Archive for the 'Denver Post' Category

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.

Media omission: Federal personhood bill, co-sponsored by Gardner, aims to ban abortion just like state version

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

A spokesman for senatorial candidate Cory Gardner told The Denver Post today that the federal personhood bill, co-sponsored by Gardner in July of last year, “simply states that life begins at conception” and would not change contraception laws.

“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,” [Gardner spokesperson Alex] Siciliano said.

In fact, the federal “Life at Conception Act” aims to make personhood federal law, applicable to all states, including Colorado and banning all abortion, even for rape, and common forms of birth control.

Here’s how: The full title of the Life at Conception Act is: “To implement equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person.”

You may be surprised that the 14th Amendment, Section 5, allows Congressto pass legislation to re-define the definition of a “person” under federal law. This skirts the normal, lengthy process for amending the U.S. Constitution. The 14th Amendment, Section 5, states:

“The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

Anti-abortion activists have seized on this provision of the 14th Amendment to push federal legislation that would define a “person” as beginning at the fertilized egg (or “zygote”) stage. They argue that by passing such legislation, they are enforcing the due-process and equal-protection guarantees of the 14th Amendment. Hence, the Life at Conception Act states in part:

To implement equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person, and pursuant to the duty and authority of the Congress, including Congress’ power under article I, section 8, to make necessary and proper laws, and Congress’ power under section 5 of the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Congress hereby declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being. …

The term “human being” is defined in the billas “all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization…”

The terms “human person” and “human being” include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.

So, to summarize:  The Life at Conception Act aims to redefine the definition of a person in the Fourteenth Amendment, and apply the 14th Amendment’s protections to zygotes, hence banning all abortion, even for rape, as well as common forms of birth control that endanger, or even potentially endanger, fertilized eggs. It would give legal protections to fertilized eggs. In a word, personhood.

Reporters should not let Gardner, or his spokespeople, mislead the public about the aim of the federal personhood bill that he co-sponsored last year.

Post reporter does good job sorting out past (and present) Romanoff-Coffman immigration positions

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee did a good job over the weekend of sorting out the past immigration positions of Rep. Mike Coffman and his Democratic challenger, Andrew Romanoff.

Lee noted that Romanoff pushed compromise immigration legislation through the Colorado legislature in 2006, in order to deflect a more extreme immigration measure from making the Colorado ballot and being locked in the state Constitution.

Lee is among the only journalists who’ve reported on the context of Romanoff’s 2006 immigration legislation, which was opposed by some immigrant advocates.

During the summer of 2006, in his first term as state House speaker, Romanoff faced a critical decision: Have a broadly worded initiative appear on the November ballot that would strip state benefits and even some medical services from those in the country illegally — including children — or strike a legislative compromise.

Lee reported that Romanoff “chose the latter option and staved off a late effort to revive the ballot initiative,” which was supported by Coffman.

Among the proponents of the ballot initiative that didn’t make it to voters was Coffman, the state treasurer at the time.

Coffman later headed to Congress to represent the then staunchly conservative 6th Congressional District, touting positions as a hardliner on immigration reform and following in the footsteps of his predecessor and a man he called his “hero” — Republican Tom Tancredo

Moving forward in time, Lee again correctly reports that Romanoff supports the comprehensive-immigration-reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate, while Coffman backs, in Lee’s words, “piecemeal reforms.” Lee does a good job of clarifying that Coffman doesn’t just stand for vague “reform” but a piecemeal approach, with the pieces glaringly undefined.

Lee should have noted that just over a year ago, Coffman announced his grand support, in a much-read Denver Post op-ed, for “comprehensive immigration reform.” This startled the three people paying attention because it ran counter to Coffman’s past positions.

But now Coffman’s “comprehensive immigration reform” is out the window, and he wants piecemeal legislation. Coffman has said that a “comprehensive approach doesn’t have to be a comprehensive bill,” but if you’ve ever had a conversation about immigration among people with differing views on the topic, you understand why that’s not true. Comprehensive reform allows for compromises to be folded together, with different pet issues included, so everyone can hold a nostril or two and vote yes, like Senators in their compromise by a 68-32 margin.

Lee, who’s leaving The Post Wed., probably won’t be able to delve into the question of whether piecemeal reform, with only a small piece (citizenship for minors via military service) actually on the table, is more than empty rhetoric, especially with the Senate bill ready to go. But maybe another reporter will pick up the thread.

Another political reporter departs from The Denver Post

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Denver Post political reporter Kurtis Lee announced via Twitter today that he’ll be leaving The Post Wednesday for a job covering politics on the Los Angeles Times’ new real-time news desk.

“It’s been a great three years here at The Post,” Lee told me via email. “I’m so grateful to have worked with so many amazingly talented reporters, editors and photographers–and to do it for a newspaper I grew up reading has been awesome. The Post will always be a must read for me.”

Lee’s new job is focused on online journalism, but Lee will work across platforms, he said.

Lee, who was born and raised in Colorado Springs, started at The Post in Feb 2011. His work was quickly thrust under the microscope, as he covered the state legislature, the contested 6th Congressional District race, the 212 presidential campaign, the Aurora massacre, and other political flashpoints in Colorado.

In a memo to staff, The Post’s Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett praised Lee’s reporting and wrote that Lee has been on the “leading edge of The Post’s efforts to function as a 24/7 news organization. His use of social media, blog posts and video journalism is as powerful as the best in the business.”

“I applaud the good sense of the LAT in snaring Kurtis Lee,” wrote Plunkett, “and regret that I will be deprived of working with this promising young journalist going forward. But we are lucky in that we work in an industry that wishes to see its players do well. And this move should be a great opportunity for Kurtis to do just that.”