Archive for the 'Denver Post' Category

Fact Check:  Gardner opposed comprehensive immigration reform and backed government shutdown

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Update: After seeing the comments attacking Denver Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett, I asked him to comment on my blog post below. I regret not seeking comment from him before posting, but here’s what Plunkett said via email:

Gardner has called for acting on immigration reform. He stood and clapped when Obama asked in is SOTU in 2014 calling for Congress to get it done. He’s for a path to legal status. Yes, he says the border situation has to be secure, and I understand that some use that condition to dodge real reform, but Gardner has for the last two years been more friendly to the issue than others.

I include this piece from Mark Matthew’s in 2014 to show what I mean.

I get it that the use of the word “comprehensive” is too much of a buzzword and it isn’t specific enough. And were I writing specifically about immigration I would have had to have been more detailed. But in the context of a broader editorial about leadership styles, a 10,000-foot view comparison between Gardner’s approach and Cruz/Trump, Gardner is much different. Cruz called for deporting 12 million people in the country illegally, for example.

——-

In an editorial this weekend holding out U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner as the model of the way forward for the Republican Party, The Denver Post claimed Gardner “supports comprehensive immigration reform.”

In fact, Gardner opposed a 2103 comprehensive immigration reform bill, which died in the Republican-controlled House, after it passed by a bipartisan 68-32 vote in the U.S. Senate.

Gardner said at the time immigration reform has to start with border security, and he called for  “additional personnel on the border,” an “e-verify system,” and “additional security, a fence, you name it, on the border.”

Sounds much like Trump, even though The Post’s editorial, titled “How will the GOP rebuild after Trump,” aimed to contrast Gardner with Trump.

Since then, Gardner has called for immigration reform, but the issues section of his website doesn’t list immigration at all. There’s no indication that his position has changed or that he’s for comprehensive immigration reform, in any real sense of the term.

Rep. Mike Coffman, who also opposed the bipartisan U.S. Senate bill in 2013, uses the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform,” but his website says it “must first begin with the comprehensive enforcement of our immigration laws.”

To my way of thinking, if you demand undefined border enforcement first, leaving out the other elements of comprehensive immigration reform, like a path to citizenship, you’re really not for comprehensive immigration reform. It’s not comprehensive.

The Post also claimed Gardner was against the 2013 government shutdown. In fact, 9News’ political reporter Brandon Rittiman determined that in 2014, even though Gardner voted to end the shutdown once it started, “Gardner did vote in line with the Republican strategy that led to the government shutdown.”

Hickenlooper book doesn’t convey just how good journalism has been to him

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

In his new autobiography, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper offers lots of kind thoughts about journalism, which has served him well, but he doesn’t give the Rocky Mountain News the credit it deserves for launching his political career.

If you were around in 2003, you know that an early Rocky endorsement of Hick was essential to his second-place finish in the Denver mayoral primary, setting him up to easily defeat then city auditor Don Mares in a runoff election.

I documented the editorial’s unbelievable impact a few years ago, collecting quotes from numerous campaign staff and politicos about the importance of the editorial.

Even Hick told me, “I could not have possibly won without that endorsement.” His former wife Helen Thorpe called it a “game changer.”

But Hick’s autobiography gives it short shrift. The book calls the endorsement “glowing” and, in passing, “campaign-altering.” And recounts the strategic plan to land it.

Hick also provides an excerpt of the editorial, written by Rocky editorial page editor Vincent Carroll.

But the book doesn’t adequately convey just how much legitimacy and fuel that the Rocky’s endorsement gave Hickenlooper’s fledgling campaign at the time.

As such, the autobiography doesn’t do justice to what’s easily the most influential newspaper editorial in memory and probably in Colorado history.

Journalism aficionados will enjoy The Opposite of Woe anyway, as it has lots of tidbits about different scribes in Denver.

Hick writes warmly of journalism throughout the book. He became an English major with the intention of becoming an “author-journalist,” having been inspired by his journalist aunt and by Gil Spencer, who was his Little League baseball coach in New Jersey (before Spencer became a Denver Post editor).

“Also, it seemed to me that girls always went for writers,” Hick admits in the book, written with Denver journalist Maximillian Potter. “Lord knows, I needed all the help I could get in that department.” On the downside, writing required that Hick “sit down, be still, be alone.” Not what he wanted to do.

