Archive for the 'Denver Post' Category

Brauchler apparently thinks twice about marrying his fate to grassroots activists at the state GOP convention

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Reporters covering the weeds of the gubernatorial race should note that GOP candidate George Brauchler is contradicting himself about how he’ll try to access the ballot.

He told The Denver Post he’d rely solely on the decision of delegates at the State Republican convention, while telling a conservative radio host he’d leave open the possibility of getting on the ballot via the petition process that upended the senatorial campaign of former state Rep. Jon Keyser (R-CO Springs).

This is the second time in two weeks of campaigning that Brauchler has made conflicting statements to The Post and talk-radio hosts. Contradicting a 2015 statement he made to The Post, Brauchler claimed last week on air that he was on juror away from securing the death penalty in the Aurora-shooting case, when, in fact, he was three votes away.

With respect to accessing the ballot, here’s what Brauchler told The Post’s John Frank just before his April 5 campaign announcement:

Positioning himself as one of the more conservative candidates in the race, Brauchler said he plans to seek a slot on the primary ballot through a nomination at the Republican Party’s convention, rather than collect petition signatures to qualify.

The political gamble is paired with a not-so-subtle dig at his expected rivals. “Every single one of them is a potential self-funder or has long family connections to politics. I’m not that guy,” he said without noting Stapleton’s ties to the Bush family. “I’m the guy who has spent his entire life in Colorado, and I’m going to get around this state and win it through the grassroots effort.”

And here’s what Brauchler said to KHOW’s Ross Kaminksy the next day, Thursday, April 6:

Kaminsky–One interesting thing, you have said that you plan to get your position on the primary ballot by going to the convention rather than getting signatures. This is a little bit of insider baseball, but I think it says something about you as a candidate, as well.  Can you explain, please?

Brauchler–And I’ll say this:  I haven’t publicly foreclosed the possibility of petition. But honestly – and this is the way I got to be District Attorney – I’m invested in the grassroots aspect of getting elected. I think we have reached a place with campaign-finance and social media where you can have people who have the means — either their own or through third-party efforts — to simply bypass the individual, face-to-face requirements of going out and earning votes. You just show up on TV, show up on the Internet, you put things into people’s mailboxes.  Now, we’re going to do all those things.  But at the end of the day, there’s only one process to get on the ballot that guarantees you are going to get around the state and do retail politics, to press the flesh, look people in the fac,e and answer their questions about who you are and what’s important to them.  And so, I’m invested in really trying to look hard at how we’re going to accomplish getting on the ballot through the assembly process.  But I haven’t foreclosed any other options.

He hadn’t publicly foreclosed the petition option? That’s not how I read The Post interview, which hasn’t been corrected.

Frank was correct that, for Brauchler, relying on Colorado’s State Republican convention would be a “political gamble”–which is probably why the Arapahoe County District Attorney thought twice about it. The outcome of convention is predictably unpredictable, as demonstrated the jaw-bouncing decision of Republicans there last year to hand the GOP senatorial nomination to Darryl Glenn, who went on to lose to Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

Well-heeled candidates like Brauchler usually try to access the ballot via both the convention and petition routes, giving them a backup if they get Glenned, so to speak. Colorado State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) eschewed the petition process and watched his U.S. Senate dreams die when he was upset by Glenn at the convention last year. Brauchler wants to avoid Neville’s fate.

But the state convention is the stronghold of the GOP’s grassroots contingent, whose support is critical to winning the Republican nomination, even in an open primary–even more so this year because Trump seems to have energized and emboldened Colorado Republicans.

So, by initially saying he’d skip the petition process Brauchler was sending a love note to GOP grassroots activists. But it turns out Brauchler isn’t ready to commit to the marriage. Honestly, I don’t blame him. They can be so difficult and hard to live with.

Listen to Brauchler on KHOW April 6:

Sentinel publisher still preparing to sue lawmaker over “fake news” allegation

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

The publisher of the Grand Junction Sentinel insisted last night that he’s getting his “ducks in a row” in preparation to sue State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) for labeling the Sentinel “fake news.”

