Archive for the '9News' Category

Best local journalism of the 2016 election season

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Here are my favorite election stories by local journalists:

Denver 7’s Marshall Zelinger of course gets the top prize in both the journalism and entertainment categories. His series of stories showing forged signatures on the ballot-access petitions of former GOP state Rep. Jon Keyser had a game-changing impact on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race and reflected everything you want from journalism, especially at a time when it’s going to the dogs. (Don’t miss your chance to see Zelinger’s Keyser interview again here.)

Without the state-senate campaign coverage by Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Independent and Ernest Luning and John Tomasic at the Colorado Statesman, we would’ve had little reporting—until the final weeks—on the key state senate races that will determine control of Colorado government. Other outlets weighed late, which is great, but these races were so pivotal and important to the entire state this year, they deserved the early and sustained focus they got only from the Statesman and the Independent.

Luning also exposed a Democratic state legislative candidate who basically made up his entire resume and was later defeated in his primary race. In a similar vein, Goodland’s piece revealing the potential jail time faced by state house candidate Tim Leonard also deserves high praise. So does former Post reporter Joey Bunch’s treatment of Darryl Glenn’s legal troubles as a young man.

Denver Post reporter John Frank’s series of inside-view articles on the revolt by Colorado Republicans against Trump at the GOP National Convention informed the national debate on the growing #NeverTrump and plain-old anti-Trump movement among Republicans.  (Frank’s prodigious output generally also deserves mention.)

The Denver media’s political-ad fact-checkers have my eternal admiration because their job is tedious and difficult but really valuable. So, a shout out to Denver 7’s Alan Gathright, The Denver Post, 9News’ Brandon Rittiman, and  CBS 4’s Shaun Boyd. Reporters, like the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby, who dip into this territory, deserve credit too.

She got ribbed by fellow reporters for burying the lede, but former CO Springs Gazette reporter Megan Schrader gets credit for reporting U.S. Senator Cory Gardner’s off-the-cuff comment that he planned to vote for Trump after all. The story generated national buzz and shows what’s lost as we shed campaign-trail journalism.

The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins’ story about anonymous campaign flyers may later play a role, in a small way, in a legislative fix that all sides would welcome.

I thought the debates moderated by 9News’ Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman were particularly informative.

It’s the little things that can make politics fun, so hats off to Molly Morrison at KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs for revealing that Trump was rescued by the Springs’ Fire Department after the head-strong mogul had insulted the Springs’ fire marshal. Nice.

Kudos to 9News‘ Rittiman and Denver’s 7‘s Zelinger for asking U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, after he released an ad critical of Trump in August, who he’d vote for. The fallout from his response—that Coffman would still consider voting for Trump or for the Libertarian candidate–got national coverage. And it t turned out to be a harbinger of Coffman’s troubles later, as he’s tried to both support and oppose Trump at the same time, ultimately opposing Trump. We all love it when journalists follow up beyond the canned statements and ads.

Finally, can you beat the editorials in the Aurora Sentinel? No. Even if you like U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), you still have to love the writing in the Sentinel’s endorsement of his Democratic opponent Morgan Carroll, as well as the fire in its other editorials on any political topic.

Forget the rabbit hole, Coffman is opposed to a path to citizenship for immigrants

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

9News anchor Kyle Clark did an excellent job interviewing U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman Tuesday, and his Democratic challenger Morgan Carroll Monday, pressing them on a range of issues.

On immigration, Clark asked Coffman what he’d propose for adult undocumented immigrants:

Coffman: “As long as they haven’t violated criminal laws to give them a legalized status that would allow them to work here without fear of deportation.

Clark: “Not citizenship but legal status?”

Coffman: “Legal status.”

Clark: “Any path to citizenship for those people?”

Coffman: “No. No.”

But without skipping a beat, Coffman kind of contradicted himself, with the camera rolling, saying he could possibly support a path to citizenship.

