Archive for March, 2017

CNN reports political background of Gorsuch critic but not of his defender

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

CNN reported this morning that Jennifer Sisk, who complained that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch made disparaging comments about women during a lecture to his law school class, was “a registered Democrat who once worked for former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado.”

Fair enough.

But the political background of a former Gorsuch law student who defended the SCOTUS nominee was not provided.

CNN quoted former Gorsuch law student, Catherine Holtgrewe, as saying Gorsuch never spoke “disrespectfully to or about anyone” — without identifying Holtgewe as a former Romney staffer and the volunteer coordinator of the failed 2006 gubernatorial campaign of Bob Beauprez. She works for a conservative think tank.

CNN quoted a letter, first reported by NPR, that Sisk wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee, claiming that Gorsuch told her class that “companies must ask females about their family and pregnancy plans to protect the company,” CNN reported.

Sisk writes that she was “distressed by the tenor of his comments” and made her concerns known to the law school’s administration.

Sisk, a registered Democrat who once worked for former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, confirmed to CNN that she authored the letter.

In discussing Holtgrewe, CNN reported:

Another former student, Catherine Holtgrewe, said she “never heard Judge Gorsuch ever speak disrespectfully to or about anyone.”
“As a former student, I am a witness to the respect that he showed towards his female students and fellow professors at Colorado Law,” she said in a statement. “The supposed remarks he made in his 2016 Legal Ethics class are completely out of character, and I find very hard to believe are accurately relayed.”

Obviously, Holtgrewe’s political background is relevant to the story, as is Sisk’s. CNN need not have included Sisk’s political party.

I did not immediately receive a response to a tweet to Ashley Killough, a CNN political producer, whose byline appeared on the piece.

 

Fake news pledge requires left and right to compromise

Monday, March 20th, 2017

If we’re going to fight fake news together, as conservatives and progressives, we have to agree on 1) a definition of fake news and on 2) a set of arbiters that will determine if a news story is fake.

In a post last week, Ari Armstrong argues that any news outlet can produce fake news, even the New York Times. I’d rather say outlets like the New York Times never produces fake news, because when they do it’s by accident, but I gave up on that a while ago and now agree with Armstrong that the definition of “fake news” should focus specifically on the accuracy of a news article, not its source.

That’s the definition embodied in the Fake News Pledge, which defines fake news as “inaccurate information, packaged to look somehow like news.”

This definition should be acceptable to both conservatives, who are skeptical of the New York Times, and progressives, who see look askance at Fox News.

But the sticking point is arbiters. Can conservatives and progressives agree on a way to decide what’s fake news and what isn’t?

Again, the Fake News Pledge offers a compromise.

The Pledge states that if a “news” item on Facebook is “deemed false or inaccurate by Snopes, Politifact, Factcheck.org, or by a respected news outlet, information from my Facebook page will be removed as soon as possible–or detailed reasons for not deleting it will be provided.”

Notice the phrase “respected news outlet” is not defined, so there’s space for progressives and conservatives to rely on different arbiters of truth. And there’s room to reject any arbiter simply by providing an explanation.

What good would this do? Signing the pledge shows a shared commitment to a set of loose ground rules for rational discourse, which is especially needed now on Facebook. The pledge is a statement that facts matter and that people, especially our elected leaders, who toss out dubious facts at least have the obligation to explain why they they think their facts are true.

 

Fake News Pledge edited to focus on inaccurate news, not on unproven news

Monday, March 20th, 2017

In response to suggestions by readers, the Fake News Pledge has been edited to focus narrowly on eliminating “false or inaccurate” fake news from Facebook, not on items that are “unproven.”

Under the slightly edited guidelines of the Fake News Pledge, Facebook users can post or share unproven information on Facebook, if they do not claim that such unproven information is true.

This does not mean that posting unproven news items is encouraged by the Fake News Pledge. On the contrary, some, but not all, unproven news can poison rational discourse in much the same way falsehoods do. But the purview of the Fake News Pledge covers accuracy only.

For example, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) recently called for an investigation into FBI leaks. And U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) called for in investigation into Trump’s actions in Russia. Both of these news items are unproven but neither is presented as true. Therefore neither would be considered fake news, under the new guidelines of the Fake News Pledge. On the other hand, Donald Trump’s statement that millions of illegal ballots were cast against him in the 2016 is unproven and false, under the guidelines of the Fake News Pledge.

