Archive for the 'Colorado Inside Out' Category

Kopel’s praise of ProgressNow makes TV show more interesting

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Dave Kopel, research director at the right-leaning Independence Institute, slapped a pat on the back of left-leaning ProgressNow Colorado, on the latest edition of Colorado Inside Out, agreeing with the state’s top online progresive organization that Republicans should let more people, especially students, view their debate in Boulder Wednesday.

“I think ProgressNow is correct that it is ridiculous that they have this 10,000-seat arena, and they’re only letting a 1000 people in,” said Kopel on Colorado Public Television’s Colorado Inside Out Oct. 23 (@31:34 here).  “If you want to do it in a TV studio with hardly any audience, go ahead and do that.  But if you’ve got it there, it should be opened up to the public.”

He’s right. It’s crazy ridiculous to limit the seating to 1,000 people, with only 100 tickets going to students at the University of Colorado, where the debate is taking place.

Kopel has clashed with ProgressNow, especially on gun issues, so it’s good to see him call out the truth as he sees it, in his role as pundit on the TV show. If you watch the show regularly, you know Kopel doesn’t always align himself with conservatives. Recently he’s praised Democrat Morgon Carroll and dissed conservative school board member Julie Williams.  It makes the show, which can get a bit sleepy sometimes, more interesting.


Media omission: When it comes to Julie Williams, even conservatives can’t present a unified front

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

In today’s scripted political environment, you don’t often see one arm of an advocacy organization rip into, say, a school board member, when other arms of the same organization are fighting wildly for the survival of the same school board member.

But that’s what the appendages of the Independence Institute are doing.

On Colorado Public Television July 10, Independence Institute Research Director Dave Kopel criticized Jeffco School Board member Julie Williams.

Kopel said, Williams is “by far the least capable member of that group, and the one who has gotten the rest of the board into trouble with a lot of  foolish, barely thought-out ideas she has expressed inappropriately.”

At the same time, down the figurative hall, the Executive Vice President of the  libertarian/conservative outfit, Amy Oliver, has been slaving to save Williams, defending her and the jeffco board in a relentless string of tweets and sporadic media appearances. Oliver, who keeps any criticism she might have of Williams to herself, was the spokesperson for her organization’s website set up to battle alleged mean-girl tweets directed at the Jeffco board and staff.

Meanwhile, another tentacle of the Indy Institute churns out articles favorable to the board–with nary a word of criticism of Williams.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having a sometimes schizo organization, and it’s actually refreshing. Plus, Kopel speaks for himself. But his criticism of Williams, in the midst of his organization’s agenda, is noteworthy, and may reflect the polarizing effect Williams, in particular, has had on her Jeffco school community.

“Colorado Inside Out” features Dave Kopel’s response to Dudley Brown

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Last week, The Colorado Independent spotlighted Dave Kopel’s response to Dudley Brown, the director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, who’s been claiming Kopel is a weak supporter of the Second Amendment, specifically a sleeper cell for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Here’s the take-away quote from Kopel, who works for the conservative Independence Institute, in which he calls out Brown for lying to Congress:

Kopel: That’s why [Brown] is lying right now in Congress against the NRA’s National Right to Carry bill, which would mean that you as a Colorado resident with you carry permit, you could carry in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and New York city.  [Kopel sent me this as the source for his statement.]

Kopel concluded his comments with this:

Kopel: So, there are two possible views of reality. One is Dudley is a liar, a huckster, and a hoax who is preying off people and taking their money, not for gun rights but to support himself.  The other possibility is that Dudley’s telling the truth and that I am a sleeper cell for Michael Bloomberg.  You can decide which one is more plausible.

Here are Kopel’s full comments, as delivered on Channel 12’s Colorado Inside Out April 17:

Lynn [Bartels] nailed it at the end. It’s a “Fundraising  for Dudley” problem if the magazine ban is 99 percent repealed – to change it from 15 to 30 [rounds].

