Archive for the 'Denver Post' Category

Let’s appreciate The Post’s coverage of city council races–while we can

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

God love The Denver Post for actually factually covering Denver’s city council races with a little bit of breadth and a little bit of depth.

You can find a story here and there by other news entities, including the neighborhood newspapers. But to understand what’s happening  city-wide you have to turn to The Post. It’s apparently put Jon Murray, one of its top political reporters on the beat. And he, along with other reporters, are offering real coverage of the election, at the end of which we will have six of 13 new faces on the council. So it’s a big deal.

The Post is running a series spotlighting the major issues and candidates in the races, including, so far, District 1, District 2, and District 3.  The newspaper is dutifully following the money, as well as major developments.

The Post, for example, reported details this week of possible campaign-finance violations by District 10 candidate Wayne New, who admitted to omitting information from his official signs and not reporting in-kind donations .

But Wayne New denies that he is required to report the obvious advertising value of large campaign signs he’s placed in parking lots owned by Buzz Geller, a businessman who supports New.

Luis Toro, director Colorado Ethics Watch, which filed a complaint against Wayne New, says the failure to disclose the value of the use of parking lots is a “real, substantive violation” of Denver’s campaign finance laws. Toro told The Post his group’s action against New has nothing to do with the fact that New has donated to Republican candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain. [Disclosure: I support one of New’s District 10 opponents, Anna Jones, though I live outside the district.]

Anyway, wouldn’t it be great if the media were full of blow-by-blow accounts of low-level political battles like these? The best we have is The Post. And you wonder, who’s gonna do it when/if The Post is gone? It’s something that should not go unappreciated today, while we still have it.

Post closes last Colorado bureau and loses reporter Nancy Lofholm

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Another in a string of highly regarded journalists to leave The Denver Post in the last few years, Nancy Lofholm walked away from the newspaper Feb. 6, after The Post closed its Western Slope bureau, which Lofholm directed.

Before coming to The Post 17 years ago, Lofholm worked for several Colorado newspapers, including the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the Montrose Daily Press. She’s freelanced for, among other publications, the New York Times, USA Today, and the LA Times.

“At the risk of sounding like a news Neanderthal,” Lofholm told me via email, “I will reveal that my life in journalism really began in 1968. I was the editor of my high school newspaper and was invited to ride through Nebraska on Bobby Kennedy’s campaign train. It was a smoke-filled, highball-sloshed, bloodshot-eyed scene. I was utterly hooked. My life’s mission became peeking behind curtains and describing for readers what I saw. ”

Here are Lofholm’s answers to questions I emailed her.

Jason: Why are you leaving? Will you continue as a journalist?

Lofholm: The powers-that-be at The Denver Post decided to close the Western Slope bureau and focus coverage on the Denver/metro area. I opted  to not transfer to Denver. I had been covering news on the Western Slope for more than three decades (17 of those years for The Post).  I had no desire to leave my home, friends and significant other behind to start over in Denver at the age of 64. After a brief bike-riding and sunset-savoring breather, I will continue in journalism. Some good opportunities are opening up and I intend to take advantage of them to keep up some coverage of this side of the state.

Jason: What are a couple of your best memories of The Post? Worst?

Lofholm: My best memories are of the early years when The Post created six bureaus around the state. It was part of a “We Are Colorado” campaign.  Top executives and editors at The Post traveled around the state in a bus and handed out coffee, cookies and tchotchkes to trumpet The Post’s commitment to being a strong statewide newspaper. Having that as a mission gave us in the bureaus so much opportunity to be creative in our coverage.

We had supportive state editors, like the exceptional Joe Watt, who really understood and appreciated the color and diversity of rural Colorado. We had a great cohesive team of talented reporters who could come together on wildfires, fugitive chases and plane crashes. Our team also was encouraged to produce the lively dailies that took readers along as we explored every interesting nook and cranny of Colorado, from a snowplow on Red Mountain and a gold mine near Victor to a corn factory-on-wheels at Olathe and a rodeo chute in Leadville.  At least one of us was on Page 1 nearly every day.

