Archive for the 'Colorado U.S. Senate' Category

When a softball question for Gardner doesn’t make you groan

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Most people groan when media figures toss soft-ball questions at public officials, but not all softballs are created equal.

As you’d expect, during a Jan. 27 interview, KNUS talk-radio host Krista Kafer thew a bunch of eye-roll-inducing questions at Colorado’s new Republican Senator, Cory Gardner, like has he been surprised by anything?

But one of Kafer’s softballs was illuminating. She asked, “Who ya hanging out with?”

As his emerging Senate BFFs, Gardner first mentioned some of the most radical right wingers in the chamber.

Gardner spotlighted his budding relationship with Tea-Party leader Ted Cruz of Texas, saying he “sat next to Sen. Cruz over the past several policy meetings that we’ve had, talking about issues like what we’re going to do on health care….” (Cruz, of course, led the charge for a government shutdown to stop Obamacare.)

Gardner also mentioned working with Sen. Rand Paul of Texas, “on a number of bills, whether it’s auditing the Federal Reserve.” (You wonder if the two discussed Paul’s Personhood bill, the Life at Conception Act, which Gardner endorsed while in the House.)

Also cited by Gardner, in answer to Kafer’s question, were anti-environmentalists John Thune (R-SD) and Jerry Moran (R-KS).

You know a Senator by the company he keeps. And in Gardner’s case, his company of obstructionist right wingers reflects what we’ve heard from him in Washington as well. The name of a moderate Republican or Democrat did not come out of Gardner’s mouth.

Good on ya, Krista Kafer, for at least one of your softballs.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/talk-radio-host-asks-gardner-so-who-are-you-hanging-out-with

Reporters are still letting Gardner play them on immigration

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner took his slippery interview tactics to the national stage of PBS’ Newshour yesterday, responding to questions with predictions of the future, not answers to the questions, leaving us thinking we got answers from our new Senator. When we really didn’t.

In a re-wind of what we heard from Gardner during his election campaign, the Newshour’s Al Hunt asked Gardner about immigration. Hunt acted as if he’d gotten an answer from Gardner, since he didn’t follow up, but in reality, he’d gotten little or nothing from him.

Hunt: There are some House Republicans who are proposing now, with the Homeland Security authorization, that they would deny funding for Obama’s executive action in November. And some would go and deny funding. And some would go even and deny funding for the DREAMer’s action in 2012. Is that helpful? Is that constructive?

Hunt: …You supported the DREAMers’ action, didn’t you?

Gardner: That will ultimately be part of the solution, but we have to start with a secure border. We have to start with a guest-worker program. Those are things the American people support. They want it to be proven that we can actually handle some of these bigger issues, like border security now.

Hunt: Do you think it’s possible to get some kind of accord that includes some kind of legal status or citizenship for almost all of the 11 million undocumenteds who are here.

Gardner: I think at some point that will be one of the solutions that is reached. But right now, I think Republicans should put forward a bill that starts with border security, addresses a guest worker program, because without a workable guest-worker program you do not have border security. Let’s put those pieces in place, make sure they work, and then move forward to additional solutions that must be part of the overall fix to immigration.

You’d might from reading this that Gardner supports the DREAM Act, as well as offering legal status to undocumented immigrants. But he doesn’t. Except for momentarily (during the election campaign) voting against halting the deportation of Dreamers, he’s been against the DREAM ACT throughout his career. He even opposed offering in-state tuition rates to undocumented young people, brought into our country illegally by their parents.

Gardner smiles and says he’s in favor of immigration reform, that he wants a “solution,” but his record is nearly void of evidence that he’s done anything about it, and he even opposed the bipartisan Senate immigration bill. Most recently, he opposed Obama’s action to halt the deportation of undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens.

Gardner fooled Hunt into thinking he got answers. And he fooled Breitbart into thinking he’s too moderate on immigration. What a mess.

Reporters can cut through Gardner’s obfuscation by pressing the senator about what he’ll do, specifically, to advance immigration reform. Will he vote for the DREAM Act? Will he vote for a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants? What does he favor? What will he do?

Watchdog reporting needed on Gardner

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Yesterday, Rep. Cory Gardner voted to halt Obama’s program to defer deportation of millions of immigrants who have children in our country.

Gardner voted in Aug. (during the election campaign) against halting Obama’s  program to defer deportations of young immigrants.

The two votes weren’t exactly identical, but they’re close enough to  make you wonder how Gardner reconciles the two. Yet, I can’t find a single reporter who asked him directly about the inconsistency.