Coffman: “I don’t want to box myself in. If we get into negotiations, and there’s everything that I like, and it would be a very long path, and very selective. You know, I don’t want to totally back myself—but ideally I would say no.”

If you’re a journalist, what do you do with Coffman’s qualifier? Do you say he’s opposed to a citizenship path? Against it, unless he’s for it?

In a news segment yesterday based on the interview, Clark contrasted Coffman’s stance against a path to citizenship with Carroll’s position in favor of it. He didn’t mention Coffman’s qualifying comments.

In an email, I asked Clark why he apparently concluded that Coffman is against a path to citizenship.

Clark: “I took Representative Coffman’s answer to mean that he is not in favor of a path to citizenship but stopped short of saying he’d never support it,” wrote Clark.

Clark could have gone down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out, specifically, what Coffman means by theoretically favoring a citizenship path if negotiations produce “everything that I like.”

But it’s a rabbit hole other reporters have tried to go down without coming up with specifics on what Coffman wants for citizenship. And besides, Coffman’s statement, especially with “ideally no” tacked on, is clear enough as it is.

So Clark was right to conclude Coffman opposes a path to citizenship.

Plus, it’s consistent with Coffman’s stance historically. When a specific proposal for a path to citizenship was on the table, and negotiations were possible, as part of the bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill that passed the U.S. Senate in 2013, Coffman opposed the bill.

But Coffman said at the time he might support comprehensive reform, piece-by-piece, some other time. But, over three years, we’ve seen no specifics from Coffman on a citizenship path for adults.

As Lizeth Chacon wrote in an Aurora Sentinel op-ed yesterday:

For Republicans grappling with immigration in 2013, opposing the Senate’s Gang of Eight plan was more than just splitting hairs on the particulars of a bill – or advocating a “slower” approach, as the Post characterized it.  Rather it was a decision that doomed reform in an attempt to appease anti-immigrant hardliners in the conservative base.

For Mike Coffman, it also meant that this so-called “leader” on immigration reform placed himself squarely to the right of Republicans like John McCain and Marco Rubio, senators who actually took a position and passed legislation.

Coffman has since tried to cover up for his opposition by saying he believes comprehensive reform can be done in pieces. What the media in general has failed to understand, however, is that this procedural talking point represents Coffman’s biggest and most craven reversal on the issue.

Congress usually passes landmark pieces of legislation by clearing the deck of all sticky issues at once and including give-and-take compromises designed to attract enough supporters from both parties to ensure passage. That’s why the word “comprehensive” in immigration reform is so important.

The good news is, thanks to the intersection of an election and journalism, we can now definitively conclude, after years of equivocation, Coffman is against a path to citizenship.

Harber to produce weekly TV interview shows on election topics

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Denver television fixture Aaron Harber will again produce an extensive series of TV interview shows, called Your Decision 2016, focusing on Colorado election races, ballot initiatives, and related issues beginning no later than Sept. 25 and ending Nov. 6.

“The majority of voters really start paying attention after Labor Day, so our focus is to try to make people aware of this over the course of the next four or five weeks and then start the programming,” said Harber. “Our goal is not just to provide the programming as a public service. Our goal is to reach thousands of voters, so they have a place to go for fact-based and mutually respectful and civil discussion, which seems to be in short order in the political world today.”

Harber will soon begin solidifying topics for 14-to-18 half-hour shows. He aims to cover not only the major races and state-wide ballot initiatives but also key down-ballot state legislative races, such as state senate contests that could determine whether Democrats take control of Colorado government.

Harber plans shows on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race and the Aurora Congressional race (U.S. House District 6) between U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and his Democratic challenger State Sen. Morgan Carroll.

At least two shows will be offered each week. They will air on KCDO-TV Channel 3, Saturdays at 9 to 9:30 p.m. for one show and Saturdays 9:30 to 10 p.m. for another show. (The two shows will be air again on KCDO from 11 a.m Sundays to 12 a.m. and later on Sundays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.) The two programs will also be broadcast on COMCAST Entertainment Television Mondays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. (with repeat shows during the week on COMCAST and on ION Television), and the two shows will also be downloadable on COMCAST XFINITY ON DEMAND service).

