for April, 2011

Reporters should find out if there’s any agreement between Dems and the GOP on competitive districts, as there was in 1980

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Reporters don’t have much time to pore over Nexis, like I do, and they might argue that even if they had extra time, they wouldn’t want to spend it researching stories about redistricting, which seems to end the same way every ten years anyway.

But I found an old news article about redistricting that reporters would benefit from knowing about.

Rocky Mountain News reporter Michele Ames interviewed Colorado GOP Chair Bo Callaway and Democratic Governor Dick Lamm about the redistricting process of 1980, during which they occupied parallel universes and otherwise didn’t concur, like we’re seeing of the partisans today.

But Ames discovered that, twenty years after their legislative battle, the two were willing to admit they secretly agreed on redistricting, even though the Colorado legislature deadlocked on the redistricting matter and it was sent to court.

Lamm told the Rocky (Dec. 29, 2000):

“Bo approached me during this battle and he said, ‘Let’s divide up this state in as close and as even districts and make all the candidates earn their elected office,” Lamm said. “He was right and I admire him for it.”

 Callaway was also quoted:

 “The best thing for the state of Colorado is more competition,” Callaway said. “Make them really run. Make them win your vote. I believed it then, and I still do.”

This became known as Callamandering, and the Rocky supported it in an editorial about 10 years later, saying competitive districts “give life to the proper spirit of politics” (Rocky, May 28, 2001).

And here’s another interesting piece of the article.

In 2000, then House Speaker Carl Bev Bledsoe (R-Hugo) openly supported the concept of competitive districts. He told the Rocky:

“If you’re interested in good government, you’re interested in competition. It makes both parties stronger,” Bledsoe said. “Then, whoever wins, it holds their feet to the fire.”

Despite this nod toward good government, the Colorado Legislature couldn’t agree in the year 2000, and the congressional map was again drawn by the courts.

But it did make me wonder, this time around, are Colorado Republicans saying they don’t want competitive districts? I realize, of course, that competitiveness is in the eyes of the beholder, and it obviously can be used as a smokescreen for partisan manipulation, but still, it’s hard to disagree with Callaway, Lamm, and Bledsoe above.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but The Denver Post has yet to report, in its print edition, what the GOP thinks about competitive districts. Numerous Democrats are on record as supporting it. (The search function on the Spot blog is down, but I couldn’t find anything there.)

Clearly, The Post, should find out what GOP lawmakers think and let readers know.

We’ve seen some comments about competiveness from GOP lawmakers in other news outlets, and they are not consistent.

In December, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp told the Colorado Statesman, “Citizens want a fair and open process with competitive districts.” The Coloradoan reported that Rep. Amy Stephens favors competitive districts as well.

The Colorado Senate website, run by Democrats, quoted Sen. Mark Sheffel (R-Parker) as saying  at an April 20 hearing, “I wanted to raise the point that if we’re talking about this competitiveness that I would urge caution.”

Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray) was quoted from the same hearing:

“I think we already have a competitive state and I worry that on the other side of that competitive coin, that it just breeds more polarization among the electorate.”

But fellow Republicans reportedly disagree with that:

“It’s the lack of competitive districts that have led to the polarization of politics,” said Sen. Steve Ward, R-Littleton, told the Associated Press (April 24, 2008).  He was running to replace Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo at the time.

Denver journalists would be doing democracy a favor if they would do some reporting and find out if there’s any agreement, somewhere, some way, between Colorado Dems and Republicans on the competitiveness issue. The first task is to get the thoughts of both sides on the table.

Caldara should correct Colo GOP chair’s suggestion that spending by outside groups favored Bennet over Buck

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

GOP chair Ryan Call was on Jon Caldara’s “Devil’s Advocate” TV show on KBDI Friday, and the pestiferous Caldara was ribbing Call about how the Colorado GOP inevitably bungles things up when it comes to elections.

Call was mostly unflustered, and managed to stay on his central message, which was his desire to elect Republicans, with support from a rainbow of GOP tent dwellers.