Instead,  the Associated Press, Durango Herald, Fox 31 Denver, the Grand Junction Sentinel,  and The Denver Post all apparently relied on Gardner’s self-serving statement saying, in part, that “we owe it to generations past and generations to come to find a solution to our broken immigration system.”

It’s possible some reporters asked to speak with Gardner himself, but they didn’t report this. If so, they should have.

But it’s not too late to insist on talking to Gardner, if you’re a journalist who has access to him, to cover the basic journalistic function of calling out public officials on their inconsistencies between what’s done on the campaign trail and what happens in office.

A baby step in the right direction was provided during a Gardner interview Dec. 3 on SeriusXM’s new show, Yahoo! News on POTUS

Host Olivier Knox had the presence of mind to ask Gardner whether his “campaign talk” about making birth control pills available over the counter “can translate into legislative action.”

Gardner replied:

It needs to translate into policy action. The FDA has their approval process when it comes to prescription, over-the-counter move. I will certainly continue to support and urge, whether it’s legislative action. We’ve got to figure out the best policy option, the best way forward in making sure we have the continued fight for over-the-counter contraceptives, which I continue and will continue to support and push for. And so, we’ll be talking to the FDA and talking about how best to make that happen. It’s something Gov. Jindahl first proposed, ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, supported the move to over-the-counter contraceptions and it’s something we’ve got to encourage to happen here.

I give Knox credit here for asking the question, even though I’d have pressed Gardner to clarify his plan for implementation of a major campaign promise. Will he seek legislation if necessary? How long will he press the Administration? Etc.

Ditto for Gardner’s plan on immigration. If he’s against deferring deportations, then what’s he for? And how does it comport to his campaign promises?

I’m hoping we get this type of watch-dog attitude from reporters going forward on Gardner.

Journalists express frustration during discussion of election news coverage

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

The Columbia Journalism Review’s Rocky Mountain Correspondent, Corey Hutchins, has posted highlights of a panel discussion Tuesday, moderated by Compass Colorado’s Kelly Maher and me, on local news coverage of the 2014 election.

Here are three of Hutchins’ eight highlights:

Bored on the Bus

KDVR’s Eli Stokols on covering the modern professional campaign:

“Unfortunately there were very few days where I sat there and I said, ‘Absolutely have to shoot this today,’ because it was so rare that these candidates were actually available, putting out public schedules, doing public events… I rode on the Udall bus, I went up to Fort Collins and Greeley a couple times to find Cory [Gardner] when he was speaking to Republicans there, and you know, you would get the same rehearsed, trite lines from all of them. And when you sat them down in an interview you got the same rehearsed, trite lines from both. And so maybe it is incumbent on us to be better, to push them out of their comfort zone a little bit … I think that’s the tough part of the modern campaign. Campaigns with money are so not reliant anymore on mainstream media to get their message out, especially in a market like this [in Colorado] where there is not such a critical mass of media.”

The Denver Post didn’t want to cover ‘scripted theater’

Post politics editor [Chuck] Plunkett said his paper didn’t want to fall into the trap of covering what he called the “scripted theater” of the campaigns. So in the early spring, he said, he gathered staff for multiple substantive discussions about issues they wanted to address this election season, so they weren’t just “having to chase the Twitter around, having to chase the horse race around.” Some of the issues they decided to focus on were immigration, the ground game, and money, and how candidates evolved on issues. Also, for the first time, the paper held its own recorded debates in its auditorium instead of partnering with a TV station….

Didn’t approve this ad

CBS4’s [Shaun Boyd] provided some levity when she spoke of how she’d recoiled at seeing her on-air reporting appear in a political ad on TV. To her dismay, her station ran the ad on its airwaves. But, she said, other TV stations in Denver didn’t air it because they didn’t want to highlight the reporting of a competitor.

In his post, Hutchins discusses the journalists’ frustration with the scripted answers from the candidates. Riccardi, in particular, talked about how closely the professional candidates stay on their talking points, and he said he hoped to walk away from the campaign trail more often in the future and write about the election from an outside-the-box perspective.

That’s a good idea, but I thought local journalists could have at least tried to break the campaign script more often during the last election on many issues. And even if they didn’t break it completely, they could have spotlighted candidates’ manipulative or repetitive talking points more clearly for voters, like Eli Stokols did in his interview with Senator-elect Cory Gardner.

This would have required more aggressive follow-up questioning by journalists, and it could have been done at more of the public events where reporters questioned the candidates.

The frustration of the journalists on the panel Tuesday was mostly not evident at the candidate debates and interviews, where journalists, with some important exceptions here and elsewhere, took a passive role, without much follow-up.

Here’s part of Tuesday’s discussion about how to address the talking points.