The change was made after critics pointed out that unproven allegations, from trustworthy sources, have a place in civic discourse, as long as they not presented as true. It’s not the role of the Fake News Pledge to define the criteria that make unproven news, not presented as true, credible enough to spread on Facebook.

With respect to accuracy, which is now the sole purview of the pledge, the Fake News Pledge states that information, packaged somehow to look like news, should not be spread on Facebook if it’s “deemed unproven or false or inaccurate by Snopes, Politifact, Factcheck.org, or by a respected news outlet.” If such information is posted, it will be removed unless “detailed reasons for not deleting it” are provided.

Sentinel publisher still preparing to sue lawmaker over “fake news” allegation

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

The publisher of the Grand Junction Sentinel insisted last night that he’s getting his “ducks in a row” in preparation to sue State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) for labeling the Sentinel “fake news.”

“Have you attempted to patch things up with Sen. Scott?” 9News anchor Kyle Clark asked Jay Seaton, publisher of the Grand Junction Sentinel last night, prior to the streaming of a panel discussion on media issues streamed on Facebook. “You’re going to be covering him for years to come. There’s nothing to be gained by media outlets fighting with public officials like this.”

“The only valuable currency in the court system is truth, and so I would like to see how a court actually handles this kind of false allegation,” responded Seaton, insisting that he’s preparing to file a lawsuit against Scott for his claim that the Sentinel is “fake news.”

The panel, titled Getting to Truth in the Age of Alternative Facts, was held to mark “Sunshine Week,” which promotes openness in government. The event was organized by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, and it was hosted by 9News.

Panelists offered varied takes on fake-news issue, ranging from, “It’s all in the eye of the beholder,” according to State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), to, “It’s become incredibly cliche; it’s an easy way out for people to attack us,” according to Denver7 investigator Tony Kovaleski.

In its online description of the panelists, 9News pointed out that Neville “recently posted an article that that was found to be 100% false by Snopes.com.”

“Politicians know how to weaponize [fake news] against us,” said Corey Hutchins, a reporter with the Colorado Independent, a progressive news site. “That’s what we’re seeing. The new problem is, it’s being weaponized by politicians against the media.”

Libertarian writer Ari Armstrong, also on the panel, argued that it’s inevitable that journalists will make mistakes, and he’s troubled when folks conflate “actual fake news, people intending to mislead their readers, with reputable newspapers.”

“What I want to strive to do is, yes, point it out when I think journalists get it wrong, but be quicker to applaud all those times when they do a great job, which is most of the time,” said Armstrong.

Also on the panel was Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute in Tampa Florida, Linda Shapley, managing editor of The Denver Post, Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch, Anastasiya Bolton, a reporter at 9NEWS.

Watch the entire panel discussion here. You’ll definitely enjoy it.

 

 

“This isn’t fake!” writes lawmaker about an article from a newspaper he once called “fake news”

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Ray Scott cites sentinel non fake news 3-17

State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) calls the Grand Junction Sentinel “fake news“–until he finds a Sentinel story he likes. Then the fakeness is conveniently forgotten.

“Denver water attorneys against farmers,” wrote Scott on Facebook last week, referring to a Sentinel article by Charles Ashby about a bill stalled in the state legislature.

“This isn’t fake!” wrote Scott on Facebook.

Scott’s hypocrisy is so brazen yoScott Nov. 6 Wikileaks fake newsu honestly wonder how he could possibly justify trotting it out on Facebook.

But there Scott is, like Trump, undermining journalism by making sweeping and unsubstantiated accusations about the Sentinel one week. and then he’s using a Sentinel article he likes to promote himself and his agenda the next week. (The publisher of the Sentinel may sue Scott for damages.)

So crazy.

But as I’ve noted before, prior to his fake-news outburst last month about the Sentinel, Scott regularly posted Sentinel articles on Facebook–when he agreed with the reporting or found it useful.

And the truly sad part of all this: Scott still has actual fake news posted on his Facebook page! I doubt you’re surprised, but still. He’s not responded to numerous emails and phone calls from me asking that he remove it, like other lawmakers have.

Maybe Scott thinks his fake news, which informs us that “Hillary sold weapons to ISIS,” is real? I don’t think he even believes it, to be honest. But you’d think he’d remove it from Facebook, just to take the spotlight off his own ridiculous double standard.