The Governor, who’s scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention, has said he’s troubled about the demise of journalism, and he repeats this in the autobiography, writing at one point that he’s come to appreciate even more during his years in public service that journalism “plays a critical role in effecting change.” (In the process of praising journalism, he slams bloggers a bit, but I’ll forgive him.)

Hick tells us about Westword Editor Patricia Calhoun being a “member of our think tank,” when he first ran for mayor. He recounts the spectacularly successful media stunts at the Wynkoop brewery, such as the running of the pigs.  And his media-driven campaign to save the name “Mile High Stadium.”

You get a sense from the book that Hick was cozy with gossip columnists like the Rocky’s Bill Husted and The Denver Post’s Dick “Mr. Beer” Kreck. But what doesn’t come through is the fact that they (and other columnists) fawned over the brew pub owner, mentioning him constantly in their columns, and making a bit of a folk hero out of him (at least among elites) before he ran for office.

Hick writes about how Denver Post Owner Dean Singleton was “adamant” and “demanded” that Hick launch a mayoral run, because, Hick writes, Singleton was angry at Mares “over management of Winter Park.”

“Dean wanted anyone but Don Mares to be the next mayor,” writes Hick. “He thought I was the only hope of preventing a Mares victory in nine months.”

Hick has a way morphing himself and others this way and that, as we all know, and it’s illustrated nicely in the book with an anecdote about KNUS 710-AM talk-radio host Peter Boyles, formerly a respected journalist-type, who now unfairly uses Hickenlooper as his poster child for evil politicians.

But Hick finds a way to be nice to Boyles in the book—and for Boyles to laud him.

Hick tells the story about how, as mayor, he called Boyles’ radio show to announce his decision not to replace “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” on the City and County Building, reversing a decision Hick had made to remove “Merry Christmas.”

Hick writes, “How refreshing, Boyles said, to hear an elected official own up to a boneheaded mistake and not try to defend it. With the best of intentions, I had made a mistake. I admitted it and corrected it. To me, it was as simple as that.”

I doubt Boyles has complimented Hick since then. And we’re stuck with Merry Christmas on the City and County Building. So it goes in reality.

And, as the book’s story-telling shows, Hick continues to be a master of the media, which has been a huge strength of his from the get-go.

Journalism been good for him, and he’s been good for journalism. And we’ve all benefited.

Denver Post erred in deleting Coffman quote about his marriage

Friday, July 8th, 2016

Of all the crazy stories we heard last summer about the GOP efforts to depose Colorado Republican Party Chair Steve House, this snippet from the Washington Post’s Ben Terris was perhaps the most shocking.

… House arrived the night of June 15 to find himself outnumbered — and on the defensive. Coffman was joined by Tom Tancredo, a firebrand former congressman, and Becky Mizel, a Pueblo County chairwoman. Three months earlier, these three had been his biggest supporters when he challenged and beat the incumbent party chairman — but now, suddenly, they wanted him out.

They ticked off a litany of grievances: House’s bookkeeping habits, his communication style, his refusal to hire one of their allies as executive director.

“Is that all?” House asked after each point, in an exchange recalled by Tancredo and confirmed by House’s office.

“Well, there’s Julie,” Coffman said.

“I know three Julies,” House said.

Come on, said Coffman — who was he trying to kid?

“Are you accusing me of having an affair?” House asked.

“Well,” Coffman said, “are you?”

All of us have dirt to be uncovered, and you hate to see it trotted out in the media, but this story is an absolutely legitimate invitation for  reporters to take a look at Coffman’s own house, literally, the one she lives in alone, separate from her husband, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman.

But it appears that the only public statement Mike Coffman has made about his marriage has been expunged from the public record by The Denver Post.

In an article last June, then ace political journalist Lynn Bartels reported Mike Coffman as saying:

Mike Coffman: “The fact the we’re married in this day and age is a success story in and of itself.”

But if you look for that quote in The Post’s archives now, you find it gone, disappeared.

Bartels tells me the quote is accurate, as recorded by her from Mike Coffman.

So the purpose of this blog post is to scold The Post for deleting the quote and to reinsert it into the public record, for what it’s worth. (Note: first versions of Post stories are sometime changed prior to being finalized, but this deletion was a mistake.)

And also, to be fair, here’s Cynthia Coffman’s explanation for the unusual living arrangement of herself and her husband, as explained in 2014 through Cynthia Coffman’s spokeswoman to The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee, who pointed out that the Coffmans’ separate addresses prevent Cynthia Coffman from voting for her husband.

