Archive for the 'Fox 31 Denver' Category

Watchdog reporting needed on Gardner

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Yesterday, Rep. Cory Gardner voted to halt Obama’s program to defer deportation of millions of immigrants who have children in our country.

Gardner voted in Aug. (during the election campaign) against halting Obama’s  program to defer deportations of young immigrants.

The two votes weren’t exactly identical, but they’re close enough to  make you wonder how Gardner reconciles the two. Yet, I can’t find a single reporter who asked him directly about the inconsistency.

Instead,  the Associated Press, Durango Herald, Fox 31 Denver, the Grand Junction Sentinel,  and The Denver Post all apparently relied on Gardner’s self-serving statement saying, in part, that “we owe it to generations past and generations to come to find a solution to our broken immigration system.”

It’s possible some reporters asked to speak with Gardner himself, but they didn’t report this. If so, they should have.

But it’s not too late to insist on talking to Gardner, if you’re a journalist who has access to him, to cover the basic journalistic function of calling out public officials on their inconsistencies between what’s done on the campaign trail and what happens in office.

A baby step in the right direction was provided during a Gardner interview Dec. 3 on SeriusXM’s new show, Yahoo! News on POTUS

Host Olivier Knox had the presence of mind to ask Gardner whether his “campaign talk” about making birth control pills available over the counter “can translate into legislative action.”

Gardner replied:

It needs to translate into policy action. The FDA has their approval process when it comes to prescription, over-the-counter move. I will certainly continue to support and urge, whether it’s legislative action. We’ve got to figure out the best policy option, the best way forward in making sure we have the continued fight for over-the-counter contraceptives, which I continue and will continue to support and push for. And so, we’ll be talking to the FDA and talking about how best to make that happen. It’s something Gov. Jindahl first proposed, ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, supported the move to over-the-counter contraceptions and it’s something we’ve got to encourage to happen here.

I give Knox credit here for asking the question, even though I’d have pressed Gardner to clarify his plan for implementation of a major campaign promise. Will he seek legislation if necessary? How long will he press the Administration? Etc.

Ditto for Gardner’s plan on immigration. If he’s against deferring deportations, then what’s he for? And how does it comport to his campaign promises?

I’m hoping we get this type of watch-dog attitude from reporters going forward on Gardner.

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.

Reporters continue to object to Gardner’s apparent personhood lie

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels wrote yesterday:

“Almost everyone but Congressman Gardner agrees that the federal bill is similar to state “personhood” measures that Coloradans overwhelmingly defeated and Gardner supported until just weeks after entering the Senate race in February.

More proof came the night before, when Gardner’s told 7News’ Marc Stewart  (at the 50-second mark here) that the federal personhood bill is an empty symbol, instead of the extreme anti-abortion bill that it is.

Stewart: But your name is still, though, on the personhood legislation, correct?

Gardner: Well, that’s just a statement that I support life.

Gardner’s apparent lie here completes a trifecta of false statements to Denver TV stations, including Fox 31, Channel 9, and now, Channel 7–in addition to all the other news outlets that have endured this falsehood and objected to it, rightfully, sometimes in the strongest possible terms.

 

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.

Reporters try but fail to get truth from Gardner on Federal “personhood” bill

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

In an article this morning, Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols reports that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner shifted last night from repeatedly saying to multiple reporters (as documented in the video above) that there is “no federal personhood bill” to saying, repeatedly, that it’s “simply a statement.”

Stokols writes:

“The federal act that you are referring to is simply a statement that I believe in life,” Gardner said when asked about the Life Begins at Conception Act by Lynn Bartels.

When Udall repeatedly went back to the issue, Gardner stuck to script, repeating his line that his co-sponsorship of the measure is “simply a statement that I support life.”

Gardner also attempted to separate the House Life at Conception Act, which he signed on as a co-sponsor to last summer, from the nearly identical Senate version, which he claimed not to have seen, and dismissed the notion, pushed by Udall’s campaign, that the legislation could result in banning some forms of birth control.

In countering this nonsense from Gardner, Stokols cites an appeal from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, explaining that “by legally defining that life begins at conception, — would simply bring the legal definition of “life” in line with the biological definition… in effect overturning Roe v. Wade.”

Here’s the audio of Paul’s brutally honest statement of support for the Life at Conception Act.

And here’s a transcript of Paul’s entire statement:

Hello. This is Senator Rand Paul. Will you help me in a bold and aggressive campaign to end abortion-on-demand– once and for all?

Since the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, nine unelected men and women on the Supreme Court have played got with innocent human life. They have invented laws that condemned more than 56 million babies to painful deaths without trial…merely for the crime of being “inconvenient.”

