Archive for the 'Colorado 6th Cong. Distroct' Category

Eight reasons why a Denver Post reporter’s blog post, deleted by his editor, was newsworthy and should be re-posted on The Denver Post’s website

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Here are eight reasons why Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee’s blog post, quoting Rep. Mike Coffman about personhood and abortion-for-rape-and-incest, was newsworthy and should not have been deleted from The Post’s website.

1.  It was news! The core of Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett’s written explanation for scrubbing the piece is that it was basically old news. But Lee’s piece advanced our understanding of Coffman’s thinking both on the personhood amendment (he opposes it under any circumstances; see number four below.) and on abortion-for-rape-and-incest (he supports it beyond he previous narrow support of it in a specific piece of legislation; see number three.)

2.  It was the first time Coffman made a public statement himself about un-endorsing the personhood amendment and withdrawing his longstanding opposition to abortion-for-rape-and-incest. These are major flips, and journalism is all about providing a record of actual statements by public officials, not their mouthpieces.

3. Lee’s deleted piece, for the first time, informed the public that Coffman has completely changed a long-held position and now broadly favors allowing a woman raped by her father to have an abortion.  Last year, as Lee noted in his piece, Coffman supported a provision in a bill allowing abortion for rape and incest. But this anti-choice bill focused narrowly on banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, and no news outlets covered Coffman’s position. It was completely unknown, until Lee asked Coffman about it, if Coffman favors broad rape-and-incest exceptions to his overall extreme opposition to abortion. It turns out his flip was complete. So Lee’s headline for his post reflected actual news: “Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest.”

4. Lee’s deleted piece reported, for the first time, that Coffman is opposed to any version of the personhood amendment, even of it were narrowed. In his deleted piece. Lee reported that “Coffman said there is no language he would change in the ballot initiative that would make him support it.” This advances Lee’s March 25 story, which quoted Coffman’s spokesperson, Tyler Sandberg, as saying only that Coffman did not support the personhood amendment in 2012 or this year, and the matter is settled because voters rejected it (not that Coffman’s thinking had changed).

5. Coffman has been avoiding abortion issues for years, and so any elaboration on his near silence takes on added value and newsworthiness. During the last election, the only substantive statement Coffman made on abortion that I can find was this comment to The Post: “I am against all abortions, except when it is necessary to protect the life of the mother. Given the fact I’m running for federal office, I will not be endorsing nor opposing any state or local ballot questions.” Frustrated by the lack of media coverage in 2012, I asked him about abortion for rape and incest, and Coffman replied with his pat, “I’m not focused on social issues.” This is what he would also say in debates that year, and reporters didn’t insist that he elaborate.

6. Lee’s direct interview with Coffman, which Lee described as “brief,” might inspire other journalists, who manage to snag Coffman for a longer interview, to go deeper and find out more details about Coffman’s abortion stance, like what is it? Does he support Roe v. Wade? Why did Coffman flip on these deeply and long-held positions? Does he support the personhood concept but not the amendment? What was the evolution of Coffman’s thinking?

7. Lee’s article made The Post look good. I know other media figures in town have been trying to ask Coffman more about his personhood stance, since his spokesperson was interviewed by Lee on March 25, and Coffman has not made himself available. Lee showed enterprise by tracking down Coffman at the Republican assembly and asking him substantive questions about these serious issues. That kind of reporting earns The Post respect and subscriptions.

8. With dwindling staff and resources, the newsworthiness of an accurate and informative news story, once it’s been written, is greater than it used to be. In other words, the old newspaper adage that “the greatness of a newspaper can be judged by the stories that don’t see the light of day” is sadly part of a bygone era. The piece was not only written but already on the website! Why delete an accurate news story?

And finally, a reason why the story is even more newsworthy today than when Lee originally wrote it: Now that Plunkett has deleted the piece, a much larger number of people are curious about it. This adds to its news value. Not a ton, I know, but reader interest is a consideration of newsworthiness.

