Archive for the '7News' Category
You’re feeling pretty good right now if you were one of the gun-rights activists who paid for the biplane that flew over the Colorado Capitol Monday carrying a banner: “Hick: Do Not Take our Guns.”
Local reporters ate up the banner, and a Google search turns up about 2,000 hits.
One problem: The banner is totally misleading, in the context of what is actually happening below the plane on the ground at the Capitol.
If you own a gun, you won’t lose it under the proposed legislation. And if you’re a law-abiding citizen, the bills won’t affect your ability to buy a gun.
As such, you’d think reporters who cited the banner would have pointed out, hey, its message doesn’t connect with reality in Colorado.
But just one story bothered to say that the banner was a sky-high form of manipulation.
As far as I can tell, only 9News’ political reporter Brandon Rittiman did the right thing and put the banner in context:
A constant drone of honking car horns could be heard from inside the governor’s office, part of a demonstration against the gun control measures. A hired airplane flew over the Capital for hours towing a banner that read, “HICK: DO NOT TAKE OUR GUNS.”
“There’s a plane flying around that’s saying, ‘Hick, don’t take our guns.’ Well, here’s the answer: we’re not taking any guns,” said the governor.
While nobody would have to give up a gun they currently own under the proposals, the protestors still see them as overly restrictive of the second amendment. [bigmedia emphasis]
Other reporters let the banner speak for itself.
Associated Press reporters Ivan Moreno and Kristen Wyatt’s piece, which was picked up widely, including by the Washington Post, described some of the gun bills under consideration, but didn’t refute the implication of the banner:
A biplane flying above the Capitol Monday warned the governor, “HICK: DO NOT TAKE OUR GUNS!” Hickenlooper backs expanded background checks and has said he’s considering a bill to limit ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. He hasn’t indicated where he stands on other measures, including whether he supports a proposal that would hold sellers and owners of assault weapons liable for shootings by such firearms.
The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels and Kurtis Lee reported:
The biplane flying over the Capitol carried a not-so-subtle message to the Democratic governor: “Hick, don’t take our guns.”
(To be fair, Post coverage described the gun bills in separate articles, but still.)
If you’ve made it to this point in this blog post, you might be thinking that this isn’t such a big deal. A manipulative banner. What else is new?
But the response by reporters to the banner is emblematic of how gun-rights activists have managed to push their accusation of a gun-grab into the debate at the Capitol without being called out on it.
The don’t-take-my-gun banner isn’t an outright lie that can be corrected, but reporters should try harder to defend readers from the you’re-going-to-lose-your-gun spin that’s being pushed at the Capitol.
Small number of Republicans who support ASSET mostly absent from media coverage of bill’s introductionWednesday, January 16th, 2013
Among numerous reports on the Democrats’ news conference at the State Capitol yesterday announcing the introduction of a bill offering in-state tuition to illegal-immigrant students, only Rocky Mountain Community Radio reporter Bente Birkeland found a Republican lawmaker willing back the “concept.”
“I do support the concept. I believe that if an individual has went through our school system for a period of 6,8,10 years, we already have that investment in him for public education. It’s an issue here where we want people to become legalized.”
Berkeland also quoted Republican Minority Leader Bill Cadman, who opposes the measure.
Other reporters covering yesterday’s news conference quoted Republican legislators’ opposition to ASSET.
KMGH 7′s Marc Stewart found GOP Sen. Ted Harvey continuing his opposition:
“I think they’re being honest with the voters. Last time, they mini-subsidized (tuition) if you will. This time they’re going to completely subsidize it,” said Sen. Ted Harvey, a Republican from Highlands Ranch.
“You got a lot of students who come here to Colorado [from out of state] to go to college, and they’re paying the high, out-of-state tuition fee. And they’re like, ‘Why should I not get the same benefit as some of these other students?’” DelGrosso said.
