Archive for the 'Colorado State of Mind' Category

Will conservative talkers stand by Tancredo?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

I wrote earlier this week about how hard it will be for conservative talk-radio hosts to modify their views, even if pressured by more moderate GOP factions to do so. Here’s an example of how this looks on the air:

About a month and a half before the election, on KFKA’s morning radio show, hosts Devon Lentz and Tom Lucero, who are prominent Larimer County Republicans, were more than happy to plug Dennis Lynch’s underground film, arguing, as Lynch put it, that people aren’t crossing the U.S.-Mexico border just “to cut your lawn” but “to cut your throats.”

The tone of the Greeley radio show changed last week when Lentz and Lucero talked to Michael Barrera of the conservative Libre Initiative, which is advocating that Republicans be nicer to Hispanics.

Barrera complained to the talk-show hosts about the nastiness of some Republicans when it comes to immigration:

Barrera: Some of the rhetoric that’s coming from some of the folks on this issue has been pretty bad. Like, you had a guy – a state legislator out of Kansas that came out and said, “We ought to shoot these illegal immigrants like pigs off a helicopter.” That’s horrible!

I would have asked if the “cut-your-throats” comment and Lynch’s fear-mongering movie, which had been so warmly received by the talk show hosts, was in the same ballpark, but who am I?

Barrera: The only thing that [Hispanic voters] did hear, you know, from candidate Romney, who I think is a good man, but you know, mainly his words regarding immigration that they remember were “self-deportation”. They saw him embrace Arpaio [Barrera pronounces it “Air-A-PEE-O] out of Arizona. They saw him embrace Kolbeck out of Arizona. [He] embraced Arizona law which many Hispanics felt was a bad law for immigration. So, they saw him embrace all these things, rather than embrace something like the DREAM Act. When that came up he actually attacked other candidates for supporting the DREAM Act. And even when Rubio tried to come up with his own act, again, he didn’t embrace that, he embraced these other [inaudible]. And so this is what they saw, this is what they remember. And when you feel like you’re not being — you feel like you’re dealing with a candidate you can’t trust, or a candidate doesn’t care about you, you’re not going to vote for him.

Lentz did not say she gets mad when she sees all the Spanish words in the packaging department at Wal-Mart. That’s what she said when Lynch was on the show before the election.

But she asked a good question, saying she thought jobs and the economy were the top issues for Hispanics, not immigration.

Lentz: … in my mind, it’s not just the DREAM Act, it’s continuing to let anybody come into our country that’s going to affect our jobs and our economy because it’s more people we need to supply jobs to and it’s a bigger drain on our entitlement programs, in some cases. How do you make that balance and how do the Republicans back up and say, ‘Are jobs the most important thing to you, because if we don’t have jobs, we don’t have jobs for anybody.’

Barrera said Republicans have to get the “immigration issue behind us,” but his amorphous suggestion of allowing undocumented immigrants to work here legally, as long as they aren’t criminals, didn’t seem to grab Lucero or Lentz.

They didn’t say, “That was phenomenal,” as Lucero had told Lynch when he was fear-mongering about undocumented immigrants just a few weeks back.

And that’s the problem Republicans will have going forward with talk-radio hosts and the GOP base that listens to them.

The problem will be exacerbated by people like Tom Tancredo, who’s a star guest on many Colorado talk shows where he loves to say stuff like:

“We can’t let those who actually believe the answer is comprehensive immigration reform…aka massive amnesty…take us back down that path again. We must stop them cold, as we did before–because we know that will be the end of the line for America,” Tancredo emailed his supporters Nov. 16, as reported by Fox 31′s Eli Stokols.

Tancredo, you recall, was a talk-radio host in Colorado Springs for a long stint after he ran for President, on an anti-immigration platform, and he still loves to make the talk-radio rounds–or any rounds where a microphone is present.

But even if Tancredo disappears, whose ideas do you think are more likely to win over the talk-radio hosts and audience, Barrera’s? Or Tancredo’s?

Can Republicans control the extremists on talk radio? Nope

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Wayne Laugesen, the Editorial Page Editor at the conservative Colorado Springs Gazette, made the point last week on Rocky Mountain PBS’ Colorado State of Mind that the “general public” thinks conservative talk radio “is part of the GOP.”

And for good reason. You find the top GOP candidates, like Mitt Romney, holding forth on Denver talk radio, while avoiding TV or print media. As elections get close, you hear talk radio hosts acting as if they are part of that famous well-oiled Republican get-out-the-vote machine. You see GOP leaders say something in Washington, and then you hear it again on KNUS radio in Denver.

And when something outrageous trickles out of the talk radio world and into the headlines, it rapidly becomes linked to conservatives. See Rush Limbaugh. At the local level, see Mike Rosen, Brownie, Steve Kelley, Tom Lucero and Devon Lentz, Amy Oliver, Jeff Crank, the whole gang.