PLUNKETT: We do break the script. A good journalist can get people to talk about more than sometimes we give them credit for. I think when you start to think about the election in general, you remember all those scripted moments, and you’re frustrated by it. It’s annoying. You wish people would just answer the question. And that creates a very human reaction in you, and you react to it, in a hostile kind of way. But I do think, if you think back, there were tons of stories written by lots of people on the campaign trail, and we did get into issues. We did look at important moments.

STOKOLS: I think as a journalist you have to draw out and just explain to people when somebody’s not answering the question, sometimes. Whether you show that in a TV format or in a print format, you just say, you know, “…has refused to answer this question repeatedly throughout the campaign,” or, whatever it is. I think that should be revealing to people, you know, like Chuck said. Sometimes, there’s not a lot more you can do.

Durango Herald’s Peter MARCUS: Yeah, I agree. And I also agree that it is tougher in print. I mean, when I was pushing Cory Gardner on, you know, what the difference is between the state Personhood initiative and the federal bill, you know, it’s weird to write that into the story. It’s like, “The Durango Herald pushed Gardner on…” You know, and how many times can you write that? And are people even understanding what’s going on in the exchange, that you’re on the phone, or conducting your interview in person, we’re just asking the same question over and over in different ways? It gets hard to write it into a story. But more importantly, you can’t make them break the script. I STOKOLS: Well, you know, we have to be a little analytical. I mean, we can’t just sit there. we’re not stenographers.

MARCUS: Right

STOKOLS: So, you know, when you sit there on a campaign bus, and Mark Udall and Michael Bennet are sitting there, and the national reporters are asking, you know, like, “President Obama, he’s not here. Is he killing you?” And they’re like, “Oh, no! It’s fine!” Whatever. And then, you know, they go on background, and they’re like, “Jesus! The President is killing us!”

MARCUS: Right! What do you do? Yeah, what do you do?

STOKOLS: It doesn’t take a lot of analysis to understand, one, what the reality is, and two, why they can’t explicitly say that, or admit that, doesn’t mean we can’t write it, and explain that to the reader or the viewer, that, look, this is a fundamental reality of this campaign, whether it is admitted to or not admitted to, you know, by the candidate.

MARCUS: Yeah, you may not get them to break the script. You can write it in, because of what people tell you on background and everything. But you’re not going to quote them on it,

RICCARDI: Yeah, I totally agree. If you’re just waiting on these guys to tell you something, the yield-to-effort is minimal.

Asked why more of gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez’s extreme comments were not covered, some of the journalists on Tuesday’s panel explained that it’s difficult to address an issue if the campaign isn’t focusing on it.

RICCARDI: I also think this is a great example of how campaigns define a lot of what you end up covering. Hickenlooper ran a positive campaign. Hickenlooper did not put these past statements of Beauprez in the public light repeatedly, therefore there were other things that reporters had to focus on with their limited time. Look at how much ink we spilled over Gardner on two measures that will probably never become law. Right? And that’s a direct reflection of the fact that the Udall campaign and their allies put a lot of time, attention to creating points behind those issues. And I think you’re seeing the opposite of it in terms of what happened on the governor’s side. Hickenlooper did not want to make that an issue, and guess what, it didn’t become a big issue. I agree with Chuck, it’s a balancing act [on how much coverage old candidate statements should get]. There’s no—there’s no clean formula for anything in this business. But I also think this is a great example of how a lot of our coverage reflects the choices being by campaigns, for better or for worse.

STOKOLS: Yeah, the governor’s race was about the Governor because the Governor made it that way. I mean, he didn’t come out and do a lot of campaign events, but when he went to the sheriffs, and Kelly’s folks got that on video, that was a huge pivot in the campaign. And there were other things that he did —the comments to CNN earlier in the year, in answering a hypothetical question. There were mistakes that he made that we were sort of forced to cover. Whereas, some of these [Beauprez] statements, they matter on some level, but they have a shelf life. And so, when, you know, you’re running ads based on a 2006 statement, it does seem harder sometimes to rationalize going back and covering this, just because you’ve got a, you know, a 527 or somebody calling you and saying, “Hey, you know, did you see these statements? You should cover these. You should do a story.” Sometimes, you need more than that to be pushed off the ledge, especially when you look around and your colleagues aren’t doing it. It’s not like we all run around in packs, but when you’re going to go out and do a story yourself, and you’re going to be first, and you’re going to rationalize something that is just really aimed at putting another campaign or a candidate on the defensive, you have to be pretty careful about that, I think, in terms of, you know, have we covered this before, right? I don’t know what the exact formula is but–

