Archive for October, 2010

Why isn’t Buck apologizing for his “buyer’s remorse” comment?

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

If you’ve been reading the news coverage of U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck’s decision not to prosecute a man who admitted raping a 21-year-old University of Northern Colorado student in 2005, you know there’s a major omission: Ken Buck himself.

He’s not quoted in stories in The Denver Post, Associated Press, Politico, Roll Call, Politics Daily, ABC’s The Note, or the Colorado Independent, which was the first news outlet to obtain a  audio-taped discussion among Buck, the alleged rape victim, and two others, and to interview her directly.

Buck is apparently not talking to the media about the case, leaving reporters to chat with his spokesman.

Except, that is, for a reporter at the Greeley Tribune.

Buck talked directly to the Tribune’s Nate Miller, who wrote an excellent article covering different aspects of this complicated story.

The Tribune reports, unlike The Post and the Associated Press, among others, the key fact that the perpetrator “told police she had told him no, but he thought she invited him to Greeley because she wanted to sleep with him.” (The Independent provided a transcript of this admission, as part of its in-depth coverage.)

The Tribune gives Buck ample inches to defend his decision not to prosecute, allowing him to point out that he had numerous deputies review the case, as well as the Boulder District attorney.

The Tribune also asked Buck about his statement to the Tribune in 2006 that a jury might think this was a case of “buyer’s remorse.”

At the time, a Tribune editorial criticized Buck for using the phrase. A Tribune editorial stated:

“Buck told the woman he could not press charges against her attacker, despite the man’s admission to police that she said no. Buck said he must only prosecute cases in which he has a reasonable chance of convicting someone, and this was not one of those cases.

…A jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse,’ Buck said.

While we support his legal reasoning, we believe Buck could have, should have been more sensitive in his choice of words, regardless of what he may have thought a jury or defense lawyer would conclude.

He added, …I don’t want victims to be deterred from the pitiful facts in this case from coming forward.’

We, too, hope other victims won’t be discouraged by this case. Again, though, Buck’s selection of words could have been more appropriate. Calling the facts of the case …pitiful’ could be construed by other victims as discouraging.”

Yesterday Buck told the Tribune that the phrase “buyer’s remorse” was taken out of context. The Tribune reported:

“I listed five or six reasons why I thought a jury would not convict in this case,” Buck told the Tribune. “She said she was passed out during the sexual act, so I wasn’t referring to whether she had buyer’s remorse for the act that they engaged in, but rather for the prior relationship they had.”

But either way, why infer publicly that the victim might have “buyer’s remorse,” either for the sexual act or for the relationship? Why use such a condescending phrase?

That’s the kind of question reporters should be asking Buck now, because it gets to the heart of the accusation that Buck isn’t sensitive to women, forcing them to birth babies resulting from rape, for example.

He’s not apologetic about using the phrase “buyer’s remorse,” which we all can agree is a loaded term. Instead, he’s defensive. Why?

Which leads to an error I spotted in the Tribune article.

The Tribune reported that Buck apologized for joking that women should vote for him because “I do not wear high heels.”

In fact, Buck was defensive, not apologetic, about his joke during the GOP primary.

The Associated Press reported that he defended the joke, conceding that it “wasn’t very funny” and it was not meant to be offensive. But he was unapologetic.

I cannot find a record of Buck actually apologizing for the high heels remark. Please let me know if you find this.

In any case, now he’s defending his “buyer’s remorse” comment as well.

Reporters should ask, why doesn’t he think this merits an apology, along with other comments he made about the case, including his statement in 2006 that the facts in the case were “pitiful,” which would presumably include the fact that the man admitted having sex with the woman even though she said no.

Journalists should correct Gardner when he says only Markey is talking about social issues

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

“Right now the only person talking about social issues in this campaign is Betsy Markey.”

That’s what Cory Gardner told Al  Malmbert Oct. 5 on KCOL Fox News Radio AM 600 in Loveland.

You’d think Malmberg might have pointed out to Gardner that, hey, Malmberg himself had just asked Gardner about social issues, so it’s obvious that Markey is not the only person talking about them.

And Malmberg asked the question after having just read the Coloradoan, which reported Oct. 3, two days before the interview, that Gardner had dropped a previous campaign pledge to carry legislation outlawing abortion. But he was standing behind his endoresment of the Personhood Amendment.

So social issues are very much part of the CD4 campaign, as they should be, with Gardner changing his position and with Markey and Gardner holding such different views on these issues.

