Archive for April, 2012

New media can inform us about small-time candidates like legacy media never did

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Even in their heyday, the big urban news outlets almost never covered state legislative races very well, much less school board, city council, and other local elections. Small-time election campaigns were seen, for the most part, as boring to the mass audience, especially on local TV news.

New media offer great ways to get to know local candidates in depth, if you have the tiniest bit of inclination dig it up with few clicks of a mouse.

One such new-media platform is internet-only radio, where even the lowliest candidate for the lowliest race can shine.

“Art’s Place,” which aired on BlogTalkRadio Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (and is available 24/7 via podcast) is one such example.

The host of “Art’s Place” is Art Carlson, who’s running in the Republican primary for Senate District 28.

Last Saturday, April 21, for example, Carlson had Art “Skip” Carlson on his show. (Yes, they have the same name, but Art Skip Carlson is running for House District 50.)

The interview, covering a wide range of topics, compliments and expands on information on his campaign website and elsewhere.

I won’t present the entire interview here, because you should just listen to it if you’re interested.  But I’ll pull out a few highlights:

ART CARLSON: Let’s find out a little bit more about you.  Why are you running for State House, Skip?

ART “SKIP” CARLSON:  Well, Art, I’m a fourth generation Coloradan.  In fact, I’m a fourth generation Weld County person. We’ve been active in politics, we’ve been active in the community for my whole life.  My parents were. My great uncle was governor of the state of Colorado.  We’ve had representatives from my family – my ancestry in the statehouse ever since Colorado became a state.  And you know, we had to vote on our constitution four times before it was ever actually accepted as a state.  We would not, had we been successful in our first run at the state, would not have been the Centennial State but would have indeed been in two years before.  So, with all of that background, I just thought  I needed to give something back to the community and the country that has been so great to me, full of opportunity.  I didn’t succeed at all things.  But I’ve had an opportunity to do things, and it’s been a great place to live and a great place to raise a family, and I just want to protect that.

ART CARLSON: All right. And what are your main issues that you’re going to tackle down at the capitol?

ART “SKIP” CARLSON: [chuckles] Well, you know, Art, that’s one thing that so many people ask me!  [inaudible] says, “Well, what are you going  to go down there and …”  I said, “you know, I don’t know that I’m going to go down there and do anything other than get rid of a bunch of things that don’t belong there.  I think, all of these people going down and saying, “I’m going to pass this law for this and, I’m going to pass this for that…” without thinking of the ramifications and looking into the past and seeing, well, if we got rid of something, maybe, your goal would be accomplished by getting rid of some of the encumbrances that we have in the Statehouse now.  But, what I’m going to have is opportunity.  My by-word is ‘Opportunity to succeed for all.’  Forget about some of these government regulations … some of this stuffI’m tired of governments – state, local, and so forth, giving these significant tax credits to huge corporations to come in and build their buildings, and go to work, and put our small businesses out of work, and we can’t work with our small businesses which is the backbone of Colorado, and the backbone of this country, to help them be successful and to flourish, because that is so much better.  So, that’s basically what I’m after, is getting back to local – as local as you can on anything and making sure that everybody has an opportunity to succeed….

ART “SKIP” CARLSON: …the past four years when the democrats controlled both houses and we had a really liberal governor, and they decided to put in these taxes.  And they figured out a way to get around TABOR.  But they don’t call them taxes. They call them fees.

ART CARLSON: [laughs]

ART “SKIP” CARLSON: … The FASTER thing that came in, where people just to go register their cars had to pay additional funds, is nothing but a huge, terrible tax on those who could least afford it, and that’s the low income, and those people who are on Social Security — on fixed income.  It hurt them significantly and it didn’t raise that much money.

ART CARLSON: That’s right!  I had two cars and I had to get rid of one because I just couldn’t afford the insurance and the taxes on it.

ART “SKIP” CARLSON: … We certainly need some money for road and bridge and so forth.  But we ought to think about working some deals, having a consumptive tax, perhaps raise the tax on the gas, on a exchange for getting rid of some of the things that the oil and gas people have to do, and to get rid of FASTER, would be far, far more fair, raise significantly more money, and be much, much better off for the entire community.

ART CARLSON: That’s right.  If we just grow the economy, that will bring in more revenue too.

ART “SKIP” CARLSON: Oh, absolutely!….

ART CARLSON: What are your thoughts on vouchers and charter schools?