Obviously, Plunkett didn’t rob Kurtis Lee of a Pulitzer by deleting his blog post from The Post’s website. It wasn’t an earth-shattering piece, but it advanced, in its small way, an issue that’s important to a lot of real people as well as political elites.

Plunkett should re-post Lee’s piece immediately.

Post reporter is first to interview Coffman directly about personhood flip

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee has done what no other reporter in Colorado could manage to do for three long weeks since Rep. Mike Coffman’s spokesperson sort of told Lee that Coffman had un-endorsed the personhood amendment.

Lee tracked down Coffman at last weekend’s Republican assembly and asked him to confirm his new-found opposition to the personhood amendment and to explain why his stance had changed:

Coffman: “There are parts of it that are unintended. … I think it’s too overbroad and that the voters have spoken.”

Lee noted that Coffman received high praise from personhood organizers in the past. (It’s true, plus personhood supporters don’t point to any elements of their amendment that are unintended, and Coffman didn’t point out any unintended consequence less than two years ago, when he was last lauded by personhood organizers.)

Lee also asked Coffman whether he opposes abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. Coffman has never personally backtracked from his steadfast opposition to abortion under these circumstances.

In fact, Coffman went out of his way in the past to underline his opposition to rape-and-incest exceptions.

But he told Lee that he now supports abortion for rape or incest victims, putting an exclamation point on an about-face that started last year when, as Lee points out, his office put out a statement saying Coffman supported such exceptions in a House bill. Still, this is the first time Coffman has talked about his flip himself.

Lee described his Coffman interview as “brief,” and there are still big questions hanging out there for the next reporter that manages to snag Coffman. These include: What is Coffman’s current abortion stance, beyond being “pro-life?” Does he support Roe v. Wade? If he still believes life begins at the zygote (fertilized eggs), does he oppose forms of birth control, like IUDs, that threaten zygotes?

The headline of Lee’s article reads, “Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest.”  Trouble is, we still don’t know what his abortion stance is.

Would a more tightly-worded personhood amendment be ok with Coffman? And other questions left hanging after Coffman’s personhood shift

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Media outlets are reporting that Rep. Mike Coffman has joined  Rep. Cory Gardner in withdrawing his support of the personhood amendment, which would ban all abortion, but, strangely, reporters aren’t asking Coffman (or Gardner) the logical follow-up question: What is your position on abortion?

Does Coffman still oppose abortion, even in the case of rape and incest? If he still believes life begins at conception, does he still think the government should somehow protect human “life” from fertilized-egg onwards? Does he think women should be given the power to make this choice for themselves, if they are pregnant? Does he oppose still Roe V. Wade? Does he believe a woman has the right to make all decisions about her own body?

Coffman himself has yet to make a statement about his alleged reversal on personhood, leaving the dirty work to his spokesperson, but Coffman’s record, even if you exclude his support for personhood, clearly reflects a true believer’s opposition to abortion

For example, Coffman once wrote the following letter to then KHOW radio-host Dan Caplis, to clear up any possible confusion about his opposition to abortion, even in the case of rape and incest:

Dan,

First of all, thanks so much for your help with my campaign and for inviting me on your show. During the debate, Craig Silverman was questioning me on the issue of abortion. My response was focused on arguing that Roe v Wade was bad law. During that exchange, Craig asked me about the issue of rape and incest. Apparently, my answer came across as supporting abortions under a rape and incest exception. I absolutely do not believe in that.

Dan, I would deeply appreciate it if, during your show, you could state that I wanted to make sure that my position was clear, unequivocally, that I oppose abortion in all cases of rape and incest. I believe that all life is equally sacred irregardless of how it came into being.

Thanks again,

Mike Coffman

Asked about this later, Caplis emailed me he wasn’t surprised that Coffman went out of his way to be clear that he was against abortion in the case of rape and incest. “Mike has always been such a champion of the pro-life cause that I think the issue was quickly resolved,” Caplis wrote.

In a statement after the last election, Personhood USA celebrated Coffman’s “100%” anti-choice stand, and the organization held him up as proof that a politician can hold be stridently anti-abortion and still win close elections. A local personhood leader called Coffman a “statesman.”

