Archive for the 'Colorado presidential race' Category

Rand Paul did not appear at Denver conference

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky did not appear in Denver this week for the Colorado Renewal Project’s “Rediscovering God in America” event in Westminster, despite widely distributed promotional materials stating that the Kentucky Senator would be in attendance as a “special guest.”

Paul was never planning to come to Colorado at all, Paul’s press office emailed me Friday, referring to organizers of the event.

“That was an error on their part,” wrote Paul spokesperson Sergio Gor.

Paul’s visit to Colorado appears to have been organized by evangelical political operative David Lane, who organizes meetings between Republican presidential contenders and pastors in swing states. Lane is associated with the American Renewal Project, which advocates for more involvement by Christians in politics.

Numerous efforts get a comment from Lane or any organizer of the Colorado event were not successful. It was not clear who sponsored Colorado’s pastor event this week, but similar events in the past have ties to Colorado for Family Values and the Christian Family Alliance of Colorado.

Paul’s visit to Colorado raised eyebrows because Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner has been telling reporters that there is “no federal personhood bill”–and Paul is the unabashed sponsor of a federal personhood bill, called the Life at Conception Act.

Last year, Gardner cosponsored the House version of Paul’s legislation, also called the Life at Conception Act, which would ban all abortion, even for rape, as well as common forms of birth control.

Paul appears to have attended one of Lane’s conferences for pastors last month in South Carolina, along with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who’s been a repeated speaker at Lane’s “Pastors and Pews” events this year.

“We have a constituency that we’re mobilizing. My goal is to restore America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and reestablish a Christian culture,” Lane told U.S. News’ David Catanese in September.

“Huckabee’s done maybe every one,” Lane told Catanese. “He’s been in 10 or 11 states with me. But I invite all of them. I’m an honest broker.”

Telemundo Denver anchor gets surprise invitation to interview Obama

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Correction on 7-19-2013: Obama told a Telemundo Dallas reporter that he didn’t want to speculate on whether he’d use his executive powers to stop deportations of undocumented immigrants, if Congress doesn’t pass an immigration reform bill. Obama did not say this to Telemundo Denver reporter Maria Rozman, as reported previously here.

———————-

In a one-on-one interview with Telemundo Denver anchor Maria Rozman about immigration reform, President Barack Obama re-affirmed his commitment to creating a “path to citizenship” for 11 million undocumented immigrants. Obama told Rozman:

“It does not make sense to me, if we’re going to make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix the system, to leave the status of 11 million people so unresolved. And certainly for us to have two classes of people in this country, full citizens and people who are assigned to a lower status, I think that’s not who we are as Americans. That’s never been in our tradition.

Rozman was one of four Hispanic journalists from around the country invited to the White House Tuesday for one-on-one interviews with Obama.

Rozman told me she got the invitation “out of the blue”  via a call on her cell phone on Friday evening.

“I said ‘yes’ immediately,” she told me, “without knowing for sure that it wasn’t a prank. I was looking at the time, because I had to be on-air for my newscast. I said, ‘yes, sure thing, can you send me an email.’”

Rozman was on a plane Monday and spent all day Tuesday in the White House for the five-minute interview, briefings, and tours.

Rozman said that the White House didn’t screen her questions for Obama on the immigration issue.

A bipartisan immigration-reform bill cleared the Senate but House Republicans have said it’s dead on arrival.

Rozman told me that she was on the White House lawn when an armed and shirtless intruder prompted a massive security response.

“Police were everywhere,” Rozman said. “I was just hoping it wasn’t one of those movies.”

See the interview here.

9News’ innovative fact-checking partnership with Denver Univeristy should be national model for local TV stations

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

During the last election, Denver’s local NBC affiliate (9News) hired Denver University graduate students to help reporters check the facts in election ads.

“We essentially created three temporary jobs with a set number of hours each week to study as many ads as possible,” 9News Assistant News Director Tim Ryan told me via email. “What we assumed, which turned out to be true, was that we would see an extraordinary number of political commercials in Colorado in 2012 and needed additional staff to keep up.”