ART “SKIP” CARLSON: “I love charter schools. My grandson is in a charter school.  And as I’m going down to the  Statehouse, I don’t think that I should have that responsibility, although I will have because that’s who it has deferred to. I think the local community should handle that stuff the best they possibly can. We put some new charter schools in here in Greeley, and they are doing extremely well. The public school is having a little bit of a tough time, but as it ends up, all and all, we’re doing a little bit better and I think if we do more of those things.

And I’m for vouchers. Vouchers are nothing more than competition, competition based on who’s doing the best job. If my grandson, who is one that we sent to a private school, and we sent him there only because he needed that, and that was the best place we could find for his education. We didn’t wake up one day and say, we got a bunch of money we want to waste. Let’s see, where can we waste money today. No, because we didn’t have the money to waste, but we invested it in my grandson’s education as well as a number of other people did here in Greeley. And that education he has gotten from that school has been just tremendous. And now it’s part of the Greeley system as a charter school, and they are doing very well…

ART CARLSON: …I really love living here in Colorado….

ART “SKIP” CARLSON: …Colorado is a wonderful place. We’ve got to keep working at it. I’ve  got another meeting that I have to run off to here, Art.

ART CARLSON: Well, it’s been great having you, Skip. It was an honor having you on the show. It’s so much fun talking to you. You have such knowledge of the state, and I really like to pick at your brain more. Unfortunately, next week is the last episode of Art’s Place since I have to devote more time to the campaign… I think it would be amazing at roll call when they have to announce two Art Carlsons.

ART “SKIP” CARLSON: …That would be a good thing.

ART CARLSON: Yes it would.

If you look around the web, you don’t find as many radio blogs in Colorado, like Art Carlson’s, as you might expect. And, as he said, he’s suspending his show. Carlson seems like the kind of guy who will help you get one going, if you want to pick up the slack.


Radio hosts should tell McNulty that even Suthers says ASSET is ok under federal law

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

On KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show Wednesday, Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty tried to make the argument that it’s illegal to give undocumented college students a more affordable tuition rate.

Citing federal laws, McNulty said he doesn’t support “picking and choosing which laws we follow and which laws are okay to ignore.”

“Sure,” McNulty told co-host Craig Silverman. I get pulled over for speeding. I get a ticket. I pay my ticket. I have points taken off of my license. So there are penaltties there for ignoring the law.”

“Right,” Silverman responded. “But if your kid is in the car, he doesn’t get a ticket. You do.”

“Well, that’s true,” McNulty answered and quickly tried to move the conversation back toward picking and choosing laws.

It was a good point by Silverman, and he made it better than I could have, on a show that’s become more and more one-sided these days, when it comes to political topics.

Silverman could have sharpened his questioning earlier in the interview, when McNulty said:

McNulty: “And you know what? I get it! I get that these kids are here through no fault of their own. And I understand that that is, that that has a level of compassion that many of us share. But the bottom line is, the law is the law. And to say that we’re going to ignore the law in this one simple case, flies in the face of what our nation was founded on and is the main reason why I’m opposed to it.”

Neither Caplis nor Silverman pointed out that the legislation has passed in 13 other states, including Texas.

And even Colorado Attorney General John Suthers admitted on KOA’s Mike Rosen’s Show March 12 that the ASSET bill would be permissable under federal law, though Suthers said he didn’t like the way the bill was devised, saying it was “a complete run-around these two federal statutes.”

Suthers: As I say, twelve states have enacted similar legislation: Texas, California, Utah, New York, Washington, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Connecticut. Two cases have been filed. In California, students paying out-of-state tuition attending California universities filed a lawsuit saying this is just an end-around and I’m still being discriminated against. The District Court in California said, “No.” The California Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit. But in November of 2010 the California Supreme Court upheld this method for providing in-state tuition, and said it did not conflict with federal law. And on June 6, 2011, the United States Supreme Court denied cert in that case. A similar case was brought by a Missouri resident who was attending college in Kansas, saying that they were being denied the status, and it was unlawful discrimination under federal law, and that case was dismissed for lack of standing, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined cert, way back in June of 2008.

Suthers called ASSET “lawyering at its finest, or worse, depending on your perspective,” but he said it’s legal.

So next time McNulty or another Republican is on Caplis and Silverman, and he or she says how sympathetic they are toward the poor undocumented kids, but, like McNulty said, sorry, the law is the law, so nothing can be done, Caplis and Silverman should pipe up and say, yes, the law is the law, and ASSET is legal.

What are your other reasons for opposing it?

