Archive for the 'Fox 31 Denver' Category

Under-the-radar race gets TV coverage because… it’s so important

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

If you’re paying attention to politics in Colorado, you know that few people have any clue about the most important political contest in the state: the state senate race in Arvada/Westminster, where Republican Laura Woods is battling Democrat Rachel Zenzinger.

But the importance of the race apparently isn’t a good enough news hook for many reporters to give it the coverage it deserves, which is a lot.

So Fox 31 Denver’s Joe St. George gets our collective thanks for assembling a TV story about, as he labeled it, the state senate race in Arvada that could be “the most important race you’re not watching.” That was his hook! How great is that?

“At first glance this race doesn’t look very important,” says St. George in his piece, showing Woods and Zenzinger knocking on doors. “…the most important race you likely haven’t talked about….if Zenzinger wins this re-match, Dems may be in complete control [of state government]….

“While this race dominates the headlines,” narrates St. George, flashing images of Clinton and Trump. “This one in Arvada may end up impacting your life more come next year.”

Political insiders know this, yet coverage of the state’s most important race remains spotty (unless you get behind the paywall of the Colorado Statesman–or read the Colorado Independent), so few people know about it, much less where the candidates stand on the issues. St. George provided a bit of this info on the KDVR Fox 31 Denver website, listing, among others, these comparisons of the two candidates.

St. George reported:

In terms of the issues:

Abortion
Woods: Pro-life
Zenzinger: Pro-choice

Gun control
Woods: Against
Zenzinger: Supports common sense measures

Minimum wage increase
Woods: Against
Zenzinger: Supports

(For background, Woods is against all abortion, even for rape and incest, and, on guns, she’s against all criminal background checks prior to gun purchases.)

As we get closer to the election, more reporters will almost certainly inform voters just how important this race is. Good to see St. George leading the way.

Thanks to journalists who refuse to take the same non-answer for an answer

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Journalists take a lot of hits these days, but we’re all glad they’re out there asking questions.

The final days of the Republican senatorial primary give us an opportunity to thank journalists for asking candidates a question multipile times when the question isn’t answered.

This primary season, we added interviews with former State Rep. Jon Keyser to BigMedia’s video of reporters who refuse to take the same non-answer for a real answer. (The video also includes interviews with Rep. Mike Coffman and Sen. Cory Gardner. Tip of the hat to, among others, 9News’ Kyle Clark and Brandon Rittiman, former Fox 31’s Eli Stokols, and New7’s Marshall Zelinger and Marc Stewart.)

Fox 31 Denver fills Stokols’ political reporter position

Monday, January 25th, 2016

In the nine long months after political reporter Eli Stokols left Fox 31 Denver, it looked like the local TV station’s surprising reputation as a go-to source for political news, cultivated by over a decade of obsessive work by Stokols, was going to be completely lost.

Serious politics coverage at Fox 31 essentially vanished overnight. It was an unbelievable fall, and depressing. (Not to say Fox 31 didn’t have some good pieces and journalists, but the unfilled hole was huge.) But on the positive side, it showed the impact one talented reporter can have on a news outlet, especially a TV station, and on an entire state.

That’s why it’s great that Fox 31 has hired a reporter, Joe St. George, to take over Stokols’ political beat, showing that the station’s commitment to politics coverage didn’t start and stop with Stokols–as can be the case at local TV outlets.

Joe St. George arrived at the station last month after covering politics in Virginia for over three years and, before that, for a stint in Iowa. So he’s got nothing comparable to Stokols’ experience, but he seems to be hard-working and, jeez, all of the people of Colorado are glad to see him given the chance, though they don’t know it.

“Joe’s passion is in political reporting,” said Fox 31 News Director Holly Gauntt.  “He did a lot of good political reporting at his former station and has a good reputation there. It’s rare. He’s one of those guys who breathes, eats, lives, sleeps politics, so I snatched him up as soon as I found out about him.”

Gauntt says it will be tough for St. George to replace Stokols, whom she described as “the best political reporter in the state. (It’s true St. George is no Eli Stokols, but he’s closer to Stokols than Dan Quayle was to Jack Kennedy.)