“Have you attempted to patch things up with Sen. Scott?” 9News anchor Kyle Clark asked Jay Seaton, publisher of the Grand Junction Sentinel last night, prior to the streaming of a panel discussion on media issues streamed on Facebook. “You’re going to be covering him for years to come. There’s nothing to be gained by media outlets fighting with public officials like this.”

“The only valuable currency in the court system is truth, and so I would like to see how a court actually handles this kind of false allegation,” responded Seaton, insisting that he’s preparing to file a lawsuit against Scott for his claim that the Sentinel is “fake news.”

The panel, titled Getting to Truth in the Age of Alternative Facts, was held to mark “Sunshine Week,” which promotes openness in government. The event was organized by the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, and it was hosted by 9News.

Panelists offered varied takes on fake-news issue, ranging from, “It’s all in the eye of the beholder,” according to State Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), to, “It’s become incredibly cliche; it’s an easy way out for people to attack us,” according to Denver7 investigator Tony Kovaleski.

In its online description of the panelists, 9News pointed out that Neville “recently posted an article that that was found to be 100% false by Snopes.com.”

“Politicians know how to weaponize [fake news] against us,” said Corey Hutchins, a reporter with the Colorado Independent, a progressive news site. “That’s what we’re seeing. The new problem is, it’s being weaponized by politicians against the media.”

Libertarian writer Ari Armstrong, also on the panel, argued that it’s inevitable that journalists will make mistakes, and he’s troubled when folks conflate “actual fake news, people intending to mislead their readers, with reputable newspapers.”

“What I want to strive to do is, yes, point it out when I think journalists get it wrong, but be quicker to applaud all those times when they do a great job, which is most of the time,” said Armstrong.

Also on the panel was Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute in Tampa Florida, Linda Shapley, managing editor of The Denver Post, Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch, Anastasiya Bolton, a reporter at 9NEWS.

Watch the entire panel discussion here. You’ll definitely enjoy it.

 

 

Are Colorado Republicans really guaranteeing that people who have health insurance now will continue to have it under an Obamacare replacement?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Last week, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) if he could guarantee to his constituents that they’d “have coverage if you have it now.”

“The answer to that is no, right?” asked Hayes.

“Yes,” replied Sanford. “The answer is, we don’t know with precision.”

Colorado Republicans need to be asked the same question, because over the past months they’ve repeatedly implied that no one will lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed. But am I hearing them right? Is this a promise?

For example, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) stated KOA 850-AM Feb. 17, “And let me just say, nothing will be repealed unless it’s concurrently replaced.”

If nothing means nothing, then no one will lose their health care coverage, at a minimum, much less all the other benefits of Obamacare (e.g., coverage for under-26 family members, pre-existing conditions, no caps on coverage).

Coffman’s office sort of confirmed his stance to 9News this week.

9News: Coffman’s office told us he wants to keep the changes Obamacare made for pre-existing conditions, the ability for parents to keep children on their plans until age 26, and maintaining coverage for people who gained it under the ACA—including the Medicaid expansion, which has been criticized by some of Coffman’s fellow Republicans.

But that’s a aspiration, not a promise, and Coffman’s constituents want to know if Coffman would vote for a still-unkown Obamacare replacement that would throw people off the health insurance rolls.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) expressed the same promise in the form of an aspiration, as he likes to do when dealing with a tough question.

Gardner: “What we have to do is create a bipartisan health care plan, health insurance plan, to make sure that we can do better than Obamacare,” said Gardner on KOA 850-AM Jan. 13.

Is he saying his constituents won’t lose their insurance? I think so, but he needs to be asked point blank–and repeatedly, because that’s often what it takes with Gardner (e.g., Will he vote for Trump? And will he hold a town hall? And what about the federal personhood amendment?)

In some communications, Colorado Republicans are stopping short of promising that their constituents won’t lose their health insurance, but they’re guaranteeing that elements of Obamacare won’t be lost.

“…[U]nder the Republican replacement plans, no individual with a pre-existing condition will be denied insurance coverage or see their rates spike,” wrote Congressman Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn, and Scott Tipton in The Denver Post Jan. 13.

That’s a serious promise.

