Archive for June, 2012

Sirota and Brown to take Caplis and Silverman slot on KHOW

Friday, June 29th, 2012

If you hated KHOW’s Caplis & Silverman, which I didn’t, because it was right (Silverman) vs. more-right (Caplis), and the left was absent, then you’ll love this news: July 16, KHOW will launch The Rundown with David Sirota & Michael Brown 3-7 p.m.

I’ve always wondered whether a real left-right show would work on conservative talk radio. Now we’ll find out.

These guys don’t tow the party line, which makes you wonder how many guests will go on the show. But they’re both smart, yes, even Brown, and so maybe the show can keep the attention of political junkies even without the great guests (mostly GOP) that Caplis and Silverman had.

They’ve co-hosted previously on KOA radio.

Sirota just emailed the note below to his subscribers:

Friends:

Just some news I wanted to pass on to you – Clear Channel Media and Entertainment this afternoon officially announced the launch of “The Rundown with Sirota and Brown” – a brand new radio show that I will be co-hosting with President George W. Bush’s former FEMA director Michael Brown.

The show will launch on July 16th and air weekdays from 3pm to 7pm MT on Colorado’s top-rated KHOW. You will be able to listen to it on your radio dial in Colorado at AM630 or from anywhere on the iHeartRadio app or at www.khow.com.

After 3 plus years hosting the award-winning morning show on Colorado’s progressive talk station AM760, I will definitely miss my current job. Creating a show rooted in journalism has been a truly amazing experience. That journalistic mission is what I am focused on bringing into The Rundown on KHOW – and I’m thrilled at the opportunity. It’s a really big opportunity.

I hope you’ll tune in – and hope you are all having a great summer.

Rock the boat,

David

I hope to catch up with Sirota to discuss the show when he returns from vacation.

Conservative tracker’s name disappears from RevealingPolitics website after he’s accused of lying and misrepresentation

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Flip-camera-carrying trackers are seen by some as shadowy and slimy, but why? All they do is collect video of candidates saying stuff like, “I am pro-life, and I’ll answer the next question. I don’t believe in the exceptions of rape and incest.” 

Some video captured by trackers is taken out of context, but so is the work of traditional journalists. In fact, today’s trackers are sort of  filling a gap that’s been left by the depletion of reporters, who used to spend a lot more time on the campaign trail with state candidates, gathering information.

So I’m pro-tracker. I prefer journalists, but I’ll take trackers if I have to.

Unless trackers lie and misrepresent themselves, and make all innocent trackers look bad. And in the process deceive public figures and degrade politics.

That’s allegedly what conservative tracker Josh Hursa did on a recent field trip to North Dakota.

Hursa, who’s gotten more media attention than a typical tracker might want, was the guy with a camera glued to Rep. Sal Pace, whom Hursa tracked as part of his job for the National Republican Congressional Committee earlier this year.

Then he joined up with conservative blogger/tracker Kelly Maher’s RevealingPolitics, where he was featured on the website as a contributor.

Until yesterday. Now his name has been removed.

That happened after I told Maher about a blog post about Hursa in NorthDecoder.com, a progressive North Dakota blog.

The post, written by Chad Nodland, recounted what Hursa allegedly did in North Dakota:

A young man showed up at a parade in Linton, North Dakota (pop. 1,020), on Thursday of last week (June 21st) and approached a campaign staffer for Heidi Heitkamp.  Linton is a small town about 70 minutes south and east of Bismarck.  At some point in the conversation the young man indicated he was unemployed, he said he was from Billings, Montana, and was staying with his brother in Bismarck for the summer.  He said things complimentary to Sen. John Tester (D-Montana), and said things complimentary of Heidi Heitkamp.  He was given a volunteer card by the staffer.

Hursa wearing campaign t-shirt of ND Democratic Senate Candidate Heidi Heitkamp. Photo: NorthDecoder.com

The next day — Friday, June 22nd — the same young man showed up at the Heitkamp campaign headquarters in Mandan, North Dakota, and asked if anyone was making volunteer calls. He apparently wanted to volunteer to make calls.  No calls were being made that day, so he left. On Saturday, June 23rd, the same young man showed up at the parade in Beulah, North Dakota, (pop. 2,900).  Beulah is about 80 or 90 minutes north and west of Bismarck.  The young man asked to get a volunteer t-shirt and was given one. He put it on. He was asked whether he would sign up to volunteer for the campaign and declined.  At about that point, this young man pulled a “flip-cam” out of his pocket, turned it on, and he got all up in Heidi Heitkamp’s grill, asking her questions. I don’t know what the questions were, but — based upon what I’ve been told — they were pretty much the sorts of typical right-wing garbage you’d expect to get from a script prepared for a fake attack “journalist” like Shawn Hannity or Bill O’Reilly. I’m sure you’ll be watching the video some time soon.