Dudley and his group have been around in Colorado as lobbyists since the late-90s. And yet, they have never passed a single bill. He’s also got his national group – so-called National Association for Gun Rights—which has never passed a single bill in Congress. An impressive record of futility, but only if you think of his group in the same way you’d think of real gun-rights groups like Gun Owners of America, or the National Rifle Association, or the Firearms Coalition of Colorado.

As Dudley explained to a meeting of friendly, recently-elected legislators a few weeks after the election, he said, ‘Don’t work with people like Kopel, because then when they pass something, it makes it harder for us to raise money.’  Dudley’s shtick is to keep people upset and angry and giving him money, and never to solve any problem.  So, that’s why, for example in 2003, he opposed the Conceal Carry Act, which was passed and signed by Governor Bill Owens, supported by the National Rifle Association, by the Firearms Coalition of Colorado, and by the county sheriffs of Colorado.  It is not a perfect bill, but it was huge improvement from what existed before, and it has been very positive in how it has helped many, many tens of thousands of gun owners exercise their right to bear arms.

But Dudley always opposes something that could actually pass and help gun owners.  That’s why he’s lying right now in Congress against the NRA’s National Right to Carry bill, which would mean that you as a Colorado resident with you carry permit, you could carry in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and New York city.  It’s why he lies about everyone in the ‘real’ gun rights movement.  It’s why he says that Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation is the national leader for national gun registration. It’s why he says I am Bloomberg cell – a sleeper cell.

So, there are two possible views of reality. One is Dudley is a liar, a huckster, and a hoax who is preying off people and taking their money, not for gun rights but to support himself. The other possibility is that Dudley’s telling the truth and that I am a sleeper cell for Michael Bloomberg. You can decide which one is more plausible.

CORRECTION: An early version of this article incorrectly attributed this sentence to Kopel: “It’s either the huckster or homeland – one of the two.  At least it gives us something to look forward to, here.”

Fact check: Did GOP state chair abandon two candidates in close races?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

It’s not easy to fact check some of the allegations flying around in the contest between Ryan Call and challenger Steve House to become chair of the Colorado Republican Party. But it’s worth a try, especially when the salvos appear in the media.

On public television Friday, for example, the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel reported an “allegation” that Call could have put two state legislative candidates “over the top” if he’d helped them pay for advertising during the “last couple weeks” of their campaigns, as they were “fighting hard” for a victory. But Call refused, and they lost.

Kopel (Watch at @1:30 here): House’s particular claim against Call is that Call refused to provide the support for two candidates who ended up losing very close state legislative races, Tony Sanchez, who was almost elected to the state senate, and Susan Kochevar, who almost won a house race, and her win would have put the House in Republican hands. So the argument is that they were close. They were fighting hard, and Ryan Call wouldn’t do a mailer for them in the last couple weeks that could have put them over the top. I don’t know the details of that. But that would be the allegation. Certainly, any chair of major party has to be able to work with all the groups of the party, the sincere moderates, the squishy moderates, the hard-core ideological people—and then have strategies to help them all get elected. [BigMedia emphasis]

Yes, you’d want a major party chair to work with all sides, but is the allegation true? Did Call screw his own party up?

Kopel, a Democrat who made the statement on Channel 12’s Colorado Inside Out, told me via email that he was “just summarizing House’s campaign speech” and does not know “know what went on” in the Kochevar and Sanchez races.

Asked about Kopel’s statement, Sanchez did not respond, but Kochevar emailed me a Feb. Facebook post in which she wrote that she lost by 1,500 votes, and she “did not receive any money from the state party.” Kochevar was selected by a vacancy committee in July, after Robert Ramirez dropped at the last minute.

Sanchez lost to Sen. Andy Kerr by about 1,000 votes.

“Shortly after Dec. 31 [after the election], I received a phone call from Ryan Call informing me that if I did not fire my campaign finance company, the Republican Party would not have campaign funds for a future campaign.  I perceived this as a threat. I find it reprehensible that a party chairman would threaten a viable candidate,” Kochevar wrote on Facebook. “My campaign finance reporting was handled by Campaign Integrity Watchdog, which is owned by Matt Arnold. Steve House will not let personal grudges interfere with party success. He understands limited govt and will unify all factions within the party.”