But one of Call’s explanations for the GOP bungle in 2010, was at a minimum misleading, and Caldara, being the GOP gadfly that he can be, should have called him on it (no pun intended).

Call said:

“Our challenge was that we did not have the resources to effectively counter the millions of dollars that was flowing in from out of state to effectively paint Ken Buck as an extreme candidate, which he wasn’t.”

Interesting, I thought, given that former GOP chair Dick Wadhams told the Greeley Tribune that  outside groups spent as much in Colorado backing Buck as they did supporting Bennet.

And the Sunlight Foundations, which tracks communications expenditures, shows that Wadhams was right. The outside foes of Bennet and Buck spent about the same amount of money in Colorado. Among these outside groups, you recall, Colorado was the most popular place to spend money in 2010. Just under $33 million was spent. (Communications expenses constitute the he vast majority of campaign expenses by outside groups, which most often do little else other than buy TV ads.)

Asked if he knew that spending by outside groups backing Buck was about the same as the pro-Bennet side,  Caldara told me he “didn’t know it or didn’t know it the other way.”

“I’ve not gone through the reports for all the different groups involved in the Senate race,” he said.

I gave Caldara the facts on campaign spending by outside groups, and as someone who clearly doesn’t like anyone to make up excuses for the problems of the Colorado Republican Party’s problems, Caldara should record straight for his audience during his next show.

I listened to Call on KCFR’s Colorado Matters back on April 11, and he again suggested that the GOP was outspent on the Senate race, but he didn’t say it directly:

The challenge in the Senate race, quite frankly, had to do with spending from outside organizations that mischaracterized our district attorney’s record and position on many issues….

We saw a tremendous amount of spending by outside organizations, not the party committees, but outside groups that really are ultimately unaccountable to the voters, really weighing heavily in on that Senate race. Much of it was money coming in from out of state. I think they mischaracterized Ken Buck’s positions on many issues in a way that really hurt him, particularly among suburban women.

Call also acknowledged that Buck’s own bungles hurt him in the election, but I think here again he was at least creating the impression that the GOP was outspent by out-of-state interests

If he continues to make this suggestion, either directly or implied, journalists should clarify that this was not the case in 2010.

Why I’m still going to blog for Huffpo, despite “virtual picket line”

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

I’m a volunteer blogger for the Huffington Post.

I’m paid to write elsewhere, but I submit my work to Huffpo for free to push out my writing.

HuffPo relies on volunteers. It has a core staff of about 150 paid journalists, but much of the site’s content comes from volunteers like me, for free.

But some of the volunteers aren’t happy. Last month, a group of them told Arianna Huffington that they want to be paid, or at least talk about being paid.

Their demand came after AOL purchased the Huffington Post for $315 million.

These bloggers called on the rest of HuffPo’s volunteer bloggers to stop submitting their work.

They asked bloggers like me not to cross their “virtual picket line.” In other words, they asked me to stop volunteering.

The virtual picket-line organizers didn’t ask volunteer writers who submit content to other blogs and online publications to stop submitting their writing to those outlets too. Just Huffpo.

But others could have been targeted, like Yourhub.com or even ColoradoPols.com. One way “new media” entities are surviving, whether they make money or not, is to solicit content, like articles, photos, and columns, from you, the public.

Sometimes this work is edited, as it is cursorily on Huffpo, and sometimes it’s not, as you can see on many blogs that happily accept some of the worst and most vitriolic commentaries you can imagine. (A bad combination, I know, but it works for some blogs.)

The question raised by Huffpo strike is, if an online entity makes money, should it share some of that revenue with its volunteer writers?

Well, many volunteers would love to be paid, but you have to think they’re happy to give up their time freely, seeing as how they’re volunteers, as a Huffington Post spokesman pointed out in a response to the strike.  Look at all the volunteers for the United Way, whose staff makes decent money. Or for political campaigns.

In fact, it sounds crazy for volunteers to demand payment and call a strike, especially if the volunteers didn’t first organize their fellow volunteers, take a vote, and then collectively demand wages.