St. George’s “number one priority” will be politics, including, eventually, the type of in-the-weeds blogging produced by Stokols. St. George will do that once he develops the contacts and knowledge required, said Gauntt

“I think politics is hugely important,” said Gauntt in response to my saying that Fox 31 deserves a ton of credit for hiring a new political reporter and giving Stokols the space to focus on politics when he was here–because many local TV outlets don’t have any political reporters at all. “Some of it’s not for broadcast. You can’t get too far into the weeds, but that’s the beauty of websites and blogs and all of that.”

For his part, St. George says he’s “very lucky” to be covering politics for a local TV station in his third swing state.

“I would never have left Virginia if I didn’t have an equally exciting opportunity to cover politics in a state like Colorado,” he said.

St. George has “followed Eli’s work for years” and hopes to work on multiple platforms like Stokols did.

“While not every politics story is a great TV story, it has a place online if it doesn’t have a place on television,” said St. George, who hopes to start blogging soon. “I consider myself not just a TV journalist but a multi-screen journalist.”

Stokols hoped his former station wouldn’t drop serious political reporting after his departure.

“I’m glad to see that Fox31 remains committed to covering Colorado politics and policy debates in its newscast and across additional platforms,” wrote Stokols when asked for a comment about St. George’s hire. “I look forward to following Joe’s coverage from afar.”

Toward the end of his run in Denver, Stokols started an interview show that aired some of the most dramatic TV news video of the 2014 election in Colorado. Gauntt has no immediate plans to launch such a show (which would compete with interview-type shows aired by local TV news competitors 9News and, now, Channel 7). But she’s open to the possibility down the road, she said.

9News shows other Denver TV stations how to air a successful political interview show

Friday, October 16th, 2015

9News, Colorado’s NBC affiliate, is showing the world (Or, let’s hope, at least other Denver TV stations) how to air a longish-form political interview show–and make it interesting and important in the new media landscape.

This week’s interview with Hillary Clinton, which will be aired Sunday on the program, called Balance of Power, shows how it’s done.

The show’s primary host, Brandon Rittiman, landed the interview, he says, in part because having a regular public affairs show “makes us a better sell to get these interviews.”

Rittiman: “They decided that they wanted to do some local affiliates after the debate, and out of the blue sky, after talking to their people back and forth for a long time, they called… We have this hole, this home, for content. It makes us a better sell to get these interviews… It takes a lot of time and effort to put together a regular show on politics and public affairs. And there stations that don’t want to make that resource commitment, because it’s difficult. But it does have its rewards. We got news content yesterday that we might not have gotten otherwise.”

9News rushed the entire interview online, to get maximum love from the 24-hour news cycle, with Rittiman, who’s 9News’ political reporter, pushing it out on social media. And the station aired some of the Rittiman’s questions, which mostly had Colorado connections, on various newscasts. On Sunday morning, the interview will air in its regular 15-minute Balance-of-Power slot on 9News prior to “Meet the Press.”

Rittiman: If you turn on your TV to 9News and you watch a newscast, you’ll get great information, but that’s not the same as having it out in the longer form conversation. It’s not the same as giving a Colorado voice to the presidential election. The two are symbiotic. We get good content for newscasts out of Balance of Power, and Balance of Power gives people a great place to go beyond the soundbite type story.

And it’s clear that long-form TV interview shows, like Balance of Power, are more than just junk food for the political chatter class. They make a difference in the policy debate and in elections, as was demonstrated last year and continues to be evident. In the shrinking media universe, with tightly controlled campaigns, they can actually affect elections and policy.

And simply having a regular political interview show helps a TV station from forgetting about politics in the midst of exciting storms and animal sightings.

Unfortunately, Balance of Power is the only local political TV interview show that remains standing in Denver. Fox 31’s excellent “#CoPolitics at the Source” died with the departure of Eli Stokols. Aaron Harbor’s locally-themed shows usually appear only around election time. And Channel 6’s “Colorado State of Mind” most often focuses on policy not policymakers and candidates. Channel 12’s Colorado Inside Out talks about, not with, public officials and newsmakers.