For this year, though, it’s too late to correct McNulty and possibly allow him to be the compassionate man he wants to be.

Post’s evaluation of commentary pages needs your help and the light of day

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Last week Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Curtis Hubbard fired back at all those people who’ve said The Post’s commentary pages favor right-leaning points of view over left-leaning ones, or vice versa.

Hubbard presented the results of a bean-counting project conducted during the first quarter of 2012. He categorized editorials and columns on the Post’s commentary pages as being left of center, right of center, or  “nonpartisan or centrist.”

In his weekly column, Hubbard wrote that the majority of the opinion content was “nonpartisan or centrist” (43 percent of “local columns,” 55 percent of editorials, and 54 percent of syndicated columns).

Partisan opinion content was found to be mostly left of center according to Hubbard’s admittedly subjective count. Local columns were 32 percent left-of-center versus 25 percent right-of-center, editorials 26 percent versus 19 percent, and syndicated columnists 29 percent left-leaning versus 18 percent right-leaning.

In his column, Hubbard claimed that he had all the data in a spreadsheet.

Great, I thought, he can just shoot it over to me.

So I asked him for it, because media bean-counting is fun to audit, for me. And it can provide an excellent starting point for debates about the media.

“I hadn’t considered making it available for public review,” he emailed me.

This was a surprise to hear from an outfit that wants Mitt Romney to release his tax returns for public review. I trust Hubbard more than I trust Romney, but I like to verify what both of them say. Plus the ensuing debate about categorization would be educational. I hope, after due consideration, Hubbard releases his spreadsheet.

I asked Hubbard if he’d share his “local-columnist” data starting from the date of the departure of Mike Littwin. Last year, I showed (with bean counting) that the Post’s local columnists were fairly well balanced on the left-right scale. But with Littwin gone, I worried the opinion page would veer right with no in-house columnist to counter Vincent Carroll.

Hubbard wrote that “23 columns were published since Littwin’s departure [March 20], including work by Rosen, Hubbard, Carroll, Quillen, Andrews, Ditmer, and Barnes-Gelt.”

Of these 23 local columns, six were categorized as from the right, six as from the left, and 11 as non-partisan or centrist, according to Hubbard.

My audit of the same sample of columns showed them to be mostly right-leaning: seven centrist, six left-leaning, and 10 right-leaning. And my tally is only that close because I categorized four of nine columns by Vincent Carroll as “left-leaning.” That won’t happen typically, I’m guessing, but I could be wrong. (Worth noting is the fact that Carroll wrote 9 of 23 “local columns” that appeared in The Post during the first three-and-a-half weeks since Littwin left.) I’m happy to share my tally with anyone who wants to see it, by the way.

I asked Hubbard if he’d evaluated the political cartoons on the commentary page, and he replied that he had not done so but would start to do it going forward. That’s a good thing because my impression is that they lean right. But impressions are the worst kind of media criticism.

Hubbard wrote that readers’ feedback about his own bean counting had given him an idea, which sounds intriguing and innovative to me: add an interactive feature to the opinion section of The Post’s website that would allow site visitors to evaluate content (editorials, local columns, etc.) on a political scale. In other words, let readers count beans too.

Hubbard would like to “display for readers a feature that says something like ‘our grade’ of where a piece falls on the political spectrum and then allows them to vote. Ideally, it would be something that would keep a sort of running score sheet.”

Hubbard doubts that The Post has money to develop this Left-Center-Right feature, but he suggested that “if any of your astute readers would be interested in developing that piece of technology as a public service, I would be willing to discuss being their beta test site.”

It’s a great idea, and it would indeed be a public service. (And I’m not saying that just because he called you astute.)

And so, I extend the invitation.  Do you, or does anyone you know, have the expertise to aid in developing and implementing this feature? If so, contact Hubbard at The Post as soon as possible. (Any project in the newspaper industry these days is urgent.)

In any case, Hubbard wrote in his column that he plans to keep his internal spreadsheet up to date “to better inform our work moving forward.”

“Not only will it help to refute the charges of readers and campaigns in a highly charged election year, it will help us in our goal of producing opinion pages that are reflective and worthy of this great state,” he wrote in his column.

That’s true, especially if he can find a way to get readers involved and share his bean counting with us.

Radio hosts don’t ask Coffman time to explain why he thinks Ryan would be good VP choice

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

On KNUS’ Kelley and Company yesterday, host Steve Kelley asked Rep. Mike Coffman to name his choices to serve as the GOP vice presidential candidate.