With this kind of paper trail hanging over your shoulder, it’s no surprise that Coffman’s spokesman has offered different explanations to The Denver Post and Denver’s Fox 31 for Coffman’s personhood shift, telling The Post Coffman wouldn’t support the personhood amendment this year and offering this to Denver’s Fox 31:

“There’s a reason Democratic Senator Michael Bennet called Speaker Romanoff’s attacks sleazy in 2010 – Romanoff is the Czar of sleaze,” said Tyler Sandberg, Coffman’s campaign manager. “‘Supported it at every turn?’ Mike didn’t in 2012. And he doesn’t in 2014.

“The voters have spoken twice, and the question is settled.  The initiative is over-broad and full of unintended consequences, sort of like Obamacare, which let’s be honest, all of this sleaze from Romanoff is meant to be a distraction from.”

You read this and you think again, what does Coffman really think, and what’s the explanation?

Maybe Coffman would like a more tightly-worded personhood amendment, and he’d be ok with it? That’s another question reporters should put to him.

Reporters should clarify that Coffman is not supportive of citizenship path via college

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

UPDATE 3/9/24: Associated Press reporter Nick Riccardi sent me a couple tweets, offering additional information about his interview with Coffman referenced in the blog post below:

Nick Riccardi: @BigMediaBlog FYI in his interview Coffman expressed hope that his military bill would be joined to a broader DREAM type bill.

Jason Salzman: @NickRiccardi Thanks very much. Did he say that he now supports a path to citizenship via college for undocumented young people?

Nick Riccardi: @BigMediaBlog Essentially, though I haven’t seen the bill he referenced so I don’t know how narrow it may be.

Jason Salzman: Maybe it was one of the bills that the GOP was thinking of offering instead of the Senate bill./// In any case, if Coffman supports citizenship via college, he’s with Dream Act, in most forms. A big shift, as i see it. News.

—–

Journalists continue to report that Rep. Mike Coffman is being nicer to young undocumented immigrants than he really is.

Coffman supports giving young immigrants a path to citizenship if they sign up for military service but not if they enroll in college. The Dream Act, which Coffman has voted against in 2010, offers citizenship through both college and the military to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Reporting on Coffman’s position today, the Associated Press stated:

After seeing fast-growing Hispanic and Asian populations overwhelmingly back Democrats in 2012, Coffman embraced citizenship for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

This is accurate, but somewhat misleading because, Coffman isn’t embracing citizenship for young immigrants as much as he’s allowing it, since his one-track path to citizenship is so narrow.

Later, the article reports that Coffman was moved to help immigrants by his discussions with undocumented immigrants who could not go to college, without stating, specifically, that Coffman does not support a citizenship path via college.

Coffman says his change of heart on immigration dates from discussions with young people in the country illegally who cannot join the military or go to college.

“I really believe that the strongest expression of American citizenship is serving this country in uniform,” said Coffman, a Marine Corps and Army veteran. He’s proposed granting citizenship to any young person here illegally who enlists.

That’s accurate, but especially since Coffman brought up college himself, the article should have noted that he’s not offering citizenship to any young person here illegally who enrolls in college

Cost of Coffman proposal boosts news value of story

Monday, February 10th, 2014

It’s amazing that Rep. Mike Coffman’s call for the redeployment of troops in Iraq hasn’t made news beyond this lowly blog, especially when you consider what’s at stake, here at home.

The annual cost to deploy troops in Iraq is roughly $1 million per troop, according to former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag. (That’s beyond the incalculable human cost.)

Using this as a baseline, and assuming Coffman would deploy between 5,000 and 50,000 troops, we’re talking about spending between $5 billion and $50 billion per year on Iraq.

That’s a lot of money, if you compare it to other expenditures of the federal government. For example, the low end of Coffman’s range, $5 billion per year, is more than double what America currently spends on housing for military veterans.

For the amount spent if America kept 5,000 troops in Iraq for three years, the U.S. could more than double the EPA budget. The amount spent in one and a half years would be equal to what we spend on the National Science Foundation.

