Archive for the 'Denver Post' Category

Deleted Denver Post article stubbornly remains in Post digital archive

Monday, September 15th, 2014

I was perusing the Denver Public Library’s Denver Post archive, on NewsBank, and smiled when I saw an article by former Post reporter Kurtis Lee titled, “Coffman shifts on abortion, personhood.”

That’s the story Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett removed from the Post’s website hours after it was published April 16.

I clicked on the article, and there it was, complete and unabridged. It noted that “not long ago, Coffman won praise from hard-line pro-life groups for his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest and support of personhood initiatives that effectively would have outlawed abortion in Colorado.” And it included Coffman’s response when asked to elaborate on why he abandoned his longstanding support for a personhood abortion ban: “There are parts of it that are simply unintended. … I think it’s too overbroad and that the voters have spoken.”

You recall the short-lived publication of the piece unleashed long-winded criticism from progressives, and, to his credit, Plunkett responded with blog posts of his own, explaining his decision to un-publish the piece and offering Coffman’s quotes and other new information in the disappeared article. But Lee’s original piece was never re-published on The Post’s website or in the newspaper.

Asked about the stubborn appearance of the article on The Post’s digital archive at the library, Plunkett said: “Once you take a story off your own web page, of course, it doesn’t mean it disappears from the internet. And here you’ve discovered that it still does exist, in fact, in an archive that we use. I just hope that all the stories that we put in [the archive] that we intend to publish stay in that archive. Every now and then I wonder. We sweat and bleed and go to all this trouble, and then we can’t ever find the stories again.”

Plunkett also said that he felt his blog posts at the time, containing the new information from Lee’s article, obviated the need to re-publish the piece. But if he had to do it over again, he would run the story with “one or two” additional paragraphs.

“Sometimes when you’re in the heat of the moment, you remember what you learned,” Plunkett said. “And what I learned was, if the story has something wrong with it, and it needs to be fixed, you pull the story and you keep working on it. In today’s environment, sometimes that’s not the smart move.”

Radio host would be “shocked beyond imagination” if Beauprez likened Americans to sheep. Well, he did.

Monday, September 8th, 2014

I spoke last week with the radio duo of yore, Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman, who were co-hosting Dan Caplis’ KNUS show.

Caplis and Silverman think The Denver Post should have more coverage of Hick’s comments on CNN about the death-penalty, despite copious coverage already, including blog posts, letters, a front-page news story, titled “Gov. suggests killer could get full reprieve,” and then a pile-on weekend piece, “Colorado’s Death Penalty Voters Could Make Hickenlooper Pay.”

I pointed out that The Post has yet to even mention many of the most bizarre statements that Hick’s opponent, Bob Beauprez, made during his “wilderness years,” after he left Congress and started running (and talking) in Tea Party circles, like Beauprez’s radio 2010 comments,reported by the Colorado Independent’s Susan Greenethat we’re living “ever closer” to “one world order,” and “we’re living through what a short time ago was fantasy, Orwell’s 1984.”

Beauprez: “A lot of people think we’re kind of out there, that we’re on the fringe, for even talking like this, but the real failure is to not recognize the reality that’s around you,”

Yes, that’s the word “reality” he used.

I told Caplis and Silverman, among other things, about Beauprez’s suggestion, also reported by Greene, that Americans are like “sheep” who’d blindly allow the government to implant microchips in their bodies.

Greene also reported on Beauprez’s agreement with the suggestion that states would have more power if the 17th Amendment were yanked from the U.S. Constitution and Senators weren’t elected directly by the people.

But Caplis would have none of it:

Caplis: “I would be shocked beyond imagination if Bob Beauprez had taken the position, for example, that our Senators should not be elected or that people are like sheep, etc.”

Media figures like Caplis would do well to read Greene’s piece so they don’t say stuff like that. With any luck, they can read about it in The Denver Post some day soon, too.

Reporters continue to overlook fact that Suthers not duty-bound to defend CO same-sex marriage ban

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

CORRECTION — A previous version of this post stated incorrectly that Cynthia Coffman is on record opposing same-sex marriage. In fact, there is no record of her position on this issue.

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In a long question-and-answer story in Westword, Attorney General John Suthers once again lays out his case that he is duty-bound to defend Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban until the bitter end. Which isn’t bitter, actually, because everyone expects the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn such bans.

Sounding all above-the-fray and bipartisany, Suthers tells Westword about his high-minded commitment to defend Colorado’s laws, even when he disagrees with them.

It sounds like maybe a beautiful thing, if it were true. But it’s not.