Here’s what Coffman said:

“I think there are a number of people. I think Marco Rubio, though he’s said repeatedly he’s not interested. He’s certainly a possibility. As a United States Senator, I think he’d make a good vice president. I think on my side, Paul Ryan I think would make a great vice president. I think Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana would be good. And I’ve said Eric Cantor, Majority Leader in the House of Representatives. So I think we’ve got a pretty deep bench on the Republican side.”

[Listen to Rep. Coffman endorse Paul Ryan for Vice Prez on KNUS’ Kelley and Co 4-23-2012]

Kelley should have taken a couple minutes to allow Coffman to explain why he likes those guys. Why do they have what it takes to be VP?

Coffman’s suggestion of Rep. Ryan as a “great” VP choice is particularly significant, because you have to assume Coffman is saying that Ryan’s views (as expressed in his budget bill) would be advantageous Romney.

This would include, among other things, Ryan’s controversial proposal to end Medicare as currently designed for people born after 1956.

Maybe Kelley, or another reporter, will ask Coffman about his VP choices.

Radio interview does good job illuminating GOP strategy to woo Colorado Hispanics

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

At the top of the home page of Colorado Hispanic Republicans’ website sits this quote by President Ronald Reagan:

“Latinos are Republicans. They just don’t know it yet.”

It’s not a quote that I’d slap across the top of my website if I were trying to make friends with Hispanics, but I have to admit I’m not a Republican.

But what would you do if you were a Republican, and it was your job to convince Democratic Hispanics to vote for your people in November?

It’s a good question, and a group of Republicans tried to answer it in an honest and illuminating discussion on KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado April 11.

Radio host Ken Clark didn’t sugar coat the GOP’s problem in his first question to Pauline Olvera, a board member of Colorado Hispanic Republicans, whose website features the Reagan quote above.

“So the biggest problem I’ve seen in the Hispanic community and the black community is that they share our values; they just hate the Republican Party,” said Clark. “So what are you doing about that?”

Olvera gave a big broad answer, as she’s done before on the radio, practically bereft of specifics, saying her organization is trying “to connect with those communities’ values of ‘faith, family, and freedom.'” (Olvera is also a vice chair of the Denver Republican Party.)

Then Solomon Martinez, the Northern Colorado Chapter Chair for Colorado Hispanic Republicans, explained how Hispanics mindlessly cling to the Democratic Party because that’s the way they’ve always been. He cited his own parents.

How does he deal with these stubborn Hispanic Democrats?

Martinez: “I tell people, ‘Take the test.’ There’s websites you can go onto. You know, it’s Republican Democrat Test. Take the test. If it still shows that you’re a Democrat, then stay the Democrat Party. But you’re going to find that you’ll probably be a Republican, in most cases.” [Listen to Martinez suggest that Hispanics take Republican-Democrat test here.]

So now you see how the Reagan quote fits in.

It may sound condescending for Martinez to say that Colorado’s Hispanics are so clueless about politics that they don’t know the difference between Democrats and Republicans. But just take the Republican-Democrat test anyway. It’s about being open-minded. Hispanics will probably find their inner Democrat and forget any possible condescension involved in getting them there.

Another angle for the Colorado Hispanic Republicans, and the radio segment gives you the sense that this is the core strategy, is to encourage Hispanic Democrats to vote for Republicans without leaving the Democratic Party.

Forget the online Democrat-Republican test if you must, there’s no need to be a Democrat to vote Republican.

Martinez: We’re saying, ‘Come and join us! Come and talk to us! I’m not going to try and switch you over to Republican. Come and talk. Hear our values, hear our views. If you align with that, join us!’

This would be done by somehow identifying disaffected Hispanic Democrats, and connecting with them.

Everyone on the Grassroots Radio Colorado radio show was happy to discuss their own periods of disaffection with the Republican Party, and therefore show how they can relate to Hispanics who might be alienated by the Democratic Party. They seemed to be saying to Hispanics that it’s okay not to love your political party. We haven’t always loved ours, but we stuck to our party (though you should abandon yours), and our Republican Party has changed!