He also said he disagrees with the notion that Republican opposition to the bill hurts the party’s courtship of Latino voters, who have largely favored Colorado Democrats. He said Latino families who have gone through the process for legal residency feel like it undermines their efforts.
“I don’t think that the entire Latino community is a hundred percent behind this. It’s unfair to say that it’s us against the Latino community because we have definitely heard from several folks in the Latino community that quite frankly don’t want us to go this route,” he said.
House Republican Leader Mark Waller, told the Associated Press’ Kristin Wyatt that a path to citizenship should come before reduced tuition:
“Let’s define a clear path of citizenship for these kids,” Waller said. “Because giving education without citizenship does nothing to providet opportunity for them.”
Wyatt should have pointed out that Obama has granted undocumented students the ability to get work visas.
Reporters were right, obviously, to quote GOP opposition to reduced tuition for undocumented students, but there’s a small minority of Republicans who are behind it, and they should be heard.
But, as they present this view, Reporters should note that the vast majority of the GOP remains opposed.
Compared to the 2010 election in Colorado, this one has been mostly a snoozer, journalistically.
But the 2010 election wasn’t really an election. It was a dramatic comedy show, with so many stories to tell and scandals to uncover that journalists almost couldn’t help but be stars.
Still, reporters have turned out some excellent work this time around, and I’ve listed my favorite reporting below. I’m hoping to see more great work in the next few weeks, but this list is inspiring.
9News Kyle Clark: “Coffman won’t explain Obama ‘not an American’ comments” Rather than let Coffman hide, Clark went out and found him.
Fox 31′s Eli Stokols: “FOX31 Denver goes one-on-one with Paul Ryan” Stokols shows how an informed journalist can challenge a candidate’s spin.
The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels and Tim Hoover: “Anarchy, chaos behind Colorado civil unions bill may have long-lasting effects” They dug deep to show, among other things, how the upcoming election influenced the legislative debate on civil unions.
The Denver Post’s Tim Hoover: “Noncitizen ID’d fraction of those first alleged by Gessler” No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, to understand Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s behavior and priorities, you have to understand the blizzard of numbers Gessler tosses around. Hoover did a great job clarifying Gessler’s figures in this piece.
Associated Press’ Ivan Moreno: “Voter Purges Turn Up Little Evidence Of Fraud Despite Republican Insistence” Like Hoover, Moreno gets to the heart of the voter “fraud” issue by looking at the details.
Fox 31′s Eli Stokols: “Colo. girl registering ‘only Romney’ voters tied to firm dumped by RNC over fraud” Stokols quickly connected the dots from Colorado to a scandal that was developing nationally.
CBS4′s Shaun Boyd: “Romney Loses Cool When Questioned About Marijuana, Gay Marriage” Boyd keeps her cool and sticks to her questions even as Romney flips out.
KBNO radio host Fernando Sergio’s interview with President Obama, which makes the list because Sergio almost certainly got the first interview with a sitting president on Spanish language radio in Colorado.
Colorado Statesman’s Judy Hope Strogoff: “Perry campaigns with friends in Colorado” I love this scoop, with the photos. An illuminating and fun piece.
The Denver Post’s John Ingold: “GOP’s VP candidate, Paul Ryan, emphasizes contrast with Obama’s vision” I like how Ingold gets at the candidates’ underlying view of government, as he reports on a campaign stop.
Local TV news fact checkers Shaun Boyd (CBS4), Matt Flener (9News), Brandon Rittiman (9News), and (sometimes) Marshall Zellinger (7News). I don’t always agree with them, but what they do is really important, especially on local TV.
When a politician makes himself available to the press, and reporters, in turn, ask good questions, everyone benefits.
Case in point, GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s interviews with Denver TV stations.
He’s now sat down for one-on-one conversations with Channel’s 7, 9, and 31, and what’s left on the table? A trail of information that’s actually useful for voters on both sides of the aisle.
In his latest Denver TV interview, aired yesterday, Ryan was interviewed by New7′s Theresa Marchetta. Here’s a segment of her report:
“For women voters who are fiscally conservative.. but pro choice.. what do you say to those voters?” Marchetta asked.