It’s pretty obvious that Republicans would like to figure out a miracle way to stop the hatred and extremism on talk radio so they can be better polish up the image of their party, especially among Hispanics.

“The talk on immigration comes out on talk radio anymore as just general hostility toward Latino culture,” said Laugesen.

But does anyone really expect conservative talk radio hosts to change their tune anytime soon? No, because if they did, they’d lose their audience, which listens to the shows precisely to hear the extremism they love.

The conservative talk-radio audience has been nurtured to want the extreme talk. That’s how the shows built what little audience they have. It worked.

As explained here, they captured a market niche alienated from the reasonable news media. Talk radio listeners like to connect with people who share their fringe views. (This is a generalization, I know, but still.)

How is that going to change anytime soon? It can’t, because if conservative talk radio moderates itself, it will die. Its core audience will change the channel.

But there’s hope, if you’re a Republican like Laugesen. The conservative white, aging, male audience of talk radio is on the way out. But chances are they’ll stick around long enough, with their extremism stuck to them, to make it all the more difficult for the GOP to re-invent itself.

View Laugesen video here.

Laugesen: A lot of Republicans will say, we’re not against Hispanics at all, we’re against illegal immigrants. Okay, we get that, but that’s not how it comes across. It’s not how it comes across on talk radio, which is, right or wrong, is viewed by the general public as part of the GOP, a big part of the GOP. The talk on immigration comes out on talk radio anymore as just general hostility toward Latino culture. So I think that’s really hurt Republicans. In 1984 you had Ronald Reagan who actively sought the Hispanic vote, and he got 40 percent of it. Later on in 2004, you had George Bush, who spoke Spanish, and was very good about courting the Hispanic vote got 44 percent. So it was going up. And–

Host Cynthia Hessen: And talk radio kind of talked it away?

Laugesen: Talk radio and a lot of politicians pandering for the white vote, apparently. I don’t know what their thinking is. Let’s try to be more conservative than the next guy by talking more critically about immigration, illegal immigration.

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.

The more critical questioning the better

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Needless to say, interviews are much more fun and useful if reporters try to correct candidates, repeatedly if necessary, if they have their facts mixed up.

So you have to appreciate Cynthia Hessin’s discussion with Scott McInnis on a special edition of Colorado State of Mind March 11. (Colorado State of Mind airs Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on Rocky Mountain PBS, Channel 6.)

On the show, McInnis said that Colorado’s economy is in bad shape and that the “wrong thing to do” is raise taxes. He said he opposed the “tax increases” passed this session by the lawmakers. Hessin made McInnis explain why he thought they were “tax increases.”

Hessin (at 13:50): To be clear, as a matter of procedure, these are lifting exemptions that these companies had, as opposed to imposing new taxes.

McInnis: No, these are new taxes. Now anytime you move money from the private marketplace to the government, that’s a tax increase.

Hessin: So you’re talking movement of money.

McInnis: They paint a pretty face on it. They like to say, well, it’s a loophole. We’re closing a loophole. Or we’re taxing the rich.

Hessin: By letter of law, that is what they’re doing, right?

McInnis: No it’s not. The way you define it, I think they are all tax increases. They are taking jobs out of the private marketplace to protect jobs in government. That’s exactly what’s happening with those 13 bills.

Hessin’s multiple follow-up not only makes for an interesting interview, but it also forced McInnis to clarify his position on the matter. In fact, Hessin was on solid ground here in describing the legislature’s actions as “lifting exemptions” rather than imposing “new taxes.” That is, if you accept a related decision by the Colorado Supreme Court.

Earlier in this interview, however, Hessin could have pressed McInnis harder, and also had the facts on her side.

McInnis said Colorado’s new oil-and-gas regulations have wounded Colorado’s economy, resulting in “thousands of jobs” leaving the state. He said Colorado’s oil-and-gas jobs moved to Pennsylvania, Texas, Wyoming, and Kentucky.

McInnis said: “The impact [of the oil and gas regulations] to the state as a whole was severe. We’ve lost a lot of jobs. We’ve lost thousands of jobs. These are 80,000-dollar-a-year jobs. The natural gas companies have left in groves. Now, you still have Encana and Williams and others that still have intense capital investment in the ground.  If you went to Grand Junction right now, you’d see 20 rigs sitting in storage yards. I mean, it’s had a huge impact.”

It’s now well-established that Colorado’s new oil-and-gas regulations cannot be blamed any job losses, much less “thousands of jobs,” as McInnis asserts, even though the oil industry has been making this assertion since before the regulations were passed. Hessin should have called McInnis on this.

We’ll be seeing more candidate interviews as the election gets closer…-and candidate profiles. The more critical questioning and reporting the better.