Rittiman says 9News is committed to airing Balance of Power at least through next year’s election, and points to its regular Sunday time slot as proof of this. Until earlier this year, it was a here-and-there kind of feature. The show is promoted on air on 9News regularly, which is key, and it’s featured on the station’s website.

You might laugh at calling Balance of Power’s 10-15 minute interviews “long form,” but, hey, that’s what it is compared to what’s out there today. As Rittiman says, you can go “well beyond soundbites” in 15 minutes.

And, mostly, it’s hard to argue that anything longer than 15 minutes has much interest to people beyond the chatter class.

“How many people will watch a half-hour discussion about a local or state-level political issue? If people aren’t watching it, did we really help the community that much?” asks Rittiman. “Did it really help voters that much? I would argue that it doesn’t, if you’re not reaching a substantial audience.”

You can make a good case that any interview on the record is important, even with no audience, but Nielsen ratings from February, which was the last month of Stokols’ Fox 31 interview program, show Balance of Power being watched on over 4 percent of Denver TVs, which is impressive. It eclipsed Stokols’ show. Harbor’s program showed no audience at all, which makes me feel like an alien because I watched it sometimes.

“I don’t know if it’s Donald Trump. I don’t know what it is, but I’m getting the sense that politics is beginning to have a bit of a renaissance on TV,” says Rittiman. “Maybe because the presidential race is turning into a quasi-TV reality show. I don’t know.”

“If you put in the work to understand the issues, and the processes involved, and to convert it all into English that people can digest and use to grasp the arguments, you connect with people,” says Rittiman. “And we’ve proved it here at 9News. People want this stuff.

“I don’t think there’s anyone sitting at home who thinks, ‘Oh, you know, I don’t care about the way the world is run.’ As an industry, we think, ‘This is complicated. We have to hand hold people to help them understand this.’ Hand holding pays off. That’s all I would say to that. And people are grateful for it.”

 

Trump comment should put media spotlight on Coffman’s position on raising debt limit

Friday, August 28th, 2015

The Donald, whose trick to political success is never playing defense, continued his offensive stance (pun intended) this week telling Bloomberg TV that congressional Republicans should fight to stop an increase in the debt limit.

And in doing so, The Donald sounded almost exactly like … Rep. Mike Coffman.

You may recall that the last time Republicans fought an increase in the debt limit, the economy teetered and America’s credit rating was actually factually downgraded by Standard and Poor’s for the first time, mostly because of the political sparring, not the state of our economy.

But no mention of these little problems by Trump and Coffman:

First, The Donald this week:

Presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday said he thought it was “worth the fight” for congressional Republicans to threaten not to raise the U.S. debt limit as a way to pressure the Obama administration to agree to spending cuts.

“I would say that it’s worth the fight,” Trump said on Bloomberg TV. “Honestly there is so much fat in Washington that if you had the right people in there you could cut it.”

Next Coffman in 2013, as reported by Fox 31’s Denver’s Eli Stokols at the time:

But Republicans, having agreed to put off decisions about spending cuts, now view the looming debt ceiling as leverage — and they’re promising to use it….

Coffman: “I don’t think going over the fiscal cliff would have been a huge deal. Temporarily, the markets would have been aggravated until the next Congress could have passed new tax cuts and ironed things out.

“But the real big deal is what’s upon us and going past the debt limit. I have to see a way out of this, real spending cuts, before I vote to raise the debt limit.”

Sounds a lot like Trump, doesn’t he? So did Sen. Cory Gardner.

As I reported before, the two sound a lot alike on immigration (here and here) as well.

I know reporters don’t have time to hook every national political development to our humble locale. But they should give it their best shot, because the stakes are so high.

Republicans and Democrats increased the debt limit over 100 times (Bush and Reagan did it) until 2011, when disaster struck.

Trump gives us a chance to air the issue out again, in advance of the crisis and in front of the public.

.

Reporters need to hold Gardner accountable on his birth-control promise

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Yesterday, Senate Democrats, including Colorado’s Michael Bennet, introduced a bill that Sen. Cory Gardner should have co-sponsored as well–at least if you believe what Gardner said during last year’s campaign.