I certainly thought so, after first not knowing what to think.  Then I found out that the virtual picket line at the Huffington Post was endorsed by the Newspaper Guild, the union that represents journalists nationwide. It’s a union I respect a lot.

Why would it support a “strike” like this?

“We think we’re in a critical phase of reinvention in journalism,” Guild President Bernie Lunzer told me. “We want to tackle the question of the value of our work before there’s an assumption that writers take a vow of poverty to do their craft. It really has more to do with a critical moment than anything. That’s really the point of this.”

It’s a desperate time for journalism, as big-city newspapers bleed jobs and revenue, serious news outlets offer more mayhem and fluff, and a model to support journalism on the web has not materialized.

Journalism is dying and few people seem to care. Even fewer are doing anything about it.

So, yes, you can make a case that the Huffington Post, with its influx of AOL money, should hire more journalists and pay more of its contributors.

And you can also make a really good case that Arianna Huffington herself should meet with the organizers of the virtual picket line. That’s one of their central goals. But she has refused, Lunzer told me. Most recently she called a class action lawsuit filed filed by bloggers “frivolous.”  The suit demands a cut of the AOL money.

Huffington’s bunker-style response made me want to join the bloggers and support their cause. I thought about not posting anything for a month as a symbolic show of support for the Newspaper Guild and for paid journalism.

But I couldn’t convince myself that my volunteerism was in fact hurting journalism.

The Huffington Post isn’t the problem. In fact, a hybrid of professional journalists and volunteer writers may be part of the solution. I mean, Huffpo has a staff of professional journalists, and appears to have a bright future, while other for-profit journalistic outfits are in free fall.

Still, it’s true that writers need not only a platform–but cash as well.

I hope Arianna Huffington gets the message. I hope Republicans attacking National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting get the message. I hope anyone who hires a freelance writer gets the message.

A version of this blog post was distributed last week by the OtherWords syndicate.

Follow Jason Salzman on Twitter @BigMediaBlog

Boyles has “no intention to back away from this story”

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Colorado is blessed to have a national leader of the birther movement, which is digesting today’s surprise release of Obama’s birth certificate.

That would be KHOW talk show host Peter Boyles.

So his response is probably an indicator of where these birther folks will go now.

On his radio show about 15 minutes ago, Boyles said, “I have no intention to back away from this story….I still have made a list of about 20 other things….”

He said this was Obama’s “Nixon moment,” when only a portion of the tapes was released.

So Boyles apparently smells meat: “All this does is feed the lion,” he said.

“Why does he wait so long?…Is this an attempt to shut up the questioners? I think so.”

Boyles compared the feeling in his gut to the feeling he had when John Mark Karr was arrested for the murder of Jon Benet Ramsey.

Karr of course was released.

“It’s not over,” Boyles says, and you can imagine him shaking his head.

And if you listen to Boyles’ show, you know he’s right. That’s the beauty of a conspiracy theory.

Palin staff signed off on appearing with Boykin

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

I called former GOP State Senate President John Andrews today, to find out more about William Boykin’s appearance Monday with Sarah Palin at Colorado Christian Univeristy’s “Tribute for the Troops” rally.

I wanted to know if anyone had grumbled to Andrews, who’s organizing the rally, about booking Boykin and Palin together at the same event, given, as I pointed out yesterday, and the Colorado Independent advances today, that Boykin essentially condemns Islam as a valid religion. I mean, imagine the rumble if an outspoken opponent of Christianity appeared in Colorado with a rumored presidential candidate.

But first I asked Andrews about whether it was true, what Andrews himself wrote in his Institute’s publication, that “the answer is not so simple” to the question, “”Can a good Muslim be a good American?”

I told him that maybe I was reading too much into his statement, and did he really mean it? His use of the word “can,” I thought, left open the possibility that no Muslim could be a good American. Does Andrews really believe this?

