Archive for October, 2008

Schaffer’s Iraq deals given shallow treatment

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008


It took an op-ed on the Denver Post website by Lawrence J. Korb, assistant Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan, to raise some questions that reporters either haven’t asked or haven’t thought to ask Bob Schaffer about his business deals in Iraq in 2006. Korb’s analysis and the context he provides might just provoke local journos to start asking these questions:

Do you think there should be a national oil law in Iraq?  If you were charged with doing political research, as reported by the Rocky, for Aspect Energy, why didn’t you know about the oil law controversy until a Kurdish official told you about it on your trip? Did the State Department or any other agency give you any encouragement, as opposed to not just giving any discouragement? Did you know about your company’s correspondence with Sen. Allard? Have you or Alex Cranberg been in touch with the IG at the State Department, who is investigating the Hunt Oil contracts?

Or even a broad question:  Do you think it was a mistake to enter into an oil agreement before a compromise on the oil law was reached?  If not, why not, and why has the State Department been wrong?

And here’s a bonus question:  If you’re elected to the US Senate, would you join Sens. Levin and McCaskill in demanding an investigation and even hearings into Iraqi oil contracts?

Why hasn’t the local media been all over this story? No editorials? No front-page treatment? This is a serious issue, especially a guy running for federal office.

Here’s the Korb op-ed again.

Gunny Bob discovers I’m biased!

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Last night I was helping to spread the word about the arrival in Denver of the Hug Mobile, a van pulling a life-sized representation of the now famous photo of Bush and McCain hugging.

I thought KOA’s Gunny Bob might enjoy it. He’s the extreme right winger on KOA, 85 AM, from 7 to 10 p.m.

I’ve never forwarded a news release to him before, but there’s something about the HUG that I thought he’d appreciate.

Gunny hasn’t always wanted to talk to me in the past, but he got right back to me this time.

First, here’s an excerpt of the news release I forwarded to Gunny.

McCain = Bush Hug Mobile Spotlights Denver Premiere of “W” Movie 

A Mobile, Life-Sized Statue of Bush Embracing McCain 

Vehicle Will Be Parked at 16th and Welton Oct. 17 at 12:30, Just Prior to the First Denver Showing of “W” 

Hug Mobile to Go on State-Wide Tour 

What: The “Bush = McCain” tour consists of a van pulling a flatbed trailer carrying a statue of McCain and Bush embracing. The hug statue replicates a real photo-widely seen this election season-of McCain and Bush, with arms wrapped around each other and with McCain’s head buried into the chest of the taller Bush. The Bush = McCain vehicle will travel across Colorado. Click here for more information. 

And Gunny’s response to receiving the news release:

GUNNY: You have taken to spamming members of the media? Are you serious? Does your employer know about this?

JASON: I thought you might be interested.GUNNY: How can the unbiased media critic for a major daily–any paper, for that matter–be working for a clearly biased political action group? We’ll be covering this on the show tonight. Care to comment?

I’ve been freelancing for the Rocky for years, and Gunny, who’s attacked me repeatedly in the past, hasn’t figured out that I’m biased! I’m a lefty media critic. He hasn’t noticed? I try to be fair, and I guess I’m doing my job pretty well.

But can Gunny read my frequent “disclosures” in my column, like “Disclosure: A client favors legalization of Marijuana” or “A client works for Democrats.”

On the other hand, if Gunny thinks I’m not biased, it might explain why he thinks the news media is so liberal. He appears to make no distinction between the commentary section of the newspaper and the news section. Maybe he reads the Saturday column by Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman in the Rocky and thinks it’s proof of liberal bias at the Rocky. I’ll ask him tonight, as you can see below.

JASON: Sure. I’m not unbiased. If you look at my tagline, you’ll see that I run a PR company. I’m constantly disclosing this in my column.I’m not a Rocky staffer. I’m a freelancer. Do you want me on your show to discuss.

GUNNY:  Thank you, yes. I shall have Dom contact you for a call-in time. I am on 7-10 this evening. JASON: Keep in mind that Dave Kopel, my counterpart, works for the unbiased Independence Institute.Maybe we can discuss whether a hug is an appropriate metaphor for the relationship between Bush and McCain?

For background on Gunny, see Colorado Media Matters here. Don’t forget CMM for background on other Denver journalists.

Readers misled by headlines using passive voice

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008
The Rocky website just posted an AP article about this faux outrage from the Republicans over Gwen Ifill.
Here’s the headline: “Questions raised about VP debate moderator Ifill’s impartiality” 
File this sentence in drawer with other cliches of Washington-speak such as Bush’s statement that ‘mistakes were made’ in Iraq.
As we know, Bush was the one who made his own mistakes in Iraq.  Similarly, the questions about Ifill weren’t raised in a vacuum.  It was Republicans raising them.  Newspapers should say so.
It’s a bad habit of the press that they crouch in the passive voice, probably as a token show of ‘objectivity,’ or possibly as a way of chickening out.  In the latter case, editors may be afraid of assigning responsibility to somebody in the story, perhaps out of concern that they’ll offend some politically charged hack.
Plus, we know that headline space shouldn’t have been a problem.
For example:
Original Headline
“Questions raised about VP debate moderator Ifill’s impartiality” 
Words: 8 
Characters with spaces:  63 
Possible Alternatives
“GOP Raises Questions about VP debate moderator’s impartiality” 
Words: 8 
Characters with spaces: 61 
“GOP Raises Questions about VP debate moderator Ifill” 
Words: 8 
Characters with spaces: 52