  •  EPA budget is $13 billion,
  • National Science Foundation $7 billion,
  • NASA $17 billion,
  • Humanitarian foreign aid $22 billion,
  • Higher education $12 billion,
  • Veterans’ housing $2 billion;
  • Veterans’ hospital and medical care, $51 billion;
  • Veterans education, training and rehabilitation $10 billion

SOURCE: FY 2012 figures, Budget of the United States, Historical Tables, 4.1 and 3.2.

We don’t know the precise number of troops Coffman would deploy in Iraq, but during a recent interview, Coffman said that if the Obama Administration hadn’t rushed troops out of Iraq, then Iraq would have agreed to the Status of Forces Agreement, which initially envisioned a residual force of 10,000 troops, a figure that was later reduced to 5,000.

Coffman said he “certainly” favors deploying “advisory” troops, if invited, so that the U.S. would have “some influence” in Iraq.

Offering view omitted on radio show, VoteVets.org counters Coffman’s proposal to re-deploy troops in Iraq

Friday, February 7th, 2014

To my way of thinking, Rep. Mike Coffman dropped a bombshell on KNUS’ Dan Caplis show last month, when he said he “certainly” supports re-deployment of advisory troops in Iraq, if invited.

Caplis listened as Coffman said America is “suffering the consequences” of not having troops in Iraq today. This would have given the U.S. “some influence there” to help keep the country from falling apart.

The counter view, omitted on KNUS, was articulated this week on the Huffington Post by Jon Soltz, co-founder of VoteVets.org.

First, there is no such thing as “advisory, or “non-regular troops,” when it comes to Iraq. As soon as an American service member enters Iraq, they are a target. If attacked, they will respond, and thus are combat troops. In a 360-degree battlefield, where any innocent looking person may actually be an insurgent, those troops must always keep a combat posture, for their own defense…

Second, Iraq is in the midst of a civil war and always has been. Interestingly, it’s the same civil war that Syria is now seeing — namely, Sunni versus Shia, fought between proxies, including Iran. That was true when we were there, and is now that we’ve left. That was always going to be the case. What is also true is that this civil war would never end until Iraqis fought it out amongst themselves, either in a political settlement, or in battle. Our troop presence actually delayed that, and kept the cork on the bottle. But now, it is fully raging, as the radical Sunni group, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), has taken Fallujah, and Iraq’s government is poised to take the city back. To put American troops back in at this juncture, on the side of the government, makes them instant participants in Iraq’s and Syria’s Civil War, no matter how “advisory” we want to say they are.

Third, as with the last Iraq war, Congressman Coffman offers up no end-state, and no exit strategy. Just toss troops back in there, and see how it goes. We’ve been there and done that, and I think we all know how it goes. If things go badly, the answer from the right is “more troops.” Ten thousand troops becomes 20,000, and 30,000. And next thing you know, we’re back in conventional war, complete with the “regular troops,” that Coffman says he wouldn’t send.

Soltz calls Coffman’s proposal a “path to a third Iraq War,” and I’m sure a lot of Caplis’ conservative listeners would agree with him–and Caplis should let them hear form Soltz directly. This  issue doesn’t divide along progressive-conservative lines. That’s for sure.

Kudos to Aurora Sentinel for noticing that Coffman’s vote against Dreamers undermines Coffman’s own legislation

Friday, January 24th, 2014

One of the ways Rep. Mike Coffman has been trying to boost his appeal to Hispanic voters is by waving around his legislation offering a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, if they enlist in the U.S. military.

Coffman’s been talking a lot about his bill, which stipulates that, before being accepted by the U.S. military, undocumented immigrants should be screened and possess documents obtained through the President Obama’s “deferred action” program, established through executive order.

Under Obama’s order, law-abiding undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents, are issued work permits, and their deportation from the U.S. is officially deferred.

But in June, Coffman voted to defund Obama’s deferred-action program, potentially undermining Coffman’s own bill.

