Archive for April, 2013

9News won’t refer to an individual as an “illegal immigrant”

Monday, April 15th, 2013

During the debut Sunday of its occasional political discussion program, Balance of Power, 9News announced that after  the April 2 decision by the Associated Press to stop using the term “illegal immigrant,” 9News reviewed its use of the term and decided not to use it to describe an individual.

“When referring to individuals, we’ll refer to them as people in this country illegally, or simply, people here illegally,” 9News anchor Kyle Clark announced in a Sunday newscast.

The Denver Post is also reviewing whether to change its style guideline for “illegal immigrant,” in the wake of the AP decision.

9News explained.

The Associated Press recently announced it would confine the use of the word illegal to actions, rather than individuals. 9NEWS decided the AP’s guidelines make sense. Our goal to use language accurately, precisely and fairly.

We’ll continue to use the term illegal immigration to describe the larger issue. When referring to individuals, we’ll refer to them as people in this country illegally, or simply, people here illegally.

We’ll take care to note, when speaking about specific individuals, whether their legal status has been adjudicated by the government. That mirrors our policy of specifying whether someone accused of breaking any criminal or civil law has been found guilty or is simply accused.

“It’s more accurate,” 9News concluded. “And that’s our goal.”

Durango Herald correct in asserting that academics don’t see partisan advantage in election-day registration

Friday, April 12th, 2013

In his April 9 article about proposed legislation that would, among other things, allow citizens to register to vote through Election Day, Durango Herald reporter Joe Hanel wrote:

Conventional wisdom holds that same-day registration will give Democrats an advantage. However, academics who have studied the idea find the evidence for it is sketchy.

Hanel didn’t cite a specific academic, but his assertion is, in fact, correct.

Not that it matters. Presumably, in America, we want as many people to register and vote as possible, within budget and security constraints, whether they do it picking their nose in the shower or on Election Day at the polls. In other words, the debate about whether same-day registration favors one side or the other is irrelevant, unless you’re against voting.

But, in any event…

I called Associate Professor Michael McDonald at George Mason University, and he told me that early voting and same-day registration may, in some situations, benefit Democrats and, in others, benefit Republicans.

“It depends on the ability of the campaigns to mobilize voters,” he told me. “In different situations, Democrats may win the early vote. Republicans may win the early vote in other situations. It depends on the context.”

In 2010, I interviewed Curtis Gans, Director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, about whether he believes same-day registration benefits Democrats or Republicans. Gans is not a Ph.D., but he is a widely quoted independent expert, who’s been associated with American University, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and elsewhere.

“I think it’s not predictable at all,” he answered. “We have been shown that it’s not predictable one way or the other. There’s plenty of evidence.”

He added: “So long as a state does not have a history or likelihood of abuse of the registration system…- fraudulent registration, voting in the name of dead people, that sort of thing…-there is no harm and maybe a little good that can come out of election-day registration.”

Colorado has no such history of election fraud, as far as I could find.

I asked Gans, “What’s the little good that can come of same-day registration?”

“The good part is, that if people get interested in the election closer to the election, they don’t have to sit it out because they’re not registered,” he told me. “That’s the good part. It enhances the opportunity to vote.”

I called Gans yesterday to get an update on the situation. He told me his view remains the same.

“It’s also true with in-person early voting,” Gans said. “In 2004, the Republicans got the benefit of in-person early voting. The last two elections the Democrats did. It depends on the political climate.”

Colorado’s current practice is to cut off voter registration 29 days before ballots are cast.

“It depends on who’s motivated to go vote,” Gans said, adding that he doesn’t think there’s any dispute among election experts on this point.

Media omission: What kind of pressure does Rocky Mountain Gun Owners apply to sheriff candidates?

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

In 2010, when he was running for Sheriff of Larimer County, Justin Smith answered a “candidate questionnaire” from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

It posed 10 questions for candidates running for the office of sheriff, and it advised that “failure to answer this survey” would be viewed with “suspicion by those who hold their Constitutional rights in high regard.”

But Smith, who’s now serving as Larimer County Sheriff, decided not to answer question number 9 because, it appears, he thought it was factually inaccurate.

9. Current law allows sheriffs to enter concealed carry permit holders into a statewide criminal database (CCIC), right next to rapists and murderers. Though lists of permit holders are maintained by the issuing sheriff and easily verified by that department, this database is being used to harass law-abiding citizens in routine traffic stops. This policy is at the discretion of the elected sheriff. Will you enter concealed carry permit holders in a statewide criminal database?