“I’m not going to expand on what I wrote or comment further on what the general wrote,” he told me. “Both articles speak for themselves. They attempt to challenge thinking. I believe that’s one of the functions of any university. Some universities are better at challenging thinking in one direction. Some are better at challenging thinking in another.”

I told him I wouldn’t ask any more questions about that, but I wondered if Palin signed off on appearing with Boykin at the same event.

Andrews said he told Palin’s staff that CCU’s Centennial Institute has worked several times with a “distinguished retired general” and wanted him to be part of the “uniformed services element” of the program, and Palin’s staff accepted this. It was agreed that Boykin’s remarks, as well as Palin’s, would be nonpolitical, Andrews said, adding that Boykin’s theme will be the sacrifice required to serve in the armed forces.

“He’s entitled to say whatever he wants to say, but the entire thrust of this occasion is patriotic not political, and I believe that’s the approach that both Palin and Boykin will both be taking.”

I asked Andrews if any of his people had objected to Boykin’s appearance at the event. I was thinking someone must have rushed into Andrew’s office and begged him to un-invite Boykin.

“Boykin has a trendeous appreciative and supportive following amongst our constituencey, and so I think there’s only been a sense of gratification from our folks that he’s once again appearing on our platform,” Andrews said.

Media should report that Palin to speak with General who wrote that Islam should not have same “constitutional protection” as other religions

Monday, April 25th, 2011

In March, The Denver Post let us know that Sarah Palin will share a podium with Lt. General William G. Boykin (ret.) at “Tribute for the Troops” rally Monday at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood.

But The Post didn’t mention—and neither have other local media outlets—that this isn’t just any run-of-the-mill General Boykin.

It’s Gen. William “Holy War” Boykin, widely known for describing the war on terror in religious terms, saying America is fighting “Satan,” —views President George W. Bush disavowed when Boykin first voiced them in 2003 as an active member of the U.S. Army.

It seems Boykin got in the most trouble for delivering a speech at a church in which he discussed his battle against a warlord in Somalia in 1993. In a memorable quote, Boykin said, “I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” Boykin later said he meant no offense against Islam and the warlord’s god.

Boykin left the Army in 2007, and during his retirement, he’s unapologetically stepped up his attacks on Islam.

For example, in an article published by the Centennial Institute, an arm of Colorado Christian University, where he’s scheduled to stand with Palin Mon., Boykin argued that full First Amendment protections should not apply to practitioners of some forms of Islam because “Islam is not just another religion,” but, “in its fullest form, Islam is a complete and totalitarian way of life.” This, he writes, “is a huge problem for the nation’s future.”

He argues in the article, titled, “Sharia Law or the Constitution: America Must Choose,” that the Koran is “unequivocal in its directive to Muslims to establish a global Islamic state” with “Sharia as the only law of the land.”

“Islam does have a religious component,” Boykin writes in the article, “but it has many other components, which should not be entitled to the same level of constitutional protection. Islam is foremost a legal system, called Sharia law. The Koran is unequivocal in its directive to Muslims to establish a global Islamic state, or Caliphate, over which the Islamic messiah, or Mahdi, will rule with Sharia as the only law of the land. That is the intent of many influential Islamic elements in America. But it is the exact opposite of what the First Amendment was designed to protect.”

“We have taken for granted that Islam deserves the same constitutionally protected status afforded to Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and other faiths,” he wrote, in asserting that we should do re-think our view of Islam.

Boykin is a familiar figure at the Colorado Christian University, where he’s spoken three times previously.

In an a short essay titled “A Clash of Loyalties” and published in Feb. with Boykin’s article, John Andrews, President of Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute, asks:

“Can a good Muslim be a good American,” and he concluded that “the answer is not so simple.”

Andrews writes that some may find Boykin’s article “unwelcome or offensive” but Andrews says Boykin’s “warning here is a plea of a patriot; we should listen well.”

Andrews is a former GOP President of the Colorado State Senate. The President of Colorado Christian University is Bill Armstrong, a former U.S. Senator from Colorado. Boykin spoke previously at Colorado Christian University, as part of its “Sharia Awareness Project” lecture series.