Ryan says the additional help allowed 9News to produce 44 ad-check stories during the 2012 election cycle–and it gave the student researchers some real-life job experience.

“Our researchers produced very detailed examinations of each spot, then our permanent reporting staff (Brandon Rittiman, Chris Vanderveen, Matt Flener, Todd Walker) turned that detailed research into television stories,” wrote Ryan.

9News calls its ad-check stories  “Truth Tests,” and they won a Cronkite/Jackson prize and other national praise.

“The reason this was successful is all about volume.  At any point in time, there might be commercials from the Obama campaign, the Romney campaign, interest groups in support or opposition to both candidates, as well as a number of competitive congressional campaigns that also included spots produced by candidate campaigns as well as interest groups.  In other words, there was a tremendous stream of ad content that needed attention, and the only way to do that effectively is hire additional staff.”

Local TV stations should hire more real-life-professional journalists, but short of that, it’s a no brainer to employ graduate students for fact checking, especially in swing states where political ads bring in millions of dollars.

But Ryan doesn’t know of other stations that have done it. “We certainly think it could be a model for other organizations, but newsrooms would have to balance the cost vs. the number of spots requiring study.”

I checked around and it appears that no other station in Colorado–or the country–has tried a similar arrangement.

“I’m not aware of those relationships, but I wouldn’t be shocked if there were some,” said Mark Jurkowitz, Associate Director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. “Student journalists are contributing in more robust ways to news. In Boston, investigative journalist students have written for local media. Graduate students are 0ld enough to perform the task, under the assumption they’re properly trained to the point that you are confident they are looking at things the same way.”

Deborah Potter, who’s the Executive Director of NewsLab and writes frequently about the local TV news industry, doesn’t know of any other stations that have hired graduate students to “fact check” political ads.

“I’ve often wondered why more stations don’t partner with colleges and universities in their area on projects that involve research,” Potter emailed me. “As long as student work is supervised by professionals, I don’t see much downside in this kind of arrangement.”

“They were closely supervised and they trained in terms of reliable sources,” Ryan told me. “Their jobs didn’t require source building, or other pieces of journalism that are more difficult. It was database work. And at the end, the experienced political journalist had to decide what to call the ad. Was it true? Exaggerated?”

And if an error slipped through, Ryan said, 9News would hear about it. “As you know, the campaigns watch everything and would take issue with anything they thought was wrong. And we’d respond.”

Ryan expects to hire graduate students again for the 2014 election, but nothing is finalized. Until then, staff reporters will probably check political ads as they air.

I suggested that TV stations that are too stingy (sh0ck) even to hire grad students might partner with a professor and find a graduate seminar class to take on an ad-check project for free. No money!

Ryan said this could be a “definite possibility,” but cautioned that  “management could be a bit more challenging.”

“But if you had the right class, it could work, especially for stations that don’t have the resources,” Ryan told me, adding that his station “partnered” with Denver University to find graduate students this year, working with a DU staff person as a point of contact.

9News’ emphasis on fact-checking political ads began in 1998 as a series called “Spotcheck,” done in conjunction with Denver Post reporter Mark Obmascik, according to Ryan.

“In the 2002 cycle, we continued to work with the Post but called the project ‘Adwatch,’” Ryan wrote. “Adam Schrager began producing them as Truth Tests for the 2004 cycle, which we repeated in 06, 08 and 10 (as well as occasional off-year efforts like Denver mayoral campaigns).

The concept of checking political ads on local TV was apparently pioneered in Denver by Channel 7′s John Ferrugia, in a project called “Truth Meter” ,in the 1990s.

 

PR bonanza awaits TV station that invests some political-ad revenue in one lonely reporter

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

What happened to all the money television stations got for airing the nonstop spew of political ads right up until Election Day?

You’d think television stations, whose news departments at least try to lay claim to an aura of public responsibility, would take a bit of their campaign windfall and give back.

The most obvious way to do this would be to beef up their political reporting on the news, as an excellent article in the current issue of the Columbia Journalism Review points out.