Last year, Gardner repeatedly told reporters that oral contraception should be available over the counter — and be covered by insurance policies.

In one one exchange, Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols specifically challenged Gardner to explain how his proposal for over-the-counter birth control could be less expensive than what’s offered to women under Obamacare, which requires insurance companies to provide birth control for free

Stokols: You say it’s cheaper… Politifact says that’s ‘mostly false,’ that under the Affordable Care Act, two-thirds of women get their birth control for free.

Gardner: Well, they’d still be able to find an insurance policy and use their insurance to pay for it. That’s why we need to fix Obamacare.

That’s what the bill introduced by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington would do. It would not only make FDA-approved contraception available over the counter but mandate insurance companies to pay for it, like they’re required to do now.

But Gardner’s bill, introduced last month, simply allows FDA-approved contraception to be sold over the counter–without requiring insurance plans to cover it. Insurance companies could decide to cover the pill out of their love for women. But not likely.

Or, under Gardner’s bill, women could use health savings accounts and flex accounts, if they have them, to buy contraception. But those are savings accounts, set up voluntarily by individuals!  They are not the insurance promised by Gardner repeatedly.

Reporters need to go beyond allowing Gardner to write off these real-life concerns as partisan politics.

As Gardner told The Denver Post yesterday: “It’s unfortunate they have decided to bring partisanship to an issue that could have brought support on Capitol Hill but we are pleased they are following our lead.”

The substantive differences between what Gardner advocated on the campaign trail and what he’s offering women now should be spotlighted by reporters who allegedly love to hold elected officials accountable.

A comparison o f Murray’s birth-control bill versus Gardner’s tells you all you need to know about Gardner’s broken campaign promises.

 

Reporters should find out why Gardner didn’t deliver on his promised legislation to “fix Obamacare” and require insurance companies to pay for over-the-counter birth control

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Last year, then U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner had a nice-sounding proposal: offer birth control over the counter, easy and quick.

But… more expensive, journalists pointed out, because under Obamacare, birth control prescribed by doctors is free. Insurance companies are required to cover it.

Not to worry, replied Gardner. He promised to fix an “obscure provision” in Obamacare and require insurance companies to pay for over-the-counter birth control.

Women should “still be able to find an insurance policy and use their insurance to pay for it,” Gardner told Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols Sept. 28 (at 15 seconds in the video).  “That’s why we need to fix Obamacare.”

Women “will have an insurance policy that covers it,” Gardner promised a skeptical Stokols.

“We should change Obamacare to make sure that insurance can reimburse for that over-the-counter contraceptive purchase,” Gardner told reporter Lynn Bartels (at 50 seconds in the video) during The Denver Post debate against Democrat Mark Udall. Gardner even attacked Democrats, telling the Denver Post during the campaign: “If Democrats are serious about making oral contraception affordable and accessible,” Gardner wrote, “we can reverse that technical provision [in Obamacare].”

Once elected, however, Gardner didn’t deliver on his promise. He introduced a bill that simply offers incentives to drug companies to gain FDA approval to sell contraception over the counter.

Nothing in the bill mandates that insurance companies would be required to cover birth control that’s sold over the counter. Instead, the bill allows Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts to be used to purchase over-the-counter medications. Those are savings accounts, with tax advantages, that individuals can set up. That’s not anything like insurance coverage.

News coverage of Gardner’s OTC bill has noted that women’s health groups, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have condemned the freshman senator’s proposal as insufficient and expensive for women. Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado’s statement that the bill is a “sham” has been duly noted.

But reporters have yet to spotlight the fact that Gardner did not deliver on the pledge he made during the campaign. The question is, why? Was he lying? Did he change his mind? Did he determine that his original promise was unworkable?

Reporters should find out.

Partial transcript of Sept. 28 Fox 31 interview with Cory Gardner:

Gardner (@ 15 seconds): We ought to talk about access. We ought to increase access to oral contraception. We ought to make it easier, 24-hours-a-day, around the clock availability. That’s why I’ve supported making it available over-the-counter without a prescription. We need to change the provision of Obamacare that would prohibit insurance to be paying for it. That’s an obscure provision. Those are the things we can do to make it easier to access.