But the larger question remains. What exactly are you saying? Will you vote for a bill that doesn’t guarantee health insurance for all Americans who have it under Obamacare? If not, how many are you willing to throw off the rolls or put at risk of losing their coverage?

Post opinion column should inspire more aggressive reporting on Medicaid

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Reporters covering the Medicaid debate at the Capitol should read Denver Post opinion writer Megan Schrader’s column today and act on it.

Schrader: “It’s simply disingenuous to imply that there are easy cuts to be made in the Medicaid portion of the budget, or to blame the state budget’s woes on the expansion pushed by Obama and adopted by Gov. John Hickenlooper.”

Translation for reporters: When Republican leaders blame Medicaid for state budget woes, reporters should ask them how they want to cut the state-federal program, which offers healthcare for children, elderly, the disabled, and other poor people.

Last year, Republicans, led by then State Senator Bill Cadman repeatedly claimed Medicaid was siphoning money from “every other program” in the state budget, including roads and schools.

Cadman told 9News: “[Democrats] have ignored the needs and demands of about five million people to specifically support one program, and it cannibalizes every other program. They’ve ignored the Constitution and put K-12 money into this program. I mean, they’ve ignored the roads, and put money into this program.

But in an epic fail, journalists never reported how Cadman or other Republicans proposed cutting Medicaid or saving money on the program through higher fees or the like. They reported the attack on the program but let the details slide by.

In her column, Schrader encourages Democrats and Republicans to try to find savings, and she acknowledges the difficulty in talking about them–which is precisely why reporters should be asking for specifics, especially from Republicans, who, unlike Democrats, are arguing that Medicaid cuts are a major part of the path out of Colorado’s budget woes.

Another take-away for reporters from Schrader’s piece is to challenge Republicans when they blame Colorado’s budget problems on the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare.

Schrader wrote, “President Barack Obama’s proposed expansion has been funded entirely by federal dollars until this fiscal year, when the draw-down began and states started to pay a portion. In 2017-18, Colorado’s share, around 10 percent, will be funded by a small portion of a hospital user fee…. But that expansion is not hurting our general fund budget or causing the current fiscal crisis.

Last year, when Republicans blamed Obamacare for budget problems in Colorado, reporters did not explain often enough that this assertion is mostly, if not completely, false.

Overall, I’m hoping Schrader’s Post piece inspires more aggressive reporting on Medicaid, with reporters no longer tolerating muckety-muck Republicans blaming poor, sick, and disabled people for Colorado’s potholes–unless they explain, specifically, how they want to take tax money from the poor people and spend it on the potholes.

Journalism is about giving a voice to people who don’t have one. When bogus, talking-point-style attacks are launched at Medicaid, reporters should pretend they’re asking question for all those low-income people who aren’t in the room. I know that’s sort of pedantic and trite, but that’s what it’s about.

Advocacy journalism is expanding in Colorado. Can you trust it?

Monday, November 28th, 2016

While most people were asleep last week, the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reported Denver Post political reporter John Frank’s view, offered during a panel discussion Nov. 15, that partisan news seems to be expanding in Colorado.

The Colorado Statesman is run by a former Republican lawmaker, The Colorado Springs Gazette started a great new political experiment I’m super excited about but their lead writer on their new political vertical is a former Republican staffer,” he said. “I am very concerned about us moving toward that partisan side of news but I think there’s a reason we’re moving in that direction— it’s because I think that’s where the money is.”

Not only is the Statesman run by a former Republican lawmaker, it’s controlled by Larry Mizel, a major GOP donor and supporter of Trump. (What’s worse, Mizel and the Statesman are mum about who owns the newspaper.)

It’s pretty clear that Frank is right that advacacy journalism is expanding here.

The sad story of the demise of Colorado Health News, as told to me last year by the publication’s former editor, Diane Carman, reinforces the point.

“You step on everybody’s toes when you are an objective journalism organization,” said Carman, who was editor and founder of Health News Colorado. “Everybody got burned a little bit at some point, because we took the role of watchdog seriously. So, when you do that, it makes it really easy for people to say, ‘I’m not so sure we have the money for that this year.’ I never got the impression we were being censored. There was never an impression of that. But I do feel that if we had been willing to cross over into the advocacy world, that we would still be alive.”