After all, local television stations rake in millions of dollars in swing states across the country with poisonous ads that are at best horribly deceptive and at worst outright false. TV reporters themselves acknowledge how sick-and-tired they are of the ads, and some stations actually fact-check some of them and document the deception.

So how about taking a little bit of the money from the ads and spending it on more local journalism, year-round, to help equip citizens with information needed to sort through political fact and fiction?

Democracy would certainly benefit, but more importantly from a TV station’s perspective, hiring a reporter with money from the political could be a PR bonanza, directing public attention at one brave station that recognized its own greed and decided to give back an itsy bitsy bit.

What would this look like?

Denver stations earned a total of $67 million from election-related ads last year, according to an analysis by The Denver Post. Meanwhile, the national average yearly salary of a TV news reporter is now about $40,000.

Let’s assume you could hire a decent reporter in Denver for about $50,000.

If you do the math, $67 million buys you 1,340 well-paid reporters to inform the public about politics.

As it is, Shaun Boyd, the political reporter at one of Denver’s CBS4, has stated that she is essentially the only staffer who covered the 2012 campaign at her station, KCNC. And she alone covers the majority of political stories for the outlet.

What if the top news executives at Boyd’s station told their audience, and the community, that, hey, as journalists, we’re as sick as you are of gross political ads manipulating our elections?

Just imagine them announcing that to give back to the community we’re going to add one new reporter with the mission of helping people be less vulnerable to manipulation by political ads.

They could afford this. If you assume Boyd’s station’s share of the election-year ad spending spree to be about $15 million (there are four stations in the market and hers is No. 3), then we’re talking about giving back just one-three-hundredth of its gross political-ad revenue, leaving plenty of money to pay for other company priorities.

If they view it through their usual profit-driven lens, which is how local TV news operates, they could easily justify the decision based on bottom-line PR value alone.

It would almost certainly be a local and national story, separating the station a bit from the bottom-feeding (and weather-hyping) TV news pack.

At a press conference, station executives could emphasize the public-interest aspects: As a very small gesture toward healing our political culture, they could say, we’re taking a small portion of our obscenely huge election haul and hiring an extra political reporter to hold public officials accountable and to help you sort through the political spin.

How great would that be? Who knows, it might also boost their ratings.

A version of this article was originally distributed by the OtherWords syndicate. Follow Jason Salzman on Twitter @bigmediablog.

Talk-radio host doesn’t explain how social issues would pull Hispanics to the GOP

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

I love it when the conservative echo chamber validates itself with references to unnamed Democrats who amplify the sounds coming from the mouths of talk-radio hosts.

In the case below, we have KVOR host Jeff Crank, who doubles as Colorado State Director of the conservative Americans for Prosperity, bouncing ideas off of Tony Sanchez (And I do mean bouncing, because the ideas bounce back in the exact same form that they were launched.). Sanchez is on the board of the Colorado Hispanic Republicans.

Sanchez conjured up Ken Buck and told Crank that “already” Hispanics are having “buyers’ remorse” over their overwhelming vote for Obama.

Crank and Sanchez touched briefly on number of things Dec. 15, without getting into specific legislation of course, but they dwelled on one point that comes up a lot on talk radio: The unproven assertion that Republicans can win over Hispanics on social issues.

CRANK: Well, and a great example of that is on the social issues, you know? I think that the Hispanic community naturally would align with conservative values, of family values, –

SANCHEZ: Oh, they do!

CRANK: –on marriage, on pro-life issues, and those sorts of things. But the conservatives allow the Left to define them on that issue—

SANCHEZ: Yes! Yes.

CRANK: — so they didn’t vote with us on those issues.

SANCHEZ: I just spoke to a Democrat, an Hispanic. And he said that, “I was glad they didn’t focus so much on those issues. We would have lost at least four percentage points had that happened.” And the other thing that I would also add is to keep it simple. There’s a lot of times that we have a lot of facts,– and on the conservative side, yeah, it makes a whole lot of sense, but keep the message simple. And make it real clear.

