Archive for the 'Colorado 3rd Cong. District' Category

Media omission: Gardner un-cosponsored legislation in 2011, showing how how can un-cosponsor personhood legislation now

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

One of the biggest election-year hypocrisies hanging out there, waiting for a civic-minded reporter to jump on, is the fact that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner remains a cosponsor of federal personhood legislation, even though he’s told the world, both in interviews and even in a paid advertisement, that he’s “learned more” about “personhood” and changed his mind about supporting it.

To un-cosponsor the federal personhood bill, the Life at Conception Act, Gardner must give a speech from the floor of the House of Representatives. Why hasn’t he done this?

Now is the time for the aforementioned civic-minded reporter to jump in and remind Gardner that he’s trotted down to the floor of House and un-cosponsored at least one bill before.

Back in 2011, Gardner, along with fellow Colorado Congressmen Coffman and Tipton, cosponsored legislation offering tax credits for natural-gas-powered vehicles.

But the oil-loving Koch brothers caught wind of the legislation, and pressured co-sponsors of the bill to withdraw their names.

As the Sunlight Foundation reported at the time:

But some companies, led by the oil refining conglomerate owned by the politically influential Koch brothers, have campaigned against the legislation, according to a report in The Hill newspaper. Their efforts have resulted in 14 members of Congress withdrawing their support for the bill.

Gardner, Coffman, and Tipton apparently felt the Koch pressure, and speaking from the floor of the House, one by one, they asked that their cosponsorship of the natural-gas bill (HR 1380) be ended. Click at the bottom of the page here, on “Show cosponsors who withdrew.”

Here’s C-Span video of these exciting acts of remorse and regret. In the first video, Gardner is not pictured, but you hear Gardner say:

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: For what purpose would the gentleman from Colorado like to address the House?

GARDNER: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I ask unanimous consent that my name be removed from [H.R.] 1380.”

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Without objection.

Then you see Rep. Scott Tipton make the same request. In the second video, you see Rep. Mike Coffman do it.

WATCH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj7VRXfTKg0&feature=share&list=UUSj-lO7VwQBYZBK-56FXN7w

WATCH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMq3Ya_OjFw&list=UUSj-lO7VwQBYZBK-56FXN7w&feature=share&index=2

If Gardner can do this in 2011, why won’t he do it now?

During an interview on with CBS4′s Shaun Boyd in April, Gardner went out of his way to distinguish between state and federal personhood proposals, as gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has also done, indicating that he may not take back his support of federal personhood, even though the state and federal measures would do the same thing. And Gardner has defended his anti-abortion record on the radio.

It was only June of 2013 when Gardner first added his name to the list of cosponsors of the Life at Conception Act. Maybe he’s fine with it. It’s a question that deserves to be asked.

Chieftain should reconsider its decision to exclude Casida from debate

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

The Pueblo Chieftain has excluded independent candidate Tisha Casida from a Chieftain-sponsored debate Oct. 10 featuring 3rd congressional district candidates Scott Tipton, a Republican, and Democrat Sal Pace.

“Voters want to hear from the candidates who do have a chance,” the Chieftain’s Managing Editor Steve Henson wrote in an email to Casida. “And we feel that we are reflecting the desires of our area voters and readers to focus on the candidates of the major parties.”

It’s a strange position for a newspaper to take, running contrary to journalism’s core job of airing out ideas, no matter how unpopular or meek.

But, it’s also true that a debate could get so diluted and unwieldy with lots of candidates on stage that voters would get little or nothing out of it.

So, if I were running a debate, I’d take a practical approach and see how many legitimate candidates, like Casida, wanted to participate and go from there.

If there were too many candidates, like there were during those loony GOP presidential debates recently, and I had no way of knowing which ones were most viable, I’d rotate them in and out. If there were only three or four legitimate candidates on the ballot, I’d include all of them them.

