Archive for the 'Denver Post' Category

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.

 

Fact Check: Gardner opposes Dream Act and blocked immigration reform

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Rep. Cory Gardner continues to misrepresent his record on immigration, and reporters have failed to call him out on it.

During an Oct. 6 debate, Gardner was asked if he’d vote for the DREAM Act, which would grant a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who attend college or serve in the U.S. military.

Instead of answering the question, Gardner used the dodge tactic of stating his opinion on what will happen to the DREAM Act.

“Ultimately, I think the Dream Act will be part of the solution of immigration reform,” Gardner said. “It has to be. Look, I believe in immigration reform.”

If Gardner had answered the question, instead of predicting the future, he’d have said that he’s long opposed the Dream Act.

Gardner: “I don’t think we should give unfair advantages to people not in the country legally” Gardner told the Fort Collins Coloradoan in 2012, referring to the Dream Act.

“I think if you pass the DREAM Act today, you’re still not fixing the problem,’ Gardner told the Boulder Daily Camera last year, echoing comments opposing the Dream Act that he made to the Ft. Collins Coloradoan the year before. “I want to create a fair system so people who want to be here legally can be here legally.”

Last year, Gardner even opposed a proposed state law, so-called ASSET, to grant in-state tuition for young immigrants in Colorado.

Gardner: “But we can’t start putting in place in-state tuition, whether it’s other things that are being placed by the states, without actually addressing the root problem that will only continue more illegal immigration into this country,” Gardner told KNUS’ Steve Kelly last year.” And so, that’s why we’ve got to have a policy that actually works, and I believe it starts with border security.”

On this very day, as I type this blog post, Gardner’s website states that the Congressman opposes “giving those people [who are here illegally] benefits that will only encourage more illegal immigration.”

In a similar vein, Gardner likes to say, “I strongly support immigration reform.”

But Gardner was one of 30 House Republicans who openly opposed House Speaker John Boehner’s immigration principles, intended to begin the embryonic stage of the process of moving immigration legislation out of the House.

Asked directly by Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols if he went to House Speaker Boehner and urged him to move the bipartisan Senate immigration bill or some other bill, Gardner again did not answer the question, saying that the Senate doesn’t have a “monopoly of good ideas.”

If he’d answered the question, he’d have said that he joined House Republicans in blocking Boehner and thereby ending hope for immigration reform last year.

Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reported last week that Gardner  has “long held he doesn’t support providing amnesty to those here illegally.”

Reporters need to pin Gardner down on what he supports now and what he’s done about it. Otherwise, he gets to present himself as if he’s for reform while he done nothing to advance reform.

Colbert skewers Gardner’s personhood falsehood

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert skewered Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s crazy falsehood that there is “no federal personhood bill,” starting at the four-minute-twenty-second mark in the video below.

Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols is featured in the segment. He, along with other local journalists (e.g., 9News’ Brandon Rittiman, Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus, Grand Junction Sentinel Charles Ashby, CBS4′s Shaun Boyd), have done the right thing journalism-wise in trying to hold Gardner accountable and to expose the brazen falsehoods that he’s been repeating about the Life at Conception Act.

And proving that you never know where personhood media-criticism will get you, look really closely at the five-minute-and-three-second mark, and you’ll see a Denver Post op-ed by yours truly flash across the screen!

In any case, Colbert’s video speaks for itself.

Media omission: Gardner knew about birth control ban, says pro-personhood group

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Colorado Senatorial Candidate Cory Gardner withdrew his support from state personhood amendments because, he told The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels, he didn’t understand that the measures would ban birth control.

Everyone rolled their eyes and moved on, as if to say,”It’s obvious he’s gunning for female votes statewide, so who cares if he might be lying.”

To their credit, reporters cited Gardner’s legislation that would have banned birth control, but, given Gardner’s in-bedness with personhood supporters throughout his political career, you’d think we’d have seen more about what Gardner really knew and when he knew it.

Now, with ballots arriving in your mailbox (Yeah!)  this week, comes a blog post from Colorado Right to Life, which was a major backer of personhood efforts in Colorado, stating, yes, Gardner knew all along about the birth control ban.

Colorado Right to Life: As you probably heard, Cory Gardner announced publicly that he no longer supports Personhood. He apologized for ever supporting it. He said he was well-meaning, but it was a mistake.

Of course the reason he gave for not supporting Personhood — that it would ban “contraceptives” — is completely false, and is a propaganda claim of NARAL and Planned Parenthood that is often repeated by the media.

Cory Gardner has attended briefings on Personhood by CRTL where this was discussed — Cory should KNOW better! But since he knew it was a false statement and he made it anyway, we can only conclude he has made a cynical choice to give up on principles so he would be more attractive to moderate voters.