The hours were long. The deadlines were demanding. But it was all centered on the best of newspaper reporting and storytelling and on delivering what readers valued. I loved every bit of it. I will always feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of that.

And the worst: Seeing those bureaus shuttered one by one and The Post’s interest in news outside of Denver dwindle. The last few years had been very painful because of that lack of interest. I was forced to ignore so much news from this side of the mountains and was told the slice-of-life stories from over here were “too west slopey” for The Post.

Jason: One of your beats is immigration. Any advice for reporters trying to do a fair and accurate job on this topic?

Lofholm: Ignore the extremists on both sides of the issue. And get to know the real people at the heart of this difficult topic – the Dreamers, the farmworkers, the detained, the deported and the newly minted citizens.  Only through understanding and telling their stories can you illustrate why the immigration system is so badly in need of a fix and why so much of the emotional rhetoric is off-base.

Oh, and never expect ICE to give you a straight or timely answer to your questions

Jason: Would you advise a young person to pursue journalism?

Lofholm: Absolutely. I advise that all the time – with the caveat that they shouldn’t expect to get rich or to relax.

If young people have a passion for journalism, they can deal with whatever an industry in huge flux will throw at them. The demand for solid reporting and lively, well-written stories won’t go away. It may seem to be lost at times in the constant shuffle of priorities, the new instant nature of news  and the dazzle of digital platforms, but it will always be important. My advice is to keep that at the core of journalistic ambitions.

And, of course, be able to tweet, shoot videos, upload stills and text updates to editors – all while reporting and observing news events.The young do that so well!

Jason: Anything to say about the future of journalism in Colorado?

Lofholm: It will be very interesting. I say that knowing that ‘interesting’ is entirely too weak a word for what might happen in Denver. Will the Rocky revive? What will the hedge funders do with The Post? What is Phil Anschutz up to? What about that scrappy upstart, the Colorado Independent?

As all that sorts itself out, I think the small papers around Colorado will hold their own. Talented and dedicated people at papers like the Silverton Standard & Miner, the Dove Creek Press, the Durango Herald and many more will carry on, and their communities will be the better for it.

Jason: Or on The Post’s decision to close what appears to be its last in-state bureau?

Lofholm: Sad. Colorado needs a statewide newspaper, but The Post has not filled that need well in this half of the state for some time. Home delivery is nearly non-existent, and the busy digital product has some readers in areas of slow connectivity throwing up their hands in frustration. Those who are still dedicated to The Post are wistfully asking  “What about ‘Denver & the West’? Will it now be ‘Denver & the Metro’?”

Jason: Anything you want to add?

Lofholm: I would have liked to have continued working for The Denver Post for a few more years. I still have that fire, curiosity and energy to devote to journalism. I see good stories everywhere. I leave with a fat file of story ideas that certain editors at The Post had nixed but that I know will  be the basis for some freelance opportunities.

At this point I feel like I have new freedom to produce some good work.

Losing a Denver Post paycheck has not caused me to lose my passion for journalism.

Media omission: McInnis resurrects political career with election as country commissioner

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

It appears that the entire front-range media missed one of the most exciting election stories of 2014: the resurrection of failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis!

McInnis, who was taken down by wizard Dan Maes in the 2010 Republican primary, won a seat in November on the Mesa Country Board of Commissioners.

If you call his office, you get a message saying:

“Thank you for contacting commissioner Scott McInnis. Although he is unavailable to take your call, your call is important. Please leave your name, phone number, and a brief message. Thank you.”

A quick check revealed that this exact phone message (except the name “Scott McInnis”) was plagiarized, but McInnis probably had nothing do do with it, as the message was delivered in a woman’s voice.