Left out of the Westword interview (and other media coverage of Suthers’ position) is the fact that under Colorado law, our Attorney General doesn’t have to defend laws (and constitutional amendments) that he deems unconstitutional. In fact, he’s supposed to go after those laws.

As former Deputy Attorney General Don Quick, a Democratic candidate for Attorney General, wrote in The Colorado Springs Gazette in July:

Quick: First, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2003 that it is the attorney general’s job to challenge a law when there are concerns about its constitutionality. I remember it well, as I was chief deputy to Attorney General Ken Salazar when the court ruled in our favor. Coffman knows this also, as her office did the same thing last year. The Legislature passed a law restricting the display of marijuana-related magazines, and the Attorney General’s Office refused to defend it because it believed it was unconstitutional.

Quick is referring Cynthia Coffman, a Republican who’s running against Quick to replace Suthers. Coffman, who works in Suthers’ office, has embraced the Attorney General’s view that he had no choice  but to defend Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The 2003 Colorado Supreme Court ruling, to which Quick refers, involved the infamous effort by Colorado Republicans, challenged by Salazar at the time, to change Colorado’s congressional districts after they’d been established by court order subsequent to the 2000 Census. The decision delivered by Chief Justice Mullarkey stated that if the Attorney General has “grave doubts” about the constitutionality of a law (in this case an election-related law affecting an upcoming election) he or she must, “consistent with his ethical duties and his oath of office,” seek to “resolve those doubts,” meaning, in this narrow case, file a lawsuit (consolidated cases 03SA133 and 03SA147).

What’s more, attorneys general in at least six states, decided not to defend their states’ same-sex marriage bans. And U.S. Attorney General Eric holder has advised state attorneys general, like Suthers, that they are not obliged to defend state laws they see as discriminatory.

Against this backdrop, Suthers’ high-minded rhetoric about his duty to defend the constitution starts to look dark, even self-serving, especially when you hear he’s running for mayor of Colorado Springs, which is one of the few places where a crusade against gay marriage counts in your favor. That’s also essential context for any future stories on Suthers’ current defense of Colorado’s constitution.

Here’s what Suthers told Westword:

Westword: Colorado law requires the attorney general’s office to be responsible to federal constitutional law. How do you navigate loyalties between state and federal law?

Suthers: It’s quite simple: If a higher court tells us that our state law is unconstitutional under federal law and that’s the final decision, then that’s the deal. If the U.S. Supreme Court denies cert [request for judicial review] in the Tenth Circuit decision, [Colorado's law banning same-sex marriage] is invalid and we accept that. But I think what you’re driving at is that some of my colleagues are saying that I’ve decided that this law’s unconstitutional under the federal constitution. I don’t think that’s my job.

Could you imagine if I selectively say: “You know, I think those gun laws passed by the legislature last year are unconstitutional. I agree with David Kopel [the attorney representing the plaintiffs in that case], so I’m not going to defend those laws.” Could you imagine the outrage in your newspaper if I did that? I frankly have a little bit of sympathy with this ma-and-pa baker out in Lakewood, who my office is prosecuting on behalf of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for not selling a cake to a same-sex couple. I understand why he thinks this is real governmental intrusion on his life. That’s the law in Colorado. We passed a public-accommodations law that protects sexual orientation as well as gender and ethnicity and religion. It’s my job to defend that statute, despite the fact that I’m getting tons and tons of criticism from certain circles about that. If I saw my role as something other than being the best lawyer and started deciding and picking and choosing because I don’t think this law’s right, I think this law’s unfair, despite the fact that the court hasn’t told me that this law is unconstitutional, and I decided not to defend that, that is a very slippery slope.

Denver Post can officially stop calling Beauprez “mainstream”

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Remember this Denver Post headline, after the June 24 Republican primary: “In Bob Beauprez, Colorado GOP goes with mainstream contender.”

I rolled my eyes at the time because, I’d been following Beauprez for years and knew him to be far outside the mainstream, as seen in his support for replacing income tax with a “consumption” or sales tax, just to name one Tea Party favorite.

Maybe whoever wrote The Post’s June 24 headline knows better now than to characterize Beauprez as a “mainstream contender,” as his Tea Party leanings have oozed out in the news over the past few months. (See his comments about Obama pushing America close to “civil war” and about 47 percent of Americans being “perfectly happy” to let someone else pay the bill.

