Archive for the '9News' Category

Coffman’s support for killing Obamacare via repeal-later raises questions

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Recall that Congressman Mike Coffman of Aurora promised to vote for the first House measure to kill Obamacare, a measure that would have taken away health insurance from millions of people.

Then he voted against the second House bill, which also would have pushed millions off the health insurance rolls, and it seemed his first promised vote disappeared.

Now it turns out that he’d have also voted for the repeal-later measure, which would leave an unknown number millions with no health insurance.

Asked by 9News’ Marshall Zelinger Aug. 6 (at 1:30 here) if he’d support a “straight repeal,” Coffman replied:

Coffman: “If you said, ‘Well, okay, we’re going to repeal,’ and the date certain for the repeal was long enough out, where it wouldn’t disrupt the markets, and it gave Congress adequate time, I think that would be appropriate.”

It’s worth getting more details from Coffman, whose office doesn’t return my calls, in case it comes up again.

Why does he think there could be agreement on an Obamacare replacement in the future when there was no agreement in seven years?

When he says he wants a date-certain for an Obamacare repeal to be “far enough out,” does he mean longer than seven years? How long?

Why wouldn’t the uncertainty of not having a replacement in hand disrupt the markets no matter how “far out” the repael date is, given the inability of Republicans to agree on a replacement in seven years?

Those are a few of the questions for Coffman.

An early version of this post incorrectly characterized Coffman’s proposal as repeal-now-and-replace-later.

 

Reporters should persist in asking for Gardner’s nonexistent Obamacare replacement

Monday, May 1st, 2017

 

Appearing on a conservative radio show last week, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said it’s “politics at its worst” to be “celebrating the defeat of a replacement” for Obamacare.

Politics at its worst looks more like Gardner’s vicious opposition to Obamacare for seven years, then being unable to point to a replacement he actually supports.

Even now, after all the embarrassing GOP drama on this issue, Gardner is trashing Obamacare without offering a solution.

On KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis Show April 27, Gardner said it was “way too early” to comment on Trump’s latest Obamacare replacement proposal.

And Gardner was undecided, even vaguely critical, of the last month’s failed Trump-Ryan bill that was crashed with such drama.

But Gardner has the audacity to continue to insist that some unknown replacement be produced.

“But what I will tell you is this,” Gardner told Caplis, “We have to put something in place of the Affordable Care Act that actually works. And the Affordable Care Act has hurt hundreds of thousands of Coloradans through higher premiums, made access to insurance nearly impossible because of those higher costs, costs people their doctor. We have to do better. And for anybody, particularly for partisan reasons, to say they want to keep the Affordable Care Act in place, and it’s an absolute failure. And they are celebrating the defeat of a replacement. You know, that’s politics at its worst.”

Gardner was more subdued on 9News’ Balance of Power on Sunday, telling Brandon Rittiman,

“What I am looking for in a health care bill is something that is going to reduce costs and give access to people in the state of Colorado and across the country that they otherwise wouldn’t have. I hope we’ll have bipartisan support to do that.”

So, whether media figures see the hard-edged edition of Gardner (e.g., on talk radio) or the softer Gardner (e.g., on 9News) they should keep asking what health care bill Gardner supports.

 

Coffman again slides by most reporters, this time on Russia

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

This is yet another story about Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) making a head-spinning change on a serious issue, acting as if no shift had occurred, and sliding by reporters who barely noticed or ignored it.

This time it’s the evolution of Coffman’s stance on Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In response to a question on whether he supported an independent commission to investigate Russian meddling in the election, Coffman told 9News anchor Kyle Clark April 13 that he believed, based on government investigations, that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election. “I think the Russian meddling part has been resolved,” Coffman told Clark, adding that he wasn’t sure about Trump’s involvement.

You’d have been surprised to hear Coffman say this on 9News if you were listening to Colorado Public Radio in January.

During an interview with CPR’s Ryan Warner, Coffman said Jan. 11 he didn’t yet accept that Russians had tried to influence the election, because intelligence reports are frequently politicized.

Sounding like Trump, Coffman maintained this stance even after Warner pointed out that multiple intelligence agencies had concluded the Russians had intervened.