The different venues offer “voters lots of chances to see the programs,” says Harber.

“With these six prime-time spots, we really want to take advantage of the opportunity to be on the air when a lot of people are watching television,” said Harber.

Harber’s show joins other Denver TV candidate-interview shows that have made a demonstrable impact on Colorado politics in recent years: 9News’ Balance of Power and 7News’ Politics Unplugged. Unfortunately, Fox 31 Denver dropped its interview program when longtime political reporter Eli Stokols left the station for a job at Politico.

There’s also the Get More Smarter Show, hosted by progressives Jason Bane and Alan Franklin, and Devil’s Advocate, “moderated” by Jon Caldara of the right-leaning Independence Institute. (Caldara’s show broke news last month when U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn backtracked on his previous pledge to ban all abortion, even for rape.)

In 2014, Harber’s election shows were rolled out in partnership with The Denver Post. Harber has a regular public-affairs TV program as well as the focused election programming.

Fact Check:  Gardner opposed comprehensive immigration reform and backed government shutdown

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Update: After seeing the comments attacking Denver Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett, I asked him to comment on my blog post below. I regret not seeking comment from him before posting, but here’s what Plunkett said via email:

Gardner has called for acting on immigration reform. He stood and clapped when Obama asked in is SOTU in 2014 calling for Congress to get it done. He’s for a path to legal status. Yes, he says the border situation has to be secure, and I understand that some use that condition to dodge real reform, but Gardner has for the last two years been more friendly to the issue than others.

I include this piece from Mark Matthew’s in 2014 to show what I mean.

I get it that the use of the word “comprehensive” is too much of a buzzword and it isn’t specific enough. And were I writing specifically about immigration I would have had to have been more detailed. But in the context of a broader editorial about leadership styles, a 10,000-foot view comparison between Gardner’s approach and Cruz/Trump, Gardner is much different. Cruz called for deporting 12 million people in the country illegally, for example.

——-

In an editorial this weekend holding out U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner as the model of the way forward for the Republican Party, The Denver Post claimed Gardner “supports comprehensive immigration reform.”

In fact, Gardner opposed a 2103 comprehensive immigration reform bill, which died in the Republican-controlled House, after it passed by a bipartisan 68-32 vote in the U.S. Senate.

Gardner said at the time immigration reform has to start with border security, and he called for  “additional personnel on the border,” an “e-verify system,” and “additional security, a fence, you name it, on the border.”

Sounds much like Trump, even though The Post’s editorial, titled “How will the GOP rebuild after Trump,” aimed to contrast Gardner with Trump.

Since then, Gardner has called for immigration reform, but the issues section of his website doesn’t list immigration at all. There’s no indication that his position has changed or that he’s for comprehensive immigration reform, in any real sense of the term.

Rep. Mike Coffman, who also opposed the bipartisan U.S. Senate bill in 2013, uses the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform,” but his website says it “must first begin with the comprehensive enforcement of our immigration laws.”

To my way of thinking, if you demand undefined border enforcement first, leaving out the other elements of comprehensive immigration reform, like a path to citizenship, you’re really not for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s not comprehensive.

The Post also claimed Gardner was against the 2013 government shutdown. In fact, 9News’ political reporter Brandon Rittiman determined that in 2014, even though Gardner voted to end the shutdown once it started, “Gardner did vote in line with the Republican strategy that led to the government shutdown.”

Thanks to journalists who refuse to take the same non-answer for an answer

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Journalists take a lot of hits these days, but we’re all glad they’re out there asking questions.

The final days of the Republican senatorial primary give us an opportunity to thank journalists for asking candidates a question multipile times when the question isn’t answered.

