Archive for March, 2013

Tancredo’s and Coffman’s evolving immigration stances deserve media scrutiny

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo and Rep. Mike Coffman have a tight political history, each endorsing the other at various points along the way. (Tancredo endorses Coffman here and vice versa here.)

They also share a history of hard-line stances against illegal immigration.

So I wondered how Tancredo felt about Coffman’s recent announcement that Coffman favors giving “legal status” to millions of undocumented immigrants, granting them permission to work here without granting them the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

I hadn’t seen Tancredo interviewed on the topic, so I called him up to fill in the media gap.

“It’s a distinction without a difference,” Tancredo told me, regarding the difference between “legal status” without citizenship and actual citizenship. “Five years, ten years from now, you think we can stop 11 or 12 million people from being citizens, no no.

“It’s kind of like the civil union issue. If they could only get civil unions through, then that would be it. But of course the day civil unions passed, they announced that was not it. It needs to be marriage.”

Coffman’s 6th Congressional District, which Tancredo represented from 1999 to 2009, was substantially changed after the 2010 census, making it one of the most competitive congressional seats in the country.

As a result, multiple journalists have essentially put Coffman on the Endangered Congressmen List, and Coffman has responded, they say, by singing a different tune on immigration and other issues, even if the overarching song remains the same.

“I don’t know if the new district is the reason for [Coffman’s] moves on immigration.” said Tancredo, “but if it is, it’s a mistake. If I had a chance to pounce on [Coffman], which I do not, I would tell him it’s not going to help.”

“We’ve seen that trying to woo the Latino is a losing proposition,” said Tancredo. “Latinos vote for Democrats because they want big government. It has nothing to do with immigration.”

“He’s going to have a tough race,” said Tancredo. “Romanoff is a good candidate. Mike has shown himself to be a good candidate. It will not be a presidential year, so the possibility of having a lower turnout will certainly help Mike.

“I want to see him re-elected, and that’s why I am concerned that he thinks he can mollify the Hispanic community due to his moves on immigration. It won’t help.”

In between traffic reports, KOA morning radio host gives a voice to American troops

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

KOA’s Steffan Tubbs has become the leading media voice in Colorado for U.S. troops.

Other local media figures cover the military, including Denver Post photographer Craig Walker, who won a Pulitzer in 2012, but Tubbs gives military personnel regular coverage, in different media platforms, and he deserves more recognition for what he’s doing.

For seven years and counting, Tubbs has closed his morning-drive show on KOA radio, with: “Remember our troops.”

Tubbs reported from Iraq as an embedded journalist in 2006, and he went back to Iraq in 2010 to teach Iraqi reporters about professional journalism, and he provided live reports to KOA on the side.

Today on KOA radio, you’re not surprised to hear Tubbs using some obscure excuse to interview troops, sandwiched by traffic reports in the morning. Tubbs was talking to a veteran on the anniversary of the Iwo Jima invasion recently, for example.

Off the job, Tubbs came out with a self-published book last year titled, Life, Liberty and Resilience: A Man’s War on Three Fronts, forking out $30,000 of his own money to complete the project, he told me via email. More on this later.

You wonder, why does he do this? Tubbs, who credits KOA’s Jerry Bell for bringing him to KOA, is probably the only anchor on commercial drive-time radio in the entire country that pays much attention at all to U.S. troops. It can’t be a ratings sensation. Denver isn’t military town. What motivates Tubbs?

Tubbs explained via email that soon after he returned from his 2006 embed in Iraq, a bomb killed an Army Captain of the unit he embedded with.

That’s when it hit home to Tubbs that soldier “deaths were more than numbers.”

“The person killed has family, loved ones, friends, stories and a life pre-military,” Tubbs wrote. “What motivates me is the commitment shown by so many who enlist; they’re not drafted.  They choose the lifestyle.  Some have few other options, but others could take their lives in completely different directions (Pat Tillman, for example.)  When Ian Weikel was killed, he became the ‘face’ of war and the consequences war carries with it.”

In his book, Tubbs writes that after delivering a eulogy at Weikel’s funeral, he vowed to himself that he’d “act as a beacon to make sure people—regardless of political affiliation or religious beliefs—would not forget the country is filled with families just like the Weikels.”

At that point, Tubbs resolved to sign off his radio show, as long as he sits “behind a microphone,” with “Remember our troops.”