As Bob Beauprez reminded us, personhood backers oppose birth control, like IUDs and Plan B, which they say threated or destroy zygotes (or fertilized eggs).

I get into this in more detail in a post this morning on RH Reality Check, but I reached out to Colorado Right to Life for more details on Gardner’s briefings and got no response.

Personhood USA spokeswoman Jennifer Mason told me via email that, when Gardner was in the state legislature, Colorado Right to Life gave legislative briefings “detailing the effects of the amendment.”

“I would assume that he attended, given his position at that time, but I couldn’t guarantee anything,” she wrote.

Media omission: It’s ironic, in light of Gardner’s Post endorsement, to recall that Gardner’s extremism extends to his view of journalism itself

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner, like much of the political right, sees himself as a victim of liberal media bias. On a day when he was endorsed by The Denver Post, and Gardner is tweeting about how “honored and humbled” he is, I thought I’d point back to a few of the many times he’s trashed the news media with sweeping, unsupported accusations of bias that serve only to accelerate the decline of professional journalism.

In 2011, Gardner told Grassroots Radio Colorado:

Gardner: “The press likes to blame the Tea Party for a lot of things, because there’s a bias in the media against people who believe in smaller government.”

Worley: “You mean people like us.”

Gardner: “People like us.”

In January of last year, Gardner said:

Gardner: “Look, the media is going to criticize the Republicans every time we turn around, because we are not in lock-step with the President.”

After Romney’s self-inflicted election loss in 2012, Gardner blamed the media:

Gardner: “When the American people were watching the news with their family at the dinner table, they saw a media that is gung-ho for the President. So not only were we running an election against the President of the United States, we were running an election against TV stations around the country and inside people’s living rooms.”

Some progressives are so angry at The Post for its Gardner endorsement that they’re threatening to cancel their subscriptions.

By doing this, and forsaking the last gasps of Denver’s by-far best news source to survive, we’d reduce ourselves to Gardner’s own level of extremism that, for some reason, The Denver Post failed to see in Gardner across the spectrum of issues from global warming and immigration to abortion and journalism itself–and beyond.

Question of the Week: What does Beauprez think the federal personhood bill, which he’s co-sponsored, would do?

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Reporters looking for another source to counter senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s contention that “there is no federal personhood bill” can turn to gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, who cosponsored federal personhood legislation and acknowledges his own support for it.

And while he’s talking, Beauprez should explain what he thinks his federal personhood bill would do.

Both Gardner and Beauprez do not favor state personhood amendments, even though both candidates cosponsored federal personhood legislation, which would expand the definition of a person in the U.S. Constitution to include the unborn, beginning at the zygote or fertilized egg stage, and thereby banning all abortion and common forms of birth control.

Gardner’s bill is called the 2013 Life at Conception Act. Beauprez’s is the 2006 Right to Life Act. The two bills are essentially the same.

But unlike Gardner, Beauprez thinks federal personhood legislation exists, and his problem, he says, is with state personhood amendments, not the federal bill.

In March, 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman clarified a previous 9News piece, which quoted Beauprez as saying he never supported personhood.

Rittiman asked Beauprez about his support of the Right To Life Act, a federal personhood bill, and Rittiman reported:

Rittiman: “Beauprez has certainly supported the concept of personhood in the form of federal legislation. He says his answer to 9NEWS was meant to convey that he has not supported it at the state level.”

Close Beauprez observers will note that the former congressman is careful, when he talks about his opposition to “personhood,” to focus on the state amendments, while staying silent on federal personhood legislation.

Look, for example, at what Beauprez said in Thursday’s debate in Pueblo:

Beauprez: “I’m opposed to the personhood amendment. I’ll tell you what I’m in favor of.  I’m in favor of innocent lives.”

In coverage of the debate, The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch did the right thing journalistically and informed readers of Beauprez’s support of the 2006 federal personhood bill.

Beauprez’s reference to “personhood amendment” Thursday comports with what he told Rittiman back in June:

Beauprez: “The personhood amendment, and that’s where we have to draw the line, the personhood amendment might have identified the right issue but the very wrong solution.”

Bottom line for reporters: Beauprez hasn’t explained why he still supports federal personhood legislation, even though he’s not on board with state personhood efforts. I’m curious to know what Beauprez thinks the federal personhood bill he co-sponsored would do, if passed, and why he backs it over state personhood.

Beauprez’s thoughts on why Gardner thinks “there is no federal personhood bill” would be of interest to those of us trying to understand Gardner’s mysterious personhood hypocrisy.