This primary season, we added interviews with former State Rep. Jon Keyser to BigMedia’s video of reporters who refuse to take the same non-answer for a real answer. (The video also includes interviews with Rep. Mike Coffman and Sen. Cory Gardner. Tip of the hat to, among others, 9News’ Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman, former Fox 31’s Eli Stokols, and New7’s Marshall Zelinger and Marc Stewart.)

9News reporter doesn’t let Coffman hide behind and then contradict spokesperson

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Politicians like to trick us by hiding behind their spokespeople and then, if necessary, contradicting whatever their spokesperson said.

Case in point: Mike Coffman.

Yesterday Coffman put out a wishy washy statement about whether he’d support Donald Trump. But back in February, when Coffman himself was dodging reporters’ questions about Trump, Coffman’s spokesperson was adamant that Coffman would back Trump if Trump became the Republican nominee, as quoted by The Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning.

Good reporters won’t let a politician, like Coffman, shove out a new position without, at a minimum, explaining why the new statement contradicts that of his spokesperson.

Case in point: Brandon Rittiman.

He quoted Coffman’s statement about Trump yesterday and noted that it completely contradicted the words of his mouthpiece back in February. From Rittiman’s story:

In a statement, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) said he’s not sold on Trump yet, calling his party’s presumptive presidential nominee “divisive.”

“Trump has a long way to go to earn the support of many – me included,” Coffman wrote.

That statement contradicts what his campaign told the Colorado Statesman in February. The relevant portion of the article (which is behind a paywall) reads as follows:

“Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary?” said [Mike Coffman] campaign spokeswoman Kristin Strohm. “The answer is obviously yes. And he believes strongly it is going to be Marco Rubio.”

Other reporting on Coffman’s Trump statement ignored Strohm’s comment, but I’m sure there will be ample opportunities for reporters to ask Coffman to explain what’s going on here.

In multiple interviews, Glenn attacks Keyser for exploiting his Bronze Star for political gain

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Republican U.S. Senate Jon Keyser is “running on, ‘I have a Bronze Star,'” GOP U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn told 9News today, for a “Balance of Power” show to be aired fully on Sunday morning at 8:45 before Meet the Press:

In a teaser for the program, Glenn says, “Jon Keyser is a nice guy but does not have a lot of depth or breadth of experience. He’s running on ‘I have a Bronze Star.’” Glenn told 9News. “I respect him for that, but he didn’t even finish a term in the legislature.”

9News anchor Kyle Clark reported on the interview:

Glenn assailed Keyser for lacking a conservative voting record that would qualify him for the Senate.

“You can’t just go in there and drop your Bronze Star and say, ‘This is how I’m going to vote.’” Glenn said.

The Keyser campaign fired back sharply.

“Darryl Glenn is embarrassing himself and further proving why he will never be a United States Senator,” said Keyser spokesman Matt Connelly.

Glenn, who won a GOP election Saturday to appear on the Republican primary ballot, presented a similar version of his attack on Keyser on KVOR radio in Colorado Springs April 11, stating:

Glenn: “You hear a lot of people pandering out there, saying great things.  And I’m personally offended at Mr. Keyser.  He needs to stop campaigning on the fact that he has a Bronze Star.  I love the fact – I honor him because he has that.  But I represent, here, five military installations.  I have people on my own team that have that.  And the one thing they don’t do is campaign on it. These people do things that most people don’t want to do.  But you don’t use it for personal benefit.  So he needs to dial it back!”

Listen to Glenn on KVOR radio April 11:

Did 9News err in limiting its U.S. Senate debate to eight GOP candidates?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Last week, Denver Post reporter John Frank wrote that 9News’ “announcement of the first televised debate in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate is sure to create controversy: With more than a dozen candidates in the race, who will make the debate stage?”

9News stated it will include any “viable” candidate in its April 5 debate, as determined by a 5-member panel of political analysts.

“The panel may also draw scrutiny,” Frank suggested, “as the members represent establishment politics in a field with a number of outsider candidates.”