He was asked to identify himself and identified himself only as “Josh” and said something about “Revealing Politics.” He continued his bullying, antagonistic tactics, trying to elicit a response, following Heitkamp through most or all of the parade route. He wore a “Heidi” shirt the whole time he harassed her.

Told of this blog post, Maher initially had no comment on the specifics, because she hadn’t seen it, but she couldn’t say enough bad things about trackers who “affirmatively” misrepresent themselves.

“Our job is to tell the story, not be the story,” she told me. “I want to tell the story. I will never instruct or suggest that anyone misrepresent themselves affirmatively. That’s never acceptable from my perspective.”

By “affirmatively,” Maher means actively misrepresenting yourself (e.g., telling a public figure that you’re something you’re not), as opposed to simply observing (videotaping a progressive candidate even if you oppose that candidate) or asking questions.

Progressives and conservatives and anyone else would agree with Maher, right?

I sent Maher the NorthDecoder blog post, and asked what she thought of it, and what she’d do about Hursa, assuming the allegation was true. She replied:

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I am very concerned to see this post.

Due to the nature of this piece what I can say is two-fold:

1) This author clearly is playing fast and loose with “facts” asserted. He clearly confuses my previous project [WhoSaidYouSaid] and an entirely different one. He makes conjecture about funding and structure without proper evidence or clarity. Based on what I read here about myself, it brings all assertions elsewhere about others in to question. [Editor's note: This is in response to a portion of Nodland's blog post about Maher's current and previous work.]

2) Due to our organizational policies I cannot comment on personnel issues.

I couldn’t find contact information for Hursa, but if he responds to this blog post, I’ll include his comments immediately.

The upshot of this strange story is that, it seems, there’s a code of ethics emerging among the tracker class, possibly among both progressives and conservatives, just like a journalistic code of ethics evolved within journalism as it matured.

The baseline ethical standard, as Maher says, is to refrain from affirmatively misrepresenting yourself, if you’re a tracker out there at events. We don’t know what disciplanary action Maher took, if any, in Hursa’s case, but Hursa’s name is gone from her website.

Maybe someday the American Society of Professional Trackers, which will undoubtedly be formed by this growth industry by the year 2015, will issue a detailed ethics code, but the baseline standard is a good start.

What’s a reporter supposed to do when Coffman will only talk to conservative talk-radio hosts like Caplis and Silverman?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

During their final, good-bye broadcast Friday, Craig Silverman and Dan Caplis thanked Rep. Mike Coffman for “being a real friend of the show” and for being “accessible.”

Caplis told Coffman, “You never ever ducked us,” which definitely ain’t what 9News and other media types have been saying lately about Coffman’s refusal to answer questions about his statement that Obama is not an American in his heart. (Coffman’s dodgings led Democrats to mock him on a website, AskCoffmanAnything.com, unveiled today.)

If I were Silverman, I couldn’t stomach complimenting Coffman for his grand openness when he’s in the midst of hiding from most reporters in town.

I might even ask him, “Hey Mike, any plans to talk to Kyle Clark at 9News? Or Steve Kelley at KNUS?” (Coffman has been refusing to talk to both.)

Wouldn’t it be great if media types stood up for journalism by asking those types of questions of politicians who are hiding from other reporters? So what if they’re loose competitors. Media figures build up their own platforms nowadays by promoting their competition. And in the case of Silverman, he’s on his way out of the biz anyway.

But Silverman took the insular route, thanking Coffman for being “good enough to come on our show to break your silence” about his birther statement.

Coffman was on Silverman’s show over a month ago, and questions have piled up since then, including a troubling question flowing from Coffman’s comment on KOA radio that his birther comment has been hyped by journalists.

Coffman attacked journalists in a similar vein Friday, telling Silverman that the press “won’t care” about Nancy Pelosi’s remark Friday that Republicans are attacking Attorney General Eric Holder as part of a GOP voter suppression effort.

