Archive for February, 2012

Factcheck.org failed to point out that Romney would agree with Pro-life Super Pac ad

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Pro-life Super Pac has released an ad, panned by Factcheck.org, claiming that Mitt Romney “enforced a law which required Catholic hospitals to provide abortions.”

Factcheck.org reported:

What Romney enforced — after first vetoing the legislation — was a requirement that hospitals provide rape victims with the morning-after pill, a drug that is designed to stop pregnancy from occurring if taken within a few days of unprotected intercourse. He didn’t tell Catholic hospitals that they had to perform abortions.

But respected Factcheck.org journalist Lori Robertson wasn’t fair to Pro-life Super Pac, because she did not state, as a matter of fact, that Mitt Romney himself would agree with Pro-life Super Pac that, as governor of Massachusetts, he was indeed telling Catholic hospitals to provide abortions.

I’ll explain why below. But first, check out the ad, which Pro-Life Super Pac spokesman Jason Jones tells me is running now in Michigan.

We know that Mitt Romney believes that life begins at conception. He said in October he “absolutely” would have supported an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution codifying that life begins at conception. A few weeks later, Romney confirmed that “life begins at conception.”

If you’re Romney, and you believe life begins at conception, then you have no choice but to acknowledge that birth control pills and the morning after pill are threats to life as you define it.

That’s because certain types of birth control pills as well as the morning-after pill, which is essentially high-dose birth control, have the potential to destroy fertilized eggs, or zygotes, by making it harder for them to implant in the uterus.

Manufacturers of birth control pills and the morning after pill (also called Plan B) state that their products alter the lining of the uterus “which may inhibit implantation.”

“You don’t know whether the action is birth control or contraception,” Pro-life Super Pac’s Jones told me. Politifact.org arrived at the same conclusion here. Personhood U.S.A. Legal Analyst Gualberto Garcia Jones emailed me, “At best, Romney forced Catholic hospitals to play Russian roulette with innocent human beings, at worst he forced Catholic hospitals to be an accessory to murder, so we have no qualms with the statement made by the Pro-life Super PAC.”

If he were consistent, Romney would say that hospitals offering birth control pills and Plan B are providing abortions. That’s what he’d say today. (That’s not what I’d say, because I don’t believe life begins at conception, but that’s what Romney would say.)

And though he’s flipped around on abortion during his political career, Romney had the same view in 2005, when he vetoed a bill requiring hospitals to provide Plan B, because, he wrote,

“The bill does not involve only the prevention of conception: The drug it authorizes would also terminate life after conception.”

Factcheck.org argues that this claim may not represent his true feelings about Plan B because:

But [Romney] later said, when deciding that Catholic hospitals wouldn’t be exempt from providing the pill to rape victims: “My personal view in my heart of hearts is that people who are subject to rape should have the option of having emergency contraceptives or emergency contraceptive information.”

But this says nothing about his view on whether he thinks Plan B can destroy zygotes. He’s just saying he’d allow access to rape victims, which is a position he has now abandoned in view of his support for state personhood amendments giving legal rights to all zygotes, even if conceived during rape.

Reporters at Factcheck.org need to be clear on Romney’s view on Plan B, because the ramifications go way beyond the Pro-Life Pac ad.

Today, as I wrote, Romney absolutely supports state personhood amendements, which means he wants state governments to define life his way, as beginning at conception.

This means that not only is Romney personally opposed to Plan B, certain birth control pills, and abortions, but he favors banning them, through state law.

That’s a big deal for women, and all of us, and reporters should be clear on where Romney stands.

If elected, would Coors co-sponsor federal personhood bill that’s currently endorsed by 111 Congresspeople?

Friday, February 24th, 2012

ColoradoPols broke the news last month that congressional candidate Joe Coors gave $1,000 to Personhood Colorado, in support of its efforts to pass a personhood amendment in 2010.