“You’re coming at it from the perspective of putting all the ideas out there,” Henson told me when I suggested this to him. “Our perspective reflects the wishes of our readers.” (He added that the Chieftain has given Casida a fair shake on its news pages, and this appears to me to be true.)

Henson says third-party or other candidates have gotten scant support over many years in southern Colorado.

“If a Libertarian were to get 15 percent of the vote in this election, they’d probably be included in our debate in the next election,” he said. “But that just hasn’t happened. It has nothing to do with the expression of ideas. For us, it’s really a numbers issue.”

The business organization, Club 20, apparently agrees with me that in an election debate, ideas should trump numbers, as Casida was included in the Sept. 9 Club 20 debate in Grand Junction, standing between Pace and Tipton on stage. The event worked just fine, I thought.

In a statement, Casida stated: “It is disappointing to be excluded from a debate in which we do represent a population of voters, and it is my hometown where I was born and raised, which is disheartening. I have worked very hard to petition onto the ballot and be a part of the process, to have a voice and be a voice for people who are frustrated with both Republicans and Democrats.”

Henson’s full statement, which he e-mailed to Casida, follows:

Henson: The Chieftain has not included third-party or independent or write-in candidates for political office because Pueblo and Southern Colorado voters historically have not supported them at the polls. Such candidates typically receive less than 10 percent and often less than 5 percent of the total votes cast.

In other words, frankly, area voters have made it clear that they will not elect a candidate who is not Democrat or Republican. Unless that situation changes, we will not include other candidates in our forums because it takes valuable time away from those candidates who have a legitimate chance of being elected.

Voters want to hear from the candidates who do have a chance, and we feel that we are reflecting the desires of our area voters and readers to focus on the candidates of the major parties.

Denver Post reporter inspires respect for journalism by correcting Coffman spokesperson’s assertion that Dems cut Medicare

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Despite the onslaught of lies coming at them, some journalists push on, trying to set the record straight.

Take, for example, Kurtis Lee, writing in Wednesday’s Denver Post.

Lee paraphrased Coffman spokesman Owen Loftus as saying Democrats voted for “a perceived $500 billion in cuts to Medicare” as part of Obamacare.

Lee didn’t just let Loftus’ explosive salvo fly out the window. Instead, like the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper did a while back, he set the record straight.

Lee added the following paragraph after Loftus’ accusation:

In a Washington Post fact check of similar claims, the health care law tries to identify ways to save money, and so the $500 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as “the baseline”) and the changes the law makes to reduce spending.

In other words, the $500 billion reduction in spending was achieved through saving money, not cutting the program. (And, incidentally, Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget adopted the same Medicare savings.)

Here’s more information from the Washington Post article that Lee cites:

The savings actually are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries. These spending reductions presumably would be a good thing, since virtually everyone agrees that Medicare spending is out of control. In the House Republican budget, lawmakers repealed the Obama health care law but retained all but $10 billion of the nearly $500 billion in Medicare savings, suggesting the actual policies enacted to achieve these spending reductions were not that objectionable to GOP lawmakers.

Numerous other nonpartisan fact checkers have arrived at the same conclusion.

This hasn’t stopped the Romney campaign from leveling essentially the same Medicare attack in an ad airing today, and it’s depressing as shit to see factual discourse trashed to such an extreme degree.

But don’t you love journalism when a reporter, like Lee, stands up for the truth?

Politics should be a key part of coverage of personhood amendment

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Obviously, the key news from today’s personhood press conference was that personhood supporters turned in 112,121 signatures to Colorado’s Secretary of State, hoping to get their measure on the November ballot.

But the political ramifications of the personhood amendment should continue to be a key part of the coverage. The amendment, which would ban all abortions and some common forms of birth control, is clearly of interest to women, in particular, and women are a key voters in Colorado elections.

Personhood supporters have yet to hear from Rep. Mike Coffman and Rep. Cory Gardner about whether they will endorse their amendment this year, as they did in 2010, Personhood USA legal analyst Gualberto Garcia Jones told reporters today.

Garcia Jones said they’d welcome their support again, as they would any candidate, Democrat or Republican.