“That’s unfortunate that she made that statement,” Coffman said. “Of course, it won’t resonate like the statement I made, I’m sure. [Laughs.] The press won’t care about that.”

Coffman is right that Pelosi left the door open for more questions about the GOP’s motivations in attacking Holder, but does that mean Coffman’s birther moment was overplayed by journalists?

Coffman thinks he’s being unfairly targeted for his birther comments, while Pelosi gets a pass.

As if it’s unfair for journalists to simply want to talk to him about it?

What’s a reporter supposed to do when Coffman will only talk to conservative talk-radio hosts like Caplis and Silverman?

Look the other way and forget about the story because Coffman wants it to go away?

I hope not.

Here’s a partial transcript of the appearance of Rep. Mike Coffman on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman Show Friday, June 23, 2012.

Caplis: …A real friend of the show, a guy I respect so much, Rep. Mike Coffman kind enough to spend a minute with us. How you doing Congressman?

Coffman: Well, not too good. I mean, I’m in my office getting ready to leave and listen to Caplis and Silverman on my way home, and somebody just told me that this is the last show. And it breaks my heart. Is this true?

Silverman: Look at the bright side. It’s another three job losses under the Obama Administration.

Coffman: [Laughs] Oh boy.

Silverman: …You were accesible. That latest controversy, you were good enough to come on our show to break your silence…. I can’t believe what Nancy Pelosi said today, that the reason the House Republicans are going after Eric Holder is because you are a bunch of racists. Aren’t you offended by that?

Coffman: The reason we are going after Eric Holder is we have a dead law-enforcement agent from the United States. That’s unfortunate that she made that statement. Of course, it won’t resonate like the statement I made, I’m sure. [Laughs.] The press won’t care about that. You know, it’s a tough times for the country, and you all helped us navigate it. I loved your show, and I always listened to it when I was driving, when it was on. And I’m really saddened to hear about this. It’s gonna be tough on the Denver Metro area.

Caplis: …It’s been great having you as part of the show. You never ever ducked us. It’s also really been fun watching you emerge as an effective and influential Congressman. And it’s just been great… Craig, I don’t know whether you’ve made your decision but I am going to stay on air, Congressman. It’s just a matter now of working out the details. So hopefully you’ll continue to be a guest.

Coffman: I certainly hope so. But you two were a great team and I love it. And whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll be very successful at.

You’ll miss Caplis and Silverman, even if think you hated them

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

On any given day you could hate Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman, if you’re on the political left, in the center, or to the right of center.

Their KHOW radio show was mostly a debate between a die-hard social/fiscal conservative and a right-leaning social moderate, and the illusion of a real left-right debate could kill you.

But still, the show, which ends today, offered more real political debate than you’ll find anywhere else on Denver radio, and it was a great part of the Denver media scene.

I’m really sorry to see it go.

Politics-wise, Caplis and Silverman hit their stride during the 2010 election cycle, when there’s little doubt that the program had a major impact on the election.

Among Colorado media outlets, only The Denver Post had a greater political impact that year. Click here for more details.

When he wasn’t kissing ass, Silverman asked some of the toughest and most logical questions of any media figure in Denver. For example, check out his questioning of GOP candidate Ken Buck in Aug., 2010:

Craig: You’re saying even in the cases of rape or incest, you’re not for abortion?

Buck: That’s correct. You know, Craig, if you believe that life begins at conception, which I do, then with the exception of rape and incest, you’re taking a life as a result of the crime of the father. And even though I recognize that the terrible misery that that life was conceived under, it is still taking a life in my view, and that’s wrong.

Craig: Right. And I believe life begins at conception. I think that’s a matter of science. To me the question is, when does somebody become a human being and entitled to the same rights and protections that any human being in America deserves, or frankly around the world. To me, that’s the debate. How did you come to your position? Is it informed by your religion?

Buck: It’s my upbringing. It’s my faith. It’s my life experiences, the three things that have brought me to that position.

Craig: And have you always been there, or is this something that you’ve evolved to.

Buck: No, I think it’s something I’ve evolved to. It’s something that I realized in my mid-twenties. I certainly as a teenager hadn’t thought through the positions. As I got out of school and was observing things and growing in my faith I came to that position.

Craig: And would it transfer into the legal world. You’re going to be a legislator if you’re voted into the United States Senate. Would you create a law that would prohibit abortion in the cases of rape or incest?

Buck: I would favor that position in law, yes.