Olvera: I know I woke up when we had McCain, and I thought that here is a man that is going to sign that TARP bill, this is a man who is for amnesty – blanket amnesty, and I thought, “is this what the Republican party is giving us?” There really wasn’t that much difference. So it could have been something on that line that had people disenfranchised from the Republican Party. But now we stand a firm line in the sand, as to where we stand as a Republican Party. We have to stand firm on those principles, and get in there and do the right thing. [On Grassroots Radio Colorado, Republicans Discuss Complacency of GOP toward Hispanics 4-11-12]

Some conservative radio hosts might have let this go, without bringing up the name of Mitt Romney, whose name almost no one would think of when Olvera said that Republicans are now “firm line in the sand” when it comes to where they “stand as a Republican Party.”

But to his credit, Clark said later in the interview:

“I don’t know what’s going to happen when we throw Romney up there. I really don’t. I mean we had some real conservative choices, and the only thing that I would say to people is that Obama is so much worse.”

Olvera said previously that the Colorado Hispanic Republicans will be at Cinco De Mayo in Denver with a big banner, trying to put their tactics into action. This radio interview made me want to go see how they’re received.

Southern Colorado radio station to replace conservative Osborn show with more “balanced” program

Friday, April 20th, 2012

In what probably won’t be a trend, but should be, a southern Colorado radio station plans to replace an extreme right-wing talk show with a program offering a balance of progressive and conservative views.

KENN talk-show host Sean Jeremy Osborn left his show, the Painful Truth, to write a book, Osborne announced during his last show on April 6.

Osborn’s show was broadcast throughout the four-corners area, reaching Durango, Cortez, and elsewhere in Colorado.

I’ve listened to most talk-radio shows in Colorado, and I can tell you that, no matter where you sit on the ideological spectrum, Osborn’s show, with its stream of insults, inane sound effects, and dead silence, and Osborn’s son as side kick, was the worst.

I tried to avoid the Painful Truth, but I wrote about Osborn twice, once when he announced that all Iranians should be killed and another time when he called a Democratic strategist a “stupid female dog,” an “ignorant slut,” a “stupid retard” and more.

I was kind of hoping Osborn got fired, because he deserved it, but it turns out he left on his own.

“He went off to pursue book writing; he wasn’t fired,” said General Manager Bill Kruger of the KENN 1390, which broadcasts from Farmington, New Mexico.

“I’d like to have a local show that has both the Democratic as well as the Republican viewpoints, more balanced,” said Kruger when asked about his plans for the morning time slot, which is temporarily featuring Glenn Beck.  “I want a show that allows people to think and comment whether they have an issue with Democrats or Republicans.”

He said such a show would appeal to “more of the listening audience.”

Osborn had announced previously on his show that if he ever won the lottery, he’d quit. And he said during his final broadcast that he basically won the lottery because he got a big contract to write a book titled, “Brain Disconnect Disorder.”

Radio hosts should direct anger not at TV reporter but at his sources

Friday, April 20th, 2012

A tea-party radio crowd is mad at Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols for failing to report what they see as the real story behind Rep. Chris Holbert’s lone no vote against the state budget bill April 12.

Citing unnamed sources, Stokols reported Friday:

“Republicans privately groused that Holbert’s vote amounted to ‘sour grapes’ after the House GOP caucus refused to allow him to run an amendment dealing with abortion on Wednesday, when the House spent hours debating a few dozen ‘message amendments’ to the budget that aimed to make political points.”

Stokols’ story came after Holbert issued a news release stating he voted against the budget bill because it didn’t set aside any money for a so-called “rainy day fund,” to be used for unanticipated state needs.

Stokols reported Holbert’s explanation, as well the view that allegedly “swirled around the Capitol” that Holbert was essentially lying about his real reason for the “no” vote.

“If I’m Eli Stokols and I’m a crack reporter, it’s not that hard to get a hold of the people,” Grassroots Radio Colorado’s Jason Worley told listeners Monday. “It took me ten seconds to figure out everything [Stokols] says here [in Stokols’ piece], which is complete supposition and rumor, is false, completely wrong.”

On the radio, Worley claimed that it wasn’t Holbert who wanted to run an amendment banning public funding of abortion in Colorado. Instead, it was Marsha Looper, who’s in a primary battle with House Majority Leader Amy Stephens.

But leading House Republicans didn’t want Looper to be able to say that she was fighting for an anti-abortion bill, because championing such a bill would help her in her primary campaign against “I-am-the-Christian-Coalition Amy Stephens” in “one of the most conservative districts in the state,” according to Worley.

So, Worley said, Republicans made it look like the anti-abortion amentment was Holbert’s, so that Looper couldn’t take credit for it.

Looper told me that, in fact, it was she who took the lead on the abortion amendment, not Holbert.