“People may not agree with us on these social issues [Ryan is against all abortion, even in the case of rape and incest]. Let’s just agree to disagree and be respectful of each other at that time. But right now, we’ve got to get people back to work,” Ryan said.
9News’ Brandon Rittiman covered lots of ground with Ryan, including high ground like Ryan’s alleged 14er climbs. He pressed Ryan for specifics on the tax loopholes he and Romney say they’d close, for example, and got this response:
Ryan: “We’re actually saying, “Don’t lose tax revenue, but don’t have a massive tax increase, and restructure the tax code so that it is fairer, simpler, and more internationally competitive to create jobs.”
Fox 31′s Eli Stokols had a sharp conversation with Ryan as well, covering, among other things, the wind energy tax credit, the Ryan budget cuts, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
The noted deficit hawk who is the author of the controversial House GOP budget plan blamed President Obama for adding to the country’s ballooning deficit because of the 2009 stimulus package and Obamacare, which was signed into law last year.
“It’s actually the economy that’s given us the deficit we have and the massive deficit spending and domestic spending we’ve seen under President Obama,” Ryan told FOX31. “Yes, the wars are a small part of it.”
Actually, the Iraq war, which Ryan voted to authorize, will cost the nation more than $3 trillion; and the Bush tax cuts, which Ryan also voted for when they first took effect in 2001, will ultimately cost the nation $3.2 trillion if extended again through 2021. The stimulus, by comparison, came at a price tag of $787 billion.
If you take time to listen to these interviews, you leave with solid information.
That’s how the process is supposed to work, if only reporters (and politicians) made it happen more often.
Fact checking the TV fact checkers: mostly accurate analysis of ads attacking Romney’s positions on abortionFriday, August 31st, 2012
Two Denver TV stations so far have fact checked political ads attacking Mitt Romney’s positions on a women’s right to choose.
The ads were aired and checked a while ago, in early August, but I thought I’d spotlight them today, because women’s issues will come up again and again and again, we can be sure.
The two ads, analyzed by 7News’ Marshall Zelinger and CBS4′s Shaud Boyd, were slightly different, but the ads mostly made the same allegations.
AD: “Mitt Romney opposes requiring insurance coverage for contraception.”
CBS4 Reality Check (scroll down to abortion ad): TRUE
Channel 7 Truth Tracker: TRUE
Bigmedia.org: Both stations got it right.
AD: “Romney supports overturning Roe Vs. Wade.”
CBS4 Reality Check: TRUE
Channel 7 Truth Tracker: TRUE
Bigmedia.org: Both stations got it right.
AD: Romeny would cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood
CBS4 Reality Check: TRUE
Channel 7 Truth Tracker: This fact wasn’t included in the ad checked by Channel 7.
Bigmedia.org. Channel 4 got it right.
AD: “Romney backed a bill that outlaws all abortion, even cases of rape and incest.”
CBS4 Reality Check: MISLEADING
Channel 7 Truth Tracker: MISLEADING (but it also found the “even-cases-of rape-and-incest” part to be “MOSTLY UNTRUE”)
Bigmedia.org: First, both Channels 7 and 4 point out that there was not an actual bill. The ad shows a clip of Romney saying he’d back a bill outlawing “all abortions,” if, hypothetically, such a bill came to his desk. That’s not enough to call the statement misleading, more like “MOSTLY TRUE.”
But the addition of the phrase “even cases of rape and incest” makes the statement more complicated. Channel 7 separated out this phrase and deemed it “MOSTLY FALSE,” arguing that even though the hyopothetical bill would have banned “all abortions,” the bill didn’t mention rape and incest specifically.
In addition, both Channels 4 and 7 aired video of Romney saying that he supports abortion in the case of rape and incest.