This inconsistency went unnoticed, as far as I can tell, until yesterday, when the Aurora Sentinel’s Aaron Cole pointed out in a news story:

In June 2013, Coffman voted alongside other House Republicans to defund a key program in the Obama administration’s plan for young immigrants. Coffman joined Colorado and House Republicans in voting to lift the executive order for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status. Coffman’s plan for military service as a path to citizenship for enlisted military members relies first on the applicant to receive DACA status.

“I think that what the president … did exceeded the boundaries of the Constitution,” Coffman said. “These things have no basis in law and the President doesn’t have the ability to legislate.”

As one of the most endangered members of Congress, Coffman has been under scrutiny by local and national reporters. But until yesterday, no journalist, including me, apparently noticed that if Coffman had his way and Obama’s deferred-action program was eliminated, Coffman’s proposed law couldn’t be implemented.

Kudos to the Aurora Sentinel for its scoop on this.

Coffman-Romanoff comparison on immigration has to include their positions on immigration bill stalled in Congress

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

In a good article Monday, Denver Post reporters Joey Bunch and Carlos Illescas preview the upcoming battle between Rep. Mike Coffman and his Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff.

A  chunk of the article was dedicated to comparing the candidates’ history and positions on immigration reform, which is certain to come up during the campaign, and a couple points deserve clarification

The article omits a comparison of the most important immigration issue of our time: the effort in Washington to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It’s also the most relevant for two candidates running for Congress.

Romanoff supports a comprehensive-immigration-reform bill, passed with bipartisan support by the U.S. Senate and backed by President Obama. Romanoff is circulating a petition calling on the CO congressional delegation, including Coffman, to “endorse” the Senate bill.

Coffman, on the other hand, refuses to support this measure, and what’s more, he refuses to specify the amendments he’d add to the Senate bill to enable him to support it. He’s said he’s not happy with the bill’s plans for border enforcement, but he’s never explained what he wants.

This hasn’t stopped Coffman from saying he supports “comprehensive immigration reform,” like Romanoff does, but unlike Romanoff, Coffman has no actual factual comprehensive-immigration reform plan. He just talks about it.

Bottom line: Reporters shouldn’t compare the immigration positions of these two candidates without highlighting their differing positions on the historic immigration reform bill that’s currently stalled in Congress.

Media omission: Coffman favors re-deployment of advisory troops in Iraq

Monday, January 13th, 2014

On a Denver radio show Friday, Rep. Mike Coffman affirmed his opposition to the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq, adding that, even now, he’d deploy U.S. military personnel to Iraq, if they were invited, to serve in an advisory role.

Asked by KNUS talk-show host Dan Caplis if he’d support “boots back on the ground in Iraq,” Coffman replied:

Coffman: Certainly an advisory role, but certainly not anything beyond that. And that’s if requested. I think we have to be very careful once out about reentering that particular conflict. I would say, in terms of regular troops on the gound, absolutely not.”

During the interview, Coffman expressed regret that U.S. troops are not on the ground in Iraq today, to help the Iraqi government confront sectarian violence.

“Some residual force would have maintained at least that military-military, government-to-government ties that we would have had some influence there,” Coffman told KNUS’ Dan Caplis Friday. “Right now we have no influence.”

Listen to Coffman say he favors re-deployment of advisory troops to Iraq.

Coffman didn’t offer details on the size of the “residual force” he had in mind, but back in 2009 he endorsed the Administration’s plan envisioning an American force of up to 50,000 troops remaining in Iraq.

On the radio, Coffman criticized President Barack Obama for withdrawing troops from Iraq. If Obama hadn’t pulled out so many troops, it’s possible a residual force could have been left in Iraq, Coffman said, and the current crisis might have been avoided.