“Cynthia and Mike owned their own homes before they were married,” said Sarah Lenti, a spokeswoman for the attorney general campaign. “Mike works in Washington, D.C., but for the weekends, and Cynthia lives and works in Denver as chief deputy attorney general.”

And, also for perspective, here is Cynthia Coffman’s statement from last year explaining why she confronted Steve House about his alleged affair, which he denied, and other matters:

Cynthia Coffman: I don’t relish the hardship for Steve or the party, nor was anyone involved in that meeting eager to have the conversation at all. But as someone who was being inundated with information raising some very serious questions, I had no choice but to sit down and lay out the accusations to Steve. There was no joy in this, there were no threats, nor was there any desire for the meeting to become public fodder. At the same time, just sort of sweeping it under the rug wouldn’t have been responsible. [BigMedia emphasis].

As for the question of what’s next, that’s a matter for Steve and the executive committee to weigh and decide. They need to get past the talk radio jousting, they need to evaluate the facts and circumstances, and then they need to make the best decision for the Republican Party.”

AFP could help expose Coffman’s right-wing record

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

A Denver Post article yesterday heralded the decision by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to spend an undisclosed amount of money attacking Morgan Carroll, the Democrat challenging Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), as a “big boost” for Coffman.

But not necessarily.

As ColoradoPols has pointed out, AFP’s right-wing agenda doesn’t square with the moderate image Coffman promotes of himself. Coffman is trying to run away from his right-wing record, but AFP is widely known as right-wing, and it’s funded by the poster children of the right, the Koch brothers.

The Post quoted Carroll’s campaign manager making this point.

“It’s no surprise that the far right Koch Brothers are desperate to prop up Mike Coffman’s struggling reelection campaign,” said Jennifer Donovan, Carroll’s campaign manager, in a statement. “After all, they share the goal of shilling for the wealthiest and most well connected while turning their backs on the middle-class.”

So AFP’s involvement in the race could backfire and actually help Carroll bring down Coffman, exposing Coffman as the right winger that he is.

It turns out that Coffman scored 100 percent last month on AFP’s scorecard, with a lifetime score of 96 percent.

On its scorecard, AFP trumpets votes of Coffman that are discordant not only with Coffman’s swing district but his carefully cultivated image as a moderate.

Check out those votes here.

So we’ll see how things work out for Coffman and AFP.

Plunkett to replace Carroll as editorial page editor at The Denver Post

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Rumors are swirling about which Denver Post reporters are accepting a buyout offer from the newspaper, which seeks 26 editorial staffers to volunteer to leave, even though, according to sources cited by Michael Roberts at Westword, The Post made $25 million last fiscal year.

One confirmed departure is Vincent Carroll, editorial page editor, who will be replaced by Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett.

Here’s an announcement of the move from The Post:

Politics editor Chuck Plunkett has been named The Denver Post
editorial page editor, effective July 2, where he will oversee print
and online content for the daily opinion page and the Sunday
Perspective section.

He will replace Vincent Carroll, who joined The Post in 2009 and
became editorial page editor in 2013. Carroll also spent 27 years at
the Rocky Mountain News, including 19 years as the editorial page
editor. His last day will be July 1. He plans to remain in Denver.

“It’s been my pleasure to work with Vincent Carroll over the past
couple of years. We appreciate the contribution he has made to The
Denver Post and wish him good fortune in his future endeavors,” said
chief executive and publisher Mac Tully. “And I look forward to
working with Chuck as Vincent’s successor. Chuck has a long and rich
history in journalism.”

A professional journalist for more than 20 years, Plunkett joined The
Post in 2003 after reporting for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the
Arkansas Democrat Gazette. He became editor of the politics desk in
2011.

“I am humbled — and also enormously thrilled — to be trusted with
this chance to continue The Post’s contribution to the Colorado
conversation,” Plunkett said.

Special edition of the Colorado Statesman appears in Denver Post as advertising insert on Thursdays

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Colorado Statesman Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Jared Wright announced last week that a special edition of the Statesman will be inserted in The Denver Post on Thursdays.

Wright wrote in the Statesman June 9 that his newspaper is “launching a new sister publication, The Colorado Statesman ‘Worldwide Edition,’ which, thanks to our friends at The Denver Post, will be inserted in the Post every Thursday. In doing so, we are introducing thousands of Denver Post subscribers to what I believe is one of Colorado’s best kept secrets.”