FACT CHECK: Gardner misleads constituents during telephone call

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

During his conference call with constituents last week, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) boasted about being bipartisan when, in fact, he was just being a manipulative partisan Republican.

Asked why he’s voted with Trump 100 percent of the time, Gardner told constituents on the call that most of his Trump votes were for cabinet posts, and Gardner believes any president should be allowed to select his own team, unless extreme circumstances dictate otherwise.

“I think it’s important that the president have the people around him that the president nominates,” said Gardner on the phone call.

Gardner then patted himself on the back, and made himself look all bipartisan, by saying he “voted to end debate” on whether Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, was fit to serve.

Gardner during his telephone town hall last week: “In fact, if you look at my vote on Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s Attorney General, I received a lot of heavy lobbying to vote against the cloture vote and cloture’s a fancy way of saying, ‘To cut off debate and allow the nomination to reach the floor.’ There was a lot of people who wanted me to vote against Loretta Lynch and to say that – vote against her nomination from even coming to the floor, and even though I disagreed with many of the positions that Loretta Lynch has taken and took as Attorney General, I believed that the president had a right to that nomination making the floor, and so I voted to end debate. And so again, elections have consequences. Had it been Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders who were elected to president, I’m sure I wouldn’t have liked the – some of the positions that the cabinet members took, but the elections have consequences, and those officials would have been confirmed.”

But instead of a pat on the back, Gardner deserves a spanking for talking out of both sides of his mouth, because after he voted to end debate on the Lynch nomination, he actually voted to reject Lynch.

Thumping his chest in 2015 at right wingers who were apparently applying the “heavy lobbying,” Gardner even shot off a news release after his vote against Lynch.

Gardner on Lynch nomination in 2015: “On topics from the President’s executive actions to when exactly federal law trumps that of the states, Ms. Lynch declined, both in person and via letter, to provide satisfactory answers that would have helped me determine how exactly her confirmation as Attorney General would affect the lives of Coloradans. With too many unanswered questions, I am unable to support her confirmation.”

Unless they happened to possess crazy knowledge of U.S. Senate rules and Gardner’s votes, folks on Gardner’s conference call last week may have thought Gardner really believes a president should be able to select his cabinet members when, in fact, he seems to believe this for Trump but not Obama.

Gardner’s intent was clearly to manipulate his constituents, and reporters should call him out on this tactic.

 

Local TV reporter Julie Hayden retired after Fox 31 Denver told her she had to stop co-hosting her conservative radio show

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

On her radio show over the weekend, veteran journalist Julie Hayden said she’d had “dreams” about leaving local TV news, and finally the “universe conspired to give me a kick in the fanny.” And so she retired last week from Fox 31 Denver.

Most of the reasons Hayden gave on air for retiring are what you might expect to hear from a 58-year-old local TV news reporter. But others appear to be mysterious, like the universe.

Hayden’s parents, who were both declining, died during the last month, Hayden said in a touching moment during her KNUS 710-AM show Saturday, as she explained why she began thinking seriously about leaving the station. She also said she wants to spend more time with her son, and she has the opportunity to do other work on her terms. And the grind of the news business gets old, she said.

All that makes sense, but the mysterious part was the on-air explanation offered by Hayden’s co-host and husband, Chuck Bonniwell:

Bonniwell: And also, they suddenly discovered after 10 years you’ve got a radio program and that everybody in the news is on it. And they said, ‘Hey, you can’t do the radio program.’ And you said, ‘Wanna bet? [laughs] Wanna bet?’

Hayden: Yeah, the gen–.

CB: And we’ve also got an establishment Republican politician, who hates to be criticized, is calling everywhere we work and trying to get people fired. So, that’s fun! It’s always fun! It’s always exciting. There’s nothing but excitement.

As she often does, Hayden laughed off her husband’s comment, when he tossed it out there on air. It seemed as if she was about to respond to what he said, but, as he’ll do, Bonniwell talked over her.

So I called Hayden and asked if it was true that she’d been told to drop the radio program. I’d long ago questioned Hayden’s dual jobs as journalist and weekend opinion monger, and it’s true, if you follow Colorado politics closely, you’ve heard about the show. So it’s odd that the show would suddenly be a problem. But a source confirmed that station management told her she had to quit her radio work.