Smith elected not to answer “yes” or “no,” as requested by RMGO, but instead offered a hand-written reply:

“All CCW applicants are kept in the CBI system upon submission of fingerprints by the sheriff CRS-18-12-208. The CCIC field for CCW holders is not a ‘criminal’ database. I will continue to enter CCW permit holderes into the system for real-time verification of the” [BigMedia Note to Readers: Smith did not finish this sentence.]

Smith’s answers to the RMGO candidate survey were apparently not well received RMGO honchos, because RMGO did not endorse Smith in his primary campaign.

(In contrast, Weld Country Sheriff John Cooke answered question 9 surely pleased RMGO by checking “no” and writing, “Never have. Never will.”)

But after Smith won the primary in his race to be sheriff of Larimer County, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners endorsed him over the Democrat and an independent candidate.

In its endorsement of Smith, RMGO claimed to have somehow convinced Smith to change his position and not to enter the names of concealed-carry permit holders into the CBI database.

According to Smith’s campaign website, RMGO wrote:

“Though we endorsed a different candidate in the primary election, Justin Smith has re-evaluated his position on a number of key gun issues,” said Dudley Brown, RMGO PAC Director. “Justin has changed his position on the entry of concealed carry permit holders into the statewide CBI database and has promised to purge existing permit holders from that system upon taking office.”

“RMGO members and gun activists in Larimer County should pat themselves on the back for convincing Justin Smith on these key issues, especially the database concern,” Brown said. “This is a huge victory for right-to-carry advocates, and those concerned with freedom in general.” [BigMedia emphasis]

“With that in mind, Justin re-answered our candidate survey, and earned gun owners’ support. With this endorsement, Justin Smith is certain to be the next sheriff in Larimer County.”

Phone calls and an email to Smith, asking how RMGO convinced him to switch his position on question 9, given that his initial response to the question was factually correct, were not returned.

Maybe there’s a reporter out there who might have better luck tracking down Smith, who’s become a leading opponent of gun-safety laws.

With Rocky Mountain Gun Owners playing such a prominent role in the legislative and the upcoming legal fight against gun-safety legislation, it’s in the public interest to try to illuminate how the organization operates in the electoral world.

Gessler trashes Denver Post

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

On KOA’s Mike Rosen show this morning, Secretary of State Scott Gessler amped up his attacks on The Denver Post, saying, among other things, that the newspaper is “ideologically skewed in one direction, and that’s where they devote their resources.”

Tell that to ColoradoPols, Mr, Secretary of State. But it gets worse.

In response to Rosen’s assertion that Post news coverage of Gessler channels “Democrat talking points” and gives “lip service to the other side,” Gessler said:

“I think that’s true lately. I think part of it depends on who the reporter is who covers my office. So this article today is written by a guy Joey Bunch. He’s new on the beat. So we’ll see how well he works. I’m sort of optimistic that he will be a lot fairer than what we’ve seen in the past.”

I asked the collective wisdom on Twitter if anyone thinks Post reporter Joey Bunch will be “a lot fairer” to Gessler than the Post’s previous Gessler-beat reporters , Tim Hoover and Sara Barnett.

No one replied, but I can tell you that Hoover (who’s writing editorials) and Barnett (who’s gone) are widely considered stars in Denver journalism circles.

Gessler implied that The Post has an institutional bias against him, saying:

“You know, I think The Denver Post is just ideologically skewed in one direction, and that’s where they devote their resources.”

And he expects The Post to get fully behind former Senate President Ken Gordon, who’s running against Gessler.

“I’ll be running against Ken Gordon and his largest corporate donor, which is The Denver Post,” Gessler told an approving Rosen.

Gessler’s comments today go beyond the usual darts he’s thrown at The Post and other media outlets in the past. He’s trashing specific Post reporters, as well as the entire institution.

Coming from an elected official who, more than other partisan politicians, is supposed to stand up for democracy, and seems so ignorant about the role of journalism therein, it’s gross.

Someone at The Post, maybe one of the good folks who posts on the Editor’s Notes blog or somewhere, should respond to Gessler’s abuse.