Also Gardner was anything but shy about talking about his support, for example, of Personhood Amendment during the primary. Colorado Right to Life lists Gardner as supporting Personhood with no exceptions, meaning he opposes abortion even in the case of rape and incest. Gardner was proud to talk about social issues primary candidate forums, when he obviously knew that a larger percentage of his target audience were social conservatives.

It’s likely that Gardner will repeat his line about Markey being the only one who’s talking about social issues, and reporters and talk-show hosts should interject and point out that this is false.

Talk show host mum as Buck says he doesn’t really regret anything recorded on campaign trail

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Hey, we all know talk-radio host and right-wing activist Jeff Crank loves Ken Buck. 

That’s why, you’d think, he would have asked a follow-up question Oct. 2, when Buck stated on KVOR’s Jeff Crank Show that he doesn’t really regret anything that’s been recorded on the campaign trail.

Crank: Have you ever said anything that you wish you hadn’t on the campaign trail that was recorded?

Buck: You know, not really.

What about all of the recorded statements Buck made during the primary that he’s now taking back (endorsing Personhood, opposing pro-choice judges and common forms of birth control, privatizing Medicare and Social Security, supporting a consumption tax, promising to carry anti-abortion legislation and to close the Dept. of Education immediately, doubting the constitutionality of Social Security).

He doesn’t really regret any of that recorded stuff?

You’d think he’d really really regret saying something that was so off-base that he had to take it back. If he doesn’t regret saying, for example, that he supports a consumption tax, then does his statment that he no longer supports it have any validity? Ditto on Personhood and all the rest of it.

Crank didn’t question Buck about any of this.

And these are not instances when recordings of Buck have been taking out of context, which Buck mentions in the transcript below. These are recorded statements of fact, in full context, that Buck is taking back.

Now, in the wake of Crank’s failure, a reporter should ask Buck this question:

“Mr. Buck, do you regret telling Jeff Crank that you don’t really regret saying anything that was recorded on the campaign trail?”

Jeff Crank Show, KVOR, 740 AM

October 2, 2010

Crank: Have you ever said anything that you wish you hadn’t on the campaign trail that was recorded?

Buck: You know, not really. I’ve got to tell you, the problem with having a tracker, and I had a tracker on me for 16, 17, 18 months on the campaign trail is, what they are doing now is they are taking four or five words out of a three-paragraph answer and completely out of context. So in the sense that do I wish I wasn’t recorded, sure. But the way they are using it is really, I think, unfair and deceitful.

Media right to scrutinize Buck positions before/after primary

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Ken Buck is having second thoughts on yet another issue, The Denver Post reports today.

This time, it’s the consumption tax, which Buck called “great” during the GOP primary but now says was “never my alternative,” according to The Post.

The Post reports:

“Buck’s stance Wednesday on the consumption tax is the latest instance in which he has offered a different position from in the primary.”

We all like a person, especially if she is your wife but even if he is a political candidate, who’s willing to change his or her opinion.

But the key phrase in The Post’s sentence above is “different position from in the primary.”

It’s one thing to consider new information and make a change. It’s another to take a position to appeal to one group of people (right-wing GOP primary voters) and change it to appeal to another group of people (average everyday angry voters).

In this case, whether you’re the angry right winger or the average angry voter, you’re wondering whether Buck will say anything to get elected.

That’s why Buck’s recent changes are important, and why media outlets like The Post deserve credit for spotlighting them for us.

In today’s article, The Post reviewed three other issues, on which Buck has flipped since the primary:

Personhood. He supported it during the primary, briefly came out against it, and now says he’s neutral, but is still in favor of personhood “as a concept.”

Pro-choice judges. During the primary, Buck said he wouldn’t confirm “pro-abortion” candidates for any federal job, including judges. Now Buck will confirm pro-choice nominees.

Anti-abortion legislation. During the primary, Buck promised to sponsor anti-abortion legislation. Now he won’t.

Now that Buck is establishing a record of backtracking, The Post and other media outlets should offer readers a wider view of his before/after primary positions. The expansive list includes:

Social Security and Medicare. During the primary, Buck says “the private sector runs programs like [health care and retirement] far better” than the federal government.  Now the Buck campaign says, “Ken is not in favor of privatizing Social Security,” and we have to keep a “promise” to seniors and maintain the program, with tweaks including privatization and a higher retirement age for younger people.

Constitutionality of Social Security. During the primary, Buck said he was “not sure” about the constitutionality of major federal programs passed over the past 70 or 80 years. Now he says he’s “never had doubts” about the constitutionality of Social Security.