Setting aside the small problem of the devastating backlash among women voters if the GOP decided to focus openly (instead of behind closed doors) on social issues, there’s no reason to accept the echo-chamber idea that Hispanics would vote Republican anyway, if GOP candidates starting talking more about gay marriage and abortion.

The majority of Latinos actually favor gay marriage. Mexico City and some Latin American countries have legalized it.

And, really, how many Hispanics are going to swing to a GOP candidate who aims to ban abortion even for a raped woman? Evangelical Hispanics, yes, who make up about 15% of Latino voters and align with the GOP anyway. Seven of ten Catholic Hispanics align with the Democratic Party.

And it’s not as if Democrats are pro-abortion. Most are pro-choice, which reflects an understanding, shared by Hispanics, even if they self-define as anti-choice, of real-world complexities as well as the struggles of poverty. I mean, one of the major reasons Hispanics turned against Romney, according to Project New America’s David Winkler, was because he was so unsympathetic to the poor.

I could be wrong, but it’s hard to see a significant number of Hispanics peel off from Democrats if the GOP pushed its abortion position even harder. And, again, at what cost to the GOP in terms of other voters, like women, young people, and the four reasonable Republican middle-aged white men out there?

So Sanchez and Crank, a former GOP congressional candidate, who defines himself as “a strong voice for social and fiscal conservative issues in Colorado,” should look elsewhere, other than social issues, to prove Ronald Reagan’s opinion, which still sits atop the website of Sanchez’s Colorado Hispanic Republicans, that “Latinos are Republicans. They just don’t know it yet.”

As long as the talk-radio sounds keep reverberating, unchallenged, Hispanics will never know they’re Republicans. Why would they?

Media omission: Tancredo says Metro lawsuit “probably going nowhere”

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Former Congressman Tom Tancredo told me this week that his idea to sue Metro State University for offering a reduced tuition rate to the children of illegal immigrants is “probably going nowhere.”

Tancredo said back in October that he was having trouble locating a student plaintiff, and he said he still can’t find an out-of-state student who’s willing to endure the “perceived retribution” that TAncredo says would result from filing the lawsuit, which would seek damages based on the notion that the illegal immigrant should not receive a lower tuition rate than that of an out-of-state student.

Asked what kind of retribution might be expected, Tancredo said that no one would get thrown out of school, but there could be “problems with professors and grades.”

Tancredo said he’s unlikely to pursue a legal strategy without a student plaintiff.

“It’s risky, at best,” he said. “I’m not in it for the grins of it. I want to succeed. Without a student, we just don’t have a good strategy to employ.”

Tancredo said the recent Republican election loss, resulting in part from the GOP’s unpopularity among Hispanics, was not a factor in his thinking about the Metro lawsuit.

“Believe me,” he said, “I would pursue this regardless of what happened in the election,” adding that Hispanics vote for Democrats because they like big government, not because vocal segments of the GOP, led by Tancredo, have called for a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Hispanics vote for Democrats for the same reason that other people vote for Democrats,” he said.

So is Tancredo pursuing another anti-immigration project?

He said he’d like to push a Colorado law like the one in Arizona targeting illegal immigrants, but he’s got “nothing on the front burner.”

And he’s not worried his high-profile activities alienate Hispanics from the Republican Party.

“My hope is that we can begin to make inroads with Hispanics who realize the problems that plague the countries they fled are the problems being created by Democrats in this country,” he said. “Unless they’re trying to replicate the economic basket cases that they came from, they should try to create different political allegiances.”

Denver Post should have reported differing views on exit poll showing decline in gender gap

Friday, November 16th, 2012

I’m late getting to this, but I’ve been hearing conservatives trying to make themselves feel better about their election collapse by saying they successfully cut the gender gap in Colorado.

I’m thinking they might have scanned every word in The Denver Post, searching for something good, and found this sentence in a Nov. 6 article:

Although many polls nationally predicted a significant gender gap, Colorado exit polls showed women and men split equally.