This is not a journalistic partnership among friends, but a “business deal,” according to Post Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo, who told me in an email that she doesn’t know the details.

“ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT” is printed on the bottom of the front page of today’s Statesman insert in The Post. There’s no other indication, throughout the 16-page insert, that the Statesman is an advertisement. As such, it’s kind of like the Sunday Parade Magazine insert, which is an ad, and in the same ballpark as outrageous news inserts, like fake news provided by the oil and gas industry, that aren’t labeled clearly enough as ads. Thankfully, the articles in these advertisements don’t appear in searches for news articles on The Post’s website or archive.

I’d like The Post to label the Statesman more clearly as an ad, but, in any case, it’s a creative way for the Statesman to reach an audience that’s literate and interested in politics, and may want to see more political news than The Post is offering these days in the wake of budget disasters. Journalism experiments are good, and you want to see the good journalism at the Statesman survive.

The downside: Readers could easily be confused that The Post is endorsing The Statesman’s content, which this week includes articles on the DA race, Bill Ritter, and the presidential race in Colorado.

Not that I don’t respect some of the journalists at the Statesman. I do. And Wright has assured me that he’s committed to journalistic standards (despite a troublesome conservative hiccup in news coverage I found last month) and despite anecdotal oddities that pop up every now and then in coverage.

But sources tell me the controlling owner is Republican donor Larry Mizel, whose photo is splashed across the cover of last week’s subscriber edition with a big headline “Annual Mizel Dinner, Bringing Denver Together.” Mizel is pictured with Denver’s Democratic Mayor Michael Hancock. Inside, a gushing article, written by Wright, says Mizel “is regularly recognized as being one of the most influential people in Denver,” but doesn’t mention that Mizel apparently owns the newspaper.

To my way of thinking, this type of coverage of the Mizel event, which is newsworthy to be sure, indicates a stealth coziness with Mizel that has potential to influence the political journalism at the weekly.

Wright did not return multiple calls and an email seeking comment for this article.

Still, I want to believe Wright when he writes in the Statesman that his newspaper’s new readers in The Post “will gain a better understanding of the people behind the politics — the same people that craft the laws and regulations impacting you and me at every corner we turn in our daily journeys, whether it’s driving on our morning commutes, working at our offices, shopping at the hardware store, buying groceries, paying a visit to the doctor for a checkup, getting a haircut, taking our children to school — you name it.”

But will Post readers benefit? Or be fooled?

 

Keyser fails as media critic

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Republican Senate candidate Jon Keyser is adopting the Douglas-Bruce style of media criticism.

You recall Bruce, who authored Colorado’s TABOR amendment, once kicked a newspaper photographer at the capitol. Keyser didn’t kick, but he threatened a bite or two when he told Denver7’s Marshall Zellinger:

Keyser: “He’s a great dog. He’s bigger than you are. He’s huge. He’s a big guy. Very protective.”

At last night’s Denver Post debate, Keyser continued to be a low-information media critic. After complimenting The Denver Post for its coverage of his campaign’s forged ballot-access signatures, including one from a dead person, Keyser said:

Keyser:  “But frankly, there are a lot of media outlets in this state that have really done lots of heavy lifting, carried the water, for liberals on this to disguise Michael Bennet’s record and get us talking about anything that doesn’t involve Michael Bennet…

There’s big problem here in the media, because, there’s a double standard that exists. You know, frankly, I don’t know of anybody jumping out of the bushes to ask Michael Bennet questions about Iran or his support of closing Guantanamo Bay…

If he continues to criticize the media, Keyser would do well to focus on very specfific facts and stay away from misniformation and dogs and threats. For example, no one needed to jump out of the bushes to ask Bennet about Iran, because he took questions about it.

If Keyser keeps going after reporters like he’s doing, he risks creeping into the media’s doghouse. And no candidate wants to be there.

Keyser coverage should focus on key point even Republican allies aren’t standing up for Keyser

Friday, May 13th, 2016

UPDATE: Everett and Holbert continue going after Keyser.

—————
Never afraid to withhold his opinion when it comes to U.S. Senate candiate Jon Keyser, Rep. Justin Everett (R-Littleton) unleashed these Facebook posts this week:

Everett: “Sadly this is classic Keyser, saw this quite a few times in the year we served together in the legislature. Again, this guy is not ready for prime time…

A couple things here:
#1 – Again Keyser is not ready for prime time and his validity as a candidate will dog him for the rest of the campaign
#2 – Clearly the Secretary of State has a flawed review process; I may be working on legislation to address this next year
#3 – Go through the caucus and assembly process. Less expensive and you’ll KNOW if you’ve made the ballot.”