“I can tell you as an Iraq war veteran, I think sometimes that the intelligence at the highest levels tends to be politicized to make a certain point,” Coffman told Warner, adding that he thought the allegations against the Russians should be investigated.

Just two days later, after attending a full house intelligence briefing on Russian interference, Coffman told the Voice of America something quite different. VOA reported:

“I think it’s a wake-up call beyond our security officials, when we look at what they’ve been doing in Europe and wake up to the fact that they’ve been doing it in America,” Congressman Mike Coffman, a Republican from Colorado, told reporters.

Coffman, one of a handful of Republicans who avoided associating with the Trump campaign during the 2016 election season, described House members’ reactions to the briefing as aggressive, with pointed questions about the role Russia had played in the election of Trump.

“I think they consider the United States an adversary and I hope the incoming administration recognizes that fact,” Coffman said.

Yet, in the ensuing months, Coffman never issued a wider statement about his new confidence in the intelligence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

In fact, in February, with Trump attacking the CIA and calling for an investigation into FBI leaks that led to the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Coffman joined the president and also called for an investigation of the FBI.

During his April 13 town hall meeting, he joked about the need for an independent commission to investigate Russian interference. The Aurora Sentinel reported:

“The most dangerous place to be in Washington D.C. right now is between David Nunes or Adam Schiff and a TV camera,” Coffman told the crowd. “I’m not there yet for an independent council, but I’m moving there.”

It was after the April 13 town hall when Coffman told 9News’ Clark that the question of Russian meddling had been settled, but Coffman was still undecided on the independent commission.

The Obama Administration had done an investigation and “members of Congress, myself included, were briefed about Russian interference, which was predominately the hacking of the DNC and the Clinton campaign, Podesta’s email accounts.”

When was this briefing? It doesn’t make much sense that intelligence briefings could have swayed Coffman, because it was no secret that there was a consensus in January on the issue of Russian interference, as Warner had pointed out to Coffman Jan. 11, when Coffman was broadly trashing the intelligence.

So, what changed between January and April that convinced Coffman of the Russian attacks on U.S. elections?

What happened to his concerns about top-level intelligence being routinely politicized to the extent of not being trustworthy?

What’s Coffman’s explanation for his radical shift on Russian interference? Was there insufficient evidence on the table in January when Coffman continued to doubt the intelligence? Did Trump’s stance against the CIA play a role? What happened?

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.

 

 

Are Colorado Republicans really guaranteeing that people who have health insurance now will continue to have it under an Obamacare replacement?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Last week, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) if he could guarantee to his constituents that they’d “have coverage if you have it now.”

“The answer to that is no, right?” asked Hayes.

“Yes,” replied Sanford. “The answer is, we don’t know with precision.”

Colorado Republicans need to be asked the same question, because over the past months they’ve repeatedly implied that no one will lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed. But am I hearing them right? Is this a promise?

For example, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) stated KOA 850-AM Feb. 17, “And let me just say, nothing will be repealed unless it’s concurrently replaced.”

If nothing means nothing, then no one will lose their health care coverage, at a minimum, much less all the other benefits of Obamacare (e.g., coverage for under-26 family members, pre-existing conditions, no caps on coverage).

Coffman’s office sort of confirmed his stance to 9News this week.

9News: Coffman’s office told us he wants to keep the changes Obamacare made for pre-existing conditions, the ability for parents to keep children on their plans until age 26, and maintaining coverage for people who gained it under the ACA—including the Medicaid expansion, which has been criticized by some of Coffman’s fellow Republicans.

But that’s a aspiration, not a promise, and Coffman’s constituents want to know if Coffman would vote for a still-unkown Obamacare replacement that would throw people off the health insurance rolls.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) expressed the same promise in the form of an aspiration, as he likes to do when dealing with a tough question.

Gardner: “What we have to do is create a bipartisan health care plan, health insurance plan, to make sure that we can do better than Obamacare,” said Gardner on KOA 850-AM Jan. 13.

Is he saying his constituents won’t lose their insurance? I think so, but he needs to be asked point blank–and repeatedly, because that’s often what it takes with Gardner (e.g., Will he vote for Trump? And will he hold a town hall? And what about the federal personhood amendment?)