MARCUS: There is no formula, but I think, for me, a component is also gauging, you know, interest, from outside groups, from the public…You know, at the beginning of the campaigns, a lot of the outside groups were really trying to push these 2006 talking points and comments and things like that. And you could just see, it wasn’t gaining traction — forget in the media, it wasn’t gaining traction on twitter — it wasn’t gaining traction. And it wasn’t because, I’m pretty sure, that these outside groups—and I know some of you are in the room, so I’m sorry — but, you didn’t have that much. The fact that you were going back to 2006, back to 2008 shows that it was—it was all you had. And it wasn’t gaining traction, not because we weren’t covering it—perhaps maybe possibly a little bit, but it really had to do with people’s interests. I didn’t see these statements coming back up. I think the closest we got was “Both Ways Bob” came back for a short minute, there. But, I was just looking around. I wasn’t seeing it gaining traction. It seemed like people were looking to move on, find out what this election was about, and I think that plays into how much attention it gets with the media, as well.

The event, which was sponsored by the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs, Compass Colorado, and BigMedia.org, was attended by political operatives and others from both sides of the political divide. There were about 40 people in the audience.

Gardner’s refusal to take government shutdown off the table is a lesson for DC journalists

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Warning to Washington DC reporters: Here comes Senator-elect Cory Gardner!

Gardner tried to slither past Colorado reporters by answering questions with falsehoods (See personhood.) or responding to queries with predictions about the future, instead of answers to the actual questions (See immigration.).

Now Gardner is trotting out his trademark “answer-a-question-by-saying-two-things-at-once” for Washington journalists and getting away with it!

Asked by ABC’s “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos Sunday if Gardner’s promise to be serious about governing means “taking things like shutting down the government off the table,” Gardner replied:

“The government shutdown is a bad idea anytime, anywhere.”

Translation: I won’t answer your question because I don’t want to rule out a government shutdown, but I want to make reporters think I won’t vote to shut down the government (winky, wink to the Tea Party).

If you’re thinking, give me a break, Republicans like Gardner won’t shut down the government again, you should read Sen. Jeff Sessions not-so-veiled threat to shut down the government to prevent Obama from stopping the deportation of some immigrants, as he’s apparently planning to do this year. Talking Points Memo’s Sahil Kapur reports in a piece titled “Top GOP Senator Hints at Government Shutdown Fight over Immigration:

In an op-ed Monday for Politico magazine, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), currently ranking member of the committee, said it would be “unthinkable” for Congress to pass a long-term spending bill that doesn’t block funding for Obama’s expected actions to free some immigrants from the threat of deportation.

“President Obama’s executive amnesty … cannot be implemented if Congress simply includes routine language on any government funding bill prohibiting the expenditure of funds for this unlawful purpose,” wrote Sessions, a longtime foe of immigration reform.

This strategy is similar to the one that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) persuaded Republicans to adopt in 2013 in a quest to defund Obamacare. It did not work: Obama held firm, the government shut down, and 16 days later Republicans backed down and agreed to fund Obamacare along with the rest of the federal government.

So, yes, shutting down the government again sounds crazy, but it’s still on the table, with the apparent blessing of Gardner.

Media omission: Personhood leader shows how Gardner stabbed him in the back

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Here’s my favorite Halloween costume. I only wish I’d actually seen it.

Keith1Mason's avatarKeith Mason @Keith1Mason
@BigMediaBlog what do you think? My costume this year is a knife in my back with a “cg” on the side….

We all know senatorial candidate Cory Gardner stabbed the personhood movement in the back, but who would think Keith Mason, the co-founder of Personhood USA, would illustrate the point so brilliantly by inserting a Cory-Gardner monographed knife in his own back?

I offered to buy Mason a beer if he’d send me a photo of his costume. Then I realized he’d probably want harder stuff, so I said I’d buy him shots in exchange for the pic. No response yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he sent me the photo.

Mason hasn’t held back expressing his feelings about Gardner, telling Cosmo a few months ago, for example, that “[Cory Gardner has] built his entire political career on support of personhood. I think he’s just listening to some bad advice, and he’s playing politics.”

Or, put another way, Gardner stabbed Mason and his hard-working personhood colleagues in the back, after they stood with Gardner throughout his political career.

Reporters continue to object to Gardner’s apparent personhood lie

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels wrote yesterday:

“Almost everyone but Congressman Gardner agrees that the federal bill is similar to state “personhood” measures that Coloradans overwhelmingly defeated and Gardner supported until just weeks after entering the Senate race in February.

More proof came the night before, when Gardner’s told 7News’ Marc Stewart  (at the 50-second mark here) that the federal personhood bill is an empty symbol, instead of the extreme anti-abortion bill that it is.