Call did not return an email seeking comment, but his backers say the GOP state chair invested strategically, with limited funds, in the most promising races statewide. The decisions were tough, but in the end the GOP did better than it’s done in a decade or more, they say. In Jeffco itself, the thinking goes, Larry Queen had a better shot than Sanchez and Kochevar, who were both expected to receive big-time support from RMGO. And both Sanchez and Kochevar were seen, with no grudges involved, as weaker candidates.  I’m not saying I agree with this logic, but I’m offering it in the absence of a statement by Call himself.

In any case, it appears that the allegation, repeated by Kopel, that Call did not do invest in the Sanchez and Kochevar campaigns, even as the races appeared to be close, is true, at least in Kochevar’s case. What role personality clashes played or whether a marginal amount of increased cash would have made a difference in the races is not known.

Republicans vote March 14 on whether to retain Call for a third two-year term.


Media omission: Recall leader’s acknowledgement of “slow week” may confirm Kopel’s prediction that Hudak-recall a “tall hill to climb”

Friday, November 1st, 2013

On Channel 12’s “Colorado Inside Out” Friday, , the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel, whose gun connections run deep, said it’s a “tall hill to climb” for the Hudak-recall campaign to collect 19,000 signatures required to trigger a vote on the recall measure.

Today, speaking on KNUS radio, Hudak-recall spokeswoman Laura Waters (appearing with her colleague Mike McAlpine) confirmed Kopel’s prediction, saying that her campaign has been struggling up hill of late.

Waters @32:00: Well, we’ve had a little bit of a slow week, a little bit of weather, a little big of distraction, a little bit of opposition. And so we’re a little bit behind right now in our numbers where we want to be. The rumor mill is floating that we’re turning in our petitions next week. That could not be further from the truth. We’re not ready. We’re not there yet.

Listen McAlpine and Waters on KNUS 11-1-2013

On Channel 12, during the top-rated (by me) public affairs show, “Colorado Inside Out,” Kopel said: “It’s tough because Hudak was elected in a presidential-election cycle year. The minimum number of signatures you need as a fraction of the votes you got is much higher. It’s a tall hill to climb.”

Kopel, whose libertarian Independence Institute opposes Colorado’s new gun-safety laws, said it’s up to Dudley Brown’s Rocky Mountain Gun Owners to perform the “large feat” of collecting the signatures.

Kopel: “We will see if his organization [Rocky Mountain Gun Owners] has the on-the-ground competence to do large feat of signature gathering,” said Kopel.



Don’t forget about the local public affairs programs on TV

Friday, September 9th, 2011

This falls in the category of small-minded media criticism, but when you consume the same TV and radio shows over and over again, the small stuff can start eating at your brain.

That’s what the introduction to KBDI Channel 12’s otherwise excellent public affairs show, “Colorado Inside Out,”  has been doing to me lately. The weekly show starts with:

“Welcome to Colorado Inside Out, the public affairs roundtable that brings together informed journalists, pundits, and activists to break down the issues that matter here in Colorado.”

What’s so bad about this, you might wonder. It has something to do with hearing the phrase, “informed journalists, pundits, and activists” over and over, especially since the line doesn’t give viewers any information that’s not immediately clear once the show gets started and the camera hits Westword’s Patricia Calhoun and the smirking Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute.

I reached the tipping point the other night, as I watched Calhoun deliver the intro, when she was subbing for regular host Raj Chohan. Calhoun has been around a long time and has managed to fight off staleness, and she looked like she was handing us petrified wood.

I dropped a line to Colorado Public Television Producer Dominic Dezzutti, and he replied that he’d been thinking of changing the opening line.

“The more elaborate open is an artifact of when the show was initially transferred from Peter Boyles to Raj Chohan,” he emailed me. “Frankly, it’s been an idea in my head recently to change or cut it.”