In the conclusion of his article, Boykin warns: 

“Americans can no longer afford to operate from a position of ignorance about Islam…. Relying on political leaders, opinion elites, and the media to inform us is unfortunately not an option. When Americans realize the threat of Islamic law, they will certainly sense a call to action. Europe failed to answer that same call [to take action against Islam], and it may now be too late for them to reverse the inevitable Islamic domination of their continent.”

When you read these types of  lines by Boykin, you see that his attacks on “manifestations” of Islam bleed into all people who practice any form Islam.

I’ve tried to figure out how he distinguishes one manifestation of Islam from another, and I don’t see how he does it. So you have to interpret Boykin’s views as attacks against Islam, period. How else can you read his words except as a condemnation the entire religion?

I mean, we have plenty of laws to protect us from any religious person who commits a crime, but Boykin isn’t proposing using the criminal code. He’s proposing a radically different approach, albeit vague on specifics, targeting a religion.

Imagine the uproar if Boykin wrote, “America can no longer afford to operate from a position of ignorance about Christianity….” Or that Judaism “is a huge problem for America’s future.”

Seriously, what if Boykin condemned Judaism or Christianity in this way?

Can you imagine Palin getting anywhere near him, much less speak together with him at a public event? I don’t think so.

Makes you wonder whether Palin agrees with Boykin.

Reporters should ask her when she’s with him Monday. And if she disagrees, they should ask her why she’s comfortable speaking with him at all.

Radio host should have asked Brophy why he first said Coffman could not win the 6th District under Dem map but then he said Coffman probably could

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

On Sunday, State Sen. Greg Brophy said the darndest things about congressional redistricting on Ross Kaminsky’s Backbone Radio, and Kaminsky, who will challenge his conservative guests sometimes, said not a word.

So I emailed this note to Kaminsky:

Hi Ross –

I’m considering a blog post on Brophy’s appearance on your show, where he made some serious accusations, which you did not challenge.

Can you answer the following questions for my blog:

Brophy accused Democrats of paying folks to testify before Brophy’s committee.

Brophy: “And then you know, to top it all off, they had the same sort of ginned up testimony from some Democrat operatives in Douglas County who went all the way up to Longmont, for crying out loud, to tell us to put Greenwood Village in the 1st Congressional District. Just follow the pieces on that. Well. It makes sense if you’re paying someone to do it but it doesn’t make sense if you’re representing the people of Colorado.”

Did you catch him saying this? If so, why didn’t you ask for his evidence for this?

Also, he asserted that Democrats were trying to draw Mike Coffman out of his seat, but then Brophy said Coffman could probably win in a new Dem District….

[Brophy said:  "And then they take the 6th and they wrap it around Denver and DIA on the east side, making both of them Democrat districts that Barack Obama won in 2008 and effectively drawing Congressman Mike Coffman out of the seat, whether he lives in it or not. He probably could win it because the guy is a political stud. But they’re trying to draw him out of the seat. It’s an absolute slap in the face to Mike Coffman."]

How come you didn’t ask Brophy, if the district is so pro-Dem, why he thinks Coffman could still win there?

Overall, even if you agree with Brophy on redistricting, or with any guest on any topic, don’t you think talk radio is more interesting if you ask critical questions, rather than just listen? I mean, you seem to do this some of the time, when you disagree with guests, (like you did here in a good interview with Stephens) but not when you agree with them. Why not ask critical questions even when you agree with guests? Don’t you think that’s a more interesting way to go, for the sake of listeners?

Thanks.

Jason

Kaminsky responded thus:

First, Brophy did NOT assert that Dems paid people to testify. He asserted that they got people to testify who otherwise wouldn’t have and who at least on several occasions didn’t live in the relevant district. That assertion is so believable that it did not bear further questioning, esp. as Brophy seemed to KNOW, not just guess, that the people he was talking about were not from the district being discussed.  I don’t recall him ever using or implying payment for those “astroturf” testimonies. So please don’t put words in his mouth.