Everett was a supporter of Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), another GOP U.S. Senate candidate who failed to make the Republican GOP primary ballot.

But Everett’s attack highlights the absence of any GOP support for Keyser in the copious media coverage of his refusal to answer questions about forged signatures on his ballot-access petition.

What you do see are Republicans like Everett and Rep. Chris Holbert, who wrote on Facebook of Keyser:

Holbert: “Sweat, shuffle around nervously, evade the question, and blink a lot nervously. Nailed it!”

The GOP response is key, at least for now, because it’s Republicans who will determine whether Keyser faces Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in November.

And the signs, beyond the attacks from Keyser’s expected GOP critics, aren’t looking good–as in there are literally no signs of GOP support for Keyser.

The Republican audience at yesterday’s debate at the Foothills Republican Club didn’t respond well to Keyser’s spin, as reported by The Denver Post’s John Frank:

The debate’s first four questions involved the petition issue, and Keyser refused to answer all of them.

“Here’s the important thing. I’m on the ballot, and I’m going to beat Michael Bennet,” Keyser said in a line he repeated five times in two minutes.

The response drew groans from the crowd and a shot from GOP rival Darryl Glenn who said the issue is important to the candidate’s integrity.

“If you are going to stand for the rule of law, if you are going to raise your hand and support the constitution, then you need to follow the law,” Glenn said to applause. “That’s the issue.”

So at this point, it looks like no one is supporting Keyser, not even any of Keyser’s allies. That’s a key point that journalists should document in more detail as we move forward.

 

Another layer of sadness added to depressing situation at Denver Post

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Westword’s Michael Roberts reported yesterday on The Denver Post’s announcement  that it plans to offer buyouts another 26 journalists:

If this reduction is realized, the Post’s newsroom will have lost more than a third of its workers in around a year.

As we reported in June 2015, there were approximately 165 newsroom members when the Post announced its previous buyout offer. By the end of that July, twenty people were gone — nineteen voluntarily, one via layoff.

The staff diminution has continued since then. The Denver Business Journal reports that there are about 130 people in the newsroom at present. Take 26 people away from that total and the Post’s newsroom will barely be over the century mark.

Can you imagine the sadness and frustration you’d feel if you worked at The Post right about now? It’s bad enough to watch from the outside.

Former Post Editor Greg Moore told me last month that the economic troubles expedited his own departure from the newspaper, and how can you blame him or any of the reporters who decide to take the buyout and depart now.

Still, today’s newspaper was full of admirable reporting on a wide range of topics. That pretty much says it all about what we have and what we’ll lose.

Journalists correctly see challenges faced by candidate who “needed a court ruling to keep his campaign alive”

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

In its report on a Denver judge’s decision to allow U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser on the Republican primary ballot, after the Secretary of State had rejected his petitions, The Denver Post’s John Frank and Mark Matthews reported:

Once considered a favorite in the race, Keyser must now overcome other challenges that are injecting questions into this campaign not least among them, the fact he needed a court ruling to keep his campaign alive. [BigMedia emphasis]

It’s unclear just how much of a liability Keyser’s signature-gathering fiasco will be, but the reporters were correct to write that it raises questions–as yet unexplored in detail by journalists–about whether Keyser’s short stint on the campaign trail and in public service has shown him to be competent not only to run a campaign but to be an effective U.S. Senator, to replace Democrat Michael Bennet.

Keyser’s Republican colleague in the Colorado State House, Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton, jumped on Facebook last week to write that Keyser “isn’t ready for prime time,” as evidenced by Keyer’s fundraing troubles, problematic petitions, and other bungles.

Everett: Not to say he won’t cure, suers gonna sue. But what’s interesting here is how close he was in Congressional District 1 (20 signatures), in heavily Republican CD5 (a mere 76 signatures), and CD 6 (75 signatures). If another candidate were to contest the validity of those Congressional Districts, he may be deemed insufficient in other areas. Not to mention his announcement claim that he had $3 million pledged to his campaign but only raised $200K, while contributing $100K of his own money. After serving with him for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time…

“After serving with [Keyser] for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time….”

If you couple that statement with the campaign lapses, you have a bunch of unanswered questions about Keyser’s basic competency that need to be addressed by reporters as the campiagn gears up.