Craig: -Let’s say, god forbid, that a 13-year-old boy impregnates his 14-year-old sister and does it by forced rape. You’re saying that the 14-year-old and anybody involved in the abortion should be prosecuted, if they choose to terminate the pregnancy, either through surgical abortion or a morning after pill?

Buck: I think it is wrong, Craig. I think it is morally wrong. And you are taking a very small group of cases and making a point about abortion. We have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of abortions in this country every year. And the example that you give is a very poignant one but an extremely rare occurrence.

Craig: Incest happens. I’m sure your office prosecutes it. And we know rape and sexual assault happen all the time, and your office prosecutes it. So it’s not completely rare. I agree that most abortions have nothing to do with that. I don’t know if I’d go with rare.

You knew if there was a big political story breaking, you’d likely find a major figure talking about it on Caplis and Silverman in the afternoon. Unfortunately, some Dems stopped going on the show, which was a mistake on their part, but to their credit, GOP leaders almost never rejected invitations. Click here to see some of Caplis and Silverman’s interviews that caught my attention over the years.

I’m goning to miss the Caplis and Silverman show a lot, and Denver is definitely worse off for its departure from the airwaves.

KOA shows journalistic integrity by asking Coffman about his birther comments

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Mike Coffman’s been dodging reporters since his birther moment last month, when he said he didn’t know if Obama “was born in the United States of America,” but he did know that “in his heart, he’s not an American.”

Coffman’s media avoidance tactics have turned his apology into a dramatic multi-part series.

So you’d hope any media figure interviewing Coffman on any topic would bring up the birther subject to help clarify things for the public, not to mention us media watchers.  You’d hope so, but you also know some media types would proudly and arrogantly ignore it.

But KOA radio’s Steffan Tubbs didn’t shy away from the topic this morning, even though Coffman was on his show to talk about Eric Holder.

Tubbs: Ah, I hate to bring it up, but I have to because we haven’t talked to you about it.  I mean, are you over this whole Obama controversy?  Has that gone by the way-side?  Was it made too big of a deal?  Were you taken out of context with the un-American comment with the President?

Coffman: [nervous chuckling] I’d say all of the above.  What I found out, certainly, is that when you make a mistake like that and you’re off message, it certainly hurts.  And obviously, be more careful going forward, much more measured in my comments so I can’t be misinterpreted, and also to, I think, clearly be more professional in my demeanor, because the American people have to make a decision in this election coming up – on president, on my race, on other races.  This is such a critical time for the country. I think we’re at a tipping point.    And we need to stick with the issues.

I would have preferred if Tubbs hadn’t told Coffman that he hated to bring up Coffman’s birther moment, as if there were something wrong with questioning Coffman about it, but, still, Tubbs’ questioning of Coffman, however short, shows, again, that KOA radio’s newsroom is a serious spot news operation and is worth listening to.

Tubbs’ questioning of Coffman sheds new light on Coffman’s thinking on the matter, illuminating that Coffman thinks:

  1. He’s over the controversy.
  2. It’s gone by the way-side, he thinks.
  3. It was made too big a deal of.
  4. And Coffman thinks he was taken out of context.

How many follow up questions for Coffman flow from this? Many, to put it mildly. So there’s plenty of material for journalists to work with when Coffman comes out of hiding again and wants too talk about something that’s on his agenda, like he did on KOA today.

With Coffman avoiding his show in wake of birther comments, talk-radio host says Congressman not welcome on his show to pump himself up

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Last month, after Rep. Mike Coffman said he didn’t know whether President Obama was an American “in his heart,” KNUS morning show host Steve Kelley wanted to talk to Coffman.

He told his listeners May 25 that, maybe, Coffman’s comments weren’t “worthy of a major apology,” and he wanted to talk to the Congressman about it.

But Coffman, who’d been on Kelley’s show “many, many times,” wasn’t returning phone calls, and Kelley was getting increasingly pissed.

So Kelley, a conservative talk-radio host who’s been amping up his attacks on Obama in recent months, took a stand that you wouldn’t expect to hear on rightie radio.

Kelley said on air that he’d give Coffman four more days to call back. After that, since Coffman was refusing to return calls during a tough time, Kelley wouldn’t accept Coffman’s requests, as he had in the past, to come on the radio show and promote himself and his agenda.