But Romney told Mike Huckabee just last last year that he “absolutely” would have supported an amendment to the Massachusetts’ consitution defining life as beginning at conception, otherwize known as the zygote or fertilized-egg stage. (Video here at 6:25)
And if you define life as such, like personhood backers do, and you do so in a state constitution, you give legal protections to zygotes created as a result of rape. So it’s fair to conclude that Romney opposes abortion for rape victims, though obviously it’s a Olympic flip from what he’s said elsewhere.
Romney also told Huckabee:
“Would it be wonderful if everybody in the country agreed with you and me that life begins at conception, that there’s a sanctity of life that’s part of a civilized society, and that we’re all going to agree that we’re not going to have legal abortion in the county? That would be great.” (Video here at 8:15)
Against this backdrop of Romney’s own dueling positions, I don’t understand how Channel 7 could conclude that it’s mostly false to say that Romney opposes abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. It could be true or false. Take your pick.
You have to conclude, like Channel 4 did, that Romney’s obviously a flip flopper on abortion. And you certainly can’t say it’s untrue for Obama to tell us Romney opposes all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.
So Channel 4′s take-away comment, which it calls the “bottom line,” hit the mark:
“The ad says women, a key voting bloc, should be troubled by Mitt Romney’s position on abortion. And they should, because it’s changed so many times. Mitt Romney brought this one on himself.”
With Channel 4 leading the way, four Denver TV stations to fact-check political ads this election cycleFriday, August 24th, 2012
Channel 4 has jumped ahead of other Denver TV stations in fact-checking political ads so far this election cycle.
CBS4 has already aired segments analyzing 20 ads, over twice as many as 9News, its closest competitor among the four stations analyzing ads.
Sorry for the horse-race media criticism, but the numbers are worth pointing out, because Channel 4’s early analysis of the ads has undoubtedly been appreciated by regular people (none of whom read my blog), who’ve been trying to sort through all the political spots that have aired so early this election season.
“In the past, the ads didn’t start coming in nearly so soon or so often,” Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett told me via email. “I’ve talked with national players who have visited Colorado this summer who couldn’t believe the number of ads that already were up and running.”
So it was a smart move for CBS4 to start dissecting the ads early, as part of its excellent “Reality Check” feature, led by “Political Specialist” Shaun Boyd. (Look for a post tomorrow with more on Boyd and Reality Check.)
“We’re committed to it,” said CBS4 News Director Tim Wieland. “We have a system in place that allows us to begin when the ads start rolling in. People are frustrated, and they want something that cuts through the BS. That’s the intent of this project.”
For its part, 9News is ramping up its ad-checking segments, called “Truth Tests,” with an idea that other media outlets may want to copy, straight up.
“Due to the sheer volume of political ads, 9NEWS has hired a team of three graduate students from the University of Denver to work as researchers for Truth Tests,” wrote 9News Political Reporter Brandon Rittiman, who’s the station’s primary Truth-Test reporter. “With the extra help, we hope to be able to tackle more ads than ever before this political season.”
9News, Denver’s NBC affiliate, will also work its newspaper partner, The Denver Post, according to Post Politics Editor Plunkett, with reporter Tim Hoover directing the coverage.
Channel 7’s “Truth Tracker” series is spearheaded by Producer/Presenter Marshall Zelinger, who’s scrutinized four ads so far and is scaling up the project now. Channel 7, Denver’s ABC affiliate, actually introduced the ad-checks to Denver TV viewers in the 1990’s, with reporter John Ferrugia’s “Truth Meter” series. It was later revived by Adam Schrager at 9News.
“I wanted to start a month earlier, because so many ads were rolling in,” Zelinger told me, adding that he plans to dedicate a significant amount of his time to Truth Tracker going forward, focusing on new ads and the ones airing the most.
For the first time, Fox 31, an independent station that’s become known as the local TV news leader in day-to-day political coverage, will produce a regular ad-check segment, called “Fact or Fiction,” anchored mostly by political reporter Eli Stokols. This might air once or twice weekly, Stokols emailed me, with a focus on “the most controversial ads and those airing the most frequently in Denver and around the state.”