A handful of news outlets subsequently reported the Coors donation, but it appears no one has asked personhood activists about Coors and his support of their effort. You’d assume the personhood folks would welcome his support because Coors could become a key ally.

If Coors is elected to Congress, he could put his vote where his money is. And, presumably, where his mouth has also been.

Coors could join the 111 U.S. Representatives who’ve co-sponsored legislation that would define “person” under the 14th Amendment to include zygotes. If passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, these bills would make Personhood national law, and likely set off a court battle. ((Due to unusual language in the 14th Amendment, a more complicated process, involving approval by state legislatures, is not required to amend the 14th Amendment.)

I know it’s not likely that these bills would become law, but I’ve lost count of the unlikely things that have happened in American politics over the last two years. So, given the seriousness of the bills, which would outlaw forms of contraception as well as abortion, they should be taken seriously.

Yet, no reporter has asked Coors if he’d co-sponsor these bills. It’s obviously fair and important question.

Asked about Coors, Personhood USA legal analyst Gualberto Garcia-Jones told me via email, “Joe Coors did donate to the Personhood amendment in Colorado in the past.  I have not personally met Joe Coors, but I have heard that he is supportive of Personhood as he is pro-life.”

Garcia Jones wrote that he welcomes the continued support of Coors, just as he “would welcome all support, whether wealthy and powerful or poor and humble.”

Coors is battling Matt Ball in the GOP primary, to be held in June, for the opportunity to challenge U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Ball is kicking off his campaign tomorrow at Front Range Community College.

When politicians talk directly about “messaging,” reporters should tune in

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

I love politicians who have guts to talk about their “messaging” in public. Everyone knows it chews up huge amounts of behind-the-scenes time (and money), but the insider debate about messages doesn’t spill out much.

When it does, reporters should be all over it, not to play “gotcha,” but to help real people (none of whom read this blog) understand how different communications “frames” illuminate competing worldviews about government and values.

For example, on KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado Feb. 17, the hosts and Colorado Rep. Robert Ramirez got into an honest discussion about how the GOP should talk about poor people and budget cuts.

Ramirez started off by saying, “The Democrats have a benefit. Everything they say makes somebody feel good about something in their life. When we say, ‘we got to quit spending so much, we can’t take any more money to pay for those poor kids,’ it doesn’t sound as good.”

He has a point. This makes the GOP sound like they aren’t very concerned about the poor.

Ramirez went on: “We have to say something more like, we need to spend the money responsibly to be able to help people the most, and not just waste dollars in places they aren’t helping anyone.”

So the frame here is that government is the bad guy. It’s wasting money in useless dark places, some of which may sound like they’re helping kids, but they’re really not.

Ramirez continued:  

But when somebody says, you’re trying to kill children, you have to say, that’s an interesting comment. Honestly, we have to spend the money the best way to help the most people. So it doesn’t matter what they say, we have to, one, stay on message, and we have to keep the message in a positive arena, not negative against the other side. And that’s the key, positive towards our message versus negative against them. Negative doesn’t work.

Here, Ramirez presents a progressive counter “frame” that the GOP is “trying to kill children” by cutting government, whose programs (like generous children’s health insurance) save lives and should not be axed if you care about giving impoverished kids in the world’s richest nation the basic opportunity to succeed in life.  (Okay, that’s a dramatic rendition of this frame, but I’m just making a point.)

Actually, I don’t know any progressives who think Ramirez or other conservatives want to kill our children. But progressives point to studies showing that if conservatives succeed at, for example, charging more for state-run health insurance, more kids could certainly get sick, and, yes, possibly die. (Colorado Sen. Greg Brophy, among others, acknowledges the risk to kids.)

So you see how the two frames of “good government” versus “bad government” play out in Ramirez’s statements on the radio.

Underlying these competing frames about government is, of course, the debate about taxes.

And so it was fitting that, at the end of his Grassroots Radio Colorado interview, Ramirez turned the topic to taxes.