Kelley: When Mr. Coffman’s people call and say look, he’s got an initiative, he’s got this, he’d like to come on the air–

Kelley’s Co-host: A ribbon cutting ceremony.

Kelley: Yes. The answer is no. Tank you very much. You weren’t willing to come in during a heated time. You’re not coming on to tout and pump yourself up.  I don’t care what party you are.  I don’t care if I happen to agree with your politics. You’re not going to – you know, that’s not how you manipulate and use the media, at least, you’re not going to here.

It’s been over three weeks now, and Kelley still hasn’t heard from Coffman’s office, Kelley said in a phone interview Monday.

“Unless he can make a reasonable case, he’s not welcome on the show now,” Kelley said. “Fair is fair. I understand it’s uncomfortable, but it’s not like I was going to crucify him or anything.”

“The great thing about radio is you can say what you want, and it’s not edited,” Kelley said. “You’ve got an opportunity to make your case, particularly on our ‘friendly station.’”

Other than an appearance on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman, Coffman apparently hasn’t talked to reporters since he delivered the same soundbite to 9News about his birther moment five times in a row.

In reporting that incident, 9News reporter Kyle Clark echoed Kelley’s comments about Coffman, stating on air that Coffman was normally eager to talk to the press, but things changed after 9News reported the birther comments Coffman had made at a Republican fundraiser in Elbert County.

Clark: The  Congressman is usually willing to talk about anything. He’s been on 9News 16 times in the past year, weighing in on everything from wildfires to Memorial Day celebrations. Seems the only thing he didn’t want to talk about was what he said at a fundraiser in Elbert County May 12.

Clark told viewers that he didn’t think Coffman would be able to avoid questions about his birther-moment comments “till election day.”

“At some point, you have to think, there’s going to be a full discussion of this,” Clark said on the air.

Pace and Casida commit to Aspen debate, but Tipton will participate only if “schedule permits”

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Democrat Sal Pace and independent Tisha Casida, both running for Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, will face off later this year in a debate sponored by The Aspen Daily News and Aspen Public Radio, but Republican Scott Tipton will attend only if his “schedule permits,” according to Roger Adams, News Director of Aspen Public Radio.

A specific date for the debate has not been set, but it will likely occur between mid-Septembeer and mid-October, said Adams via email last week.

Other area candidates will be invited after the June 26 primary, and more details will be available next month.

Gardner’s partial defense of Coffman’s birther comments raises more questions for reporters

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

The story continues about Rep. Mike Coffman’s apology for saying Obama isn’t an American “in his heart.”

And when an apology drags on, questions rise up, like did he really want to apologize? Did he mean it? Who’s pressuring him? What’s wrong with him? Etc.

You recall that after 9News aired “Coffman’s Birther Moment,” Coffman first said he misspoke, and he apologized, but not fully, because he was defensive. Coffman stated:

COFFMAN: “I don’t believe the president shares my belief in American Exceptionalism. His policies reflect a philosophy that America is but one nation among many equals,” the statement read. “As a Marine, I believe America is unique and based on a core set of principles that make it superior to other nations.”

Then Coffman wrote a letter to The Denver Post with a full-out, nondefensive apology.

Later, when confronted by 9News, he apologized five times in a row, saying the same apologetic words unapologetically in response to five different questions, including, “Is there anything I can ask you that you’ll answer differently?”

Two days later, Coffman said on KHOW that “to some extent” he’d apologized for political reasons.

On KHOW, he also said of the birthers: “God bless those people; they’re well meaning people,” and he said, “I understand their passion.”

Meanwhile, Peter Boyles called Coffman’s apology “weenie”, and KNUS Steve Kelley was thinking the same thing, though he didn’t put it that way.

So, on June 8, to his credit, Kelley asked Rep. Cory Gardner what he thought about it:

KELLEY: Listen, we haven’t spoken since – and I don’t want to drag you into this unnecessarily, but Congressman, your colleague Mike Coffman and his comments. And I guess it speaks to on some level this whole idea of investigation and you know, qualifications and birther and Fast and Furious – it’s all kind of bundled together which really causes one to question anything that goes on in this White House. Have you talked to Congressman Coffman? We cannot get him to get back on the air, here, and it frustrates me to no end. I don’t know that he needed to apologize as vociferously as he did. A comment on that, please.