This puny criticism aside, Colorado Inside Out is the best of  bunch of excellent public affairs shows on local television. It manages to be both informative and entertaining.

Colorado Public Television’s regular lineup and specials reflects its commitment to public affairs programming.  Other shows on Channel 12 include  “Studio 12” and “Devil’s Advocate with Jon Caldara.”  (I have to admit that I enjoy this show, even though it absurdly presents the Independent Institute’s Caldara as the moderator, and it’s under-written by Caldara’s right-leaning organization.)

Other local public affairs prgrams are: KRMA Channel 6’s “Colorado State of Mind,” 9News’ “Your Show,” and  HarberTV’s  “Aaron Harber Show,” which often addresses national topics.

Fox 31’s “Zappolo’s People” addresses lots of public affairs topics, too.

Check them all out.

What about the substance of McInnis water articles?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

It’s been almost two weeks since 1) we learned that the Hasan Family Foundation paid gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis $300,000, rather than $150,000 as previously reported, mostly for his “series of in-depth articles on water, Colorado Water” and 2) that the series, titled “Musings on Water,” amounted to 150 pages, according to McInnis’ campiagn (though, mysteriously enough, the Hasan foundation is only in possession of 60 pages).

But I can’t find a single news reporter in Colorado who’s reported a water expert’s views about McInnis’ formerly stealth water articles.

Fortunately, while we wait for basic reporting on the matter, a few columnists and bloggers have weighed in. Here’s what they concluded:

Over the weekend, Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen, who’s definitely counts as an expert on Colorado water issues himself, spotlighted big-time errors in McInnis’ work, including McInnis’ failure to list the South Platte among Colorado’s major river basins. Quillen writes, “We’re not talking arcane knowledge, just the ability to read a map.”

Quillen concludes, “So you may not learn a lot about our water issues from these $12.50-a-word musings, but you could learn quite a bit about McInnis.”

On KBDI’s Colorado Inside Out June 18, Post columnist Susan Greene had a similar view:

“You know, I’ve actually covered the Colorado River for 20 years, and you could Wikipedia this stuff. I’m not saying he did… I’m just saying his name is on it. I don’t care. It’s not edifying at all. It tells me nothing about the Colorado River Compact. It has these sort of flourishes and great moments of insights like, water is very important to humanity. You know, $300,000? I’m thinking, he could have done that much less expensively.”

The blogosphere has also been pretty quiet about the substance of McInnis’s writings. John Orr of the Coyote Gulch blog  was by far the most kind to McInnis: “He’s consistent in his message, bashing government and the Bureau of Reclamation specifically. He embraces the development of water and other resources and laments all the possible mineral mother lodes locked up by wilderness designation. He demonstrates a good understanding of water issues and the history behind Colorado’s present situation.”

Over at Westword’s Latest Word blog, Alan Prendergast has made a complete mockery of McInnis’ own claim in a memo to the Hasan Foundation that his articles were “carefully-proofed.”

In his third article on the topic, published the same day that the National Association of Hispanic Journalists was holding its national conference in Denver, Prendergast quoted a passage from McInnis’ water writings and then pointed out that McInnis got his Spanish translation messed up.

McInnis: “The Colorado River is the primary River of the Southwest part of Our Nation. It is called the ‘River of Rivers’ because of its importance in some of the most arid lands in the Americas… Do you know the name of ‘Rio Colorado’? That was the name, given by the Spanish, to a portion of what we now know as the ‘Colorado River.’ Colorado is ‘Red’ in Spanish. It was called the Rio because of the Reddish color that dominated the River…”

Westword’s Prendergast:  “No, Señor Snore, I’m pretty sure it was called the Colorado because of the reddish color, but who am I to contradict a $2,000-a-page man?”

So, despite some great work by columnists and bloggers, we need more serious news analysis of the McInnis writings. You might argue that journalists don’t need to go fact checking old articles of a former Congressman who’s got a long trail of paper behind him, but with the Big Question still hanging out there (Why was McInnis paid so much for this?), I think reporters should ask more experts about the substance of these articles.