Back in 2010, McInnis was caught by The Denver Post for plagiarizing portions of short articles he wrote on Colorado water issues, commissioned for $350,000 from the Hasan Foundation.

The price tag prompted Post columnist Ed Quillen to write that he wanted to engage McInnis as “my literary agent, since he knows how to cut some sweet deals.”

He blamed his water-article plagiarism on his ghost writer, Rolly Fisher, but McInnis eventually took some measure of responsibility for it.

Last year, during his county-commissioner race, McInnis washed his hands of any wrong-doing for the plagiarism, telling the Grand Junction Sentinel he regretted admitting to any mistakes about the plagiarism.

“I’ve used ghost writers my whole career. I would have said I didn’t make the mistake. I wasn’t dishonest then and I’m not dishonest now.”

Barring any recalls for un-commissioner-like behavior, which may or may not include plagiarism, he’ll serve until 2019.

Reporters shouldn’t let gun misinformation or hyperbole slide by at state legislature

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

ColoradoPols did us a favor yesterday by trotting out some of the ridiculous misinformation delivered in 2013 by opponents of gun safety laws. And Pols pleaded with local reporters to correct such falsehoods if they pop up this year.

As a example of what should be done, I direct your attention to a 2013 Post editorial that corrected GOP Sen. Kent Lambert’s statement, cited in the Pols post yesterday, that that lawmakers had “effectively banned gun ownership.”

Labert’s statement, The Post wrote, was “not supported by the facts.”

Dahh, you say, but as Pols pointed out, that’s what we need when our elected leaders stray from the obvious facts.

And it’s also what we need when elected officials stray into wild hyperbole, that may not be demonstrably incorrect, per se, but should be called out as… wild hyperbole.

Last time around, for example, we heard this from respectable people under the gold dome:

Lambert: And now, you know, with everybody having their guns confiscated or taken away here over the next couple years, almost completely overturning the Second Amendment, what’s going to happen to our crime rate? [BigMedia editorial comment: two years have passed! Every legal gun owner still has her gun.]

And this in 2013:

State Rep. Kevin Priola compared banning some ammunition magazines to putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during WWII.

And this in 2013:

Rep. Kevin Lundberg said on the radio that Colorado is getting “so close” to the point where he’ll be having his gun pried away from his “cold, dead hands.”

It’s bad when a guy like State Sen. Randy Baumgardner claims falsely, as he did in 2013, that “hammers and bats” killed more people in America in 2012 than guns did.

His facts should be corrected.

But the scare tactics about gun confiscation should be confronted as well,  with the simple fact that it’s been two years now and not a single legal gun holder has lost her weapon.

“I don’t owe people who are here illegally anything.”

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

“I don’t owe people who are here illegally anything.”

That’s Republican Rep. Ken Buck, making us proud just hours before he was sworn in today as a U.S. Representative from Colorado.

One wonders if Buck would have said the same thing about my interred illegal immigrant Italian inlaws (IIIII), but it doesn’t matter because Buck is in Washington now, not a hundred years ago.

Buck told The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews that he wants to establish a kick-ass guest-worker program for immigrants and then move on, piecemeal, to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in our country.

But how will he do this for people to whom he owes nothing?

Does Buck feel he owes undocumented human beings no respect? No compassion, not even some level of honor for the work they do in our country–and for the contributions they make to our communities? Apparently not. Nada.

How about a vaccination or two for the undocumented kids? Does Buck owe them that?

Owing nothing to the undocumented people in Colorado amounts to hating them. What else to call it?

Maybe I’m skewed from too much talk radio, but the hate toward immigrants from respectable people in Colorado, like Buck and State Sen. Vicki Marble (who said they spread “the disease”), seems to be on the rise.

Yet, I don’t see reporters noticing. Marble’s ugly comment stunk up my blog post and went nowhere else. Buck’s line was at least reported, which counts for something, but was left hanging. Ugh.