Frank swiftly outlined how each member of the panel is connected with establishment politics.

Along these lines, one detail I stumbled on is that fact that one panel member, Kelly Mahar, has close ties to former Rep. Jon Keyser, having joined with him to form “iGOP,” a “slate of young, tech savvy Republicans” who ran for Republican National Convention (RNC) delegate slots in 2012. Mahar is also a 9News commentator.

In any event, I asked Rittiman to respond to the criticism that in deciding between a grassroots and a more establishment GOP candidate, 9News’ establishment-oriented panel might be biased toward the establishment candidate. He said:

Rittiman: “We selected people [for the panel] who know what it takes to mount a successful Senate campaign and see if a candidate has anything to show besides filing an FEC form. We want people on stage who have a shot of gaining access to the primary ballot, which takes some level of organized support by this point in the process.

By now, when we’re this close to the state convention, the candidates should be able to point to something. Grassroots support is great. Show us the grassroots support you have. That’s fair game.

Just because we have some folks who have been closer to politics and know what it takes to run a campaign involved in the selection process doesn’t mean that those people wouldn’t take it very seriously if any of the candidates were to show us some metric or measure of grassroots support. We can all recognize that when we see it.

I’d again stress that we will allow any ballot-qualified candidates who haven’t dropped out to participate in our June 7 primary debate—and that we are allowing all candidates to submit up to two minutes of video to be published on 9NEWS.com and mentioned during the debate.

Yesterday, 9News announced that the panel chose eight candidates to participate in the debate. Wouldn’t voters want all of them to go at each other?

Ideally yes, but there are limits. What would all those Republican presidential candidates have looked like on the same stage, with no B-Team debate to siphon some of them off? Pretty bad. A over-crowded debate doesn’t serve the public interest. Colorado faces a similar situation.

So 9News did the right thing to limit the number of candidates, and a “viability” standard, in the absence of polling, makes sense.

You can argue that television station should have put some non-establisment folks on the selection panel — like former Rep. Tom Tancredo, former GOP Chair and KLZ talk-show host Steve Curtis, or Tea Party leader and lawyer Randy Corporon. Some people like that, with political experience.

But I don’t think it mattered. Judging from the candidates selected (see below) yesterday, 9News struck  a balance between the voters’ need to hear from 1) candidates who have a demonstrable hope of winning and 2) from the underdog candidates who deserve to be heard. It’s a tough call when you have so many odd candidates vying against each other.

9News’ announcement yester of the debate lineup seemed to reflect a fair process:

“The lineup for the debate is not yet final. Campaigns who were not invited have been given a deadline of March 31 to provide any additional evidence of viability for the panel to consider.

The panel unanimously decided that the campaigns of Charlie Ehler, Jerry Eller, Michael Kinlaw, and Donald Rosier did not demonstrate a viable path to accessing the June primary ballot.

Ehler and Rosier did not provide materials for the panel to review by the Monday deadline.

Greg Lopez, who had announced a run, told 9NEWS he’s dropped out and is endorsing Natividad in the race.”

 

 

TrumpWatch: Where Colorado Republicans Stand on Trump

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

With Trump’s wins last night, the question of whether Colorado Republicans will vote for the mogul, if he’s the nominee, became even more relevant, as we inch toward the Republican Party’s July 18 national convention in Cleveland.

Here’s an update of my handy TrumpWatch guide for reporters tracking the local GOP response to Trump.

The mogul still apparently has only one GOP elected official who, based on public statements, affirmatively likes him and would vote for him as nominee. That’s State Sen. Laura Woods, the Republican from Westminster (though her candidate-of-choice is Ted Cruz). You recall, Woods “narrowed” her choices to Cruz and Trump after the GOP debate in Boulder.