Re the 6th, it’s not that it would be “so pro-Dem”, just massively less Republican than it is now. It would be more like the 7th, perhaps slightly more Republican than the 7th.  Still winnable by Coffman but far from the layup that it is now (or that the 1st is for DeGette.) But the other point was the fact that the Dems seem to be drawing a map to exclude from the 6th the town where they expect Coffman will soon be living.  So, again, you are putting words in Brophy’s mouth as far as him saying that the 6th would be “so pro-Dem.”

Jason, while I do take your point about asking more critical questions, you keep suggesting I should have asked questions in response to things that the guests didn’t actually say.  Your first question about Brophy in your note today was plainly based on a misrepresentation of Brophy’s words, and your second question wasn’t much better. And to be clear, it was I, and not Brophy, who brought up the question of the risk to Coffman from the Dems’ plans for the 6th and it was I who brought up the question of Greenwood Village. (At least, that’s how I remember the conversation. I haven’t listened to it again.)

You remind me of a politician who is answering the question he wanted to be asked.  You are responding to comments you wish that those on the right had actually made.  This sort of behavior makes it really difficult to want to cooperate with you on an ongoing basis.  I don’t think you’re actually intending to behave badly, but your political bias is (in my view) causing you to behave badly when it comes to situations like this.

I responded with this:

Ross –

Thanks for the quick response.

Yes, Brophy said what you assert he said. But you saw my quote. He’s at the very least implying the people from Longmont were paid to testify.

So the 6th would be a competitive district. We agree on that. [And so does Brophy.]

As far as cooperating goes, I hope you’ll continue communicating with me, because I try to be fair. I will use your entire comments, so as not to distort them, for example. And if I state something that’s inaccurate or unfair, just shoot me an email and I’ll include your response. What more can I do?

Again, thanks.

Kaminsky replied:

Jason, I simply don’t see that implication in Brophy’s words. In fact, before you mention the word “paid”, the idea that those testifiers had been paid hadn’t even occurred to me.

The 6th would be competitive if the Dems’ map wins, but I don’t think it will, even if this goes to the courts. That said, we have the worst State Supreme Court in the nation, so I wouldn’t put anything by those reprehensible political hacks.

Then Kaminsky added this thought in a final email, ending our exchange for today:

To be clear, Jason, the Dems presented several maps. Their most aggressive map would do just what Brophy said, and could make the 6th a Dem-leaning district. Some of their less aggressive maps, while still disgustingly partisan pieces of work, would leave the 6th more competitive or slightly GOP-leaning, as I understand them. That said, I am not an expert on this stuff.

Kaminsky to host first major talk-radio show in Denver

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Conservative blogger and talk-radio host Ross Kaminsky will be subbing for KOA’s Mike Rosen Friday.

This will be the first time he’s hosted a major ClearChannel show, though he’s gotten air time previously on KOA’s sleepy weekend schedule.

Kaminsky is a former Denver Post blogger, who currently hosts an obscure radio talk-radio show with the dumb name of “Backbone Radio,” which airs Sundays from 5 to 8 p.m. on KNUS, 710 AM and used to be hosted by John Andrews of Colorado State Senate fame.

KOA already has a long list of conservative talk show hosts. The station should consider letting a lefty sub for righty hosts like Rosen, when they go on cruises, like Rosen is doing. And Kaminsky could sub for Sirota. That would get people talking.

But Kaminsky is more thoughtful than some of his conservative talk-show ilk. I’m thinking, for example, of hosts like Michael Brown of Brownie fame.

Radio host says he’ll find out why Tipton now has confidence in Boehner after losing trust last week

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

On the Cari and Rob Show April 14, Rep. Scott Tipton said his trust in House Speaker John Boehner was damaged after last week’s federal budget agreement was negotiated, but Tipton added that he wanted to hear Boehner’s explanation for the deal he struck with Democrats to keep the government running until Sept. 30.