It not hard to see that a news outlet of any kind, nonprofit of for-profit, that’s struggling financially is more likely to lower its journalistic standards in order to stay afloat. You don’t have to be much of a media critic to see it happening in Colorado and beyond.

At some point, news consumers will have to trust individual journalists, more than their publications. For example, I trust some reporters at the Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Statesman, even though the publications have mostly lost my confidence.

The same goes for advocacy jounalists and bloggers, who come clean about their orientation and/or their funding. Some of them I trust; others I don’t, based not on their claims to be accurate but on their work. Do they admit mistakes and make corrections? Do they respond to questions or have a by-line and contact information at all? Do they seek opposing views? You have to decide whether you trust these types of journalists (and, obviously, I’m one of them).

Panel discussion: Journalism and the 2016 election

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Share your love or hatred of political journalism by joining a panel of journalists and media observers Tuesday, Nov. 15, for a discussion of media coverage of the election, particularly in Colorado.

The panelists are:

  •  Lisa Cutter, former president, Denver Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America
  • Hope Elizabeth, Denver University’s Roosevelt Institute
  • John Frank, political reporter, The Denver Post
  • Greg Moore, former editor, The Denver Post
  • Marshall Zelinger, political reporter, Denver 7

It will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at The Denver Post auditorium, 101 West Colfax Ave., followed by further discussion, light appetizers, and cash bar at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Pl.

Paul Teske, Dean, University of Colorado Denver, School of Public Affairs, will make introductory comments.

Moderators Laura Carno, founder of I Am Created Equal, and yours truly are soliciting questions in advance of the event—and queries from the audience will be encouraged on Tues.

The event is free and open to the public but register via tapthevote2016.eventbrite.com

You can submit questions in advance to Laura Carno (lauracarno at gmail.com) or me (jason at bigmedia.org).

The event is part of a series of political forums that have taken place at The Denver Post and the Press Club this election season. Sponsors: Denver 7, Denver Press Club, Public Relations Society of America, Roosevelt Institute, and The Denver Post.

Best local journalism of the 2016 election season

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Here are my favorite election stories by local journalists:

Denver 7’s Marshall Zelinger of course gets the top prize in both the journalism and entertainment categories. His series of stories showing forged signatures on the ballot-access petitions of former GOP state Rep. Jon Keyser had a game-changing impact on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race and reflected everything you want from journalism, especially at a time when it’s going to the dogs. (Don’t miss your chance to see Zelinger’s Keyser interview again here.)

Without the state-senate campaign coverage by Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Independent and Ernest Luning and John Tomasic at the Colorado Statesman, we would’ve had little reporting—until the final weeks—on the key state senate races that will determine control of Colorado government. Other outlets weighed late, which is great, but these races were so pivotal and important to the entire state this year, they deserved the early and sustained focus they got only from the Statesman and the Independent.

Luning also exposed a Democratic state legislative candidate who basically made up his entire resume and was later defeated in his primary race. In a similar vein, Goodland’s piece revealing the potential jail time faced by state house candidate Tim Leonard also deserves high praise. So does former Post reporter Joey Bunch’s treatment of Darryl Glenn’s legal troubles as a young man.

Denver Post reporter John Frank’s series of inside-view articles on the revolt by Colorado Republicans against Trump at the GOP National Convention informed the national debate on the growing #NeverTrump and plain-old anti-Trump movement among Republicans.  (Frank’s prodigious output generally also deserves mention.)

The Denver media’s political-ad fact-checkers have my eternal admiration because their job is tedious and difficult but really valuable. So, a shout out to Denver 7’s Alan Gathright, The Denver Post, 9News’ Brandon Rittiman, and  CBS 4’s Shaun Boyd. Reporters, like the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby, who dip into this territory, deserve credit too.

She got ribbed by fellow reporters for burying the lede, but former CO Springs Gazette reporter Megan Schrader gets credit for reporting U.S. Senator Cory Gardner’s off-the-cuff comment that he planned to vote for Trump after all. The story generated national buzz and shows what’s lost as we shed campaign-trail journalism.

The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins’ story about anonymous campaign flyers may later play a role, in a small way, in a legislative fix that all sides would welcome.