Later, Democratic consultant Craig Hughes tweeted:

Craig Hughes@CraigHughesinCO

Dear Media: The Colorado exit polls are simply not accurate. Trust them at your own risk. Thank you. #copolitics

I asked Hughes to amplify, and he sent me these thoughts in an email.

First, we know the exits originally said that Colorado was tied at 48% for each candidate – when final results are tallied, Obama will carry Colorado by over 5%, so that’s a significant miss.  Second, the exits show that Obama’s Colorado margin was bigger among men (+5%) than women (+3%) which runs contrary to every single public and private poll conducted over the past two years.  In reality, Obama almost certainly carried women with a double digit margin.  Third, the exits list “NA” for voters aged 18-29, even though they make up 20% of the electorate, a larger portion than voters 65+.  Given those sample sizes, how is it they are unable to show results for voters aged 18-29?

Fourth, there are also exit poll results published by Latino Decisions that show Obama received 87% of the Latino vote, while the networks survey shows 75%.  I’d say 75% seems about right, but that’s a pretty big discrepancy.

If people want a look at what the electorate likely was, I’d suggest looking at the poll by Keating Research conducted just prior to the election that showed Obama +4%.  His numbers are more reliable to me than anything I have seen out of the exit polls in this, or previous, cycles (again, ask President Kerry about exit poll reliability).

So if you happen to be one of those Republicans who was feeling good because of those 18 encouraging words in the Denver Post, about women liking you more than before, I’m sorry I had to be the one, with the help of Hughes, to set the record straight.

Reporters should ask the Colorado GOP, where’s the burrito?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The headline on an Associated Press story last week, juxtaposed to the GOP comments in the article, tell you all you need to know about how it’s one thing for Republicans to promise to be nicer to Hispanics, as Josh Penry and Rob Witwer did recently, and another thing for them to stop pushing policies that do nothing but alienate Hispanics from the GOP.

First, the headline of the AP story:

“Colorado Democrats Plan To Pass Tuition Aid For Immigrants”

Then, the GOP response toward the end of the story:

Arvada Republican Rep. Libby Szabo said it was too soon to tell whether her party would support the tuition legislation.

“One thing I learned in my first legislative session is that I don’t comment on anything I have not seen,” she said.

Szabo, who was elected to be her party’s assistant House minority leader Thursday, made her gender and her Latino background part of her pitch for the leadership post, saying, “I am a woman Latino, and I think it would speak big if we didn’t just talk about reaching out to them, but we said we are going to put someone in leadership who is actually one of them.”

So Szabo couldn’t even commit her own support to the state version of the Dream Act, much less the members of her party who organized opposition this summer when Metro State University dared to lower tuition rates for undocumented kids.

Instead, Szabo makes a parody of herself by saying, look at me! I’m proof positive that the GOP likes Hispanics!

So here’s the point of this blog post: Reporters shouldn’t let Republicans get away with saying they support Hispanics without asking for those ugly specifics, which go beyond good looks and leadership positions.

As The Denver Post’s Alicia Caldwell said during an excellent discussion of the election on Rocky Mountain PBS’ Colorado State of Mind Nov. 9, “You have to change policies as well as faces.”

As my colleague Michael Lund pointed out, polling shows Hispanics, to the extent you can generalize, care most about jobs and the economy, as well as education, immigration, and healthcare–and the Colorado GOP doesn’t offer them much on these fronts. Project New America polling also showed that basic concern and the poor matters.

The question is, what will Colorado Republicans offer Hispanics in any of these areas?

Will Republicans offer anything on the economy except de-regulation and tax cuts?  On healthcare, will the Colorado GOP stop trying to block implementation of Obamacare? On education, will they finally get behind the reduced tuition bill that Szabo is noncommittal about? Will they support a pathway for citizenship both for undocumented children as well their parents? Do Republicans think they need to become Democrats to win over Hispanics?

If Republicans aren’t pressed, we’ll get the kind of rhetoric Penry and Witwer offered up this weekend in The Post:

We’ve forgotten that politics is a game of addition, not subtraction. And here’s some more math: 50,000 Latino kids turn 18 every month in this country. These kids grow up in households where parents work hard and attend church on Sunday. These are American values. But yes, some of these kids — through no fault of their own — were not born American citizens.