“To me, they’d be shooting themseves in the foot, if they backtracked,” said Colorado Right to Life Vice President Leslie Hanks. “It would be their loss.”

Coffman was listed as a personhood supporter in 2010. Coffman also supported Personhood in 2008, and, on one occasion, Coffman wrote Dan Caplis, of KHOW’s defunct Caplis and Silverman Show, a letter, specifically clarifying that Coffman, like all personhood supporters, does not support abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.

Likewise, Cory Gardner is praised on the Colorado Right to Life website for his support of personhood in 2010, and earlier this year, Kristi Brown, who initiated the personhood movement in Colorado, said that Rep. Cory Gardner was “one of our main supporters” in 2008.

“Kids are taught that life is cheap,” Hanks told me, referring to legalized abortion. “So we shouldn’t be shocked when we have massacres happening.”

She said collecting signatures is intended to counter this and is a “labor of love.”

“Coloradans trust and respect women,” said Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Director Vicki Cowart in a news release. “‘Personhood’ measures do not respect women and their families. Today, Planned Parenthood gears up for a third campaign. We’re hopeful that the third verse will be the same as the first and second.”

Personhood USA spokesman Keith Mason talks to reporters at a news conference Monday

Independent candidate Casida excluded from Adams State debate between Pace and Tipton

Friday, July 27th, 2012

UDATE 8-8-12 Independent candidate Tisha Casida released the following statement last night on the decision by Adams State University’s Veterans Group not to include her in tonight’s debate featuring candidates for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District:

I am surprised by the actions of the Adams State University Veterans Club to invite Sal Pace (D) and Scott Tipton (R) to the debate at Adams State University (ASU) and ignore my candidacy for Colorado’s third congressional district as an independent.

I am a former military spouse and was a part of being a significant other to a man who was enlisted before the attacks of 9/11 and went to war shortly thereafter. I can speak to some of the human repercussions of war, as well as the blatant need for care for our soldiers after they come back from war. Of all of the people who are on the federal payroll, it is our troops that deserve to be protected – before, during, and after being a part of war.

Cory Diss President of the ASU Vets Club said that I was not invited because, “It would be unfair to invite a candidate who is currently not on the ballot,” “and would open the door for other write-in candidates to ask the same question” (Salzman, J. “Independent Candidate Snubbed From Debate”, Huffington Post. August 1, 2012).

I am not a write-in candidate. I am in the middle of being approved to be on the ballot in November, and I will not find out until the end of the month. No other unaffiliated candidate is going through this process as we speak. It is unfair to automatically disqualify me, and not invite me to participate in part of the conversation. Since my candidacy represents over 90,000 registered independent voters (98,924 (D)/126,141(R)), it would be nice to be acknowledged as going through the process to give voters a choice in November. It would also be appreciated to be a part of a very important conversation about our foreign policy, our national defense and security, and our enlisted service-members and veterans.

Here is a group of students who represent veterans who have sworn an oath to protect and defend The Constitution of the United States of America, and my platform (in print and online for everyone to read in detail) is dedicated to the Constitutionality of the issues and problems being discussed. By limiting and narrowing their focus to just the Republican and the Democrat – this silences many people who would like to have representation in not only Washington, D.C., but right here in our own third congressional district.

I represent a group of people who are dissatisfied with what both political parties are doing about these important issues; and being a woman who has had a husband in war is an entirely different perspective than what either Pace or Tipton will ever be able to speak to.