Ramirez, who’s indicated his opposition to the extension of unemployment benefits and who’s supported Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan in the past, argued that everyone should pay the same percentage of their income in taxes:

 “You know what,” Ramirez said on the air, “it doesn’t matter if it’s 1o percent, 50 percent, 30 percent, 60, the moral part is, everyone should pay the same percent. If you are making $100 per week, you should pay 10 percent. If you are making a million dollars a week, you should pay 10 percent.

I don’t know how this translates in the real world into anything but a massive tax cut, and as such, major slashes in government spending for the poor.

If he stayed on message, and didn’t talk about taking money away from poor children, Ramirez would probably say he’s cutting waste, creating a responsible, smaller government, and helping people most through tax cuts.

And a progressive might say Ramirez is undermining what we all want, to work together through government to give poor children and families basic opportunity and a fair shot at success, and we can raise taxes a little bit to do it, on people who can afford it.

Reporters should look for chances, like Ramirez’s radio appearance, to illustrate these competing worldviews underlying political “messaging.”

Partial Transcript of Feb. 17 Interview with Rep. Robert Ramirez on Grassroots Radio Colorado on KLZ 560 AM, weekdays, 5 – 7 p.m.

Ramirez: Romney, much like many Republicans, allows someone else to dictate what his message will be, kind of like a senatorial candidate we had last year….

Host: Republicans don’t know how to message. They’re messaging sucks. In your mind, what can we do to change that?

Ramirez: You know, it’s not just message. The Democrats have a benefit. Everything they say makes somebody feel good about something in their life.

Host: Yeah. I suppose that’s true.

Ramirez: When we say, we got to quit spending so much, we can’t take any more money to pay for those poor kids, it doesn’t sound as good. So we have our message–

Host: Like Rollie Heath’s message–

Ramirez: Yeah. We have to say something more like, we need to spend the money responsibly to be able to help people the most, and not just waste dollars in places they aren’t helping anyone. But when somebody says, you’re trying to kill children, you have to say, that’s an interestingt comment. Honestly, we have to spend the money the best way to help the most people. So it doesn’t matter what they say, we have to, one, stay on message, and we have to keep the message in a positive arena, not negative against the other side. And that’s the key, positive towards our message versus negative against them. Negative doesn’t work.

Host: …Morally, how much should someone pay in taxes?…If you are a successful contributing member of the economic class, a business owner, something like that, you’re at 30, 40, 50 percent. At what point is it immoral?

Ramirez: You know what, it doesn’t matter if it’s 1o percent, 50 percent, 30 percent, 60, the moral part is, everyone should pay the same percent. If you are making $100 per week, you should pay 10 percent. If you are making a million dollars a week, you should pay 10 percent.

Host: I agree. I could not agree more, actually.

Ramirez: I don’t know an actual percentage, but you understand what I’m saying. It should be a percentage based on everyone. That encourages people to make more money and create more jobs.

Sweeping statements, like Coors’ assertion that his votes would be opposite of Permutter’s, should catch reporters’ attention

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

You don’t have to read the polls to know that real people (none of whom read this blog) are tired of our rude and extreme political culture.

Journalists like to think of themselves as representing real people, so reporters should ask public figures to explain themselves when they make mean and sweeping statements.

Case in point: Joe Coors, who’s running in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, hopped on the syndicated Cari and Rob radio show Feb. 8 and pretty much trashed the entire voting record of Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Coors said:

And my track record, well I don’t have a voting track record, but the things that I would vote for are things that Perlmutter has voted against. His voting track record is, you know, he voted for the stimulus packages. He voted for the Obama health care. He voted against Keystone, which is just absolutely tragic in my opinion. So there’s a clear choice for the voters here on Nov. 6, 2012.

This is the kind of statement that should catch the ears of journalists. The way I read it, Coors is saying Perlmutter completely sucks, nothing good about him, at least when it comes to his voting record.