Apparently, Tipton got a satisfactory response from Boehner, because on Monday Tipton issued a clarification to The Hill’s blog, which posted an item about Tipton Monday. Tipton spokesman Joshua Green told The Hill:

“Congressman Tipton was disappointed in the dollar figure for the cuts to the FY2011 budget that was arrived at, and as such voted against it. He knows that Speaker Boehner got what he could at the time, but it wasn’t enough based on the input he was hearing from the people in the district. His comments are in reference to the amount of cuts to the 2011 budget and shouldn’t be read into as anything more. Congressman Tipton is confident in Speaker Boehner’s leadership and vision to cut spending, create jobs and get our country back on track.”

So what, please tell, did Boehner say to Tipton to elicit this “clarification,” which, incidentally, doesn’t say that Tipton actually trusts Boehner.

Fortunately we’ll find out, if you believe what Tipton said on the Cari and Rob Show Thursday, April 14.

Tipton told Douglas that Boehner needs to explain why he pledged to cut $100 billion from the federal budget and ultimately supported a bill that cut this year’s spending by $352 million. Tipton voted against the compromise.

“I’ll listen [to Boehner],” Tipton told Douglas. “And I’ll be happy to pass on to you what his explanation is because I can’t think of a defense.”

Douglas: Let us know when you get that explanation.

Tipton: I will.

Later on the show, Douglas said, “I gotta hand this to Scott Tipton. He has come on this program every time we asked him to come on.”

Douglas told me yesterday that he hasn’t talked with Tipton since he was on his show last week, but he hasn’t forgotten about Tipton’s promise to pass on Boehner’s explanation.

“I’m sure we’ll be getting him back on [the show] in the very near future,” Douglas told me, adding that “we continue to use him as a freshman canary in the coal mine.”

Judging from last week’s interview with Tiptop (See my blog post from Monday.), Douglas won’t settle for vague or evasive answers from Tipton about why the Congressman is suddenly “confident in Speaker Boehner’s leadership and vision to cut spending, create jobs and get our country back on track.”  I’m looking forward to Tipton’s next interview on the Cari and Rob Show.

Reporters should give us more facts about specific redistricting issues and less he-said-she-said confusion

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

If you’re a political reporter, when it comes to redistricting, there’s allegation after allegation after allegation, and you probably wonder if, by reporting on it, you’re confusing readers rather than helping them understand things.

One obvious way to clarify the debate is to correct false accusations, if they’re actually false. An outsider might think that’s easy, but as we know, the facts in politics are often in dispute, leaving even the best of reporters as frustrated as the rest of us.

Another way reporters can shed light on allegations is to add factual information to help readers gain a broader perspective.

A case in point is Frank McNulty’s allegation that Democratic maps were designed to further the political careers of Senate President Brandon Schaffer and Sen. Morgan Carroll.

McNulty’s allegation was reported in The Denver Post, Durango Herald, Longmont Times-Call, and elsewhere.

In The Post, a response to McNulty’s allegation was offered by Sen. Rollie Heath (D-Boulder). Heath was quoted as saying he resented McNulty’s remark. In a second Post story, in which McNulty’s allegation was repeated, The Post reported that Schaffer was not thinking about a run for Congress now.  The Post also reported that Schaffer said the proposed Democratic districts were competitive.

The Time-Call, in a longer article specifically on McNulty’s allegation, offered a number of responses to it, including Health’s statement that the 4th District would “still be very heavily weighted Republican” and Shaffer’s view that Democratic proposals are “fair and competitive.”

The Herald stated categorically:

“Under Heath’s map, voters in Shaffer’s 4th congressional district would be 27 percent registered Democrats and 37 percent Republicans.”

As the redistricting debate moves ahead, I hope journalists include specific facts in their reporting to put allegations  like McNulty’s in perspective, even if those allegations can’t be proven wrong per se.

In this McNulty case, to my way of thinking, the Herald’s numbers were the most informative, though an entire article could, and should, be dedicated to different types of voting numbers.

Overall, we’ll benefit more from in-depth coverage of specific aspects of the redistricting debate than he-said-she-said reporting and more he-said-she-said reporting after that.