——————-

UPDATE: Cory Diss, the President of the Adams State Veterans Group, which is the organization sponsoring the Pace-Tiption debate, explains why Casida was excluded:

I would like to start off by telling you a little bit about our group.  We are a group of student veterans who formed a recognized ASU student club, the  Adams State Veterans Group about a year ago.  Since becoming a club we have been working with our representatives, the community, and the college to help veterans with some of the major issues that veterans face in our rural community.  As a new club our membership, resources, and public awareness of our group are very limited, however, we continue to bring results to help better serve all veterans.  This debate was organize completely by our group and the committee that headed up this venture was Matthew Martinez and myself.  The idea to do a debate came about through the work that the group has been doing with our representatives.  With the upcoming election we decided to try an organize a series of debates with our congressional candidates, and local state reps candidates to help veterans, students, and our community become more educated about the issues that our nation is facing.  It was the decision of our group to only include the two major party candidates for our debates.  We made this decision for several different reasons.  The first and foremost reason was the difficulties our group would have accommodating every candidate that decided to run with our limited resources.  Moreover, we had to consider the amount of time we had in the debate to get a fair amount of questions and answers in, with more than the two candidates it would cut down the amount of questions being ask significantly.  We also had to take into account ASU’s policy for inviting political figures in, this policy requires we invite both major parties of those running for offices.  By limiting our venue to only the two main party candidates we address all of these issues.  Lastly, it would be unfair to invite a candidate who is currently not on the ballot and would open the door for other write in candidates to ask the same question.  At  the end of the day this will be the first congressional debate that has taken place in the San Luis Valley and it will be held by a our group which is a non-partisan group.  We have a very hardworking dedicated group of veterans and students involved with the Adams State Veterans Group and we hope that this debate will be beneficial for our club and the community and would hate to see it get tarnished by a decision that was made to try and make this a fair and worthy event.

 

Independent congressional candidate Tisha Casida has yet to be invited to a debate at Adams State University featuring Democrat Sal Pace and Republican Scott Tipton.

The debate, which will be the first in the race for the 3rd congressional district, will take place Aug. 8, according to a tweet today by Durango Herald reporter Joe Hanel, which did not indicate if Casida was included. Hence this blog post.

The event is being organized by the Adams State University Veterans Club, a student group, according to a University spokesperson.

An email to the club was not immediately returned.

“We haven’t heard anything about that,” said Casida when asked if she was invited to the event. “We’ll have our volunteers and supporters call them and see if we can be a part of it.”

Casida has so far not been invited to participate in the two debates that incumbent Scott Tiption has agreed to attend with Pace: one in Grand Junction, sponsored by Club 20, and another in Pueblo, sponsored by the Pueblo Chieftain.

Tipton told The Denver Post that he will participate in other debates, time permitting.

Pace and Casida have both agreed to debates at Fort Lewis College Oct. 11 and in Aspen in the fall (no date has been set), according to Casida.

“The latest we heard is that Tipton has not confirmed his presence at either of those,” Casida told me.

Casida turned in signatures to qualify for the ballot a couple weeks ago, and she said she’s confident she’ll meet the ballot qualifications by the Aug. 13 deadline.

“We’re pounding the pavement and meeting with groups,” Casida told me, adding that 2004 Libertarian Presidential candidate Michael Badnarik will be coming to Colorado to help her campaign during the final 100 days.

But nothing she does will convince “some people in the Republican Party” that she’s a legitimate candidate.

“No matter what you do, [Republican State Chair Ryan Call] is going to continue to dismiss us,” she said. “But the majority of people we reach, we win over, because we are honest and transparent. We have a lot of hungry people who want what we offer.”

“We’d love to be included in the debate,” said Casida. “But if they decide not to, it’s a free country.”

Pace and Casida commit to Aspen debate, but Tipton will participate only if “schedule permits”

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Democrat Sal Pace and independent Tisha Casida, both running for Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, will face off later this year in a debate sponored by The Aspen Daily News and Aspen Public Radio, but Republican Scott Tipton will attend only if his “schedule permits,” according to Roger Adams, News Director of Aspen Public Radio.

A specific date for the debate has not been set, but it will likely occur between mid-Septembeer and mid-October, said Adams via email last week.

Other area candidates will be invited after the June 26 primary, and more details will be available next month.