Privatization of Medicare. During a primary debate (Mike Rosen 7-19-10), Buck said he supports “privatizing as many of the areas of health care as possible, including the decisions of folks that are on Medicare.” Now he tells the New York Times that he hasn’t “decided whether some form of vouchers would work or not.”

Department of Education. During the primary, to select audiences, Buck advocated shutting it down immediately. Now he consistently says it should be cut back.

Common forms of birth control. Consistent with his position during the primary, the Buck campaign told 9News that he’s against common forms of birth control that prevent implantation, such as IUDs as well as some forms of the Pill. Now he says he is “not in favor of banning any common forms of birth control in Colorado.” (But still opposes killing fertilized eggs, which are killed by common forms of birth control.)

Social Issues. (See above.)

Consumption tax. (See above.)

News outlets like The Post, Associated Press, Grand Junction Sentinel, and others have covered Buck’s before/after primary stances on a case-by-case basis, but I’d like to see more reporting that brings all these issues together, a bit like Buck’s interview with New York Time reporter John Harwood here, and delves more deeply into why Buck staked out the positions he did initially and why he is changing his views post-primary on some issues and not others.

Journalists should be comparing candidates’ positions on the issues

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

The Spot Blog’s Spotted Correspondent writes today that a new Sen. Michael Bennet ad is “unfairly misleading in its portrayal” of Ken Buck.

His proof? A column by the nonpartisan Post columnist Vincent Carroll!

He then points to fact checkers that found portions of a previous Bennet ad “wanting,” without mentioning that the fact checkers found numerous portions of Bennet’s previous ads to be true.

And the Spot doesn’t mention that fact checkers have been critical of Ken Buck’s ad too, as well as ads by outfits like the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which support Buck.

This is how News4 introduced its “Reality Check” of a recent attack ad by Ken Buck:

“Ken Buck promised to stay positive this election. That sure didn’t last long.”

In response to Buck’s claim that “Bennet’s votes are so bad he can’t defend them,” News4 found that Bennet in fact “does defend his votes on the health care, the stimulus, and the budget.”

“As for [Buck’s] claim he voted for higher taxes 24 times, that’s misleading at best,” News 4 reported, adding that Bennet has “never voted for a measure that would specifically raise taxes.”

With respect to Buck’s claim that “Bennet is legislating unemployment,” News4’s Reality Check stated that Bennet “did not, of course, pass a law to set the unemployment rate.”

“Bottom line,” News4 states, “Ken Buck is doing what Republicans across the country are trying to do, pin the country’s economic woes on their Democratic counterparts. As I’ve said here before, there’s plenty of blame to go around.”

9News analyzed a National Republican Senatorial Committee ad stating that:

“Bennet even raised taxes $525 billion. A jobs Killer.”

9News found this-false!

 9News explained: “Further, Bennet has not voted on a single measure that would have directly raised taxes or directly raised the tax rate. In fact, numerous economists, both conservative and liberal, have stated publicly that Americans are paying lower taxes this year than they did last year and not simply because they’re earning less as a result of the recession. (Source: Associated Press, April 14:”

 9News also researched this statement in a National Republican Senatorial Committee ad:

“He [Bennet] voted to gut Medicare. ($500 billion)

9News found this-false!

9News explained: “If anything, seniors who are on basic Medicare will now have more access to preventive services and eight million will also be spared significant prescription drug costs if they fell into the so-called doughnut hole created by Medicare Part D. (Source: New York Times, June 18:”

The Spotted Correspondent, like everyone else who watches TV, has got to know that portions of most all political ads are found to be misleading or false by fact checkers. I wish that weren’t the case, but it is.

The Spotted Correspondent and I would undoubtedly prefer to watch ads by fact checkers not political campaigns. But that won’t be happening.

So journalists, and commentators like the Spotted Correspondent, are left to sort out the key issues, whether they are in the ads or not, and try to make sense of them for voters.

Accusing one side’s ads of being insulting, as if the other side’s aren’t…-when we all know the entire ad game is gross…-misleads voters into thinking the ads matter more than the issues at hand.

In other words, we’ll get more from comparing the candidates’ positions on the issues than comparing their ads.

Gardner, Maes, Tancredo stand behind Personhood Amendment

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

The ranks of the Personhood 33, as I’ve been calling the top 33 Colorado candidates who’ve endorsed the Personhood Initiative, are diminishing.

First, as you know, Ken Buck un-endorsed the measure, though he still supports personhood “as a concept,” leaving me and others wondering what’s changed. His hard-line abortion stance still puts him in opposition to common forms of birth control and abortion even in the case of rape and incest.

Still, I’ve been wondering if the other 32 members of the Personhood 33 will follow Buck’s cue. (See list here.)