Stokols: You say it’s cheaper that way. Politifact says that’s mostly false, that under the Affordable Care Act, two-thirds of women get their birth control for free.

Gardner: Well, they’d still be able to find an insurance policy and use their insurance to pay for it. That’s why we need to fix Obamacare.

Stokols: How though, if you repeal Obamacare, about 27 percent of women, I believe, actually use the pill. So you make the pill available over the counter. Still, about three out of four women use another form of birth control. If you repeal Obamacare, what happens to their coverage?

Gardner: They will have an insurance policy that covers it.

Exit interview: Leaving local TV news for Politico, Stokols looks forward to never being told, “That’s too inside baseball”

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Eli Stokols, who came to Denver as a general assignment reporter in 2005, is leaving KDVR Fox 31 Tuesday as one of the state’s top political reporters. He also became a Fox 31 anchor, launched his own public-policy TV show, and wrote nonstop on multiple platforms.

I had coffee with Stokols, and we talked about his ten-year run in Denver and his future job at Politico in Washington DC. Here’s an edited version of our conversation:

Why Politico?

Stokols: I’ve been looking for an opportunity to report on politics from a national platform. I don’t think that’s any secret. And, frankly, part of that is because in Colorado you get a taste of doing that, because every campaign here is nationalized. There is no shortage of great political stories to cover here, which helped me to broaden my work. You come to a point in your professional career when you need a different challenge. On some level, because I’d been here for so long and was considered one of the veterans, a lot of people come to you with information, and it gets easier. And you can find yourself not working as hard because stuff comes to you. Or you find yourself not as excited when the campaign cycle comes around because you’ve done a ton of them.

And what are you going to do there?

I’m going to cover 2016, mostly write about it. I imagine I’ll cover a lot of the presidential candidates early on.

On the trail?

Yeah. I’ll be traveling a lot. That’s going to be exciting. I’ve been joking with people. It’s about time someone gives up statehouse reporting and goes and covers the presidential race, because what America really needs is more reporters covering the presidential race. You understand going into it that it’s going be hard to come up with stories and angles, but it’s exciting. It’s probably a cliche, but if you’re a political reporter, and that’s what you’re interested in, the opportunity to cover a presidential race and be on the trail is a bucket list thing.

Speaking of the state legislature, will Fox 31 replace you?

The upshot is, this was never a position we had because management said we had to cover politics. I don’t know what they will do. [See CJR’s Corey Hutchins’ take on this here.] It’s disappointing. You get this opportunity, and then you leave. And you look at what you built. And I know [9News political reporter Adam Schrager] felt the same way when he left. You want it to continue. And so it’s bittersweet.

Here’s a sad question. You’ve established Fox 31 as a go-to source of local political news. Now you’re leaving, and you say you’d like to see things continue. But it doesn’t look like they’re going to. And there doesn’t seem to be any incentive for Fox to do it, in terms of ratings.

What I’ve done has never been about ratings. I think there needs to be more decisions made in local television that are not made based on ratings but are based on the greater good, the public good. And you get criticized for being a media elitist when you say this, but I will unabashedly say, as journalists, we have a responsibility to determine what the audience and the greater public really need to know about–and make fewer decisions in terms of what we do and don’t cover based on what we think they will like seeing on the news.

Bottom line, you don’t think that ratings will suffer with your departure?

No, I don’t.

What will happen to the station?

I really do think Fox 31 is moving in the right direction. The new news director, Holly Gaunt, is very smart, sees the big picture, sees things clearly within the market and within our newsroom. And [she] will continue that station’s upward trajectory. I think [Fox 31 anchor] Jeremy Hubbard is, I think, the best anchor in the market. There are a lot of talented people there. I think Fox 31 has a decision to make about what kind of footprint they make in terms of political coverage.

What’s it going to take to change viewer habits in Denver. You’ve busted your ass. Your station is very competent, but yet you’ve sat there at the bottom, or close to it. It has got to be frustrating.