So reporters should ask Coors if he’d vote against all the stuff that Perlmutter supported: payroll tax cut, unemployment-insurance extension, government insider trading regs (passed 417-2), auto bailout, HIRE Act (incentives to hire unemployed workers), ENDA (stopping discrimination based on sexual orientation), Lily Ledbetter (equal-pay-for-equal work), etc.

And would Coors vote for some of the most extreme Tea Party legislation, opposed by Perlmutter, that moved through the House this session? I’m thinking of last month’s vote not to concur with the U.S. Senate on extending the payroll tax break. Early votes not to extend the debt limit? Not to pass continuing budget resolutions?

The ins and outs of these positions are complicated, I realize, but reporters should be advocates for basic civility and truthfulness, and you can bet that Coors’ sweeping condemnation of the votes of a sitting Congressman is most likely something Coors himself would back away from if asked for details.

There’s a desperate tantrum-like quality in public figures who make sweeping allegations, like Mitt Romney’s statement on a Colorado talk radio show earlier this month that Obama has done “everything wrong when it relates to building an economy.”

Reporters should listen carefully for comments like these, and dig into them.

Partial transcript of Joe Coors’ appearance Feb. 8, 2012, on the Cari and Rob Show.

Hear entire segment here. Joe Coors on the Cari and Rob Show 02-08-12

Hermacinski: Mr. Coors, why at this point are you choosing to run for political office?

Coors: Very Good Question. This thing has been growing on me. What’s happened in the last three years back in Washington DC is almost unconscionable. I just feel compelled and called to stand up for limited government, balanced budgets, and a business approach to running Washington DC. And that’s why I’m in it…. I can tell you, based on caucus meetings I attended, voters are angry. And they are fed up with the liberal agenda back in Washington DC. And my track record, well I don’t have a voting track record, but the things that I would vote for are things that Perlmutter has voted against. His voting track record is, you know, he voted for the stimulus packages. He voted for the Obama health care. He voted against Keystone, which is just absolutely tragic in my opinion. So there’s a clear choice for the voters here on Nov. 6, 2012….

Douglas: …Talk about the importance of [the Keystone Pipeline] and of energy in the 7th congressional district.

Coors: …Personally, I just don’t understand why we import oil from countries that don’t like us. We have more resources in the state of Colorado for energy than whole Middle East combined. Why the environmentalists or the squeaky wheels keeping us from tapping that resource is something I’m going to challenge.

Catch your breath, “mainstream media,” Gessler doesn’t like you

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

There’s a good chance someone is going to say something newsworthy when he or she prefaces it with, “some folks in my office cringed when I said this, but I’m going to say it again.”

That’s what Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler said to a GOP group, as reported by Colorado Statesman’s Judy Hope Strogoff, prior to repeating his view that the mainstream media hates uppity Republicans. I wrote about it the first time he said it, calling on wimpy reporters to fight back and ask him for more evidence, but no enterprising reporter took the challenge.

Now journos have another chance. Gessler said:

Gessler: “Republicans who behave well, who the mainstream media can sort of pat on the head and say, “Good boy, that’s a good job,” Republicans who sort of toe the line and don’t really want to make real change but you know, sort of will kick around the edges a little bit but buy into the mainstream media, the big money type framework — they’re good, they’re okay, they’re the Republicans that they like. But God forbid someone would really want to shake things up, that’s terrible. So they don’t like that.”

I wouldn’t say I had to catch my breath after I read that, like Andrea Mitchell was after Foster Friess told her that “gals” should just keep their knees together.

But I was gasping as I read numerous other Gessler statements in the Statesman’s Gessler article, which is well worth taking a break from Twitter to read.

I’ll stick to Gessler’s media criticisms here, because they’re so sophisticated, but, please, you’ll love everything he has to say.

Gessler: “What I have found is, there is a status quo, there is a way of going about things in this state and oftentimes in this country, and there’s a reason it’s there. And if you look, probably the perfect embodiment of that is The Denver Post editorial board. I mean if you called up Central Casting and said, “I’d like a liberal mainstream media establishment, can you send one to me?” they would send you the Denver Post editorial board. And I think within my first three weeks they’d written six editorials against me, either about me or against me. None of them were favorable.”