Coffman: I think the Administration was looking for a narrative that we ended war in Iraq.  And the Iraqi government had requested some kind of residual presence, if anything to be symbolic to the Iraqi people that we were still engaged. And that’s, I think, very important, probably to this day, although the decision has been made… But what the Administration kept doing is lowering the number of troops, and obviously insisting, as they should, that Status of Forces Agreement keep U.S. military personnel under U.S. jurisdiction, as we always insist on. The Iraqi government clearly had to expend the political capital to accept that. And they were willing to until the numbers dropped so low that it wasn’t worth it to them to do that. And so the Administration is now saying, ‘Well, we gave them the opportunity, and they didn’t take it, in terms of the Status of Forces Agreement.’ But the Administration just wanted out. And I think we’re suffering some of the consequences of that today.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Under the Status of Forces Agreement, Obama planned in 2011 on keeping 10,000 troops in Iraq. Later, he lowered the number to about 5,000, before the troops were asked by the Iraqis to leave. Based on this, and his statement above, Coffman appears to have been prepared to leave at least 10,000 troops in Iraq or more, if necessary to make it worth it to the Iraqis politically.

Coffman’s announcement that he favors the re-deployment of advisory troops to Iraq appears to be a reversal of a position he took in 2011, when he stated that he supported President Barack Obama’s decision to remove all troops from the country.

 

 

Caplis aims for “action radio” on his new KNUS show

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

At a time when radio stations are dumping local talk shows in favor of national yakkers, Denver’s KNUS is heading in the opposite direction, filling its lineup with local flotsam and jetsam tossed from competing stations.

KNUS’ latest addition is Denver Attorney Dan Caplis, a social conservative with decades of experience on the Denver airwaves, most recently at KHOW, where he was paired with fellow attorney Craig Silverman.

For his first broadcast Monday, Caplis interviewed GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo as well as former state GOP chair Dick Wadhams. He said he’d put any callers with differing opinions at the front of the line.

“For 20 years, it’s been my policy to take callers who disagree first,” Caplis told me later after I asked him if he was serious about wanting to talk to progressives. “People want a battle of ideas. All I want from a caller is to answer the question directly.”

Caplis’ first show made a news bit when Wadhams said Republicans need a fresh face in the gubernatorial race, and Wadhams thinks the face of GOP candidate Mike Kopp has the best chance of defeating Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2014.

Will Caplis’ show focus on politics?

Caplis says politics will be part of his show, but his content will be determined largely but what’s happening on the ground.

“I don’t want to sit around talking about this stuff; I want to affect the outcome,” he told me, citing Boyles’ recent focus on Masterpiece Bake Shop, which got into trouble for turning away a gay couple seeking a wedding cake.

Caplis promises “lots of investigative reporting and the use of public records to expose corruption.”

At KHOW, Caplis and Silverman dove deep into the JonBenet Ramsey case, and Caplis took the national spotlight for supporting Broncos QB Tim Tebow. They also had a major impact on the 2010 election, with their frequent and intelligent interviews of political candidates.

A Caplis interview with Rep. Mike Coffman might come into play during the upcoming election. Coffman asked Caplis to clarify, on air, that Coffman opposes all abortion, even for rape and incest.

The show’s interviews will likely be diminished without Silverman’s edgier questioning of conservative guests and with most progressives refusing to appear.

“We did smart, tough talk radio,” Caplis said, adding the he hopes Silverman will be a regular part of his new show. “Craig asked tough questions of Republicans, me of Democrats. I will continue to invite Democrats, but I doubt they’ll accept because, frankly, they don’t have the answers–with the impressive exception of [Boulder Congressman] Jared Polis. He comes on.”

Caplis calls it a “brilliant” move of KNUS, which owned by Salem Communications, to scoop up talk-radio hosts, like Boyles, Kelley, and him, who have name recognition in the Denver market.

“There’s a demand,” he said. “It’s a very smart move on their part to go live and local.”

He has a point. The market for a brand runs deep. Twinkies was even scooped up by some big company. Boyles, Kelley, and Caplis have their followers.

I asked Caplis if he had a contract or any expectation of how long his newest gig would last.

“In the words of Chris Brown on ESPN, ‘We’re all day-to-day,’” Caplis replied. “I only want to do the show if it’s succeeding. I have other things to do in life.”

It looks to me like progressive Keith Olbermann said the day-to-day line first, but it doesn’t matter. It’s true, especially in radio.