Fact Check: Police officers were leaving East High protest when struck

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

Denver talk-radio host Dan Caplis implies in a Denver Post op-ed today that an East High School protest should be blamed for the serious injuries suffered by a Denver Police officer struck by a car near the demonstration.

KNUS 710-AM’s Caplis writes that the officer, John Adsit, “was horribly injured while trying to protect the lawbreakers.”

In fact, Adsit was hit by the car as he was returning to his beat after escorting the protesters on their march. The protest was still happening when Adsit was hit, but Adsit was going back to his 16th Street Mall assignment.

This fact was reported by Denver Post reporter Jesse Paul and Tim McGhee, who covered the accident December 3.

Paul’s reporting isn’t crystal clear on the matter, so I emailed him Saturday to confirm that my interpretation was correct. (Disclosure: My kids goes to East.)

Paul confirmed that, yes, Adsit was returning to his beat as the protest continued.

Not that it matters anyway. Adsit was struck by someone experiencing a medical problem. It had nothing to do with the protest. It was a random tragedy.

In any case, Caplis should set a better example for East students and the rest of us by making sure he gets his facts correct. And, of course, he should apologize for the error.

Rosen implies Denver Post had agenda to elect Romanoff but, oops, the paper endorsed Coffman

Friday, November 14th, 2014

This has been sitting on my shelf for a while, but I thought I’d post it today because I love it so much when Denver radio-host Mike Rosen whines about how The Denver Post practices “agenda journalism” in favor of liberals.

Rosen was sure The Post was in the pocket of Andrew Romanoff. His proof? A news story by Post reporter Mark Matthews.

Discussing the Coffman-Romanoff race in the excerpt below, which aired on his KOA 850-AM radio show Oct. 16 before the Post endorsed Coffman, Rosen implied that The Post was about to back Romanoff.

But The Post endorsed Coffman instead.

It’s conservative media criticism at its worst, replete with unsupported assumptions and anger that hurts journalism and, you’d think, Rosen himself.

In the excerpt, Rosen is talking to Coffman about Coffman’s bill to turn management and oversight of VA construction projects over to Army Corps of Engineers.

Rosen explains how The Post story about Coffman’s bill is part of an elaborate scheme to boost Romanoff. Read the Post article for yourself here.

ROSEN:  So, here is how the game is played. If you’re rooting for Andrew Romanoff, former Speaker of the Colorado House, who is a lock-step Democrat, and Mike Coffman is doing well — in a district, incidentally, that leans Democrat, now, the 6th District — going into this race, even though Mike was the incumbent, Andrew Romanoff was a heavy favorite to win. And a lot—a ton — of money has poured in from the Democratic Party and some other groups to get Romanoff elected, and to kick Mike out of that seat.

So, if you’re rooting for Mike Coffman, if you’re in the media, and if you’re The Denver Post, even though they endorsed Cory Gardner—maybe they think Udall is a lost cause, uh, on the other three state-wide races, they have endorsed Democrats. They endorsed, just the other day or today, I think, Joe Neguese for Secretary of State, uh, Don Quick for Attorney General—over your wife, I should note, Cynthia Coffman, and John Hickenlooper for governor. Those are three state-wide races. So they had to throw in one state-wide race for the Republicans, otherwise the Post, even if they had no shame, would be—would feel awkward about only endorsing Democrats. Now, they do endorse Republicans in state legislative races, especially Republicans who are in absolutely safe Republican districts, so it makes it seem as if they’re more even handed. But even with Vincent Carroll on the editorial page, as the editorial page editor, —I mean, he doesn’t own the editorial page, there’s a chain of command at the Post, it’s a very liberal culture, so Vincent can only go so far. I suspect the Cory Gardner endorsement was perhaps made or greatly influenced above his pay grade and the news pages are very, very helpful for The Denver Post, in any number of issues. And the Post just doesn’t report. They do ‘agenda journalism’. They don’t just report on same sex marriage, for example. They cheerlead for it, and they celebrate it. All right! You know, I’m not opposed to same sex marriage. I’m just observing this, on any number of other issues. When it comes to education issues, they’re—The Denver Post is in bed with the teachers union, generally, on its news pages. So, this story—and we’ll get into the details of it, since Mike is right here, and I’m laying a lot of foundation, but I think it’s important to do so so that you understand what the background of this is. And you’re not going to get a newspaper editor to admit this kind of stuff. So, I have to kind of analyze it and make some assumptions. So, this is just — I don’t have hard evidence on any of this. The story that’s on the front page is by Mark Matthews—and i don’t know Mark Matthews—is what I call a ‘planted story’. He’s writing this story about some criticism of Mike Coffman’s bill, that’s already been passed. In the Senate, as well? Where is it?