See what I mean about how sophisticated Gessler is when it comes to media criticism?

I’d always thought Vince Carroll, who sits on The Post editorial board, was part of the conservative media establishment, but Gessler blows this up by lumping him into the “liberal mainstream media establishment.” Good media criticism should challenge your thinking, and Gessler hits a home run here.

I can think of only one Colorado media critic who showed more depth, and that was Doug Bruce when he kicked an annoying Rocky Mountain News photographer.

In case you missed Gessler’s bold point about the liberal media’s unfair treatment of him, he returned to it again in the Statesman article, lumping together news reporters, editorial writers, and Democrats (and therefore socialists) in one nasty army out to get him.

Gessler: “And remember our Central Casting mainstream media, The Denver Post? They editorialized against this law and they said, “It’s a power grab by Gessler and he already has the authority to do it.” Now if you think about that, those are two mutually exclusive… I mean if it’s a power grab then I don’t have the authority, and I’m grabbing power. And those sentences were right next to one another.

So we lost last year’s legislative battle.”

If you take a look at The Post editorial that he’s talking about, titled “Voter Integrity or Power Grab?” you’ll find that The Post thought Gessler was grabbing power because his bill would have given him the authority to run amok. In other words, a true power grab. The editorial didn’t mention anything about Gessler already having the authority he needed to do his job. That came out later, in a news article.

The Post made this radical observation in its editorial:

If people who are ineligible to cast ballots in Colorado are on voter registration rolls, they need to be removed.

On that point, we agree with Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

However, we’re concerned that the power he is seeking from the state legislature to conduct such investigations is overly broad and undefined.

That opinion is so conservative, it must come from the “embodiment” of the “liberal mainstream media establishment.”

 

Extremely rude politicians should be asked to explain why they’re extremely rude

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

I’ve been thinking that journalists should add a “civility” beat to their shrinking offerings.

At least they should give a little extra air, ink (literal and digital) to challenge politicians when they hit below the belt, especially if they do it themselves, in a public forum.

An example is what Rep. Mike Coffman said about President Obama Feb. 15 on the Mike Rosen Show:

Apparently, for Coffman, the loving feelings of Valentine’s Day had worn off, because he said:

If so we continue on that trajectory, [mandatory spending] will literally crowd out discretionary spending and crowd out defense. And if you read the Constitution, which I’m sure the President at some point in his life has [laughs], but he probably won’t admit it, you know, certainly the one thing that’s, spelled out in the Constitution that’s the responsibility of Congress is to maintain the common defense.

Hear the segment: Mike Coffman on Mike Rosen Show Feb. 15, 2012

Of course, Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, so it’s more than fair to say that Coffman’s remark is utterly disrespectful.

You wouldn’t expect Rosen to ask Coffman whether that’s the kind of discourse he thinks the American people want.

You wouldn’t expect Rosen to ask Coffman why he feels the need to insult Obama like this.

But, if Coffman throws around more insults, and a journalist hears him, I’m hoping we can get some answers to questions like those.

Coverage of political incivility, with the aim of making politicians explain why they do it, should be a priority of reporters.

Boyles says he didn’t mean to pat a bigot on the back

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

If you’re a talk-radio host and you feed on infotainment, you pretty much have to cover the topics people will talk about because you want people to…talk.

But that doesn’t mean you have to embrace bigots, like a gun instructor who says at the conclusion of a radio ad promoting his classes:

“Also, if you are a non-Christian Arab or Muslim, I will not teach you the class.”

If you’re KHOW’s Peter Boyles, and you actually want to have the man who ran the ad, Crockett Keller, on your radio show, you have a few choices.

You can expose and denounce his bigotry, have an even-handed discussion about the ad, or you can cozy up to him.

With Keller on his show Feb. 1, Boyles did the latter.