“Chris and I talked to each other about a month ago,” Looper told me. “And that was it. I was prepared to run the amendment to remind everybody that public funding for abortion is prohibited in Colorado.”

“I had conversations with individuals, and they weren’t happy with my running the bill, and [later] lo and behold, it was already in the bill,” she told me adding that she didn’t run the amendment when she found that it had been inserted in the “long bill on page 363.”  (Indeed, you can find it in a footnote in the state budget bill on page 363, as well as, and this is the funny part, in the Colorado Constitution.)

“I’m sure Mr. Stokols isn’t going to reveal his sources, but whoever his sources were, they pinned it on the wrong guy, ” Worley said on the radio.

Asked if he still stood behind his sources for this story, Stokols told me via email:

I stand by my sources.

Rep. Holbert made the conscious choice to send out his own press release and statement the day after the vote. Obviously, he felt the need to explain his vote for some reason. I wrote the story because he sent the press release, which ran counter to the other things I’d been hearing.

I don’t blame Stokols for using anonymous sources. He’d almost certainly never have gotten anone to comment on the record, and given the importance of abortion issues in politics these days, airing the views is clearly in the public interest.

So Worley shouldn’t be directing his anger at Stokols, who just reported what he was told.

Worley should focus on finding out who spread the Holbert story and give reporters specific names.

That’s what Worley did Monday, saying on the radio: “And, you know, Reps like B.J. Nikkel who spread these rumors should know better.”

I called Nikkel yesterday for comment, but have not heard back yet.

Unlike Worley, Holbert won’t say who he thinks talked to Stokols.

All he’d tell KVOR talk-radio host Jimmy Lakey Sunday was, “Somebody planted that story.”

Last year, someone came to Holbert with a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, and he was going to run it, but it was too late, Holbert told Lakey.  This year, Holbert continued, he decided to look into it, but the language was too complicated. And when he heard that Rep. Marsha Looper was working on a similar bill, he figured he didn’t have to run it.

LAKEY: …But this sour grapes, and so do you know who the sour grapes are up there [at the Capitol]?


LAKEY: You want to name names here?


LAKEY: No, I know you don’t.  You’re a nice guy.  I’ll name na…!  No, I don’t know who they are either… Well, we’ll come back, I want to wrap it up with Representative Chris Holbert.  He stood firm and he voted ‘no’ on budget that spends every penny, every year, where it continues to kick some problems down the way.  But Chris Holbert says he wasn’t pouting.  So there you have it.  We’ll continue to talk about this, wrap it up with Chris Holbert, and uh, I’ll be glad to, in just a moment, tell you how you can contact Chris Holbert, or maybe help him out.  He’s the lone vote!  Voting against some crazy stuff up there, and you ought to support a guy like that.  So stick around!  More to come!  I’m Jimmy Lakey.

If you think tea-party radio shows are done with this strange story by now, a week after Stokols reported it, you’d be wrong.  Worley was still talking about it Wednesday on KLZ. And he’s still angry at Stokols.

My advice for Worley is, don’t get mad at Eli Stokols. You should be thanking him for reporting what was said to him. You just need to find people with the guts to name names, and present other evidence of below-the-belt politics, if it’s true, on the record.

A partisan commentator gap in the Denver news media

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

If you look at Denver media, you find way more partisan support for Republicans than Democrats.

I’m not talking about “conservative” media figures versus “progressive” ones. I’m talking about media types who urge people to vote Republican.

Here is my list of Denver media figures who are partisan Republicans:

Freeland Denver  Post columnists John Andrews and Mike Rosen (also on KOA); Michael Brown, KOA; Ross Kaminsky, KOA; Jon Caldara, KHOW; Dan Caplis, KHOW; Steve Kelley, KNUS; Jimmy Sengenberger, KNUS.

As for partisan Democrats in the Denver media, I can’t think of any. Can you?

AM 760’s David Sirota, who no longer appears regularly in The Post, is a leftist, but he trashes Democrats repeatedly, even saying last year he didn’t “give a shit” about who’s elected president this year. KHOW’s Craig Silverman, who will argue with GOP-talking-head Caplis on KHOW, wanted to attend GOP caucus meetings because of his love for Mitt Romney.

In my tally of partisan Republican media figures, I’m not even counting Denver Post columnist Vincent Carroll, who predictably sides with Republicans.

Carroll doesn’t say, outright, to vote Republican or that he favors Republicans, though he routinely attacks Democrats and their initiatives.