GARDNER: Well, you know I certainly talk to Mike Coffman and understand his frustration with the president. I believe the President, as does Mike Coffman, that the President is a citizen of the United States, born in this country. I think what you saw was somebody who is extremely frustrated with the failed policies of this president that is actually making our economy worse. You know, this country needed the president to succeed in 2008 when he was elected. We’ve now seen forty months in a row where unemployment’s been at or above eight percent. The jobs numbers that came out last week where unemployment actually increased. Mike Coffman, myself, and others are all extremely frustrated with the failure of this president’s policies to move the country in the right direction. And so, you know, I think he did what he felt was necessary, and I think he did the right thing. But again, the issue in November is what we are going to do to move this country in the right direction.

Gardner is defending Coffman in a similar fashion as Coffman defended himself immediately after the story broke, saying Coffman did the right thing by apologizing, but implying that the underlying frustrations that Coffman has toward Obama might somehow explain or justify Coffman’s birther moment.

And Gardner’s apology/defense, which includes the line, “he did what he felt was necessary,” also harkens back to Coffman’s statement on KHOW, where Coffman acknowledge that his apology was motivated partially by political necessity.

The evolving apologies and strange behavior by Coffman, and his current position, which is one of silence and avoidance of reporters, points to the need for journalists to air out this issue fully with Coffman, when this becomes possible.

Obviously, this will happen at some point, probably sooner rather than later, and when it does, the full details of Coffman’s response to the 9News story, when it broke last month, as recounted above, should be covered.

Pundits who think Coffman is a moderate should note his opposition to abortion in the case of rape and incest

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

After Rep. Mike Coffman told supporters that “in his heart,” Obama is “just not an American,” some in the media debated whether Coffman’s statement, which he apologized for, was 1) a departure from Coffman’s image as a moderate or 2) a continuation of his alignment with extremists and fringe causes.

On abortion, the topic of today’s blog post, reporters should note that it’s clearly the latter. That would be number two, above.

In its latest comments on Coffman, Colorado Right to Life’s blog stated in 2010 update, that Coffman is “on record supporting Personhood and is on record as Pro-Life with no exceptions.”

Earlier this year, Colorado Right to Life Vice President Leslie Hanks told me that “no exceptions” means abortion would not be allowed in the case of rape and incest.

Coffman has opposed abortion even in the case of rape and incest going back to at least 2008, according to the Colorado Right to Life website.

For example, in 2008 Colorado Right to Life complained to Coffman after hearing him say, on the Caplis and Silverman show, that he favored allowing abortion in the case of rape and incest.

Coffman subsequently sent a letter to Caplis and Silverman, and to Colorado Right to Life, clarifying that he is opposed to abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.  Here’s the story, as told on Colorado Right to Life’s website:

Last week, while appearing on the Caplis & Silverman radio show (630 KHOW, Denver), Congressional candidate Mike Coffman was heard to say that he did not oppose abortion in cases of rape or incest. This sent CRTL and many other pro-lifers into a tizzy, because it went against what Mike had pledged in his Candidate Survey, as well as what we all thought we knew about Mike’s beliefs.

When contacted about this, Mike immediately expressed surprise that he’d said any such thing. He thinks he may have gotten confused and said the opposite of what he meant. While with many candidates, we might suspect evasion, this didn’t seem to be the case with Mike. He has written to attempt to clarify with Dan Caplis, so no one will misunderstand. Here is his note (copied to CRTL):

Dan,

First of all, thanks so much for your help with my campaign and for inviting me on your show. During the debate, Craig Silverman was questioning me on the issue of abortion. My response was focused on arguing that Roe v Wade was bad law. During that exchange, Craig asked me about the issue of rape and incest. Apparently, my answer came across as supporting abortions under a rape and incest exception. I absolutely do not believe in that.

Dan, I would deeply appreciate it if, during your show, you could state that I wanted to make sure that my position was clear, unequivocally, that I oppose abortion in all cases of rape and incest. I believe that all life is equally sacred irregardless of how it came into being.

Thanks again, Mike Coffman

It takes a big man to admit such a mistake. And Mike Coffman’s strong relationship with the pro-life community over many years is obviously important enough to him that he wanted to make this correction/clarification despite the fact that he surely has Colorado’s 6th District race locked up and will almost certainly be one of Colorado’s newly elected Congressmen in 2009.

This is great news for unborn children!

The above exchange came after Coffman, who gave $75 to the Colorado Right to Life Committee in 2008, according to campaign donation records on TRACER, defeated Ted Harvey and Wil Armstrong in a tough primary battle to represent the ultra-conservative 6th Congressional district. Now the 6th is considered much more moderate.