Front page New York Times coverage of Colorado congressional candidate should be wake-up call for front-range media

Friday, May 25th, 2012

The name “Tisha Casida” has yet to appear in The Denver Post and other legacy media in Denver, but that didn’t stop The New York Times from including Casida in a front page article Wednesday about how “Paulite candidates for Congress are sprouting up from Florida to Virginia to Colorado, challenging sitting Republicans and preaching the gospel of radically smaller government, an end to the Federal Reserve, restraints on Bush-era antiterrorism laws and a pullback from foreign military adventures.”

The Times piece showed how these so-called constitutionalist candidates are making waves if properly funded, and the piece spotlighted a PAC that’s backing some of them with serious money.

“I’ve called myself a constitutionalist from the get go,” Casida told me.  “People who believe in fiscal conservatism and social liberty will come to our side.”

The Times reported:

And lightly regarded Paulites running for Congress could become forces with the right amount of money. Tisha Casida, an independent in Colorado, is running against Representative Scott Tipton. Calen Fretts is chipping away at Representative Jeff Miller in Florida’s Panhandle, and Karen Kwiatkowski is challenging Representative Robert W. Goodlatte in Virginia.

“I think there’s a great movement going on in this country,” said Ms. Casida, who said she was pulled into politics by Mr. Paul’s message and the red tape she faced trying to open a local farmer’s market.

“We were really pleased by the article,” Casida told me today. “We’re hoping that people nationally see our platform, which is much like Ron Paul’s, and connect with us.”  The article sparked internet signups on her website, Cassida said.

I told Casida I was glad to see that The Times correctly identified her (above) as an independent candidate, but I was sorry the newspaper stated she was running against Scott Tipton and neglected to mention that she’s also running against Democrat Sal Pace.

She says she’s frustrated that reporters sometimes omit her name completely when reporting on the congressional race.

“I think my true competition is Pace,” she told me. “I don’t think Tipton has a chance of winning no matter what.”

Casida mentioned that a congressional debate, sponsored by the Aspen Daily News and Aspen Public Radio, is planned, but a date isn’t set yet. Pace is planning to attend, but Tipton hasn’t accepted his invitation, according to Casida. “I think it would be interesting to discuss issues with Sal Pace,” Casida said.

The New York Times article capped off a “good couple of weeks,” said Casida

“At any point in time, we could get an influx,” she said. “People are hungry for candidates who will talk about issues.”

When Tipton says Obamacare hurts seniors, reporters should ask for proof

Monday, May 7th, 2012

We’ll be hearing a lot about Medicare this election season, and reporters should study up on some of the expected flashpoints, so they can challenge candidates who try to deceive us.

A case in point is Rep. Scott Tipton’s appearance on 9News’ YourShow Sunday.

“When we’re talking about health care, I think we need to get the facts on the table,” Tipton told YourShow host Brandon Rittiman. “The President, this administration, and the people who support them voted to take away $575 billion dollars out of Medicare, hurting our senior citizens.”

As I’ve reported before, nonpartisan fact checkers have found this to be mostly or completely false. Politifact found the statement, “The new health care law ‘will cut $500 billion from Medicare. That will hurt the quality of our care,’” to be deep in its “mostly false” category, which is as false as its ratings go. Fact checkers at the Washington Post also found that the $500 billion is saved in Medicare efficiencies, which are “wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries.”

If you read the different analyses of this issue, the key point is that there’s no evidence that the $575 billion (It’s actually $500 billion) saved from Medicare will hurt seniors, while it’s clear that some services will be improved.

To be fair, Obamacare critics point to some element of uncertainty about how the cost savings will play out in the future, but they can’t point to a specific example of how seniors’ healthcare services would be diminished in any way. There’s no meat behind the allegation.

Tipton raised the $500 billion figure during his 2010 campaign, as noted by Pueblo Chieftain reporter Peter Roper, who handled Tipton’s accusation by adding a factual statement after Tipton’s allegation.

