Archive for the 'Denver Post' Category

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.

Key state senate race starting to get media attention but more is needed

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

With a few of our more bigger badder news outlets (CPR, Denver Post, Fox 31 Denver, and KMGH-TV Denver 7) finally getting around to covering Arvada’s state senate race, which is the most important contest this election, the simple point should be made: follow-up stories are needed.

The candidates, Republican Laura Woods and Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, aren’t being challenged sufficiently on their stances on the issues (See some of their positions, on abortion to guns, here) or on the politics of the race. Some outlets have returned to the races a few times in coverage, which is good, but more attention is required. Some of our state’s most prestigious news entities have essentially dropped the ball on the race.

I’m not saying Aurora’s congressional race, our ballot measures, or other races aren’t important too, but if political journalists want to help voters understand what’s at stake this election cycle, they should turn their attention repeatedly to Senate District 19—and, to a lesser extent, other key state senate races.

Here’s a video to emphasize the point.

Where the candidates in Colorado’s most important race stand on specific issues

Monday, October 24th, 2016

In a welcome Denver Post piece Sunday about the most important election contests in Colorado—the under-the-radar races that will likely determine if Democrats take control of the state senate—State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada/Westminster) is referred to as “one of the most conservative lawmakers in the chamber.”

The Post article links to Post reporter John Frank’s detailed analysis of legislative votes showing how Woods, during her first year in office, voted with seven other GOP state senators on the far right fringe of the GOP, mirroring the marginalized votes of extreme Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

The linked article matters a lot, because Woods faces Democrat Rachel Zenzinger in an Arvada/Westminster race that’s a tossup going into the final two weeks, so voters should know what’s what with these two candidates.

Here’s a few more details on the candidates stands, retrieved from various sources.

Abortion

Woods wants to pass a personhood abortion ban, making all abortion illegal, even after rape or incest.

Zenzinger is pro-choice, favoring the option of abortion for women.

Guns

Woods opposes criminal background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and elsewhere, and she wants citizens to be allowed to openly carry a gun in public.

Zenzinger backs laws requiring criminal background checks prior to gun purchases, and she opposes open carry.

Education

Woods backs vouchers, allowing parents to use public tax dollars to pay for private schools for their kids. (And Woods has been endorsed backed by ousted Jeffco school board member Julie Williams.)

Zenzinger opposes vouchers.

Planned Parenthood

Woods proposes de-funding Planned Parenthood, forcing the organization to turn away about 1,000 patients in Arvada.

Zenzinger supports federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Teen pregnancy

Woods voted against a successful teen-pregnancy prevention program.

Zenzinger backs the teen pregnancy prevention measure.

Same-sex marriage.

Woods opposes same-sex marriage.

Zenzinger supports it.

 

Post could improve its editorial page by criticizing Coffman more often

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

“Good for Mike Coffman.” That’s the first line of an August Denver Post editorial, and, as it turns out, an excellent summation of the The Post editorial page’s singular stance toward Coffman over many years.

I just finished reviewing five years of Post editorials mentioning Coffman, and, of the 43 editorials citing the Aurora Republican Congressman during that period, including two endorsements, he’s been criticized only four times, while being praised in 34 editorials. The newspaper has lauded him mostly on issues related to the Veterans Administation but also on immigration, Selective Service, Afghanistan, marijuana, the federal budget, and more.

Yet, during these five years, Coffman has run seriously afoul with the broad positions/principles taken by The Post: on Planned Parenthood (Coffman voted twice to defund just last year, after putting the organization’s logo in a campaign ad the previous year.) and on immigration (Coffman opposed a 2013 bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, and he reiterated his opposition to birthright citizenship, even stating so in an interview with a Post editorial writer.).

In 2013, Coffman threatened to shut down the government instead of raising the debt ceiling. Nothing from The Post. And nothing from The Post when Coffman belittled global-warming science in 2013.

The Post was silent in 2012 when Coffman said Obama was not an American “in his heart,” and Coffman strangely told 9News’ Kyle Clark five times:  “I stand by my statement that I misspoke, and I apologize.”

Coffman’s positions over many years have been at odds with stances The Post has taken. But the newspaper has been mostly silent.

To be fair, a more cursory analysis shows that The Post doesn’t criticize U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet much either, and he was also endorsed by The Post.

The difference? Bennet’s policy positions, on the issues mentioned above and others, align very closely with The Post’s, while Coffman’s do not.

You can’t blame Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett for much of this, since he took over the job exactly three months ago, but I called him anyway for his take on whether the newspaper deliberately refrains from criticizing Coffman, even when his positions clash with the newspaper’s editorial views.

“I think this is an election year stunt, not a genuine analysis,” he told me, arguing that there was no news hook for my blog post and I was not focusing on The Post’s treatment of other elected officials. “You’re picking Mike Coffman, when Morgan Carroll is struggling. Why is that? It looks like you’re trying to aid Morgan more than you are legitimately trying to critique an institution.”

I explained to Plunkett that as a progressive media critic, I look for instances where news outlets tilt rightward. That’s my bias, and with the election coming up, now is a valid time to analyze The Post’s editorial-page approach to Coffman, which I found inexplicable.