Other high-profile Republicans in Colorado don’t share Woods’ enthusiasm. Even a brash politician, like former CO Secretary of State Scott Gessler, is turned off by Trump. Asked last week by 9News’ political reporter Brandon Rittiman if he’s “comfortable with Trump being the face of the Republican Party,” Gessler said:

Gessler: “My sense with Trump is, he certainly could beat Hillary Clinton, but he could end up being a complete disaster. Obviously, he’s been a lot ruder and cruder than other candidates to date. Does that alienate a lot of the electorate? I think there’s a really high probability of that. And his style is certainly not my style. And that’s in part why I’m not real comfortable with him.”

Still, as you can see below, I can only find a couple former or current Republican elected officials or candidates who will say, flat out, that they won’t support Trump.

One of them is former State Sen. Shawn Mitchell, who wrote on Facebook last week:

Mitchell: “I can imagine Hillary representing me on the world stage before I can stomach His Blondness performing on my behalf. I won’t vote for her, but I will not vote for him. Supreme Court be damned. America has recovered from worse, and if we don’t recover, God is in charge.”

A larger number of prominent Republicans have said they’ll back Trump as nominee.

Here’s the latest summary.

Elected Republicans Who Are Declining to Say If They’ll Back Trump

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (though he called Trump a “fraud.”)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman(But campaign spokeswoman Kristin Strohm told the Colorado Statesman Feb. 2, “Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary? The answer is obviously yes.”)

State House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso.

 

Elected Officials Who Actively Like Trump

State Sen. Laura Woods has said Trump is one of her two favorite prez candidates (here at 25 min 50 sec), but she’s backing Cruz.

 

Elected Officials Who Will Back Trump, if He’s the Nominee.

State Sen. President Bill Cadman.

Sen. Cory Gardner (even through called Trump a “buffoon.” ) (even though only answered after being asked seven times) (even though he seems to be backtracking.)

Rep. Doug Lamborn.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton.

 

Former Elected Officials Who Will Back Trump, if He’s the Nominee

Former Colorado Senate President John Andrews.

Former Rep. Bob Beauprez.

 

Former Elected Officials Who Actively Like Trump

Former State Rep. Spencer Swalm is an “out-of-the-closet” endorser.

 

Former Elected Officials Who Will Not Vote for Trump

Former State Sen. Shawn Mitchell.

 

Candidates

These GOP U.S. Senate candidates told the Statesman they’d back Trump as nominee: businessman Robert Blaha, activist Charlie Ehler, Ryan Frazier, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, former CSU athletics director Jack Graham, former Rep. Jon Keyser, El Paso County Commissioner Peg Littleton, and State Sen. Tim Neville.

Casper Stockham, who’s challenging U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, says he will vote for Trump if he’s the nominee.

 

Notable Republicans Who Think “We May Be Seeing the Final months of the Existence of the Republican Party”

Former Rep. Bob Schaffer

 

Please send me any additions to this list.

Is Coffman sorry he called Obama a “recruiting tool” for terrorists?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Last month, Rep. Mike Coffman wrote on Facebook that Obama is the “real recruiting tool” for terrorists, not GITMO.

Coffman: “President Obama wants to close GTMO because he thinks it’s a recruiting tool for terrorists – the real recruiting tool is a President who seems more concerned about protecting the rights of terrorists rather than defeating them and protecting the American people.”[emphasis added]

Yet it flew under the radar of Denver media, and Coffman never apologized for the recruiting tool comment.

But it seems, judging from a KOA interview today, that Coffman himself apparently believes that the comment was wrong.

On KOA this morning, Coffman said:

Coffman: This president refuses to acknowledge that we are a nation at war not of our own choosing and refuses even to identify those who have declared war on us. … He says Guantanamo Bay is a recruiting tool for terrorists. What is a recruiting tool for terrorists is having a commander in chief that projects weakness. [emphasis added]

It’s one thing to say Obama’s policies are a recruiting too. It’s another to write that the President himself is a recruiting tool for terrorists.

Does Coffman really believe that the “real recruiting tool” is the President of the United States?