From an Oct. 29, 2010 article:

“…[Tipton] repeated his charge that Salazar and Democrats want to cut $500 billion from Medicare — a cut that Tipton said would hurt seniors. That part of the legislation calls for reducing the growth in Medicare expenses by $500 billion over 10 years by eliminating fraud and waste.” [BigMedia emphasis]

I’d go further, if I were reporting on Tipton, and write categorically that 1) nonpartisan fact checkers have found the allegation to be mostly or completely false, and 2) Republicans cannot offer specific examples of how seniors will be hurt due to Medicare cost-saving measures.

I’d also ask Tipton to provide specifics and report his response.

What did Tipton campaign tell the Colorado Observer?

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

I’m going to name three political figures, and you tell me how they became embroiled in mini-media frenzies over digitally altered images or websites.

Marc Holtzman

Scott McInnis

Andrew Romanoff

Here are the answers: GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman’s photo was altered in 2006 to make him look taller than Reagan. GOP gubernatorial candidate McInnis’ 2009 website portrayed the Canadian Rockies as our own. And Romanoff doctored a photo on his 2010 Senate campaign website to make a crowd look more diverse.

If you got any of the right answers, and you should have, it’s because of all the media attention they got in Denver.

And deservedly so. Maybe they aren’t the biggest deal in the world, in the mix of all the ways political candidates are polished and handled, but digital alterations are tangible acts that can get real people, none of whom read this blog, thinking about politics and the real issues involved.

Same with expensive hair and mustache cuts by candidates.

Such an opportunity presents itself today, in an article broken by the Colorado Independent, a progressive news site

It reported yesterday that the Colorado Observer, a conservative website, posted a story Saturday with the following quote from Rep. Scott Tipton’s campaign Manager, Michael Fortney:

“With gas prices doubled, the national debt doubled, and unemployment has barely moved, we feel good.”

Then, after the Washington Post spotlighted the Fortney quote, it was changed on the Observer website to:

“Voters in the 3rd District are rejecting Obama’s policies that have led to gas prices doubling, the national debt doubled, and unemployment has barely moved. We feel good about our chances.”

Fortney told The Post that the Observer originally quoted him out of context. He told The Denver Post:

“I was not out talking to him about policies,” Fortney said this morning. “I was talking to him about electoral prospects, how the campaign was going to go in 2012 … Scott is voting for a budget that will rein in the deficit, rein in high gas prices.”

Fortney told The Post that the phase “about our chances” had been left out of the Observer article, and as you can see, it was  added to the Observer’s corrected quotation, along with other changes.

So what’s up with the Observer? What exactly did Fortney say? How did the changes to the quote come to pass?

I can hear skeptics, two of which read this blog, saying that the fact that the Observer changed the quote, and not the Tipton campaign, lessens the news value of this story.

But we’re talking about the Observer, a right-leaning entity, here. If The Denver Post had changed or altered a quote, the political significance would not be the same (and a correction would have been written). As it is, there could be more to this story than meets the eye.

The Observer remains mum about the incident. The Colorado Independent reports that it did not return e-mails, and its website provides no enlightenment.

I was able to reach Observer Valerie Richardson, who told me:

“I’ve got to tell you, I was completely out of the loop on that,” she said I hear. “It wasn’t my story. I probably know as much as you do, if not less. Max would be the one to ask.”

She was referring to Mac Zimmerman, who’s listed as the copyright agent for the site. He did not respond to my email seeking comment. He’s in Malaysia, Richardson told me, but she had been in touch with him via email an hour before I tried. I wanted to confirm that he is the former chief of staff for Josh Penry and worked for Tom Tancredo, but I haven’t heard back from him.

More local reporters at the legacy news outlets should cover this story, and try to get an answer from the Observer on what happened and why. What’s the relationship between the Observer and Tipton?

This is the kind of political story that sheds light on how political campaigns operate nowadays.

Reporters should correct Tipton’s facts when he claims that Obamacare cuts $500 billion from Medicare and hurts seniors

Friday, March 16th, 2012

This got lost on my to-do list, but even if it’s late, and not exactly a new topic, I’m gonna write a quick blog post about Rep. Scott Tipton’s statement, paraphrased in the Pueblo Chieftain last month, that Obamacare’s “target of shrinking future Medicare costs by $500 billion over a decade would ultimately mean the government denying senior citizens needed medical services.”