So this week, I phoned up some more of them, after determining previously that Dan Maes and Tom Tancredo were standing with the Amendment.

Colorado Senate (SD 16) candidate Tim Leonard, who…-like Buck…-believes that life begins at conception, told me he never endorsed the Personhood measure, and the Christian Family Alliance website erred in listing him as an endorser.

“I’ve taken no position on any citizens initiative or anything that’s on the ballot that doesn’t have to do with me,” he said, adding that activists were asking him about it during the primary but he never took a position.

Colorado House (HD 35) candidate Edgar Antillon also told me he shouldn’t be on endorser list anymore, having un-endorsed the Initiative during the GOP primary before Buck did.

“Obviously, I don’t get attention like Ken Buck does, but my stance changed on that,” he told me, primarily because he supports abortion to save a women’s life, putting the life of the mother first.

So the Personhood 33 was down to the Personhood 30 by the time I called Colorado House (HD 34) candidate Brian Vande Krol, who told me that he also never endorsed Personhood Amendment. The Colorado Right to Life website claims he supports “Personhood”.

“Mr. Vande Krol was reported to support Personhood by a volunteer who said he spoke to him, but this is not a reliable method of knowing of someone’s stand, and he has also not responded to our survey,” Bob Kyffin, custodian of the CRTL blog, emailed me in response to my questions. “We have tried to make it clear that the only way we know for sure where someone stands is if they respond to the survey.  When we do, we make note of that.”

Kyffin added: “Your articles are helpful to us in determining who sincerely supports Personhood and who is just pretending — historically a major difficulty with Republicans.  It is our hope that most of those you communicate with will affirm support for Personhood in full knowledge that the only forms of birth control it would ban are those that cause a chemical abortion (i.e. abortifacients).”

I left a couple messages over the past week at the campaign of U.S. House candidate (CD-4) Cory Gardner, who’s endorsed Personhood, but I didn’t get a response yet.

Gardner told the Coloradoan a couple weeks ago that he supports the proposed personhood amendment, confirming his past endorsements.

Abandoning Personhood would be a major change of direction for Gardner, given that, you may recall, he bragged at a February candidate forum about circulating petitions to put the measure on the ballot this year.

“I have signed the Personhood petition. I have taken the petitions to my church and circulating them in my church. And I have a legislative record that backs up my support for life,” said Gardner.

But Gardner, like Buck, has changed his position on one issue dear to the hearts of social conservatives. The Coloradoan reported Oct. 3 that Gardner will no longer carry legislation to outlaw abortion, despite what he previously told Tea Party groups.

Given the prominence of social issues in past CD 4 elections, the Coloradoan is right to be asking Gardner about these topics, even if he resists them.  (You can hear the Gardner’s exchange with the Coloradoan here, toward the end of the clip. It’s a great example of a journalist pressing a candidate to answer a question directly.)

But especially given Buck’s statements on Amendment 62, journalists outside of Ft. Collins should be asking the personhood endorsers what they think nowadays about the measure. But they’re not. Hence this blog post, to fill in the journalistic gap.

Does Buck’s support of “common forms of birth control” mean he’s become pro-choice?

Friday, October 1st, 2010

I really am trying to stop writing about sperm, eggs, zygotes, implantation, and birth control, but these normally quiet yet essential topics keep arising in the Denver media.

The Denver Post states today that the Personhood Amendment would ban common forms of birth control, which is one reason the newspaper came out against Amendment 62.

“Yet because Amendment 62 would define human life as beginning the moment of ‘biological development,’ some common forms of birth control would be illegal because they prevent a fertilized egg from attaching.”

We know that Michael Bennet has been pointing out that Ken Buck is opposed to common forms of birth control. This is based not only on his hard-line abortion stance but also his endorsement of the Personhood Amendment.

Buck’s campaign first tried to tell journalists that Buck supported common forms of birth control AND was in support of  the Personhood Amendment.

But then Buck acknowledged that Amendment 62 would ban common forms of birth control, and he un-endorsed the measure, saying he does not want to ban common forms of birth control.

Still, as recently as last weekend, Buck has stated that he supports “Personhood as a concept.” 

But if this is true, he’d still oppose common forms of birth control, which potentially kill fertilized human eggs, as today’s Post editorial points out. And as a legislator, he’d presumably vote to ban them.

Unless Buck is…pro-choice. This would allow him to support the Personhood concept AND support common forms of birth control.

That’s what the Post editorial board should ask Buck.

Does his support for common forms of birth control mean that he’s now become pro-choice since the GOP primary? If not, what gives?