Maybe that sounds hollow, but day-after-day, in a media environment that can make you think the Afghan war is over, it’s a welcome breath of recognition.

After going to Iraq, Tubbs also became more involved in veterans issues, serving until recently on the board of the Greatest Generations Foundation and helping with various veterans’ community events.

“The fact so many [WWII  veterans] have already gone to their graves without talking about it inspires me to seek and find their stories,” he wrote me. “Soon, as we all know, their stories will be unavailable via firsthand accounts.”

Tubbs traveled back to Iwo Jima with groups of WWI veterans who fought there.

One such visit by Tubbs, with an African-American veteran Joe LaNier, is recounted in Tubbs’ book. But the biography takes a broader look at LaNier’s life, at the bigotry he faced as a child in the south, as a soldier in the U.S. Navy in WWII, and as an adult living in Denver after the war.

It’s a compelling story, showing how much strength was required from LaNier to overcome the racism and roadblocks that were normal in the lives of blacks in our country, even those serving in the US military, just decades ago.

Tubbs does an especially nice job illuminating the hypocrisy of the U.S. military’s racist treatment of LaNier, as he served in a war fought under the banner of freedom and equality.

In his book, and in his other media efforts on behalf of U.S. troops, Tubbs acts mostly like an ally for our men and women in the military, rather than an investigator or dispassionate journalist. Still, he raises issues and sticks to them.

I appreciate what he’s doing, in the media role he has. One of my favorite ideals of journalism is to give a “voice” to everday people, whose stories deserve to be told and shared. Tubbs’ work shows how much one motivated person in the media can do, without an assignment. The depleted press corps needs more people like Tubbs at outlets like KOA. They should pick an issue and report.

“Meeting members of our military, both in theatre and at various events, and seeing their sacrifices is my single motivation,” Tubbs emailed me. “I am amazed at how many people take military service (past and present) for granted.”

Follow Jason Salzman on Twitter@bigmediablog

“No rule” will stop Dudley Brown’s organization from lobbying as it sees fit

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

On Corky Kyle’s “In the Lobby” show March 4, the Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, Dudley Brown, said that he could care less about a regulation prohibiting lobbyists from threatening state lawmakers with political retribution for casting a vote.

Brown said “no rule” will stop his gun organization from threatening to throw lawmakers out of office if they don’t vote his way.

Dudley Brown: I can tell you this much, though the claim here might be that you can’t threaten political retribution for a vote, and our actual lobbyist is up for – in front of ethics charges for doing just that, that’s exactly what our organization is doing.  We’re saying, “You vote wrong, and you’re  in a marginal district, we will come out and we will defeat you in the next election, if at all humanly possible.” And I make no qualms about that. No rule in the Capitol is going to stop us from saying that.

Corky Kyle:  Thanks, Dudley.

DB:  Thank you!

CK:  [Off camera]  Bee-yoooo-tiful, dude!

DB:  [maniacal laughter] –get tossed out as a lobbyist.

CK:  Yeah, I know!  Oh, it wouldn’t be the first time somebody said something to me.

DB: Yeah, that would– So, I won’t even say that.  So sorry to say that.  You can’t say that?  Really?!  [inaudible] says that.

[in studio] CK:  All right… [chuckling, to producer] you can turn the rest of that off…

The Legislature’s Rule 36 prohibits lobbyists from influencing legislators “by means of deceit or by threat of … political reprisal…with intent thereby to alter or affect said legislator’s …vote.”

Attempt to influence any legislator or elected or appointed state official or state employee or legislative employee by means of deceit or by threat of violence or economic or political reprisal against any person or property, with intent thereby to alter or affect said legislator’s, elected or appointed state official’s, state employee’s, or legislative employee’s decision, vote, opinion, or action concerning any matter which is to be considered or performed by him or her or the agency or body of which he or she is a member [BigMedia emphasis]

Kyle chose not to press Brown on his brazen disregard for lobbying rules, which is a shame, because it would have made a perfect topic for Kyle’s “In the Lobby” show, which focuses on the State Legislature, from the perspective of a lobbyist!

Kyle should invite Brown and others back to discuss: Should an outfit (Rocky Mountain Gun Owners) that promises not to abide by lobbying rules be allowed to lobby at all?