But the good news is Congress has the power to legislatively overturn Roe v. Wade and end all abortion-on-demand.

You see, when the Supreme Court invented the so-called “right” to an abortion, they left an opening for us in Congress to act on the question of when life begins. In Roe v. Wade, the Court ruled: We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins … the judiciary at this point in the development of man’s knowledge is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

The Court then admitted that if the personhood of an unborn baby is established, the right to abort, “collapses, for the fetus’ right to live is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Aendment …”

Now what the Court was saying, if you look through the all the legal mumbo jumbo, is that we in Congress have the POWER to legally define when life begins.

The same judges who wrote Roe v. Wade actually admitted this. Of course, science has long held that life begins at conception.

That’s why I’m cosponsoring the Life at Conception Act, which — by legally defining that life begins at conception, — would simply bring the legal definition of “life” in line with the biological definition… in effect overturning Roe v. Wade.

That’s why I hope I can count on you to sign special petitions for both your Senators and your Congressman. And, if at all possible, I hope I can count on you to make a generous contribution of $50 to the National Pro-Life Alliance’s campaign to pass a Life at Conception Act and overturn Roe v. Wade.

Your generous contribution of $50 or more will help pay for collecting petitions from up to one million Americans … and for briefing hundreds of newspaper columnists, editorial writers, and talk radio hosts. The fact is, with enough pressure from dedicated pro-lifers on Members of Congress from both parties, you and I can force every member elected as a pro-lifer to either end the slaughter now … or face angry voters back home.

I have to tell you from my perspective as a pro-lifer in Congress that every pro-lifer’s activism is essential in our fight against abortion-on-demand. But I have especially come to appreciate the members of National Pro-life Alliance. Their members nationwide are perhaps the most active and focused on the ultimate vision of eliminating abortion-on-demand — not just regulating it.

In fact, it is primarily because of National Pro-life Alliance members that the Life at Conception Act has an all-time record number of House and Senate sponsors. That’s why I hope you will go all out to support their efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade by passing a Life at Conception Act.

You see, their goal over the next 60 days is to add as many additional cosponsors as possible and then to force roll call votes in both the House and Senate.

Your generous contribution will then also help pay for hard-hitting radio, TV, and newspaper advertising which the National Pro-Life Alliance is committed to run in target states.

By forcing roll call votes, wavering politicians will have to either vote to protect the innocent — or face hundreds of thousands of angry voters back home. If you can help, just bring public opinion to bear on my colleagues in Congress, I’m convinced that we can get this bill to the forefront of the American debate — and ultimately outlaw abortion once and for all.

That’s why it’s vital you sign the petitions I mentioned at once. And please, make this massive advertising and petition drive possible by sending a special contribution to the National Pro-life Alliance.
[Please sign the petition below in support of the Life at Conception Act.]

Why did Gardner drop CO personhood initiatives but not the federal bill?

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I can’t shake this question out of my head. Why did senatorial candidate Cory Gardner drop the state personhood amendments but remain a co-sponsor of the federal personhood bill?

It would have been so easy for Gardner to uncosponsor the federal personhood bill. He’s even uncosponsored at least one bill before (not a personhood bill but still, an real-life bill!

Instead, he’s left saying, “There is no federal personhood bill,” and getting beat up for it by reporters (here and here) and Democrats alike. And rightfully so.

After months of wasteful thought, I offer you my best shot at explaining Gardner’s mysterious personhood hypocisy, as posted on The Denver Post’s website:

In contrast to state personhood ballot initiatives, the path to legislating personhood via re-defining “person” in the U.S. Constitution, like what’s mandated by the Life at Conception Act, is embraced by the national Republican Party platform. Also, 153 members of Congress, (132 in the House and 21 in the Senate) co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, along with Gardner. The Senate sponsor of the bill is Rand Paul, widely considered a leading GOP presidential contender.

If Gardner declared the federal personhood bill a well-intentioned mistake, like he did Colorado’s personhood amendments, he’d have abandoned the all those Members of Congress. He’d also be alienating powerful anti-abortion organizations and countless GOP activists. There’s a national movement built around the concept of enacting personhood via constitutional amendment. Not so much with state-based personhood initiatives.

It would be infinitely messier, politically, for Gardner to break ranks with backers of the federal personhood bill than from local pastors and churchgoers who’ve pushed Colorado’s personhood amendments and represent the ragged fringe of the national anti-abortion movement. And by parting ways with personhood in Colorado, Gardner could still try to polish his appeal to women, who will likely decide November’s election, while remaining friendly with the more powerful anti-abortion crowd. A perfect both-ways strategy.