Similarly, left-leaning Post freelance columnists Ed Quillen and Susan Barnes-Gelt don’t tell us to vote Democratic or to support Dems. Same with Littwin, when he was at The Post.

In contrast, Post freelance columnists John Andrews and Mike Rosen don’t hide their partisan support for Republicans.

Andrews’ column can look like it’s a memo to the GOP faithful, as it did in the Post in October:

“I have no foresight about how the race will go, other than to implore my fellow Republicans against overconfidence in the face of President Obama’s potent incumbency and billion-dollar war chest.”

Rosen, is unabashed partisan Republican, whose partisan support for the Republican party is boring. In a February Post column endorsing Romney, Rosen described himself “as a philosophical, principled, right-leaning, Reagan Republican.”

He wrote:

“I see trillions of dollars’ worth of difference between Republican supply-siders who want to balance the budget within our tax capacity, and left-wing Keynesians, like Paul Krugman, who boast trillion-dollar deficits are an economic stimulus, and want to double up. There are stark differences when it comes to energy, labor unions, social policy, education and, most important, limited government. Democrats are inherent statists.”

I asked Wesword’s Latest Word blogger Michael Roberts, who writes about media issues frequently, if he could think of a local media figure who’s a partisan Democrat.

“You certainly have a few not-entirely conservative voices,” he told me, citing AM 760’s David Sirota. But he describes Sirota as “not a guy who says you must go out and vote for the Democrats.”

“If there’s an example out there, the equivalent of a Jon Caldara or something, I can’t think of it right now.”

Neither could right-leaning media-type Kelly Maher.

Reached by phone, the always-quotable John Andrews told me his Denver Post column was established when Andrews went to then Post Publisher Dean Singleton in 2004 and told him that The Post’s commentary page lacked partisan Republicans.

Andrews said:

“I went to Dean Singleton and said, I see Gail Schoettler has  a column in the newspaper. Wouldn’t it be fair if I had a similar platform? But I haven’t seen anything from Schoettler in a long time.”

So now the opposite is true, I told Andrews. Partisan Democrats are needed at the Post for basic fairness.

“If your thesis is that there is an asymmetry, I would say there probably is,” Andrews said. “It’s partly a result of Democrats having decided that they are not going to be as out there saying their party is good. That partly accounts for the fact that you get a lot of liberal voices, but they are not saying, I’m a Democrat and proud of it.”

Andrews says this is a strategy by Democrats, like former legislator Ken Gordon, to get more Democrats elected, by pretending political parties are a bad thing and “it’s all about good government.” But political parties enhance civil society, Andrews said.

In any case, whatever the reason, there’s obviously a partisan commentator gap out there in the Denver media. You’d like to think the radio station executives in town would look to the greater good and create at least one itsy bitsy slot for a partisan local Dem, but this won’t happen.

The Post is another matter. Its commentary page shouldn’t favor partisan Republican over partisan Democratic columnists. More on The Post in a future blog post.

What did Tipton campaign tell the Colorado Observer?

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

I’m going to name three political figures, and you tell me how they became embroiled in mini-media frenzies over digitally altered images or websites.

Marc Holtzman

Scott McInnis

Andrew Romanoff

Here are the answers: GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman’s photo was altered in 2006 to make him look taller than Reagan. GOP gubernatorial candidate McInnis’ 2009 website portrayed the Canadian Rockies as our own. And Romanoff doctored a photo on his 2010 Senate campaign website to make a crowd look more diverse.

If you got any of the right answers, and you should have, it’s because of all the media attention they got in Denver.

And deservedly so. Maybe they aren’t the biggest deal in the world, in the mix of all the ways political candidates are polished and handled, but digital alterations are tangible acts that can get real people, none of whom read this blog, thinking about politics and the real issues involved.

Same with expensive hair and mustache cuts by candidates.

Such an opportunity presents itself today, in an article broken by the Colorado Independent, a progressive news site

It reported yesterday that the Colorado Observer, a conservative website, posted a story Saturday with the following quote from Rep. Scott Tipton’s campaign Manager, Michael Fortney:

“With gas prices doubled, the national debt doubled, and unemployment has barely moved, we feel good.”

Then, after the Washington Post spotlighted the Fortney quote, it was changed on the Observer website to:

“Voters in the 3rd District are rejecting Obama’s policies that have led to gas prices doubling, the national debt doubled, and unemployment has barely moved. We feel good about our chances.”