He didn’t ask his listeners if they thought it would have been okay for Keller not to teach Christians . Or Jews.

He didn’t ask Keller if he’d considered a different closer for his ad, like, “If you’re Jewish, I will not teach you the class.”

Would Boyles have sat in silence if the word “Islam” were changed to “Judaism” and the word “Muslim” to “Jew” in the following statement that Keller made to Boyles on his KHOW radio show?

Keller: I don’t consider Islam as a religion. Now that may sound ignorant. I think in practice it’s more of an ideology and a political entity as opposed to a religious entity… Until the moderate Muslims start picking up and rioting every time their less peaceable brethren make war against us, then we have to do that. You know, we didn’t bomb just Nazi Germany. We bombed the whole place. And I’m afraid that’s what it’s going to take at some point in time if we are going to preserve our way of life. I would like to think that the moderate Muslims would start standing up for the American way, as opposed to Sharia law and the Muslim way. What are they? Are they Muslims first or Americans first?

Boyles said to Keller that he’d heard different reactions from callers to Keller’s advertisement.

Boyles told Keller: “I find myself thinking that what you’re saying is probably closer to the truth, and that’s why it hurts… You da man.”

He closed by thanking Keller and telling him to call if he’s in Colorado so he can “have him in studio.”

I’ve listened to Boyles for years, and I could’t believe that he really felt warmly to Keller.

So I called Boyles to make sure he meant what he said, and I was relieved to find out that he did not.

Boyles said he didn’t remember saying this, and, if he did, he didn’t mean it.

He described Keller as “just a guy who draws attention to himself.”

But why Boyles would have a guy like this on his radio show, unless his plan was to slam him, is beyond me.

There’s ratings, and it’s obvious Boyles chases them, and he got carried away again.

Boyles told me that he has nothing against Muslims, and he recommended a book called, The Mirage, which is a novel about Christian terrorists who fly planes into buildings in the Mid East.

I asked Jacob Hornberger, President of the libertarian Future of Freedom Foundation, who was part of a recent “Civil Liberties College Tour,” addressing civil liberties and terrorism, whether bigoted speech like Keller’s, in an advertisement, is protected under the Frist Amendment.

He emailed me that it’s protected, saying:

“The man has the fundamental, God given right to say all of these things and to run his concealed carry course any way he wants, no matter how offensive his speech or conduct is to others.”

Because the speech is contained in an advertisement, he wrote that “the entity he’s paying, as the owner of the publication or station, has the right not to publish the advertisement.”

Attorney and author Bruce Fein, who was also part of the Civil Liberties College Tour, had a different view, stating in an email to me:

“The speech is unprotected by the First Amendment. Civil rights laws may properly prohibit speech that encourages persons offering services to the public generally for commercial gain from invidious discrimination in violation of the law. See US Supreme Court decision in Pittsburgh Human Relations case authored by Justice Potter Stewart.”

I’m no lawyer, but from what I’ve read, Fein seems to have it right.

Either way, Boyles, who failed to address the free speech issues, clearly has a First Amendment right to air the ad on his radio show.

But basic decency says he should refrain from spreading senseless attacks on Muslims.

Boyles should state on the air that he has nothing against Muslims. And he should have a discussion, as I’ve offered on my blog previously, about the different interpretations of Sharia law among Muslims.

Text of Crockett ad:

Crockett narrates: “Hello friends and neighbors in Mason and surrounding counties. Attention. Be a victor not a victim. We will be having a beginner’s concealed handgun class this coming Wednesday, October 26, at Keller’s Riverside Store on the beautiful Lionel River. Classes start at 8:30 a.m. This is an all-day event. We will attempt to teach you all the necessary information you need to obtain your CHL and hopefully when you can use your weapon to defend yourself if the need arises. We will also give you your handgun proficiency test as needed to get your license. The cost for the course is $100. We accept cash, check, credit cards, gold and silver, and used guns. For information, or to sign up, call Crocket Keller, 325-347-0055. If you are a socialist liberal and/or have voted for the current campaigner in chief, please do not take this class. You have already proven that you cannot make a knowledgeable and prudent decision as required under the law. Also, if you are a non-Christian Arab or Muslim, I will not teach you the class. Once again, with no shame, I am Crocket Keller, 325-347-0055. Thank you, and god bless America.”