COFFMAN: It’s still —It’s pending in the Senate.

ROSEN: Yeah. Everything is pending in the Senate —

COFFMAN: True, right? [chuckles] Yeah!

ROSEN: —because Harry Reid doesn’t want to have them — Democrats — to make them vote on anything—

COFFMAN: Sure.

ROSEN: —in an election year, when he’s desperately trying to keep control. But it passed the House. It sailed through the House. If Mike is benefitting from his work in this area, you want to try and neutralize it, as best as you can, before the election, if you’re rooting for Romanoff. Now, this story, if you read it and you’re gullible, doesn’t look like a biased story. Both sides are presented, although one side is presented with more column inches than the other side. And what it plants in the minds of readers is, “Well, this is— Mike Coffman bill may not be all that it was cracked up to be.” So, the attempt here is to neutralize whatever advantage Mike gets out of being associated with this bill….All right. We’ll get into some more of the guts of this. It’s a fascinating story, and it shows how a news organ like The Denver Post can use its influence to manipulate. And one question I would have for Mark Matthews, who wrote this story—his byline is on it— is that, how did he come by this story? Did he dig it up on his own? Or is he simply operating from a Democratic press release or a phone call? Right back on 850 KOA.

Best Local Journalism of the 2014 Election Season

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Here’s my list of top election-season journalism by local reporters:

Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols didn’t take Cory Gardner’s falsehood for an answer on personhood. And, and in the same five-star interview, he tried harder than any other journalist to get a straight answer from Gardner on the details of his health insurance plan.

Only the Colorado Independent’s Susan Greene offered a comprehensive look (with Mike Keefe cartoon) at the extreme right-wing comments of gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez. See Bob Beauprez’s Last Eight Years: Conservatism at its Extremes.

The Associated Press’ Nick Riccardi explains why senatorial candidate Cory Gardner says he favors immigration reform. And he points out that that Gardner’s actual support for reform proposals is limited and illusive.

Corey Hutchins, who writes for a variety of outlets, broke the shocking story on Medium about Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) urging a military revolt against Obama. (Reminder: Our country is at war.)

9News’ Brandon Rittiman was the first local journalist to press senatorial candidate Cory Gardner on the hypocrisy of his withdrawing support for state personhood measures but remaining a co-sponsor of a federal personhood bill. Other journalists, besides Stokols and Rittiman, deserve credit for challenging Gardner on this: 9News’ Kyle ClarkThe Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby, The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels, and The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus.

Stokols wrote the definitive piece on Rocky Mountain Gun Owners toxic impact on Colorado Republican Party’s election prospects. See The New Front in Dudley Brown’s War: Jefferson County.

Colorado Community Media’s Vic Vela provided the first comprehensive look at the Republican turmoil in all-powerful Jefferson County. See Jeffco Limps Forward in Races.

The Denver Post’s John Frank wrote an insightful piece on the potential impact on the election of the school-board protests in Jefferson County.

They err themselves, but local TV news fact checkers Shaun Boyd (CBS4), Brandon Rittiman (9News), and sometimes Eli Stokols make a huge contribution to rational electoral debate with their Reality Check, Truth Test, and Fact or Fiction pieces.