Asked about this, Hayden said:

Hayden: “Lawyers being involved in everything, I had to sign what is essentially a boiler-plate routine departure agreement that says I won’t talk about the specifics. I can neither confirm nor deny anything there.

And, the million-dollar question: Who was the “establishment Republican politician” referenced by Bonniwell? Or, more likely, because an establishment Republican is involved, that’s a multi-million-dollar question.

Hayden wouldn’t say.

It’s not as if there’s one establishment Republican who gets grief on Hayden’s and Bonniwell’s show, which is called, “Weekend Wakeup with Chuck and Julie.” With Chuck leading the way, the show goes after U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), and many others.

Did a Republican apply pressure on Fox 31 Denver to get Hayden off the radio air?

Fox 31 Denver General Manager Joan Barrett didn’t return a phone call.

But if there was a dispute between Hayden and her bosses at Fox 31 Denver, Hayden doesn’t seem to care at this point.

“But I will tell you it was all positive,” said Hayden, who emphasizes that she left the station on good terms with a three-cake party. “It just became clear that this was where I wanted to devote my time and energy. And I had a wonderful career in the TV news business, and I loved most of it. But for me, it just wasn’t that fun anymore. The business has changed. I had changed. It became totally clear that it was time to do some of the things I’d been talking about doing, rather than just talking about doing them.”

“Chuck put it well,” Hayden said on air Saturday. “And I don’t want to offend anybody, but [being in the local TV news business at her age is] kind of like being a 40-year-old stripper.”

Hayden, who also reported for Channels 2 and 7 over her career in Denver, told me she’ll sell advertisements and write stories for Bonniwell’s Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle and “not have to stand by the side of the road in a blizzard and say it’s snowing. Not that that isn’t fun sometimes,” she said. She will also spend more time on the radio show and help at her daughter’s media company.

I talked to Hayden Tuesday just after she’d had breakfast with her college roommate.

“It was depressing how long it had been since we’d seen each other,” Hayden said.

“If I’d still been [working at Fox 31 Denver], and my old college roommate called, I would have had to say, ‘No, I can’t get together.’ But now I can.”

So if it’s true that an establishment Republican played a role in pushing Hayden out, it might be one of the best things the GOP has done in Colorado in a long time.

Transcript of discussion between Julie Hayden and Chuck Bonniwell Feb. 26 on KNUS 710-AM regarding Hayden’s retirement from Fox 31 KDVR-TV Denver

JULIE HAYDEN: You know, Chuck put it well. It’s kind of like being – and I don’t want to offend anybody – but, a forty year old stripper. You know? When I’m – I’m 58 years old and I’m a general assignment reporter and I have loved my career. But at a certain point, it’s just like, “You know, this is not as fun as it used to be, standing in the cold in the snow — in the blizzard by the side of the road, um, you know, it’s – it loses its luster after a while. And it was clear to me it was time. And I’ve been thinking about this a long time, too, you know, “Retire from doing the daily grind of the news business.” And, not to mention –.

CB: Well, you’re going to be in the daily grind of the news business, except with a small local paper!

Hayden: Yeah, so what I’m going to do is focus more time here at the radio station, focus time with Chuck’s newspaper, my daughter has a video production company and I’m going to be working at that. So, I have a lot of things going on. And, um, I’m really excited. Um, and it’s always nice, I think, in the TV business is such a – oh, a non-loyal one. It’s not – to me, it was a true joy to be able to go out on my own terms, rather than being like a 70 year old person in a walker where they slash my salary, and said, “You know, Julie? I think it’s time for you to go.” So, [a] lot of changes in my life, but –.

CB: And also, they suddenly discovered after 10 years you’ve got a radio program and that everybody in the news is on it. And they said, “Hey, you can’t do the radio program.” And you said, “Wanna bet?” [laughs] Wanna bet?”

Hayden: Yeah, the Gen–.

CB: And we’ve also got an establishment Republican politician, who hates to be criticized, is calling everywhere we work and trying to get people fired. So, that’s fun! It’s always fun! It’s always exciting. There’s nothing but excitement

[introducing the new producer]

Hayden: So, that’s it. For me, — just to kind of wrap it up – I do believe that, you know. I’ve had these dreams and plans and wanted to be leaving the TV news business for a while. So, the universe conspired to give me a kick in the fanny, and say, “What are you waiting for?” You know? “Go on! It’s time for some new adventures and some new things.”