Reporters should find out if GOP caucus goers think their delegates should be up for grabs or committed to their chosen candidate?

Monday, February 13th, 2012

As the Colorado GOP caucuses approached last week, state Colorado GOP Chair Ryan Call told the Durango Herald that a lot was riding on the outcome. That is, if you believe the GOP delegates are an honorable bunch.

The Herald reported:

Those delegates [chosen at the caucuses] are “bound by honor” to vote for the presidential candidates they supported at the precinct caucus, said state Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call. If a candidate drops out before the assembly, his delegates are released to vote for someone else.

But the morning after the caucuses, Call was downplaying the significance of the Stantorum victory, telling KNUS’ Steve Kelley:

Call: Last night’s preference poll is really just a straw poll. The delegates elected in each of these precinct caucus meetings are now going to go on to participate in county and district assemblies. And then at the state assembly in April is where we will actually be electing the slate of delegates that will be sent from Colorado to the national convention…This is still an open race, and it can be expected to play out over the next couple months.

Kelley asked the follow-up question that was on my mind:

Kelley: It begs the question then, Ryan, why do the caucuses if you’re not going to secure the delegates for sure?

Call replied:

Call: The caucuses are the first step in a multi-step process. It’s that sort of winnowing of the field as the process moves along. It’s a very representative, grassroots-oriented process where the folks who took the time to show up are the ones whose votes matter and whose voices get heard.

An impartial observer, like a reporter, might want to know how all those grassroots folks “who took the time to show up” are feeling now, as their participation, not whom they voted for, seems to matter most to Call.

Call: I think the most exciting thing is the level of turnout, the level of participation, and then we move on to the next step.

You’d think delegates would, in fact, feel some commitment to support the candidate they were selected to vote for, as long as that candidate stayed in the race.

I’d feel betrayed (and pissed), if I voted for, say, a winner like Newt Gingrich, and my trusty Gingrich delegate dumped his chains of honor and switched to Romney at the county or state conventions.

But Call apparently doesn’t see it that way, and neither does former GOP Chair Dick Wadhams–or Ron Paul, who thinks he has stealth delegates faking it for other candidates.

Reporters should be wondering what the GOP caucus goers think of this situation. Just how committed do they believe their delegates should be to the preferences of the hard-working caucus attendees who selected them?

Post Editorial Page Editor says TV reporter’s Beale-like tactics might work, so why not try it?

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

From one side of The Denver Post yesterday, Political Editor Chuck Plunkett told me that The Post doesn’t like to “cry in public about having a rough time getting someone to talk to us.”

Then, from the darker side of The Post, Editorial Page Editor Curtis Hubbard, wrote on The Post’s Spot blog, that he has a “hunch” that FOX 31′s Eli Stokols’ strategy of calling Mitt Romney out for avoiding the press in Colorado will pay off. Hubbard wrote:

Eli throws a bomb: I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a reporter publicly criticize a campaign for their media strategy/declining interview requests. Fox 31′s Eli Stokols didn’t hold back in his criticism of the Romney camp today. Just a hunch, but I bet his strategy pays off.

So I asked Hubbard, via email, why he didn’t use Stokols’ tactic, when he had Plunkett’s job.

I also asked whether Hubbard expected more journalists to be inspired by Stokols and call out hiding politicians more often, and whether he’d give it a try himself, on the commentary page. Hubbard replied:

It’s an interesting discussion, but my job (whether it was in the newsroom or in this position) is not to be a media critic. As the editorial page editor I certainly have more leeway to comment on media coverage, but I try to keep in mind that more of our readers care about news than how the sausage gets made.