Stewart: But your name is still, though, on the personhood legislation, correct?

Gardner: Well, that’s just a statement that I support life.

Gardner’s apparent lie here completes a trifecta of false statements to Denver TV stations, including Fox 31, Channel 9, and now, Channel 7–in addition to all the other news outlets that have endured this falsehood and objected to it, rightfully, sometimes in the strongest possible terms.

 

Rand Paul did not appear at Denver conference

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky did not appear in Denver this week for the Colorado Renewal Project’s “Rediscovering God in America” event in Westminster, despite widely distributed promotional materials stating that the Kentucky Senator would be in attendance as a “special guest.”

Paul was never planning to come to Colorado at all, Paul’s press office emailed me Friday, referring to organizers of the event.

“That was an error on their part,” wrote Paul spokesperson Sergio Gor.

Paul’s visit to Colorado appears to have been organized by evangelical political operative David Lane, who organizes meetings between Republican presidential contenders and pastors in swing states. Lane is associated with the American Renewal Project, which advocates for more involvement by Christians in politics.

Numerous efforts get a comment from Lane or any organizer of the Colorado event were not successful. It was not clear who sponsored Colorado’s pastor event this week, but similar events in the past have ties to Colorado for Family Values and the Christian Family Alliance of Colorado.

Paul’s visit to Colorado raised eyebrows because Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner has been telling reporters that there is “no federal personhood bill”–and Paul is the unabashed sponsor of a federal personhood bill, called the Life at Conception Act.

Last year, Gardner cosponsored the House version of Paul’s legislation, also called the Life at Conception Act, which would ban all abortion, even for rape, as well as common forms of birth control.

Paul appears to have attended one of Lane’s conferences for pastors last month in South Carolina, along with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who’s been a repeated speaker at Lane’s “Pastors and Pews” events this year.

“We have a constituency that we’re mobilizing. My goal is to restore America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and reestablish a Christian culture,” Lane told U.S. News’ David Catanese in September.

“Huckabee’s done maybe every one,” Lane told Catanese. “He’s been in 10 or 11 states with me. But I invite all of them. I’m an honest broker.”

Has Rand Paul ditched his Denver visit, scheduled to start tomorrow?

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul’s office won’t tell me whether he’s still planning to visit Denver for a “Rediscovering God in America” conference tomorrow, beginning at 3 p.m. and running through 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

As of this week, Paul’s name was listed on promotional materials as a “special guest,” along with Sen. Ted Cruz and others.

Paul is the Senate sponsor of the federal personhood bill, which Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner says is nonexistent or symbolic, depending on when you ask him.

If he comes to Denver, with Gardner somewhere in the general vicinity, you wonder if Paul will talk about his legislation, called the Life at Conception Act, at the conference, like he does in this video.

Below is the invitation to the Westminster event, which is targeted at pastors and their wives:

Reporters should correct Gardner’s claim that he was against government shutdown

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner took his falsehoods about the government shutdown to a new level this week when he told PBS’ Guen Ifill:

Gardner: “I voted for every measure that would have avoided the shutdown. I supported efforts during it to make sure we were finding ways not only to get out of the immediate situation but to make sure that we develop long-term solutions.”

That’s the kind of rotten information journalists should correct before it’s too late.

Everyone who follows this issue at all knows that Gardner voted with fellow Republicans to shut down the government in an effort to kill Obamacare.

Gardner was fully behind using the threat of a government shutdown as leverage to try to de-fund the health-care law.

As Gardner told KOA Radio’s Mike Rosen in August: “I believe that we don’t need to shut down the government because we ought to just lift this health-care bill out of the way and let America work.”

As part of a fact-check of a recent ad, 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman explained how Gardner’s votes led to the shutdown, just after Colorado’s horrific floods:

Gardner did vote in line with the Republican strategy that led to the government shutdown.

That didn’t happen by passing a bill to shut it down…

Those votes were Republican spending packages, which passed the House. They would have funded the government, but also contained language aimed at curbing Obamacare.

For that reason, the president made it clear he wouldn’t sign that bill, which had no chance of passing the Senate regardless.

Republicans knew they could cause a shutdown by forcing the healthcare issue to be part of the discussion about keeping the government open.

However, it takes two to tango, and the Democrats didn’t want to mix the ACA into the spending debate. It would have been possible to accept the GOP plan and avoid a shutdown.

Whether it was fair to bundle those concepts is the core of the debate.

After reading that, even if you’re on Gardner’s side and you wanted to force Obama to de-fund the health-care law, is there any way you could claim, as Gardner did, that he voted for “every measure that would have avoided the shutdown?” Not.