Numerous fact checkers have shown this to be false.

For example, Pulitzer-Prize winning Politifact reported June 15, 2011:

Also, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, tagged Obamacare by critics, doesn’t eliminate benefits.

Indeed, portions of the law improve benefits and coverage, according to Tricia Neuman, director of the Medicare Policy Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit health care research organization. Medicare will cover more preventive health care services, such as wellness visits, and recipients won’t face the “doughnut hole” gap in prescription coverage imposed under an existing Medicare program.

Other provisions reduce the growth in Medicare spending by helping the program operate more efficiently and fund other coverage expansions to the uninsured. Other provisions are designed to improve the delivery of care and quality of care, Neuman has said.

In another article, Politifact found the statement, “The new health care law ‘will cut $500 billion from Medicare. That will hurt the quality of our care,’ “ to be deep in its “Mostly false” category, which is as deeply false as its ratings go.

Fact checkers at the Washington Post also found that the $500 billion is saved in Medicare efficiences which are “wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries.”

In last month’s article, that I quoted above, The Chieftain did not report that Tipton’s statement about Medicare cuts under Obamacare was false.

But in the past, to its credit, it has put the number in context, showing different ways journalists deal with the misleading use of the $500-billion figure.

Oct. 29, 2010, the Chieftain reported:

“…[Tipton]  repeated his charge that Salazar and Democrats want to cut $500 billion from Medicare — a cut that Tipton said would hurt seniors. That part of the legislation calls for reducing the growth in Medicare expenses by $500 billion over 10 years by eliminating fraud and waste.

Oct. 7, 2010, the Chieftain reported:

Tipton has shot back, accusing Salazar of supporting a $500 billion cut in Medicare — a reference to the Democratic health care legislation that requires the future growth in Medicare expenses to be reduced by $500 billion over 10 years. A reduction in future growth is not a cut in the current Medicare program.

This kind of reporting  is more fair than letting Tipton’s allegations hang unchallenged. But journalists should also include the fact that benefits under Medicare will not be affected.

Here’s another way Chieftain reporter Peter Roper, who wrote all the articles I cite in this blog post, dealt with the $500-billion figure. This actually might be the best approach journalistically, because it focuses on what Republicans themselves have said. But it requires more space than a simple fact check.

On June 28, 2011, the Chieftain pointed out that Republicans first ridiculed the $500 billion figure as being imaginary, and then they switched course and declared that it was a real cut that would hurt seniors.

In an article about a Democratic ad targeting Tipton, the Chieftain reported:

[Tipton] reached back to the 2010 election debate over health care, noting that the Obama administration was touting cutting future Medicare costs by $500 billion over a decade.

At the time, Republicans scoffed that such savings were imaginary in the Democratic legislation intended to broaden health care coverage.

“The Democrats ended Medicare as we know it when they cut $500 billion from it,” Tipton said in a statement sent to reporters Monday.

Aug. 26, 2011, the Chieftain similarly reported:

Two years ago, Republicans ridiculed President Barack Obama’s health care legislation for claiming it would lower the deficit by reducing future Medicare expenses by $500 billion over time. Now they’ve embraced that number as a Democratic cut in the popular health insurance program for seniors… “(Democrats) took $500 billion from Medicare,” Tipton replied…

You want reporters to correct any factual errors in quotations that appear in their work. This is not always practical, unfortunately, for reporters these days.

But when reporting statements that are obviously politically charged, and are easily found to be false or lacking in context, reporters should set the record straight. Tipton’s allegation about Medicare falls into this category.

The $500-billion figure will almost certainly come up again, and when it does, given the sensitivity of the issues involved, it’s only fair for reporters to present a factual statement about the issue, and/or to ask Tipton to provide proof for his allegations about Medicare.