I won’t say [9News] hasn’t done a lot to maintain [its top slot in the market] and earn that. Some of it is journalism. A lot of it is also branding and community involvement. They sponsor everything. They are a juggernaut, and it’s not just because of the news department. But they are less dominant than they were when I first got to the market. And there are opportunities to challenge them. At the CBA awards, it was Fox 31 and 9News that won most of the awards. They do a good job. A lot of stations do a good job, but changing viewer habits is sometimes as simple as finding that right anchor team and that chemistry. Channel 7’s morning show was killing it when they had Ana Cabrera on there. She is a special talent, and there’s a reason CNN said, “We want to take you.” And they did take her. And now their morning show is not the same. And it takes nothing away from other people who are on the morning show.

Something like that could flip it?

I think Jeremy Hubbard is that kind of talent. He’s very good. He’s only been back here in this role for a short time. There’s a real consistency with him.

There’s something really great about covering state and local politics. You get a personal interaction with people. You see them at the grocery store. You see that in DC too, but I never felt it was the same. What do you think you are going to miss about being here?

The relationships are the hardest thing to give up, because in a smaller market like this you really get a lot of access to people–except when it’s campaign season. [It is] amazing how people who are your best friends suddenly disappear during campaign season. It takes time to build something like I feel I have here in Colorado. And DC, it’s a bigger pond but there are a ton more fish in it too. There are too many journalists.

And more sharks, too.

I’m looking forward to being in a city, and writing for a publication, where there’s no question about whether people are interested in politics.

I know. I don’t blame you.

One of the most exciting things about going to Politico, and the reason I wanted to go there, is because, one, you don’t have the requirements of doing broadcast television that naturally, in some ways,degrade the depth of your journalism. They help you in some ways too.The Cory Gardner interview [during which Gardner repeatedly denied the purpose of a bill that Gardner co-sponsored] wouldn’t have been anything if it weren’t a televised interview. So it’s just different.

The big thing is, I will never be told by an editor there, “That’s too inside baseball; no one cares.” I won’t hear that. And I hear it almost every day and have for ten years. And that is one of the things that’s most exciting to me, is working for a political place like that.

And it’s true. It’s hard to get people to pay attention here. That’ll be fun.

 

Media omission: Klingenschmitt Compares Planned Parenthood to ISIS

Monday, March 9th, 2015

State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, who last year suggested that Rep. Jared Polis would “join ISIS in beheading Christians,” has said he’s “very proud” of South Dakota State Rep. Isaac Latterell, who wrote a blog post last month comparing Planned Parenthood the Islamic State.

“I am discerning the spirit of god on this state rep from South Dakota,” said Klingenschmitt in Tuesday’s edition of his online video series called Pray in Jesus’ Name, beginning at about the five minute mark below. “His name is Issac Latterell. And he is taking a stand to protect the innocent, and I am very proud of that.”

“Father, we ask your blessing, on South Dakota, on all of America, Father, that we would stand against terrorism in all its forms, stand against murder of innocents in all of its forms, that we would be consistent in our policy and stop funding the abortion business with American tax dollars,” he said later. “God, wake us up as a nation to stop the slaughter of innocents.”

As I reported for RH Reality Check this morning, the last time Klingenschmitt brought up ISIS, saying Polis wants “to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy,” Ryan Call denounced Klingenschmitt’s comments.

This, in turn, led Klingenschmitt, a Republican who goes by the name of “Dr. Chaps,” to say his remarks were “hyperbole” and that “some Democrats do not have a sense of humor.”

Ryan Call responded to Klingenschmitt’s comments about Polis by telling KDVR Fox 31 Denver, at the time:

Call: “Gordon, as I’ve said before, does not speak for the Colorado Republican Party. His views do not reflect my personal position or the position of the party.

“But this tired, ineffectual tactic of trying to brand all Republicans based on these comments — the Todd Akin approach — it’s not going to work this time around,” Call continued. “Voters are too sophisticated. They know that one legislative candidate in Colorado Springs doesn’t reflect the views of Bob Beauprez or Cory Gardner.”