If not, Beauprez’s statement yesterday, in response to a question from KLZ 560-AM guest host Jimmy Sengenberger, should seal the deal:

“I have said for years, Jimmy, that this [the Tea Party] is the healthiest civic movement I have seen in my lifetime, and I’m almost 66 now. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a time where people have stood up and said, I want to save this Republic. I want my government back, and focused primarily on constitutional originality and fiscal discipline. It can’t get any better than that. The time is absolutely. Are there disagreements among various groups and various individuals. Sure. Or is it always a perfect, clear smooth path. No, of course not. It wasn’t in our nation’s founding either. But if this nation is going to survive. If we are going to be that greatest nation on god’s green Earth, it isn’t up to government. It is up to the people. And this uprising that we broadly call the Tea Party movement in my opinion, again, is the healthiest thing we have seen in very long time in America.“ [BigMedia emphasis]

What kind of mainstream candidate could possibly say this? None. Ask Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin.

And during a separate radio interview yesterday, reported by The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch, Beauprez proved the point.

As you know if you’ve followed the death of bipartisan immigration-reform legislation in congress, the Tea-Party has distinguished itself as taking the most obstructionist, uncaring, and uncompromising positions on immigration-reform. And the Tea-Party approach is embodied in KNUS talk-radio host Peter Boyles.

Beauprez aligned himself with Boyles yesterday when he said he’d send Colorado National Guard troops to the Mexican border to deal with undocumented immigrants, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry has already done.

“If Rick Perry or another governor requested it, I would certainly step up and do my part,” Beauprez told Boyles.

Beauprez later added in the interview that he would stop issuing driver’s licences to undocumented immigrants, and he wouldn’t house young migrants in Colorado while they await court dates. Tens of thousands of desperate children have been crossing the border from Central American countries, and, in Tea Party fashion, Beauprez writes off having anything to do with them.

A Beauprez spokesman later told The Post that Beauprez would send the Colorado Guard to the border for humanitarian work, as  law would prohibit military activity.

Bottom line, I’m betting The Denver Post won’t be writing any more headlines calling Bob Beauprez “mainstream.” Unless, of course, the headline writer describes Beauprez as “mainstream Tea Party.”

That’s more like it.

Who will be first reporter to get Gardner (and Beauprez) to explain why they support federal personhood?

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

It’s not just senatorial candidate Cory Gardner who’s taken the endlessly puzzling position of being opposed to personhood at the state level but supportive of the federal version.

Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez draws a false distinction between the two as well, saying he’s opposed to the state amendment but supportive of federal legislation. Even though they aim to do the same thing, according to yours truly and, more importantly, Factcheck.org.

Despite the obvious relevancy of personhood on the campaign trail, I can’t find a local reporter who’s asked either one of them the simple question of why they favor federal personhood legislation over the state version.

Instead, multiple reporters, including Mark Matthews at The Denver Post and Bente Birkeland at Rocky Mountain Community Radio, listened to Gardner’s spokespeople tell them that that federal personhood legislation is essentially a toothless symbol–without asking for an explanation. On Tuesday, the Hill’s Elise Viebeck reported Gardner’s position, apparently without seeking an explanation. So did The Post’s Anthony Cotton.

CBS4′s Shaun Boyd taped Gardner himself implying that there’s a distinction between federal and state personhood legislation, without asking him why.

At least Politico’s Paige Winfield Cunningham asked the Gardner campaign about the discrepancy. But she got no response, and she’s apparently let it drop.

A question about the federal personhood bill was reportedly put to Gardner on KRDO radio’s Morning News March 24, but, again, he wasn’t pressed for an explanation when he said it’s a “Democratic talking point” and an “incorrect characterization of the federal legislation” to call it a personhood bill.

So does anyone detect a hole in the reporting here?

Who’s gonna be the first reporter to get the details on why Gardner (and Beauprez) support one personhood bill and not the other?

Reporter’s work absent from Denver Post due to end of grant

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

A Kaiser-Family-Foundation grant to The Denver Post has ended, explaining the recent disappearance of Denver Post articles by freelance reporter Art Kane, whose work at The Post was funded by the Kaiser grant.

“The grant has ended, and that’s why we haven’t run any stories by him in awhile,” said Greg Griffin, an editor at The Post, when asked about the disappearance of Kane’s work.

Back in March, Post Editor Greg Moore told me the Kaiser Family Foundation provided The Post with an undisclosed amount of grant money to supplement the newspaper’s coverage of health care, specifically of issues related to universal health coverage.

The Post described this project as a “partnership with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.”