Even though he’ll be fact-checking ads himself, Stokols is skeptical of his new endeavor, emailing me that, “especially now in this post-Citizens United world, [it] seems like a losing game of Whack-a-Mole — as soon as you finish checking one spot, it’s yesterday’s news and there are a dozen more popping up.”
“While campaigns are quick to cite such fact-checking spots in their effort to discredit opposition advertising, the campaigns we call out for blatant falsehoods don’t seem to care at all,” Stokols wrote. “And why should they? In a campaign that could see close to $1 billion in campaign spending, it’s inevitable that any TV ad, however false or misleading, will air hundreds of times, overwhelming any news outlet’s fact-check that might air a couple of times. Today’s campaign finance landscape enables political advertisements to have a reach that’s far wider than any fact-check — until, perhaps, the fact-check itself becomes part of a countering ad, just more noise in a never-ending echo chamber of allegations and attacks.”
Daily campaign-trail coverage and investigative journalism obviously had more of an impact than ad fact-checks in the last plagiarism-ridden election here, but political advertising can overwhelm all journalism, not just the stories fact-checking political ads. And the elucidation of facts can have an impact on the campaign trail, shaping the debate there, at press conferences and debates, for example, where they’re sometimes cited.
CBS4′s Boyd says in her normal reporting duties, covering events and such, she’ll often “turn a story and you don’t feel like you’ve influenced anyone.”
“Reality Check influences voters,” she told me. “I know that from the emails I receive.”
TV audiences pay attention to it.
“It’s the most popular thing we do in political coverage,” CBS4′s Wieland told me.
Maybe that’s because viewers don’t get enough day-to-day political journalism on local TV, like what you find in a newspaper, to get hooked on it. So the fact checking fills the void?
In any case, when you watch the ad-checks on TV, you can see why they work so well.
The ads themselves are usually already branded, if you will; they’re familiar to viewers. And the process of stopping and starting the ads, and analyzing segments with sharp graphics and simple analysis, is gripping, in its way.
The text-based fact-checking you’ve traditionally found in newspapers, without the video, doesn’t carry the same impact, at all.
The format for the fact-check segments at Denver TV stations varies a bit, but the basics are similar. Channel 7 provides a rating system with six options for the “facts” analyzed, including “misleading,” and “opinion.” 9News and CBS4 use a wider range of descriptions for the facts in question. And CBS4 concludes with a “Bottom Line” statement, which often offers a broader interpretation.
When Adam Schrager was at 9News, he actually taught people how to check ads themselves.
If you try it, you know how difficult it is to do. It’s hard to label the facts, found in a deliberately vague advertisement, as false or true, and partisans can almost always find something to get mad about.
But with an expanding sea of misinformation coming at us, the effort to shed nonpartisan light on political advertising is worth it. And the earlier the TV stations get started at it, like CBS4 did this election season, the better.
I can think of a couple reasons why Mitt Romney chose to take questions from local TV reporters and KOA radio hosts yesterday, while blowing off all those “print” journalists in Denver.
The most obvious reason is that Romney thinks local TV news is watched by the swing voters he needs to win. This approach would be in line with what he did when he came to Colorado the day before the GOP caucus. Then, his target was Republican caucus goers. So Romney blew off all real-life journalists, TV and print, and took loving questions only from friendly, conservative talk-radio hosts, whose listeners were likely to be heading out to caucuses. So Romney got to talk directly to his target audience.
An alternative explanation for Romney’s local TV tour yesterday is that he was scared pesky print reporters would ask him tough questions while mayhem-and-fluff loving local TV news journalists would have one eye on the incoming rainstorm and therefore be unable and/or uninterested in asking him substantive questions.
If this was Team Romney’s thinking, they got it wrong. Denver’s local TV news didn’t suck up and ask softballs. They asked real questions about real issues in Colorado, including the most obvious question, given the drama in the State Legislature, about his view on civil unions.