I commented on Eli’s post yesterday because, in my nearly 20 years in the news biz, I couldn’t recall a reporter doing anything like it.  Eli has demonstrated through his strong work on the beat that he shouldn’t be ignored, so it’s probably a pretty safe bet on his part. Then again, a thin-skinned campaign or a cut-throat competitor, might very well use it against him.

The trouble is, the line between the news and how it’s made isn’t so clear. In the case of Romney ignoring Denver journalists, the two are one and the same. It’s a news story that Romney is ignoring the press in favor of conservative talk-radio hosts. (Or at least it deserves a mention in a news story.)

But my takeaway from Hubbard’s blog post is that he thinks the tactic could work. I’d love to see him try it. (And if it backfired, I’d love to see The Post blow up the retribution.)

Hubbard (or Plunkett) could create a little chart showing which candidates actually take questions from journalists when they pass through town.

It could be called the “Howard Beale Index.”

Each time the Howard Beale Index is updated, a short Eli-Stokols-type letter could be published.

If I’m a Post subscriber, and I am, I’d be proud of my newspaper for going after those candidates, and trying to hold them accountable publicly.

Radio host should ask Coffman what he meant when Coffman said Romney needs “more conservative message”

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Mike Coffman appeared on KNUS’ morning show, Kelley and Company, yesterday, and he came out swinging at Mitt Romney, saying that Romney “needs to have a more conservative message that appeals to the base of the Republican Party,” that he “needs a more coherent, better defined economic and tax policy,” and that the Santorum victory “changes the ballgame.”

“Are we going to get the governor of Massachusetts [laughs] as the president?” Coffman asked on air. “Or are we going to get the guy who’s saying what he’s saying on the stump now?”

The interview made good radio, but the trouble was, host Steve Kelley didn’t even try to get Coffman to be more specific about how Romney should move to the right, so listeners were left with little understanding of what Coffman thinks Romney should actually do and say in the real world away from the radio.

Kelley should have Coffman back on the show and ask him to, please, be more specific.

What’s Romney’s “more conservative message” look like?

What should Romney say to re-assure the GOP base that he’s the “conservative guy?”

What aspects of Romney’s economic policy are “cluttered” and how should Romney simplify things?

How, specifically, does Romney assure Republicans that they will not “get the governor of Massachusetts as the president?”

Click to hear Coffman on KNUS Kelley and Company 2-8-12.

Partial transcript of Coffman on Denver’s KNUS (710 AM) Kelley and Company 2-8-12:

Coffman: It definitely changes the ballgame. I do think that Romney needs to have a more conservative message that appeals to the base of the Republican Party. And I think he’s going to kind of re-examine his approach, his ground game, his message….This is not good for the Romney team. And it’s good for the Santorum team….

Quite frankly, I think he’s running for the general. Maybe he got over-confident and he refashioned his message more for the general election and a different electorate. And at some point in time, I think you do pivot, and I think he did that pivot a little too early. And I think he’s going to have to backtrack and make sure that, and say, hey, look, this is what I am going to do in terms of advancing conservative causes and in terms of repealing some of the things this administration has put in place. So I think he needs to re-assure the Republican electorate that he’s going to do that….

I think what [Romney] has to do is retool his own message, and I think he has to retool his own message in terms of, you know, appealing to the conservative base. You know. Because I think there are a lot of conservatives who don’t trust him in that they worry that, you know, who is this guy? Do we really know him? Are we going to get the governor of Massachusetts [laughs] as the president? Or are we going to get the guy who’s saying what he’s saying on the stump now? And so I think he needs to reassure the Republican voters that, hey, I’m going to be the conservative guy. I am going to repeal Obamacare even though he said [laughs] that on the stump quite a bit. And I think he needs a more coherent, better defined economic and tax policy. It’s a little cluttered. It’s a little complicated. He needs to drill down to where it makes sense certainly to the average Republican voter in this primary.