During the 2008 primary, Colorado Right to Life wrote of Coffman:

In a previous blog post, we reported that we believed both Sen. Ted Harvey and Sec. State Mike Coffman hold uncompromised positions on Personhood and Life issues, according to the CRTL candidate questionnaire. Sadly, we must correct this information.

We now know that Sec. State Mike Coffman is the only candidate for the GOP 6th District Congressional primary who holds uncompromised views on abortion, and the only candidate who has promised not to continue supporting compromised legislation….

Mike Coffman also has a decades-long history (20 years or more) of not just support, but active involvement in the pro-life community, over and above what would be expected of any typical Republican official.

Mike Coffman has been a good and consistent friend to CRTL for many years, up to and including the last couple of years when even CRTL’s strongest legislative supporters (including Harvey) found excuses not to attend CRTL events.

Coffman has yet to comment this election cycle on his abortion stance, and he hasn’t said whether he’ll support this year’s personhood measure.

Obviously, these are issues that reporters should pursue, assuming Coffman talks to reporters again, as he used to do frequently, before he made his comments about Obama’s heart.

Hyberbolic television coverage of hyperbolic Gessler

Monday, June 11th, 2012

With a straight face, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler told KOAA-TV, Channel 5, in CO Springs on Saturday:

Gessler: I think that [people allegedly receiving two ballots in the mail] really underscores the need to have measures, and these are things I’ve been pushing for a while, to make sure we’ve got accurate voter rolls. So this is a really disturbing, systemic issue that’s going on in Pueblo now and we need to get to the bottom of this very quickly.

“Systemic” issue?

Gessler told KOAA-TV that an undetermined number of people in Pueblo received two election ballots, after they changed their voter registration information.

In KOAA-TV’s story on Saturday, the evidence for this was…. Well, there was none. Only the claim of Gessler:

KOAA-TV: The Secretary of State told us the problem started at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. People who changed their voter registration had a second profile made in the system, resulting in the extra ballot….

The Secretary of State says the biggest worry is people who do vote twice will dilute votes of those with one ballot, making for inaccurate election results.

So, if you believe Gessler, the election system is teetering toward free fall.

And unfortunately neither the Pueblo County Clerk, who allegedly caused the problem, nor any other source was interviewed to present a countervailing opinion (though, to its credit, KOAA-TV did interview the clerk for a subsequent story, in which he said about 200 ballots out of 59,000 “may be doubles”).

For the KOAA-TV’s Saturday piece, someone named Clarice Navarro appeared on the screen and said:

Navarro: It makes you question how valid each election is, and elections are very important to the state of Colorado and Pueblo in general. So it’s very concerning.

KOAA-TV failed to tell us that Navarro is a Republican State House candidate in the Pueblo area. And she’s a former staffer for Republican Rep. Scott Tipton.

Also unreported was the fact that Gessler and Pueblo’s Clerk and Recorder, Gilbert Ortiz, are in litigation over Gessler’s efforts to block the Ortiz’s decision to send mail ballots to voters who missed the last election.

The Ortiz-Gessler dispute might be part of the explanation for Gessler’s sky-is-falling response to what appears to be minor problem, involving ballots that may actually never be cast.

And, if they were submitted, the election system is designed to identify duplicate ballots and ensure that only one is counted, as Ortiz pointed out in KOAA-TV’s follow-up story.

Gessler’s response to Ortiz is very different from Gessler’s treatment of Teller County Clerk & Recorder J.J. Jamison’s acknowledged mistake last week of mailing 4,100 ballots that omitted a line for voters to sign their ballot. The signature on mail-in ballots is essential to protecting against voter fraud.

Here’s what Gessler told the Colorado Springs Gazette about Jamison’s mistake:

“We’ll be OK on this,” said Secretary of State Scott Gessler told the Gazette. “I know in about every election, somehow, some way, a mistake is made. People run elections and people make mistakes.”

KOAA-TV concluded its report in full breathlessness:

KOAA-TV: But how this error will impact the election…and voters’ confidence in our government, is yet to be seen.

With sloppy, hyperbolic reporting about a Secretary of State who fear mongers, maybe that’s true.

But if the facts about Colorado’s election system are reported, it’s more likely that voters will have a crisis of confidence in our Secretary of State, not our voting system.