Under the terms of the Kaiser grant, The Post retained full editorial control of its health-care coverage, but content produced with Kaiser support had to be posted on the Kaiser Health News website, according to Moore.

Kane, a well-known Denver journalist, was hired on a contract to write health-related stories during the grant period.

Kane did not return a call seeking comment.

Politico is latest media outlet to let Gardner slide on personhood inconsistency

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

The latest reporter to ask senatorial candidate Cory Gardner about why he’s un-endorsed the state personhood amendments but has yet to un-cosponsor a proposed federal personhood law is Politico’s Paige Winfield Cunningham, who reported Wednesday:

Gardner now says he was wrong to back personhood because it could ban some forms of contraception. He’s even urging the Food and Drug Administration to make birth control pills available without prescription. But he is still listed as a sponsor of a federal personhood bill. His campaign didn’t respond to questions about the discrepancy.

In the absence of a response by Gardner, or his spokespeople, Cunningham should have cited the Gardner campaign’s previous erroneous statement that the federal personhood bill, called the Life at Conception Act, is simply a declaration that life begins at conception, and it would not ban abortion, even for rape and incest, like Colorado’s personhood amendments aimed to do.

Here’s what Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano told The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews July 15.

“The federal proposal in question simply states that life begins at conception, as most pro-life Americans believe, with no change to contraception laws as Senator Udall falsely alleges.”

And here’s what Gardner himself told untold numbers of TV viewers in an advertisement last month, ostensibly stating that he’s against all personhood legislation, state and federal:

Gardner: “They’re attacking me for changing my mind about personhood, after I learned more and listened to more of you.”

But did he change his mind on personhood? Before he made the ad, Gardner was careful to say he opposed personhood in Colorado, leaving open the possibility that he supports it at the federal level. He told CBS4′s Shaun Boyd:

Gardner: “In the state of Colorado, the personhood initiative I do not support.”

But prior to this, on KNUS radio April 22, shortly after he backed off Colorado personhood amendments, Gardner said he stood behind his anti-abortion record in Congress, which includes his co-sponsorship of the federal personhood bill.

Gardner: “I remain a pro-life legislator who believes that my record actually speaks for itself while I’ve been in Congress.”

I like to fill in media gaps, left open by reporters, but Gardner’s office doesn’t return my calls, and so all I can do is look at these inconsistencies and speculate about what’s going on in Gardner’s mind.

A reporter who happens to be speaking with Gardner should straighten things out.

Post Editorial Page Editor’s slap at Beauprez could portend Hick Endorsement

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

For the few of you looking for clues about which gubernatorial candidate will be endorsed by The Denver Post, check out this line, mocking Republican Bob Beauprez, from today’s column by Denver Post Editor Page Editor Vincent Carroll.

Still, Hickenlooper, whose persistence pushed the deal through, has bought more time for those on both sides of the divide over local control of drilling who desire a genuine compromise. His Republican opponent, Bob Beauprez, may think that any “grand bargain compromise” amounts to weak-kneed capitulation, even if acceptable to oil and gas companies, but Initiatives 88 and 89 were real threats to the state’s economy. They may have been defeated — and probably would have been — but who knows? Now they’re off the table.

Of course Carroll doesn’t make the endorsement decision by himself, but still.

One solution to the unsolved mystery of Gardner’s continued support of federal personhood legislation

Monday, August 4th, 2014

I may be the only person in the universe who spends his quiet moments in the shower trying to figure out the puzzle, left unsolved by local and national reporters, of why Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner hasn’t un-cosponsored federal personhood legislation, which aims to ban all abortion, even for rape and incest.

Gardner’s been jumping up and down and screaming that he no longer supports personhood amendments here in Colorado, even saying so in a TV commercial, but he’s not backing off the federal personhood bill, called Life at Conception Act.

Gardner spokespeople have told reporters that the federal legislation  “simply states that life begins and conception,” and it would have not real-world impact on abortion or contraception.

But if you take one minute and read the bill, you’ll see that it actually factually aims to make personhood the law of the land. And other co-sponsors of the bill agree.

So what’s up with Gardner?

Gardner was perfectly happy to un-endorse the personhood amendment here in Colorado, and send personhood supporters into conniptions (justifiable  conniptions, given that Gardner powered his political career with support from the religious right).

But if Gardner declared the federal personhood bill a well-intentioned mistake, like he did here, he’d be throwing the 153 members of Congress, 132 in the House and 21 in the Senatewho also co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act under the bus.

