We’re seeing a full-scale revolt by journalists against senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s obnoxious denial of the simple fact that the Life at Conception Act, which he co-sponsored last summer, is federal personhood legislation.
The latest confrontation occurred last night during 9News’ senatorial debate between Gardner and Democrat Mark Udall.
9News Anchor Kyle Clark: You continue to deny that the federal Life at Conception Act is a personhood bill, which you’ve sponsored, is a personhood bill to end abortion. And we’re not going to debate that tonight, because it’s a fact. Your cosponsors say so. Your opponents say so. And independent fact checkers say so. So let’s instead talk about what this entire episode may say about your judgement, more broadly. It would seem that a more charitable interpretation would mean you have a difficult time admitting when you’re wrong. And a less charitable interpretation is that you’re not telling us the truth.Which is it?
Gardner: Again, I do not support the personhood amendment. The bill that you are referring to is simply a statement that I support life. Let me just repeat the words of Sen. Udall.
Clark: Why does no one else think that. That’s what we’re getting at.
Gardner: I’ve answered this question multiple times.
Clark: I’m aware of that.
Gardner: If you look at what The Denver Post said. The Denver Post has called Sen. Udall’s campaign on these issues, because he’s a social issues warrior, obnoxious, focused on one single issue. The fact is the people of Colorado deserve better. They deserve more than a single issue that Sen. Udall is attempting to give them.
Clark: Believe you me. We’re going to talk about that. But what I’m asking you about here is what appears to be willing suspension of the facts. People who agree with you on the issue of life think you’re wrong about how you’re describing the bill. Everyone seems to have a cohesive idea about what this is with the exception of you. I’m just wondering, what should voters glean from that?
Gardner: There are people who agree with my opinion on life. There are people who don’t. I support life. I voted for exceptions. The fact is, the bill that you’re talking about is a simply a statement. I’ve answered this question multiple times, but I’ll repeat the words of Sen. Udall who said, when he changed his opinion on the issue of gay marriage, that a good faith change of position should be considered a virtue not a vice. That’s not my words. Those are the words from Sen. Udall.
Rittiman: And you remain on the bill, and the idea of personhood is conferring rights of normal human beings on the unborn. That’s what the bill says.
Gardner: Again, I support life. And that’s a statement that I support life.
Rittiman and Gardner asked their questions with disbelief in their voices and incredulous looks on their faces, like the other journalists who’ve pressed Gardner this.
The growing list of stonewalled reporters includes (with links to coverage): The Grand Junction Sentinels’ Charles Ashby, The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels, Bloombers’ Joshua Green, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill, Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus, 9News Brandon Rittiman (twice), and Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols.
What offends these reporters, even though they don’t say it, is being lied to, brazenly, straight-up. If you’ve ever fact checked a politician, you know that there’s usually gray area involved, making it hard to say, “You’re lying.”
With Gardner, Clark said there “appears to be willing suspension of the facts.” But the “appears-to-be” part is gone now. It’s time for reporters to stop the courtesies and start calling it a lie. Gardner has been given every chance to explain himself in a coherent, honest manner, and he’s rejected those opportunities. It’s fair to say he’s lying.
Clark asked what Gardner’s personhood dance says about his “judgment.” It was a great and reasonable question. And since Gardner didn’t answer it, some reporter should track him down and put it to him again. This is weird and it’s serious.