“As a journalist, I think trying to analyze a newspaper’s position over time is very tricky, especially if you only look at one particular angle,” Plunkett told me. “There are all kinds of things that go into thinking about an editorial or an endorsement or what have you.”

“You’re right,” Plunkett acknowledged, “when a newspaper endorses someone, that same board is going to be, understandably, more protective of that person.”

“But one the things I like about our business is, we don’t make friends and we don’t make promises,” he said. “And if someone crosses us, or crosses what we believe is a reasonable line, we call them on it.”

I told Plunkett that he was making my point exactly, that The Post should have been more critical of Coffman over these five years, even if the newspaper endorsed him.

“That’s where you’ve got me in a rough spot, because I wasn’t on the board over the past five years,” Plunkett responded. “I had absolutely zero influence on those pieces.”

I told Plunkett that I understood, and would make it clear I wasn’t blaming him for The Post’s love affair with Mike Coffman. Why would I blame Plunkett? In fact, the pattern even goes back further than the tenure of former editorial page editor Vincent Carroll.

I’m hoping this changes. It’s bad editorial writing. The Post is missing an opportunity to influence Coffman and advance the issues the newspaper cares about.

Why act as a PR mouthpiece for a Congressman, ignoring his faults and blunders, even if you’ve endorsed him? That’s my point.

 

More bad journalism news with a silver lining

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Local journalist Corey Hutchins reports in his “Colorado Local News and Media” newsletter (subscribe here) on the recent upsurge in ongoing shifts among Colorado political reporters:

“…Denver Post political reporter Joey Bunch announced he was leaving to join The Gazette in Colorado Springs, which is beefing up its statewide political profile. But then, Gazette political reporter Megan Schrader announced she was leaving The Gazette to join The Denver Post’s editorial board. This comes after Jim Trotter’s recent move from Rocky Mountain PBS to The Gazette, and Woody Paige also leaving The Denver Post for the Colorado Springs paper.

If that wasn’t enough, The Colorado Statesman, a POLITICO-like subscription-based trade journal, effectively laid off its editorial department— just 50 days out from the election. I’m told the paper slashed half its budget. Some of the writers will still write, but on a freelance basis, and they’ll focus more on the weekly print paper than on the website, which was frequently updated. Also on the cutting room floor in Colorado: four people at BizWest Media’s Fort Collins and Boulder offices got laid off and the publication will shift to a monthly print schedule.

Whew, head spinning? Let this stop you. Former Denver Post journalist Tina Griego has returned to Colorado after four years on the East Coast, and is now an editor at The Colorado Independent. Check out her first essay about the new, gentrified, displaced Denver she found upon her return.”

No one in their right mind likes Republican Larry Mizel’s “secret” ownership of the Statesman, but cutting veteran news reporters there is obviously bad and sad.

Usually bad journalism news has no silver lining, but this time the good news is Schader’s and Trotter’s moves and Griego’s return. Also, Post Editor Lee Ann Colaciappo informs me that the newspaper is advertising for a political writer and hopes to fill Bunch’s position soon. So let’s be thankful for that.

CORRECTION: An early version of this post incorrectly stated that The Post’s staff of political writers would be shrinking further due to Bunch’s departure. 

Glenn’s baseless attack on The Denver Post

Monday, August 29th, 2016

The days when journalists wouldn’t respond to officials who insult them, lie about them, degrade them, or otherwise slam their professionalism are fading.

Case in point: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Darryll Glenn’s ridiculous attacks on The Denver Post.

Glenn said last week he would no longer talk to The Post, explaining on KFKA radio that the newspaper had called him a “liar” and journalists there had become “advocates,” which he finds “totally unacceptable.”

Rather than ignore the unsupportable attack, The Post’s Joey Bunch responded on Twitter:

Bunch: I applied facts to his words until he, not I, said his words were not correct.” [here]

The Post’s John Frank then reported over the weekend:

Glenn did not explain why he is blacklisting Colorado’s largest newspaper, but in an interview Thursday with KFKA talk radio, he appeared to link his decision to the Post’s coverage of his conflicting explanations of a 1983 charge for third-degree assault, which was later dropped…

The coverage of the incident did not call him “a liar.” A campaign spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions Friday…

Glenn’s decision — which drew criticism from Republicans and Democrats — and other missteps are disturbing to GOP strategists in Colorado, but many still hope he can regain his footing.

The correction of Glenn is good, but I’d like to see journalist call out officials whenever they attack the press, even if they do so in sweeping terms, like leveling bogus accusations of “liberal media bias.”

This year, GOP Senate President Bill Cadman did so and slid by. U.S. Senator Cory Gardner did it a few times in recent years, with no response from the media.

Glenn also appears to have had a Mike-Coffman moment, when he repeated the same line over and over. Local reporters have been good at spotlighting this behavior. (See this video.)

“My press secretary back there will handle all Denver Post questions,” Glenn told Frank four times when questioned.

You recall, Coffman infamously wondered in 2012 whether Obama is an American, and then he offer a sedcripted and unapologitic apology to 9News Kyle Clark five times in a row.

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.”