Already, as Brown noted in the interview, a Rocky Mountain Gun Owners employee is under investigation for breaking lobbying rules. And Brown has been sued in federal court recently for his alleged role in a political attack ad.

Brown is apparently playing by the rules in his court fight against gun-safety legislation, but, as with his lobbying efforts, he’s taking an extreme tack.

Brown has already threatened a lawsuit, which he’s said even the “NRA isn’t going to support,” to stop Colorado’s new law requiring background checks on private gun sales. Brown has said his suit would stop all background checks for gun sales, noy just private sales.

Post’s knee-jerk reference to Colorado’s alleged “Wild West” image needs an update

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

In their story about the final passage of Colorado’s gun-safety laws, The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels and Kurtis Lee referenced Colorado’s alleged “Wild West” image, both in a headline (“3 new gun bills on the books in Colorado despite its Wild West image”) and paragraph two below:

The bill-signing took place in his office at the state Capitol, 22 miles east of where frontiersman Buffalo Bill Cody is buried, a tourist attraction in a state noted for its Wild West and independent background.

To be fair, The Post should have noted that Hick signed the bills about six miles from Aurora, where a mass killer last summer shot down 12 people in movie theater and wounded 70 others.

But beyond that nit pic, you really have to wonder how much of a “Wild West” image Colorado really has these days, outside of the mind of Sen. Greg Brophy (and even he has a pink gun).

The Post didn’t provide a poll or anything to support its assertion of a Wild West image for Colorado, but you could argue that to the extent it exists, the “Wild West image”  is now completely overshadowed by an outdoorsy, healthy, skiing, pot-smoking image that’s completely in line with commonsensical gun-safety laws.

In that regard, it would have made more sense to point out that Hick signed the gun-safety bills two miles from LoDo, whose busting-out growth is emblematic of Colorado’s dying Wild West image.

In any case, what Hick did yesterday was completely in line with the Colorado’s modern “brand.” Ask all those cultural creatives out there.

The Post’s knee-jerk look back to Bill Cody needs to be revised.

National Conference on Media Reform coming to Denver April 5-7

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

If you’ve been tracking the fall of journalism in America you might sit down and cry when you read this statistic, from a recent Pew Report, that about two thirds of the American public has heard little or nothing about the news industry’s financial troubles.

Fighting to save journalism from dying in the shadows, and promoting quality alternatives, is Free Press, a national organization that advocates for public media, universal access, diverse media ownership, and other communications essentials of democracy.

And fortunately for us, Free Press is holding its 6th National Conference on Media Reform here in Denver April 5- 7 at the Sheraton Downtown.

I’ve attended past NCMR conferences, which attract thousands of progressive activists trying to create new media projects, criticize dying ones, brainstorm new ideas, fund start-ups, and much more.

You won’t find a better venue for networking with people concerned “media reform,” in the broadest sense of the term. It’s your chance to find out what’s going on in the progressive media world across the country and talk directly with the folks doing the work.

For me, the presentations are the side show of the NCMR conference, but if you like panels and speeches, there’s 80 sessions described here on the NCMR website, including panels on the “Lobby Game: How to Advocate for Media Change;” “What’s Next for Internet Policy;” “The Media’s Influence on the Immigration Debate;” “Labor Unions: MIA in the Media;” “Creative Grassroots Funding for Journalists and Media Makers,” “Reinventing Media in Colorado” [disclosure: I’m moderating that one]; “Your Video Doesn’t Have to Suck;” and “F*ck It, We’ll Do It Live: A Workshop on Livestreaming for Citizen Journalists and Community Media Outlets.”

Presenters include Former White House Technology Advisor Susan Crawford; Author Dan Gillmor; Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!; Anna Holmes of; President of Common Cause Bob Edgar; Robin Marty of RH Reality Check; Craig Aaron, Director of Free Press; Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps; Author Bob McChesney; Rashad Robinson of ColorOfChange; Andrea Quijada of the Media Literacy Project; The Nation’s John Nichols; and Author Joseph Torres, and many, many more.

Some Denver-based presenters are The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee; Laura Frank of Denver’s I-News Network; Anne Imse of Colorado Public News; Author David Sirota; and Open Media Foundation’s Tony Showcross.

Register for the conference ($195 general and $125 for students) here.

See you there.