All that’s speculation, I know, but what else can you do when Gardner’s own answer defies the facts?

Now the question is, will this work? Can Gardner win by repeating there-is-no-federal-personhood-bill? Or will a new crop of questions that should be asked by reporters force him articulate an actual factual explanation?

For anyone interviewing Gardner, here’s more details on what federal personhood bill would do

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols repeatedly tried to convince senatorial candidate Cory Gardner last week that there is such a thing as a federal personhood bill, and Gardner is a co-sponsor of it.

In so doing, Stokols cited Factcheck.org, which reported not only that the bill exists but that the Gardner campaign said Gardner signed it in an effort to ban abortion. Stokols also cited co-sponsors of the bill, who say it’s personhood legislation.

This didn’t dent Gardner, who continued, parrot-like, to say “There is no persnhood bill.”

Reporters going down this rabbit hole with Gardner in the future might like to know more details on what the Life at Conception Act would do, in addition to banning common forms of birth control, like Plan B and IUDs, if passed.

So I asked Lynn Paltrow, an accomplished attorney and executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, what she thought the Life at Conception Act would do. She confirmed that the bill is, in fact, a “personhood” bill.

“If it passed, it would be a federal law that makes the 14th Amendment applicable to the unborn,” Paltrow said.

“It arguably would create obligations on the federal government to protect equally the unborn by doing such things as outlawing abortion, even for rape and incest, outlawing in vitro fertilization, outlawing participation of pregnant women in drug trials that might be helpful to them but could create risks for the unborn,” said Paltrow, an attorney. “The only thing it does not permit is arresting women if there’s a death of an unborn child. But there is no prohibition against prosecuting doctors for murder—and there’s no prohibition against prosecuting pregnant women for other crimes.”

Paltrow continued: “For example, even if a woman seeks to maintain her pregnancy, a personhood law could be used to justify prosecuting a pregnant woman for risk of harm. The proposed law would do nothing to protect women from investigation, arrest, and prosecution under all the other mechanisms by which women are being arrested.”

What’s next for reporters covering Cory Gardner’s personhood hypocrisy?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols tried hard last week to extract an explanation from senatorial candidate Cory Gardner for his decision to withdraw from “personhood” legislation at the state level but, at the same time, to remain a co-sponsor of a federal personhood bill, which would ban all abortion, even for rape, and some forms of birth control.

So what else could a reporter ask Gardner at this point?

We know he thinks there’s “no federal personhood bill,” because he said it four times to Stokols and once previously to 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman.

So what does Gardner think the bill aims to do? If it’s not personhood, what is it?

Gardner discussed this question at least twice: Factcheck.org reported last month that “Gardner’s campaign says he backed the [state and federal] proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception.”

Later, contradicting this, Gardner told Rittiman that the “[Life at Conception Act] says life begins at conception.” Gardner’s spokespeople have said the same thing, saying it won’t ban contraception, but they did not mention abortion.

Abortion

Expanding on Factcheck.org’s article, reporters should discuss with Gardner the ramifications of his co-sponsorship of a personhood-style abortion ban. All abortion, even for rape and incest, would be banned. Thus, under the Life at Conception Act, a teenager raped by her father would not have the option of getting an abortion.

Contraception

Gardner has said the Life at Conception Act doesn’t ban contraception. In fact, he told Stokols, “I do not support legislation that would ban birth control. That’s crazy! I would not support that.”

Gardner did not waiver or offer further explanation, even after Stokols told him directly about one of  Factcheck.org’s conclusions: “Gardner says he has changed his mind and no longer supports the Colorado initiative, precisely because it could ban common forms of birth control. But he still backs a federal personhood bill, which contains the same language that would make a ban of some contraception a possibility.”

Reporters who question Gardner should avoid asking him about his position on “contraception” or “birth control” generally, because these words means different things to different people, as you can read here.

Instead, the question is, Does Gardner support specific types of contraception, like Plan B and IUDs. Plan B and IUDs could be banned under the Life at Conception Act because they threaten or destroy fertilized eggs (zygotes), which would gain full legal rights, the same ones you and I have, if the federal personhood bill became law.

In vitro fertilization

Factcheck.org pointed out that personhood measures, like the federal personhood bill, threaten “in vitro fertilization, which often involve creating more than one embryo in an effort to help a woman conceive — the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has been against personhood initiatives.” What’s Gardner’s stance on this issue, given his backing of the Life at Conception Act.

Plenty to ask.