Fortney told The Post that the Observer originally quoted him out of context. He told The Denver Post:

“I was not out talking to him about policies,” Fortney said this morning. “I was talking to him about electoral prospects, how the campaign was going to go in 2012 … Scott is voting for a budget that will rein in the deficit, rein in high gas prices.”

Fortney told The Post that the phase “about our chances” had been left out of the Observer article, and as you can see, it was  added to the Observer’s corrected quotation, along with other changes.

So what’s up with the Observer? What exactly did Fortney say? How did the changes to the quote come to pass?

I can hear skeptics, two of which read this blog, saying that the fact that the Observer changed the quote, and not the Tipton campaign, lessens the news value of this story.

But we’re talking about the Observer, a right-leaning entity, here. If The Denver Post had changed or altered a quote, the political significance would not be the same (and a correction would have been written). As it is, there could be more to this story than meets the eye.

The Observer remains mum about the incident. The Colorado Independent reports that it did not return e-mails, and its website provides no enlightenment.

I was able to reach Observer Valerie Richardson, who told me:

“I’ve got to tell you, I was completely out of the loop on that,” she said I hear. “It wasn’t my story. I probably know as much as you do, if not less. Max would be the one to ask.”

She was referring to Mac Zimmerman, who’s listed as the copyright agent for the site. He did not respond to my email seeking comment. He’s in Malaysia, Richardson told me, but she had been in touch with him via email an hour before I tried. I wanted to confirm that he is the former chief of staff for Josh Penry and worked for Tom Tancredo, but I haven’t heard back from him.

More local reporters at the legacy news outlets should cover this story, and try to get an answer from the Observer on what happened and why. What’s the relationship between the Observer and Tipton?

This is the kind of political story that sheds light on how political campaigns operate nowadays.

Summit Daily columnist attacks Democrats for math errors but his own figure is wrong

Monday, April 16th, 2012

UPDATE: Luddick responds below saying he obtained his incorrect figure from a Denver Post story that originally contained the figure he used but was subsequently corrected by The Post.


In a Summit Daily column last week, Morgan Liddick argues that the Democrats are cheaters.

Liddick sounds like a grade-school kid in a fight during recess.

“They are going to cheat,” he whines, echoing Secretary of State Scott Gessler who’s said Democrats want to “game the system,” by passing legislation requiring county clerks to send mail ballots to registered voters who otherwise would not receive them because they didn’t vote in the last election.

The whining is bad enough, but then he gets his facts wrong in the column when presenting his “evidence” of Democratic cheating.

He writes that Dems want “push forward their plan to mail more than 400,000 ballots to inactive voters.”

The actual number is 135,000.

I’m okay with someone getting their numbers mixed up. I’ve done it. But the funny part is that Liddick goes on to say Democrats can’t do math! Whoops, it seems he can’t do it himself.

Later in the column, in a discussion of Medicare, Liddick levels another school-yard taunt: “Which is worse, the inability to do simple sums, or the inability to tell the truth?”

Liddick needs to answer his own question.

And he says it’s President Obama who hurls “vicious, inaccurate” attacks. Trouble is, he could again be describing himself.

Honestly, I forgive Liddick for the error, but I hope he’s more careful next  time.

In response to an email this morning, Liddick wrote, “My figures were taken from The Denver Post, repeated on several occasions.  I suggest you contact them regarding any such error.”

I wrote Luddick back, thanked him for responding, and pointed out that The Post used the 135,000 figure.

He responded:

No thanks necessary.  But I fear you will not like the discovery;  it’s a curious excursion into what George Orwell referred to as the “memory hole.”

At  [this Post web page] one may see the story, originally published on April 5, 2010, which gave the figure of 439,560.

The electronic version has subsequently been corrected without comment, to give the lower figure as shown by the quote at the end of the article, given below:

(begin quote)

This article has been corrected in this online archive. The bill would require counties to send mail ballots to about 135,000 inactive voters who would not receive them under current law, instead of 439,560.

(end quote)

As a comment, it matters little to the thrust of the argument if the figure is 439,560 or 135,000 or 439.  “Landslide Lyndon” Johnson was elected to the US House by 87 votes in 1948 – the slightest margin ever in Texas history, and well within the number of dead and other nonvoters  who “voted” in the district that time around.

Soliciting the votes of those whom one cannot prove are even alive introduces considerable latitude for error, unintentional or otherwise.  Both are troubling, the latter more so.  And it is instructive that one side of the table strives continually to enlarge this area of possibility.