Now Call is locked in a battle with businessman Steve House over who will be the next chair of the Colorado Republican Party, with a vote scheduled for Saturday.

Neither Ryan Call nor House has denounced Klingenschmitt’s comparison of Planned Parenthood to the Islamic State.

Klingenschmitt’s comments begin at about the five minute mark here:

 

Denver TV reporter goes too far in saying Obama “doesn’t like America” and has “contempt” and “disdain” for our country

Friday, February 27th, 2015

It’s obvious to me that journalists should no longer be expected not to express opinions, even on the topics they cover.

But, sometimes, if journalists have opinions that are so extreme, so rude or out-of-step with everyday sensibilities, they should refrain from expressing them. And if they do throw out such opinions, reporters should recuse themselves from covering anything related to their extreme/rude/bombastic utterances.

To my way of thinking, Fox 31 Denver reporter Julie Hayden’s repeated comments that Obama “doesn’t love,” doesn’t even “like America” and, in fact, has “disdain” and “contempt” for our country, fall into the extreme/rude/bombastic category. And Hayden shouldn’t be covering any story related to Obama, federal political issues, and, to be safe, any partisan political topic.

Hayden, who says she once voted for Obama and doesn’t cover the president, has been trashing him on her Saturday morning radio show, “Wake Up with Chuck and Julie,” which she co-hosts with hubby Chuck Bonniwell, on KNUS 170-AM.

On her radio show last Saturday, in the wake Rudy Giuliani’s comments that Obama doesn’t love America, Hayden even presided over a debate on the topic of whether Obama likes America, with Hayden and Bonniwell taking the side that he does not.

“To me, it just seemed so obvious he doesn’t like America, and, you know, I think has disdain for it and contempt,” said Hayden a typical comment (Listen below at 20:50).

Here’s another exchange:

Caller (at 9:40 minutes): It’s not only that he doesn’t love the country. I actually think that he hates it, that he does everything he can to undermine the country at every turn.

Bonniwell: You’re absolutely right.

Hayden: I don’t disagree with you.

Asked via email whether such extreme comments are appropriate for a journalist listed as a “reporter” at Fox 31 Denver, a major Denver news outlet with a five-star reputation for its political coverage (and not linked to the partisan Fox News Network), Hayden offered these thoughts:

Hayden: I believe, like many things “extreme” is in the eye of the beholder.  I do not consider my comment  that I did not think the President likes America to be “extreme”, any more than I consider someone else saying they believe the President loves America to be “extreme.”  I have also said on the radio program that it’s my opinion that Governor Hickenlooper has shown he cares about Colorado.  I don’t think that’s “extreme”, either.  I have also said on the program many times that I supported Hillary Clinton in 2008 and was very disappointed when she dropped out.  And that I voted for President Obama.  I don’t consider those “extreme” comments and I do not think they crossed any kind of journalistic line.

I respect your question and your opinion, but I do not think it crosses a journalistic line for me to express an opinion, one way or another on the President because I don’t cover the President in my television job.  We have been fortunate at Fox 31 Denver to have Eli Stokols as our political reporter and he does a great job.

It would be a different matter if I was a White House correspondent, but that’s not the case.

I would also like to point out that whenever I express an opinion I invite and welcome people with other opinions to comment, too.  In this case, I frequently mentioned that our friend Chuck completely disagrees with me.  I think it would be wrong as a journalist and a talk show host to make it seem like there was only one side to any issue. And whatever the topic, I think we do talk about all sides and take calls and comments from all sides.  We don’t screen out any calls.

I was glad that Hayden, who mostly covers crime and general interest topics, agrees with me that she shouldn’t cover Obama, but local TV news tends to swarm around the hot stories of the day.

So it’s no surprise that Hayden reported this story the day before the 2012 election on Romney-Obama voter turnout efforts. This piece looks fair to me, but what would Hayden’s next story about Obama look like? About immigration? About women? The environment? Net neutrality!

And lots of crime stories, the staple of TV news, connect to partisan politics.

“To me it’s very bad that we have a president that doesn’t like America,” said Hayden on air (at 12:20 below). Let’s hope she doesn’t use her journalism job to do something about it.