Politico corrects its article stating that Coffman supports path to citizenship for undocumented adults

Monday, March 18th, 2013

On Friday, Politico corrected its January 26 article stating that Rep. Mike Coffman “came out in favor of establishing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants residing in the country illegally, and for their children.”

The corrected article now reads: “[Coffman] came out in favor of granting legal status to immigrants residing in the country illegally, and allowing their children to become citizens,” and Politico added the following correction to the end of its article:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that Coffman endorsed a path to citizenship for adult illegal immigrants. He supports granting them legal status but is unresolved on creating a path to citizenship.

As I explain in this blog post, Coffman has not come out for a path to citizenship for illegal-immigrant adults, only for their children.

The Los Angeles Times made the same mistake in a March 6 article and corrected it March 9.

Have CO Republicans outside state Capitol really thrown in the towel on Medicaid expansion?

Monday, March 18th, 2013

The Denver Post’s Daily Dose and Colorado Public Radio’s “Check and Balance” blogs reported Friday that no one testified against Colorado’s proposed expansion of Medicaid, a key step in the implementation of Obamacare that would provide 100,000 to 150,000 uninsured people in Colorado with health insurance.

CPR Health Reporter Erick Whitney reported on the hearing:

[Republicans] fought Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act in Congress in 2009. When it passed, the state’s Republican Attorney General joined the lawsuit against it at the U-S Supreme Court. When the court upheld the law, but made it’s mandate to expand Medicaid optional for states, Republicans tried to win enough votes in the statehouse to say no to President Obama’s plan.

And that led to this small but significant moment yesterday, when Linda Newell, vice chair of the Senate Health and Human Services committee asked:

[State Sen. Linda] Newell: Is there anyone else in the audience who wishes to testify? Seeing none, testimony phase is over….

Whitney: That was the sound of no one stepping up to testify against the Democrats’ bill, a quiet admission that President Obama’s party stands united behind Medicaid expansion in Colorado, and the bill is all but guaranteed to be signed by Governor John Hickenlooper.

Whitney should have phoned up some of the Obamacare opponents outside the state Capitol–from Attorney General John Suthers to Rep. Mike Coffman to find out what happened.

These guys have been on the war path against Obamacare ever since it changed its name from Romneycare. Is their absence really a “quiet admission” of defeat? That hasn’t stopped them before. What gives?

As I blogged last year, Coffman specifically singled out Medicaid expansion as a “radical” part of Obama’s health plan.

Coffman said that “there are some very radical elements to [Obamacare] such as the expansion of Medicaid, a government run health care program.”

What’s Coffman thinking nowadays? What about Suthers?

Your blogger booted from the Mike Rosen Show after asking Magpul Exec how he feels about possibility that Magpul magazine used at Sandy Hook

Friday, March 15th, 2013

KOA’s Mike Rosen had Duane Liptak, director of Magpul Dynamics, on the air this morning, and so I called in and asked Liptak how he’d feel if a Magpul 30-round magazine were used at the Sandy Hook massacre. I blogged about this topic today. Here’s how my converstation went:

Jason: You make the most popular 30-round magazine, I think, in the country.

Liptak: We are definitely an industry leader in the standard-capacity magazines in common use.

Jason: Right, so what that means, is there’s a significant likelihood that your magazine was used at Sandy Hook, right? And I’m wondering how you feel about that?

Rosen: What a stupid question!

Jason: It’s fair enough!

Rosen: Of course this is a flaming lefty, Jason Salzman.What a moron you are, Jason–

Rosen then hung up on me, ending the conversation. Rosen and Liptak, whose company says it will leave Colorado if the bill limiting the size of magazines becomes law, continued.

Rosen: …What a terrible innuendo.

Liptak: Absolutely.

Rosen: So he’s trying to relate you to Sandy Hook. This is the way the left operates. We’re having a rational discussion here, talking about some of the specifics, the elements, of the bill. And he wants to make that kind of contention. Shame  on you, Jason Salzman.

Liptak: Address the individual behavior and the criminal, not the instrument.

Again, my basic point is that it’s fine to say Magpul magazines are used by Seals, as The Denver Post has reported.

It’s also fair to discuss the possible use of Magpul magazines by mass killers, like the Sandy Hook murderer who used a 30-round magazine like Magpul makes.