So Stokols’ intense interview with Gardner leaves plenty of questions unanswered, and they go beyond the ones from Stokols that Gardner dodged or refused to answer factually.

You won’t fall asleep during this interview on a local public-affairs TV show

Monday, September 29th, 2014

In an explosive interview broadcast Sunday, Republican senatorial candidate Cory Gardner told Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols four times that a federal “personhood” bill does not exist, even though Gardner cosponsored such a bill just last year.

But Stokols repeatedly challenged Gardner, first saying, “Cory, the people who wrote that bill, Congressmen Duncan Hunter of California, Paul Broun of Georgia, they say-Personhood USA says-that that is what the Life at Conception Act is.”

Gardner tried to change the topic, but Stokols would have none of it, interrupting Gardner and saying, “The facts are–”

Gardner quickly interrupted Stokols, and said, “No, the facts are, Eli, that there is no federal personhood bill. There is no federal personhood bill. I think what you’re seeing, Eli, is an effort by Sen. Udall to run away from his record on energy, to run away from his failed record on the economy. Here is a man–”

Stokols told Gardner he’d “grill” Udall next week on his show, but for now, he wanted to know about the federal personhood bill, which aims to ban abortion, even for rape, and some forms of birth control.

“The bill that your name is on defines personhood as beginning at the moment of fertilization,” Stokols told Gardner. “Many think it has the potential to ban a number of forms of birth control. Factcheck.org says that you still support a federal bill that would prompt the same concerns over birth control as the state measure that you reject on the same grounds.”

“I do not support legislation that would ban birth control. That’s crazy! I would not support that. I do not support efforts that would ban birth control… Mark Udall is running away from his record and trying to distract the voters with things he would like people believe that simply aren’t true.”

“He’s not the only one who sees the Life at Conception Act as a personhood bill,” Stokols told Gardner. “The sponsors do. Personhood USA does. ..You are sitting here telling me that a bill that everyone says is basically a personhood bill at the federal level, you’re telling me it’s not?”

Sparks flew a while longer, but Gardner got the final utterance before a commercial break.

“There is no federal personhood bill,” Gardner said, never saying what he thinks Life at Conception Act actually is.

Stokols tried but failed to clarify Coffman’s immigration positions

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

In interviews aired over the weekend, Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols tried hard to clarify Rep. Mike Coffman’s squirrelly positions on immigration reform, but unfortunately, after you watch the interviews, you’re left scratching your head on key points.

For example, during Stokols’ Sunday show, #CoPolitics from the Source, Coffman reiterated his opposition to President Obama’s executive order allowing young undocumented immigrants, brought here illegally as children, to defer deportation for at least two years.

“I certainly don’t support it being done by executive order,” Coffman told Stokols, which makes sense because Coffman voted to defund Obama’s order this summer. “I believe it should be done legislatively.”

So you have to assume that, as of now, in the absence of DACA legislation, Coffman believes the dreamers should be deported.

Yet, in a news piece aired last night, Stokols also has video of Coffman saying he supports deferred deportations (without saying he doesn’t support them). A young man, who identified himself as a Dreamer, asks Coffman why he voted to defund Obama’s program to defer deportations.

“I thought we had an opportunity to make it permanent,” Coffman told the young man, neglecting to add he opposes Obama’s executive order.

Putting on his immigration happy face, Coffman also told Stokols that he supports granting young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship through “higher education”

This is a significant departure from his previous position, which granted citizenship to Dreamers only through military service.

“I certainly support a path [to citizenship] for some of the young people that do higher education and do military service,” Coffman said.

http://kdvr.com/2014/08/31/rep-mike-coffmans-new-district/#ooid=xyZ2MwcDoxsreHde4B1yAh-onItfALRY

Stokols tried to understand the heart of Coffman’s broader immigration views when he asked, “When you say a step-by-step path, I’ve heard you use that phrase a lot lately, what does that mean? ”

Coffman replied by saying that he doesn’t like “big-sweeping” bill like Obamacare, and he said he doesn’t support a path to citizenship for adults who “broke the law.” He reiterated his support for work visas with no citizenship path, which would formally create a working underclass in America.

In explaining his immigration shifts, Coffman told Stokols “there needs to be more districts” like his, where competitive elections force politicians not to get stuck in ideological straight jackets, but earlier this year Coffman implied that the judge who okayed Coffman’s district was swayed by his affiliation with the Democratic party–though it turned out the judge wasn’t even a registered Democrat.

“I think it’s made me a better Congressman,” Coffman told Stokols, who still has his work cut out for him to get Coffman to explain the precise positions that him the better Congressman he says he is.