Archive for the '9News' Category

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.

Fake news accusation rings false

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Conservatives tweeted “fake news” in response to the 9News story, now spreading across the country, that U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) made an early back-door exit from a crowded “constituent meeting,” while scores of people were waiting to talk to him about his intention to repeal Obamacare.

How could the story be fake? The news outlet? Real. The crowd in Coffman’s office? Real. The early exit? Real. Sneaking out the back door? Real. The yellow police tape stretching from the back door to Coffman’s car? Too real (and too bizarre).

In support of the accusation of fakeness, @COPeakPolitics pointed to a Denver Post story indicating that Coffman did not leave the constituent meeting early. But later The Post corrected its story with:

CORRECTION: This story was corrected at 10:28 p.m. Jan. 17 to show that Rep. Mike Coffman left his 90 minute constituent meeting early. The meeting was scheduled for 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Others speculated that organizers were involved in getting some of the people to Coffman’s office and letting the media know. Gasp. If it’s true, and we don’t know, that’s politics and community organizing, not fake news.

Journalists often want to know, what’s the back story of an event. How did it come to pass? It’s a fair question, but that doesn’t make what actually took place any less real.

Fake news is a fabricated falsehood made to look somehow like real journalism–and identified as false by credible fact checkers.

It’s not a story (with video) of Coffman leaving early from the back door of a building full of people clamoring to talk to him about an upcoming vote.

If Trump isn’t among the most important interview topics for gubernatorial candidates, what is?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews obviously got it right on Sunday when he reported that the fallout from the presidential race will affect Democrats and Republicans who want to be Colorado’s next governor.

With respect to possible Republican gubernatorial candidates, like Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Matthews reported:

How [Republican] party members view the start to [Trump’s] presidency could have an impact on which candidates they support. Stapleton, for example, backed distant relative Jeb Bush in the GOP primary, although he later voted for Trump.

Some Republican candidates, like Stapleton, probably don’t want to be asked 1) about their presidential vote, or 2) what they think of Trump’s actions/behavior. (See Stapleton dodge the topic here last year.)

But that’s why reporters should continue asking both questions–and because they are of ongoing relevance and an inescapable part of the story line leading up to next year’s election.

As for other possible GOP gubernatorial candidates, in addition to Stapleton, Matthews mentioned state Sens. Tim Neville and Ray Scott, who are both on record as supporting Trump, as well as Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who appeared to signal her backing of the president-elect by cheering “Go Trump!” on election night, and George Brauchler, whose presidential vote is apparently still unknown.

9News‘ anchor Kyle Clark missed a chance to ask Brauchler about Trump during a Next with Kyle Clark interview last week, but undoubtedly the topic of Trump will come up repeatedly as Republicans and Democrats dither about whether to officially launch gubernatorial campaigns.

I mean, if Trump isn’t among the most important topics in an interview with almost any candidate, what is?

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: