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

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.

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