I thought the debates moderated by 9News’ Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman were particularly informative.

It’s the little things that can make politics fun, so hats off to Molly Morrison at KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs for revealing that Trump was rescued by the Springs’ Fire Department after the head-strong mogul had insulted the Springs’ fire marshal. Nice.

Kudos to 9News‘ Rittiman and Denver’s 7‘s Zelinger for asking U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, after he released an ad critical of Trump in August, who he’d vote for. The fallout from his response—that Coffman would still consider voting for Trump or for the Libertarian candidate–got national coverage. And it t turned out to be a harbinger of Coffman’s troubles later, as he’s tried to both support and oppose Trump at the same time, ultimately opposing Trump. We all love it when journalists follow up beyond the canned statements and ads.

Finally, can you beat the editorials in the Aurora Sentinel? No. Even if you like U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), you still have to love the writing in the Sentinel’s endorsement of his Democratic opponent Morgan Carroll, as well as the fire in its other editorials on any political topic.

Post made the right move to dump manipulative online polls from editorial page

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Yay! The Denver Post is dumping its stupid, manipulative polls from the editorial page.

Editorial Page Editor Chuck Plunkett announced the decision in a column yesterday.

Plunkett: Overall, the problem that I see with the surveys is that the information they allow us to gather is such an untrustworthy representation of reality that any reporter who cited the results as credible in a story would, or at least should, be laughed out of the newsroom.

Any person who read them and decided to change their thinking based on the results would likely be disserved.

When I was on the politics desk, and answered calls about these polls, I couldn’t help but be honest and admit I didn’t think that we should be running them.

Plunkett acknowledged in his column that the polls were offered as click bait, adding a grain of sand to the newspaper’s attempt to shore up its resources. But they run counter to  the truth-seeking mission of The Post.

In the online world, newspapers have the competitive advantage of credibility. (Yes, they still have it!) They can push out light stuff or sports or entertainment or mayhem, but misinformation, which is basically what the online polls are, should be avoided at all costs.

Singleton rips Donald Trump

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

On KNUS over the weekend, former Denver Post owner Dean Singleton called Donald Trump “an intellectual nutcase” and a “demagogue,” who “never had a chance to win.”

“The problem for the country is, [Trump] is going to take the Senate with him…” said Singleton, who nevertheless stated on air he’s voting for his friend Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. “The Republicans are going to lose the Senate, for certain.”

Singleton said, “I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, because she’s the only competent person running.”

Denver Post likes Doug Lamborn again! But why?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

I haven’t seen U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn behave any better over the past two years than he has previously, but he’s apparently impressed The Denver Post, which endorsed him yesterday, after eloquently calling for his ouster last time.

The Denver Post in 2014:

Under the headline, “Oust Lamborn, restore dignity to Colorado’s 5th CD,” The Post wrote:

Rep. Doug Lamborn last month demonstrated yet again why he should do Coloradans a favor and find another job…Lamborn was at an event in Colorado Springs recently when someone asked him about support for the military “despite the fact that there is no leadership from the Muslim Brotherhood in the White House.” At which point, Lamborn launched into an astonishing statement.

“You know what,” he said, “I can’t add anything to that, but … a lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation. Let’s have a public resignation, state your protest, and go out in a blaze of glory.’ ”

We don’t know what part of that response is more outrageous.

Is it the fact that Lamborn failed to rebuke — or distance himself — from someone who effectively called the president an agent of a foreign Islamist group? Rather than evince concern, Lamborn actually smiled and said, “I can’t add anything to that.” Or is the most distressing part his urging generals to politicize serious disagreements they might have with the president by taking them public in flamboyant resignations?

The Denver Post this year:

Doug Lamborn, who has served the 5th CD in the greater Colorado Springs area since 2006, has been the kind of conservative representative befitting of the district, and voters there have rewarded him in primary challenges. While we like more independent-minded representatives, this is a Republican you can count on if what you want is a reliable GOP vote.

This year’s endorsement not only fails to explain why Lamorn redeemed himself this year, but it articulates why The Post doesn’t like him–as opposed to why it’s endorsing him. Oh well.