Post should have pointed out that magazines, like Magpul’s, were used by Newtown killer

Friday, March 15th, 2013

In a March 8 article about Colorado legislation limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines for guns, The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee reported the comment from Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman that magazines from Magpul Industries, a Colorado ammunition manufacturer, were used to kill Osama Bin Laden.

Magpul has threatened to leave Colorado if state lawmakers prohibit the sale of magazines with more than 15 rounds, and Colorado is on the verge of enacting this type of ban, along with a set of other gun-safety laws.

Lee reported:

Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, offered testimony in the floor debate that “reveals members of SEAL Team 6 used Magpul magazines” in the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

Lee should have pointed out that large-capacity magazines, like those manufactured by Magpul Industries, are also used in assault weapons like the AR-15, which was the primary gun used in the Newtown Connecticut massacre.

Press reports state that Newtown killer Adam Lanza used 30-round magazines, and check of Connecticut gun shops showed that Magpul brand 30-round magazines are available–though Lanza’s magazines, whether a Magpul or some other brand, could have been purchased from numerous out-of-state sources as well.

Magpul’s PMAG is the most popular 30-round magazine in the U.S., gun expert Mark Walters told NBC News.

I called the Connecticut State Police to find out if evidence shows that Lanza used a Magpul magazine.

“We can’t disclose any of the bits and pieces of the investigation until it’s completed,” said Lt. J. Paul Vance, spokesman for the Connecticut State Police.

Asked if the brand name of the magazine is known, Vance said:

“We seized the high-capacity magazines, and we do know the brand. We do have them in our possession.”

Vance said that when his office’s final report on the Newtown investigation is released, the brands of the magazines used will be made public. A release date hasn’t been set.

Back in December, Vance told CNN details about the primary weapon used in the Newtown attack, including its brand:

The primary weapon used in the attack was a “Bushmaster AR-15 assault-type weapon,” said Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance. The rifle is a Bushmaster version of a widely made AR-15, the civilian version of the M-16 rifle used by the U.S. military. The original M-16 patent ran out years ago, and now the AR-15 is manufactured by several gun makers. Unlike the military version, the AR-15 is a semiautomatic, firing one bullet per squeeze of the trigger. But like the M-16, ammunition is loaded through a magazine. In the school shooting, police say Lanza’s rifle used numerous 30-round magazines.

An AR-15 is usually capable of firing a rate of 45 rounds per minute in semiautomatic mode.

Police didn’t offer details about the specific model of the rifle Lanza used. A typical Bushmaster rifle, such as the M4 model, comes with a 30-round magazine but can use magazines of various capacities from five to 40 rounds. An M4 weighs about 6 ½ pounds and retails for about $1,300.

CNN reported that Bushmaster claims to be the top supplier of AR-15s in the U.S.

Kelley’s good questions illuminate that Palin is most popular conservative speaker

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

The right-wing of the conservative movement, such as it is, is gathering in Washington DC this week for their annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Broadcasting live from the event, KNUS’ Steve Kelley asked Greg Keller, Executive Director of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, “who’s the biggest draw” among the speakers, which include everyone from Colorado’s Rep. Cory Gardner (at 2:30 EST today), Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan to Ann Coulter, Dana Loesch, Donald Trump, and many others.

None of the speakers are apparently very popular to the folks at Media Matters for America, but Keller says actual real-life attendees like Sarah Palin best:

Keller: “Sarah Palin has forged a unique and long-standing relationship with our attendees here. They really get fired up to hear her. That room will be absolutely packed when she comes and speaks.”

One Republican who was not invited was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. And Kelley gets credit for putting the question directly to Keller.

Kelley: “And the question everyone wants to know. The dis on Chris Christy. Is it a dis? You’re the guy.”

Keller: “It’s certainly not a dis. Gov. Christy is certainly a good governor. He’s a popular governor in what is a pretty difficult state for Republicans. That said, this is not the Republican political action conference. This is the conservative political action conference. And as our Chairman Al Cardenas has said, you know, the people who get main state speaking spts at CPAC tend to be people who have had all-star years froma conservative perspective. And we just didn’t think that was necessarily the case when it came to Gov. Christy. He’s spoken here in the past. I’m sure we’ll have him again in the future. Just not this year.”

Kelley promised his audience this morning to ask his CPAC guests where the GOP is heading on fiscal and social issues. Tune to KNUS 710 AM tomorrow to hear part two of his CPAC broadcast.