Transcript of Mike Rosen’s interview with Scott Gessler 4-10-13

Rosen: “You’ll be running for re-election against The Denver Post. It’s one thing for them to endorse a Democrat, any Democrat, on the editorial pages, which they, no doubt will. But they have been on you ever since you took office. And I think, in most cases, unfairly. In any event, do you know who your official Democrat opponent will be.”

Gessler: “I do. It’s Ken Gordon.”

Rosen: “Former state legislator.

Gessler: “Former state legislator. He ran eight years ago against Mike Coffman, narrowly lost. So, I’ll be running against Ken Gordon and his largest corporate donor, which is The Denver Post.”

Rosen: “What does The Denver Post have against you?”

Gessler: “You know, I think The Denver Post is just ideologically skewed in one direction, and that’s where they devote their resources. I mean, if you look at this legislative session, every single initiative that the Democrats have pushed, the democratic post [laughs], The Denver Post has been on board with that 100 percent. They’ve sided with the Democrats every single time.”

Rosen: “In their news stories attacking you, they just channel Democrat talking points, giving lip service to the other side. That’s my appraisal, and of course I’m biased. But I think my analysis is accurate.”

Gessler: “I think that’s true lately. I think part of it depends on who the reporter is who covers my office. So this article today is written by a guy Joey Bunch. He’s new on the beat. So we’ll see how well he works. I’m sort of optimistic that he will be a lot fairer than what we’ve seen in the past.”

Denver Post reviewing its use of the term “illegal immigrant”

Monday, April 8th, 2013


The Denver Post is reviewing its use of the term “illegal immigrant.”

The Post’s announcement came Tuesday after The Associated Press decided that it “no longer sanctions the term ‘illegal immigrant’ or the use of ‘illegal’ to describe a person.”

In December, the The Post informed readers that it favors “illegal immigrant” over “undocumented immigrant” but accepts “undocumented immigrant” as a less precise synonym. The style guideline on the term appeared in the Post’s print edition, but I can’t find it online.

Post Features Editor Tucker Shaw announced the Post’s review in an “addendum” to a blog post on The Post’s excellent “Editor’s Notes” blog:

The Denver Post maintains its own style guidelines. The particular question outlined in this post is under review.

I’m currently trying to reach Shaw to find out why the review was undertaken, when it will be completed, and how readers can weigh in with their views.

Radio host lets Gessler deliver platitudes and accusations without evidence or specifics

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

On his radio show this morning, KNUS Steve Kelley repeatedly let Scott Gessler deliver platitudes about Colorado elections without asking our Secretary of State to clarify himself or provide evidence for his accusations.

Kelley first asked Gessler why he opposes providing mail-in ballots to all voters and offering citizens election-day voter registration. Both, Kelley said, are reportedly part of an election-improvement bill that may be considered by the Legislature soon.

Gessler responded:

GESSLER:  Well, let me tell you.  It really opens the door to big problems in the state of Colorado:  problems with vote fraud, problems with the election integrity.  You know, and other states have used these procedures before and we’ve seen real problems there, as well.

Kelley didn’t ask for evidence of fraud, possibly because there isn’t  any, allowing Gessler to continue:

GESSLER: You know, the thing I find particularly frustrating as is Colorado has really good elections.  You know,  the people who generally sort of argue for this stuff say, “Well, you know, we needed to increase voter participation.”  And you look at this last election, Colorado –our voter participation was the third best in the country.  We outperform the – three-quarters of the Same Day Voter Registration states.  We outperform the All Mail Ballot states.  So to me, what it says is these folks who are pushing this type of stuff aren’t looking to solve a problem.  They’re not even really looking to improve our elections.  I think they’re really pushing it for some type of partisan gain, or a way to change the system, to game it, that’s going to help them.

Kelley failed to point out that, even in a good year, over one-third of eligible voters in Colorado don’t vote. Can’t we do better?

Instead, Kelley asked if election reforms would lead to “a lot more fraud opportunity.”

GESSLER:  You know, I definitely think it will.  You know, we’ve got mail ballots elections now for sort of the smaller, you know, municipal elections.  And a lot of people chose to vote by mail in our general elections.  But that’s a lot different than mandating it for everyone and sending everyone on the voter roll automatically a mail ballot for every election.  I think that causes real problems with that. And the Same Day Voter Registration side, where you don’t have time to check and validate anyone’s voter registration, there’s administrative problems, because then every single voting location has to be hard—has to be wired up with an internet connection. So you have problems there….