CBS4 reporter Shaun Boyd introduced her piece by saying, “As you can see, Romney seemed a bit flustered by the questions viewers posted on our Facebook page, trying to steer the conversation back to topics he was comfortable with.”
I would say Romney was less flustered and more irritated with Boyd’s news judgment after she posed questions about civil unions (answer: no), college-tuition reductions for undocumented high school graduates (no), and medical marijuana (no).
Sounding like Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call who recently said birth-control issues were “small issues,” Romney told Boyd:
Romney: “Aren’t there issues of significance that you’d like to talk about?
Boyd: This is a significant issue in Colorado.
Romney: The economy. The economy. The economy. Jobs. The need to put people back to work. The challenges of Iran. We have enormous issues that we face, but you want to talk about, go ahead.”
Boyd picked up where she had left off, telling Romney matter-of-factly, “Marijuana.”
And Romney said, “I oppose the legalization of marijuana….”
Boyd, along with her counterparts at Fox 31, 9News, and 7News, all asked Romney serious questions, perhaps the kind he wasn’t expecting from local TV reporters.
I’m hoping the tough questioning continues through the election season because it’s informative and it makes interesting television, as opposed to happy-talk questions like, “Hey, how’s your dog.”
But I guess in Romney’s case, that would be considered a hardball query as well.
On KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado yesterday, Sen. Kent Lambert ratcheted up the GOP opposition to Colorado Senate President Brandon Shaffer’s bill mandating that legislators take a pay and benefit cut if they require a special session to pass a budget bill.
Lambert’s attacks, apparently reflecting conversations he’s had with lawyers about Shaffer’s bill, go beyond what he was telling the AP yesterday.
Here’s what he said on the radio.
“There might be some legal problems with doing this in that this may get crosswise with the Colorado Constitution in a couple ways. Article V of the Colorado Constitution establishes what the Legislature has to do. And it provides some rules. One thing is, you can’t bind your caucus into a position like this until a vote is taken. And another one is, you can’t unduly influence legislators to vote in a certain way before the vote is taken. So this is a nonstarter. You have to mark it up as sort of a humorous distraction from the business at hand.”
I thought Republicans love moms and dads who makes sure the kids know they’ll get spanked if they get out of line. The Republicans like to say that the Dems are the ones who accept excuses for not passing a budget and serve hot chocolate to the bad children anyway.
The GOP opposition to Shaffer’s pass-the-budget-or-get-a-pay-cut bill seems to reverse the GOP’s own talking point, and therefore should fall into the radar screen of the news media.
One of the things I try to do as a media critic is keep track of what officials tell journalists they’re going to do. And if promises made to reporters aren’t reported on, I ask about them.
For example, there’s the dangling promise Scott McInnis made to The Denver Post about clearing up his name months ago, but tempting as it is, that’s not what I’m returning to now.
Today I’m writing about State Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s promise to 7News in January that he’d seek an opinion from Attorney General John Suthers about whether it’s ok for him to moonlight for his former company.
You recall Stapleton’s moonlighting job would add as much as a quarter-time-plus job to his life and bring in, at $250 per hour, up to a nifty $150,000 on the side, making The Denver Post wonder about a “conflict of time.”
I asked 7News content producer/presenter Marshall Zelinger whether Suthers had produced an opinion on Stapleton’s moonlighting. Zelinger emailed me that Stapleton spokesman Brett Johnson told him that Stapleton never asked for an official opinion from Suthers’ office.
Zelinger told me that he understood from Stapleton, during his Jan. interview with him, that he was going to seek an official opinion, and that’s why Zelinger stated in his piece that Stapleton had “asked the attorney general’s office to make sure it’s OK to moonlight afterhours.”
Zelinger contacted Suthers’ office and confirmed that Stapleton never sought an opinion.
However, in January, Politics Daily reported that Stapleton had talked about the issue with Suthers but did not ask for a formal ruling.