In some communications, Colorado Republicans are stopping short of promising that their constituents won’t lose their health insurance, but they’re guaranteeing that elements of Obamacare won’t be lost.

“…[U]nder the Republican replacement plans, no individual with a pre-existing condition will be denied insurance coverage or see their rates spike,” wrote Congressman Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton in The Denver Post Jan. 13.

That’s a serious promise.

But the larger question remains. What exactly are you saying? Will you vote for a bill that doesn’t guarantee health insurance for all Americans who have it under Obamacare? If not, how many are you willing to throw off the rolls or put at risk of losing their coverage?

Reporter does his best to find out if Gardner will hold town hall meeting

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Fox 31 Denver’s Joe St. George made journalism proud today as he pressed U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) to answer the straight-forward question of whether he’d be hosting an in-person town hall meeting.

But, exhibiting the same allergy to direct questions that Gardner’s had before, the junior senator from Colorado flat-out refused to answer the question, leaving it open to be asked again (and again) until it’s answered. (Click here to see St. George’s interview.)

St. George: As you know, there’s been protests outside your office. There’s a protest outside this hotel, people wondering, during this week of recess, why aren’t you hosting a town hall?

Gardner: Well look, we’ve had a number of opportunities to engage with a number of Coloradans around the state. And we’ll continue to do that, whether it’s through this opportunity to visit with the Governor’s Agriculture Forum. I just spoke at the Colorado Space Coalition. I was out at Ft. Morgan and Burlington earlier this week. We’ll be in northern Colorado today and tomorrow. And so it’s a great opportunity to hear from Coloradans, and I appreciate the people who are expressing their points of view, whether they support what the President has done or whether they oppose what the President has done, it is very good to hear what’s going on.

St. George: But no town hall? Will you commit to doing a town hall sometime in the future?

Gardner: In my time in Congress, we’ve held over 100 town halls. Last year, we were across all 64 counties in the state. We’ve met with protesters. My office has met with protesters. We’ll continue to do that. We’ll hold a number of tele-town halls in the future. And I hope that people will go onto our website and join them.

St. George: Is a tele-town hall a way to avoid that confrontation, because as you know, some of these town halls are getting heated. Is that why people like yourself are choosing telephone town halls?

Gardner: Well, I think it’s a great opportunity to reach people across the state. And we try to do it as often as we can. We do it at different times in the day. Sometimes we do it in the morning. Sometimes we do it at night, just depending on when people are able to answer the phone. That’s why we want to vary the time of day that we do this at. And we can reach out to more people. We take positive questions. We take negative questions. We take them all. It’s a great way to hear what’s on people’s minds. In addition to the many meetings we’ve held with people across Colorado. The office outreach that we’ve had. The time to meet with protesters throughout the state, individually at these forums as well. It’s very important.

St. George: So as of right now, no plans to hold a town hall?

Gardner: Look, we’ve had a number of tele-town hall opportunities. We’ve had a number of opportunities to go to open forums–

St. George: But no in-person town halls?

Gardner: We’re going to continue working on meetings where we can meet people across the state. That’s what we’re doing today. That’s what we’re doing tomorrow. We’ll continue doing it throughout the week.

If Gardner’s dodges look familiar, it’s because they are. This is how he treats reporters on a regular basis, insulting them with non-answers. You recall this exchange with the Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols during the 2014 election campaign.

Stokols: You don’t support the personhood amendment at the state level anymore. Why keep your name on that Life At Conception Act at the federal level?

Gardner: There is no such thing as the federal personhood bill.

Stokols: Cory, the people who wrote that bill, Congressmen Duncan Hunter of California, Paul Broun of Georgia, they say–Personhood USA says–that that is what the Life at Conception Act is.

Gardner: When I announced for the Senate, that’s when this outcry started from the Senate campaign of Senator Udall.  That’s what they are trying to do. This is all politics. It’s unfortunate that they can’t focus on–

Stokols: But the facts are —

Gardner: No, the facts are, Eli, that there is no federal personhood bill. There is no federal personhood bill.

Gardner has never given a straight answer about the Life at Conception Act.

Will he try to pull off the same trick with town hall meetings? With Obamacre? You’d have to guess he’ll try, but unlike the few months leading to his election in 2014, there are long months or years ahead for reporters to demand real answers.