And you can bet some of those Congresspeople, who actually believe in personhood, would come down on Gardner mercilessly, like hardline abortion opponents are known to do. They’d undoubtedly denounce Gardner for claiming their bill is toothless when it would make personhood the law of the land. They see a holocaust unfolding as I write, so Gardner’s political expediency wouldn’t fly with them.

And how bad would it look for members of Congress from around the country to be bashing Gardner? That’s a lot messier, visually and politically, than Gardner taking heat from local pastors and churchgoers who’ve tirelessly pushed the personhood amendment.

Complicating matters for Gardner, who’s challenging Democrat Mark Udall, are congressional rules dictating that he’d have to declare his un-endorsement of the Life at Conception Act in a speech from the floor of the House of Representatives, making a Friday news dump via a vague spokesperson impossible.

The political fallout would run deep, stirring up poison, for example, for potential Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, who’s the sponsor of the Senate version of the personhood bill.

When he introduced his Life at Conception Act on March 15 of last year, Paul said in a statement that his bill “legislatively declares” that fertilized human eggs (called zygotes) are entitled to “legal protection.”

Four days later, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Paul if he was aiming to overturn Roe v. Wade. Paul replied:

“I think it’s probably designed even more philosophically than that. It’s designed to begin the discussion over when life begins. And it’s not an easy discussion. And we’re divided as a country on it. So, I don’t think we’re in any real rush towards any new legislation to tell you the truth.”

So, here, Paul is sounding a lot like Gardner, which makes sense because Paul, like Gardner, knows that a personhood abortion ban is seen as whacky/scary by most people. As Paul winds up to run for president, he’s trying to broaden his appeal, just as Gardner is trying to appeal to a wider audience here in Colorado. But Paul still has a GOP primary in font of him, so he can’t veer too far to the center yet. Hence his way wishy washy language above.

Unfortunately, Blitzer didn’t ask Paul why he thinks his bill is “probably” designed to begin a philosophical “discussion.”  And why would Paul launch such a discussion by proposing a law that actually aims to ban abortion by re-defining a person under the 14th Amendment? He also didn’t ask why he’d previously said the legislation would have legislative force. And what, in Paul’s view, do fellow House and Senate co-sponsors of the legislation think the legislation would do?

So Blitzer failed to ask Paul some of the same questions Colorado reporters aren’t asking Gardner.

Meanwhile, with these questions are hanging, I’m stuck wasting my time in the shower thinking about this.

Reporters should call other co-sponsors of federal personhood bill

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s spokespeople are saying that a federal personhood bill cosponsored by Garder, called the Life at Conception Act, is not a real personhood bill because it “simply states that life begins at conception” and would not actually outlaw abortion or contraception.

If so, you’d expect other co-sponsors of the Life at Conception Act to agree with Gardner. But this is not the case.

After co-sponsoring the same Life at Conception Act in March, 2013, four months before Gardner signed on, Rep. Charles Boustany, (R-LA) issued a statement saying:

“As a Member of Congress, I take the cause of fighting for the unborn just as seriously. That’s why I cosponsored H.R. 1091, the Life at Conception Act. This bill strikes at the heart of the Roe v. Wade decision by declaring life at conception, granting constitutional protection to the unborn under the 14th Amendment.”

Boustany’s comment comports with the actual factual language of the bill. It’s an attempt to outlaw all abortion, even for rape and incest, via the 14th Amendment.

I’ve made multiple attempts to reach the House sponsor of Life at Conception Act, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), for his take on his own bill, but I have yet to hear back. [Hint to a reporter who might be reading this: Would you please give him a call?]

But Sen. Rand Paul is the Senate sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which is identical to the bill co-sponsored by Gardner. And this is how Paul described his own bill in March of last year.

“The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known-that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection from that point forward.” [BigMedia emphasis]

In January of this year, Paul released a statement saying:

“Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, 55 million abortions have taken place in America. The question remains, can a civilization long endure if it does not respect Life? It is the government’s duty to protect life, liberty, and property, but primarily and most importantly, a government must protect Life,” Sen. Paul said. “In order to protect the unborn from the very moment Life begins, I introduced the Life at Conception Act. Today, our nation wavers and our moral compass is adrift. Only when America chooses, remembers and restores her respect for life will we re-discover our moral bearings and truly find our way.”

You can argue that Jordan’s personhood bill–and its Senate counterpart–would lead to a major court fight with an uncertain outcome. And anti-choice crusaders have different views about the most effective way to enact abortion bans. But the clear intent of the Life at Conception Act is to establish personhood as federal law, as co-sponsors and sponsors of the bill have stated.