Kelley said the bill would probably move quickly through the legislature anyway.  To which Gessler replied, in part:

GESSLER:  … What you’re seeing happen is you’ve got this legislature  that’s pushing this incredibly liberal, left-wing agenda.  I mean, guns, special education for first graders, you know, single payer health care system – they’re trying to jam all that stuff through and then change the rules for the elections so that they can seal in their majorities forever.  I think that’s what they’re trying to do.

Again, evidence suggests that same-day registration doesn’t favor one party over the other. Instead, Kelley delivered this:

KELLEY:   Well, they say that elections have consequences, but if you are able to manipulate the election process in some way, [laughs] I mean, that takes that to a different level, then, doesn’t it?

GESSLER:  Yeah.  That’s for sure.  And you know, elections have consequences but at the same time, I think everyone has a responsibility to govern responsibly.  And when it comes to elections, you know, we want to make it easy to vote, tough to cheat.

KELLEY:  …What can anybody do?

GESSLER:  Well, I think there’s two things people can do.  One, talk to your state legislator.  You know, talk to your state legislator immediately about this.  And the second, talk to your County Clerk and Recorder about it, too.  Because, I know that the head of the Clerk and Recorders’ Association has been part of this whole deal – to write this bill.  And I know that there’s Clerks and Recorders that are behind it.  I don’t know exactly who they are.  And I know it includes some Republicans.  And they’re sort of keeping a low profile.  They don’t want people to know their involvement.  And what I think people need to do is call the Clerks and Recorders, and call their legislators and demand to know where they stand on this issue.  And hold them accountable.

Kelley didn’t ask Gessler to name the clerks whom he attacked here.

But Gessler is on Kelley’s show a lot. He can question him more responsibly next time.


Follow Jason Salzman on Twitter @bigmediablog

With Obama in town, will reporters please go the extra mile to correct GOP misinformation on guns?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

In an editorial Monday, titled “Sour Grapes in the Colorado Legislature,” The Denver Post wondered whether the GOP’s hard feelings over gun legislation was spilling over, tantrum-like, into opposition to funding the entire state governement.

The Post spotlighted Sen. Kent Lambert’s March 28 assertion that lawmakers had “effectively banned gun ownership.”

Labert’s statement, The Post said, was “not supported by the facts.”

It’s not a very complicated fact check to make, but, still, it’s worth 1) praising The Post for spotlighting out Lambert’s misinformation and 2) pointing out again that Republican legislators, not just fee-wheeling talk-show hosts, have been repeatedly making stuff up about Colorado’s gun bills, or exaggerating to such a wild degree it’s an embarrassment to representative government.

For example, a week before making his statement that was corrected by The Post, Lambert went even further asking an eager KVOR radio host:

Lambert: And now, you know, with everybody having their guns confiscated or taken away here over the next couple years, almost completely overturning the Second Amendment, what’s going to happen to our crime rate?

Recall that at Denver University debate in January, State Sen. Randy Baumgardner tried to push the misinformation that “hammers and bats” killed more people in America last year than guns did (See video at 24:23.), even though a thinking person would require only a minute to know that’s false.

Who can forget that State Rep. Kevin Priola, a Republican, during one debate at the Colorado Capitol, compared banning some ammunition magazines to putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during WWII.

Then there was Rep. Kevin Lundberg, who said on the radio that in Colorado, it’s getting “so close” to the point where he’ll be having his gun pried away from his “cold, dead hands.”

There are more examples like these, obviously, and reporters, generally, are looking the other way.

I’m hoping, with the President in town today, the media will have the dignity to call out Republican elected officials if they level this kind of hyperbole or misinformation.

Media omission: personhood backers start collecting signatures to put “fetal homicide” measure on 2014 ballot

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Personhood activists are gathering Thursday night in Highlands Ranch to launch their petition drive to put a so-called fetal homicide measure on the 2014 election ballot.

The initiative would protect “unborn human beings” under the Colorado criminal code, thus allowing for the prosecution of those who commit crimes against “unborn human beings.”

The phrase “unborn human beings” is not defined, leaving open the possibility that all stages of human development, from zygote (fertilized egg) through the end of pregnancy, could be considered by courts as “people” and receive legal protections under Colorado law.

This approach, which mirrors a bill introduced by GOP Rep. Janak Joshi in the Colorado Legislature this year, has been criticized by abortion-rights advocates as a back-door abortion ban, because it could give a fetus legal status and open the door for criminal charges against doctors who provide abortions. Others have claimed it could even justify the murder of abortion providers.