Coffman announces Obamacare telephone calls and “meetings” but no promised town hall

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman announced yesterday that he plans to hold “series of meetings,” beginning Feb. 20-24 and continuing in March. about the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

Absent from his plans is a town hall meeting in a “very large venue” that can “handle 300 people.” He promised to hold such a town-hall-style event after his early exit from a jammed constituent meeting last month,

In place of a public town-hall discussion is a “listening tour,” which involves  1) an undefined number of “meetings” with select “healthcare providers and patients advocacy groups” and 2) “several telephone town halls to hear directly from constituents regarding their concerns about the Affordable Care Act.”

Coffman did not offer an explanation for backing out of his plans for a big old town hall meeting, but the replacement he’s chosen offers the Aurora Republican the opportunity to screen his audiences and weed out potentially angry questions.

In other words, Coffman can’t slip out the back door of a telephone call. But he can to the equivalent by screening callers. Ditto with meetings with healthcare providers; he’s picking both the groups and the venues.

So in terms of accountability, Coffman’s proposal doesn’t fulfill his promise to do right to all those people he left in the library Jan. 14, when he slipped out the back door early. And reporters should have asked him about it.

Here’s the entire news release issued by Coffman’s office yesterday:

Coffman Announces ACA ‘Listening Tour’

Feb 13, 2017 Press Release
Washington, DC — Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (CO-06) announced that during the district work period scheduled for Feb. 20-24, he will undertake the first phase of his planned “listening tour” regarding the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Coffman will use this series of meetings to gain the perspective of as many constituents, patients and healthcare professionals as possible.

“During this district work week, I look forward to meeting with many healthcare providers and patients advocacy groups. My objective is to personally hear from them on how the ACA has affected the healthcare system, medical professionals, and most importantly, how it has affected patients access to medical care. I will use their input not only to review my own plans on how to proceed, but also to communicate their concerns to my congressional colleagues—Additionally, I want to communicate again that no repeal will take place without first having a replacement.”

The ACA, which was signed into law in March 2010, dramatically impacted the health care of millions here in Colorado and across the country. Due to the ACA, thousands of Coloradans who were perfectly satisfied with their health insurance had their policies changed or in some cases even cancelled. In 2017 alone, health insurance rates rose more than 20% in some areas, and 14 counties in the State now have just one health insurance provider servicing their area. The ACA, did allow for some consumer protections to be codified into law, some of which Coffman strongly supports, such as preserving the pre-existing condition protection and ensuring those under Medicaid expansion access to health insurance coverage.

Coffman will commence the second phase of this listening effort in March when he plans to hold several telephone town halls to hear directly from constituents regarding their concerns about the Affordable Care Act.

More information on the tele-town halls will be made available in early March in the Congressman’s website: www.coffman.house.gov.

One month later: What about Coffman’s promised town-hall meeting in a venue that can “handle 300 people”

Monday, February 13th, 2017

One of the biggest national stories to originate in Denver this year was 9News’ piece about U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R-Aurora) early exit out the back door of a library full of people wanting to talk to him about Obamacare.

A few days after the story went viral, Coffman bumped into The Colorado Independent’s Susan Greene and told her that “right now” he was trying to secure a “very large venue” for a town-hall meeting. Coffman was looking for a place that could “handle 300 people.”

Yet, it’s now been exactly one month since Coffman announced his search for a venue, and nary a reporter has asked Coffman, “What’s up with your big shindig town-hall meeting?”

With Obamacare in the balance and Coffman in the hot seat, that’s obviously a legitimate question, which has news value even if Coffman has no further comment.

The last item listed on the “events” page of Coffman’s website took place Jan. 14 at the Aurora Central Library. That’s the one where 9News filmed him slipping out the back.

“Constituents are invited to come to Aurora Central Library to meet with Rep. Coffman and discuss the issues that are important to them,” states the description of the Jan. 14 event.

Given the wide attention on the Aurora meeting, shouldn’t a reporter hold Coffman accountable for his promise for a follow-up town hall–or find out if he’s now decided against it?Given the wide attention on the Aurora meeting, shouldn’t a reporter hold Coffman accountable for his promise for a follow-up town hall–or find out if he’s now decided against it?