We’ve seen the arc of the immigration debate, and through our own personal experiences, we’ve also seen that it must now be resolved at all costs. This is a human issue, with moral (and biblical) implications. It’s time to bury the hatchet and forge bipartisan agreement on immigration reform.

Great, a reporter should say to Penry and Witwer, but where’s the burrito?

 

Host of leading Spanish-language radio show endorses Obama

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Sen. John McCain was scheduled to appear on KBNO’s, La Voz del Pueblo, yesterday, two days after the radio show’s host, Fernando Sergio, endorsed Barack Obama for president.

Sergio told me yesterday that, despite his endorsement, anyone from the Republican Party is still welcome on his show.

“We are more than happy to talk,” he said, but Sergio, who didn’t make an endorsement in the last presidential contest, doesn’t sound like he’s going to change his own mind on Obama.

“Credibility is extremely important in this election,” says Sergio. “Who’s more credible? Who comes across as more caring? Who are you willing to trust? Obama comes out ahead. Ultimately I ask myself, am I willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt with the challenges he faced and this country one step away from the Great Depression? Overall, I think he’s a better choice.”

Obama was a guest on Sergio’s show in May, in what was likely the first appearance by a sitting president on Spanish-language radio in Colorado.

Romney declined repeated invitations to appear, but a parade of Romney backers talked to Sergio over the past six months including: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Sununu, John McCain, Carlos Gutierrez, Craig Romney, and Ed Gillespie.

The interviews were wide ranging, Sergio told me, but in the case of Craig Romney, the Romney Campaign “asked us to make it more personal, not political.” This is in keeping with Craig Romney’s preference to tell family stories instead of policy details, even though the Spanish-Speaking Craig Romney has become Romney’s ambassador to the Hispanic community.

Asked why he thought Romney didn’t accept his invitation to chat on his show, Sergio said:

“When you look at the economy and education and other issues important to Hispanic community, like immigration, Romney doesn’t have an answer. So he’d rather let Marco Rubio do his bidding. We would have been happy to host him, and we would have been respectful. I would have challenged him on his position on the Dream Act [providing a path to citizenship for high-achieving undocumented students] and on his statement that the Arizona law could have been a model for rest of nation. I still remember the primary debate when Romney chastised Rick Perry for allowing undocumented students to go to college in Texas. Those things come back to haunt you.”

In 2008, Sergio told listeners there were “two good candidates, and they should choose the best one for them.”

Sergio says that until the election, he’ll emphasize voting.

“I’ll stress importance of voting, the importance of Latino vote,” he says. “If you want Barack Obama to continue to be our President, you have to go out and vote. There is no way he wins the state of Colorado, without the Latino vote.”

CO Springs newspaper slams Republicans for applauding anti-Hispanic talk-radio hosts

Monday, October 8th, 2012

For all the impact conservative talk radio seems to have on the Colorado GOP, you rarely hear about it in the legacy media.

So I was glad to see the Colorado Springs Gazette, in an editorial published today by Wayne Laugesen, cite talk radio, specifically, as a player in the formulation and dessemination of Republican opinion in our state.

Laugesen, who’s a conservative by anyone’s measure, wrote:

Politics of exclusion lead to political extinction. If Colorado becomes a blue state, Republicans should remember applauding those talk radio hosts who mocked Latinos while inciting immigration hysteria. They should recall taking pride in denying innocent young immigrants access to educations. If Republicans lose Colorado, they should look in the mirror.

Yeah!

But is it the Republicans’ applause that eggs on the radio hosts?

Or is it the talk show hosts, backed by right-wing activists, who demand the applause, or else the Republicans won’t get the stamp of approval from the talk-radio hosts?

I think it’s the latter.

So I’d like to see Laugesen join me in calling them out more often. Next time Laugesen hears a righty talker “inciting immigration hysteria,” I hope we hear from Laugesen.

Doing so might be one of the best things he can do to change the Colorado GOP in the long term.