Freelance journalist Sandra Fish filled a media gap with detailed reports on election-ad spending, mostly written for Colorado Public Radio (e.g., here and here).

The Associated Press’ Kristen Wyatt was quick to expose Gardner’s hollow claim of being a leader of Colorado’s new energy economy. See Senate candidate in Colo. touts a failed measure.

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews wrote intelligently about how the outcome of the Coffman-Romanoff race, in district whose demographics reflect America’s, could portend how well the GOP does in 2016. See GOP incumbent in Colorado 6th CD in a Race with Implications for 2016.

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels told the story of how the grand fracking compromise was reached, with its implications for the upcoming election. See Let’s Make a Deal: How Colorado Came to a Fracking Compromise.

Finally, and I’m a progressive media critic being completely objective here, the Colorado Independent‘s Mike Littwin has been brilliant over the past few months, writing with humor and insight that you can’t help but appreciate, even if you love the people he lampoons or shreds.

All in all, at a time when everyone complains about the demise of local journalism, we saw some great stuff. Of course, there were epic lapses, but I’ll get into those later, or perhaps at our (bipartisan) Nov. 11 panel discussion on media coverage of the 2014 election.

Media omission: Coffman’s desire to offer “bilingual ballots” contradicts his proposal to eliminate federal requirement to provide them

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Yesterday, during what was apparently Colorado’s first candidate Spanish-language debate, hosted by moderators Vanessa Bernal and Juan Carlos Gutierrez on Denver’s Univision TV affiliate, Rep. Mike Coffman said:

Coffman: “The federal government has obligated local governments to send bilingual ballots to everyone. I think that bilingual ballots should only go to people who need them. It’s a question of saving money. I would hope that every voter will be able to get the information that he needs in a language he can understand.”

But back in 2011, when Coffman proposed repealing the section of the Voting Rights Act requiring ballots to be printed in multiple languages, Coffman said nothing about making sure those who needed translated ballots get them.

Coffman: “Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense at all,” Coffman told the Denver Post at the time.

I went back to the archive, and I couldn’t find a single instance in 2011 where Coffman said everyone who needs a bilingual ballot should have one. The best I could find was an acknowledgement that some voters have “legitimate needs,” but he suggested second-class solutions, like making a sample ballots available to voters somehow, without any guarantees that they even get this.

His 2011 proposal, by turning ballot-translation decisions over to local authorities and releasing local jurisdictions from the federal requirement, contradicts Coffman’s statement yesterday that he wants to provide a “bilingual ballot” to “people who need them.” That’s not consistent with his actual 2011 proposal.

What if local officials decide that Coffman’s dictionary idea is better and cheaper?

So after his debate yesterday, I asked Coffman if he’d offered a new position on English-only ballots.

He said, “No.”

Coffman: “I think I was always opposed to them because the way the Justice Department took it. And they have backed away. But it wasn’t just to the voters that needed them. It was going to be to every voter, an unfunded mandate by the federal government. I just thought that that was ridiculous. And there are all kinds of ways that are cheaper than that to disseminate the information. Obviously the county clerks got to make the decision, but right now it’s, if they can reach a certain threshold of population. But what about the people that English isn’t their language and they are below the threshold. And so we just need a different system that’s smarter and certainly can be more cost-effective.”

The Voting Rights Act requires ballots in multiple languages only in areas with large populations that are nonproficient in English

So if Coffman truly believes that Spanish-language ballots should be provided to those voters who need them, he’d support the requirement to do so in the Voting Rights Act, despite the cost. Sure, it could be tweaked, but he’d support the mandate.

Instead, Coffman is saying the expense is more worrisome to him than the possibility of excluding voters who aren’t proficient in English.

Unfortunately, reporters covering the debate between Coffman and his Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff, missed this key point.

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.