Coffman himself validates news value of 9News story about his early exit from constituent meeting

Monday, January 30th, 2017

The day after 9News broke the story about U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) exiting early out the back door of a library filled with people wanting to ask him about Obamacare, Blair Miller, a reporter for Denver7 News, tweeted, “Gotta give the competition credit for a good story: Congressman Coffman leaves frustrated crowd.”

It was a well deserved tip-of-the-hat to Nelson Garcia, who broke the story for the NBC affiliate.

Who could possibly argue about the news value of catching a Congressman on video slipping out the back door early with a room of people still waiting to see him? It doesn’t matter who tipped Garcia off, where Coffman was going, why the people were mad. Coffman’s exit, spotlighted with police tape, was undeniably news.

Yet,  ColoradoPeakPolitics bloggers and others are claiming the story was “fake news,” an accusation Denver writer Corey Hutchins shredded in the Columbia Journalism Review last week. Hutchins stated the obvious, calling Garcia’s story a “credible news report.”

But in case anyone sides with conservatives on this, the best proof of the news value of 9News’ story is U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s own respoonse to it!

Coffman said in a subsequent interview that the library was “the wrong venue for the event,” which the Congressman described as a “protest.”

“So what I’m trying to do right now is get a very large venue and just really get the word out for people to come. Probably at least it would handle 300 people, not in a library.”

That’s about the best acknowledgement of the importance and validity of Garcia’s story you could imagine–and that’s without adding the public’s interest in knowing that Coffman slipped out the back door early.

So, when will Coffman hold his big meeting?

Are conservatives going to try to say that journalists aren’t justified in asking that question either?

Post opinion column should inspire more aggressive reporting on Medicaid

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Reporters covering the Medicaid debate at the Capitol should read Denver Post opinion writer Megan Schrader’s column today and act on it.

Schrader: “It’s simply disingenuous to imply that there are easy cuts to be made in the Medicaid portion of the budget, or to blame the state budget’s woes on the expansion pushed by Obama and adopted by Gov. John Hickenlooper.”

Translation for reporters: When Republican leaders blame Medicaid for state budget woes, reporters should ask them how they want to cut the state-federal program, which offers healthcare for children, elderly, the disabled, and other poor people.

Last year, Republicans, led by then State Senator Bill Cadman repeatedly claimed Medicaid was siphoning money from “every other program” in the state budget, including roads and schools.

Cadman told 9News: “[Democrats] have ignored the needs and demands of about five million people to specifically support one program, and it cannibalizes every other program. They’ve ignored the Constitution and put K-12 money into this program. I mean, they’ve ignored the roads, and put money into this program.

But in an epic fail, journalists never reported how Cadman or other Republicans proposed cutting Medicaid or saving money on the program through higher fees or the like. They reported the attack on the program but let the details slide by.

In her column, Schrader encourages Democrats and Republicans to try to find savings, and she acknowledges the difficulty in talking about them–which is precisely why reporters should be asking for specifics, especially from Republicans, who, unlike Democrats, are arguing that Medicaid cuts are a major part of the path out of Colorado’s budget woes.

Another take-away for reporters from Schrader’s piece is to challenge Republicans when they blame Colorado’s budget problems on the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.

Schrader wrote, “President Barack Obama’s proposed expansion has been funded entirely by federal dollars until this fiscal year, when the draw-down began and states started to pay a portion. In 2017-18, Colorado’s share, around 10 percent, will be funded by a small portion of a hospital user fee…. But that expansion is not hurting our general fund budget or causing the current fiscal crisis.

Last year, when Republicans blamed Obamacare for budget problems in Colorado, reporters did not explain often enough that this assertion is mostly, if not completely, false.

Overall, I’m hoping Schrader’s Post piece inspires more aggressive reporting on Medicaid, with reporters no longer tolerating muckety-muck Republicans blaming poor, sick, and disabled people for Colorado’s potholes–unless they explain, specifically, how they want to take tax money from the poor people and spend it on the potholes.

Journalism is about giving a voice to people who don’t have one. When bogus, talking-point-style attacks are launched at Medicaid, reporters should pretend they’re asking question for all those low-income people who aren’t in the room. I know that’s sort of pedantic and trite, but that’s what it’s about.