State House Democrats killed Joshi’s bill in January, on a party-line vote, and later the House lawmakers passed a bill that would make it a crime to recklessly terminate a pregnancy (e.g., if a drunk driver hits a pregnant women.) Colorado law already states that intentionally doing so is a crime but not unintentionally.

The Democrats’ bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote and Rep. Clair Levy, specifically does not “confer personhood, or any rights associated with that status, on a human being at any time prior to live birth.” (For more details see Melanie Asmar’s Jan. 30 Westword piece on the topic.)

The key provision of the proposed constitutional amendment reads:

In the interest of the protection of pregnant mothers and their unborn children from criminal offenses and negligent and wrongful acts, the words “person” and “child” in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act must include unborn human beings.

At the launch of its petition drive Thursday, Personhood activists will hear from Heather Survoik, who was hit by a car when eight-months pregnant, resulting in the death of her baby, which she had already named “Brady.” Hence, Personhood activists are referring to their petition drive as the “Brady project,” or the Brady amendment, according to Personhood USA spokesman Gualberto Garcia Jones.

“Brady and all unborn children should be considered persons,” Garcia Jones, who’s one of the Amendment’s two sponsors, told me, adding that the courts have specifically asked for clarification of the terms defined in his measure, which is titled, “Definition of Person and Child.”

Asked if he thought his proposed amendment would be more successful than personhood measures defeated in 2008 and 2010, Garcia Jones said:

“The prior amendments were more abstract. This is more specific. The opposition will have a harder time saying that this is an effort to criminalize women. We’re talking about protecting unborn children and their mothers who have no recourse for death of their babies.”

The initiative’s language was not challenged and has been approved by the Title Board.

Garcia Jones is hoping that a personhood measure, giving legal rights to zygotes (fertilized eggs) and banning all abortion, will also appear on the 2014 election ballot in Colorado.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office determined last year that personhood activists hadn’t collected enough signatures to make the 2012 ballot.

Garcia Jones said his organization is “probably going to go to federal court” to seek more time to collect signatures and make the ballot.

If they succeed, personhood backers will have two measures on next year’s ballot.

Both initiatives look the same to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains spokeswoman Monica McCafferty. They both aim to ban abortion in Colorado, she said.

Reporters should note GOP response to anti-Hispanic comments by fellow Republicans

Monday, April 1st, 2013

You get the feeling that some Republicans are trying to sneak Hispanics into the GOP tent through the back tent flaps, for fear that welcoming them though the tent’s front door will offend the dwindling number of Republicans already in the tent.

That’s what I was thinking when KFKA morning show host Devon Lentz insulted the entire country of Mexico last week, and Rep. Cory Gardner, who was a guest on the program, acted as if he’d heard nothing rude or inappropriate.

“We’re going to deal with this immigration thing,” said Lentz, who’s a former Larimer Country GOP official. “Except that, how do we also keep from advertising in countries like Mexico that when you come here, here’s how to get on the food stamps, here’s how you take advantage of this system, and get housing assistance, and food assistance?  How do we at least keep from advertising how to take advantage of our system?”

Who knew the hard-working people from Mexico are out to freeload on America? Are Italians similarly inclined? Brits?

Rather than throw that question back at Lentz or, perhaps, even praise Hispanics’ current contributions to our nation, Gardner said:

“Well, and those are questions that are being asked regularly to the administration about how they’re doing it, and what they’re doing, and how they’re marketing various programs.”

Gardner has said he wants Hispanics in the GOP tent, but with Lentz lurking around inside, and Gardner refusing to stand up for a country like Mexico, will Hispanics want to enter?

It’s a question reporters should discuss with the Gardners of the GOP. Can they make progress if they don’t stand up for Hispanics when fellow Republicans insult them? Kind of like John McCain did when he defended Obama after a woman said he was an Arab she couldn’t trust.

On the radio, Gardner told Lentz: “But I think we all recognize that the values that make this country great.  And those are the two values that I talk about that we have to balance in any Immigration reform.  And that is the first, balance the first value—that this country is and must remain a beacon of hope for the world.  And the second value, that we are a nation of laws. And so, any immigration policy must meet those two stated values.”

Got it. Beacon of hope. Nation of laws.

How does that square with making sure not to tell Mexicans how to get food stamps and housing assistance?