Archive for October, 2012

What’s up with the Post correcting Coffman’s Medicare scare tactics once, but letting them slide the next time?

Monday, October 15th, 2012

The Columbia Journalism Review scolded The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee last week for not doing something that I had complimented Lee for doing just a couple months before.

CJR’s Mary Winter criticized Lee for failing to properly fact check a statement by Rep. Mike Coffman in a debate with Joe Miklosi, his Democratic challenger for the 6th Congressional District seat.

Lee reported Coffman’s accusation that Miklosi favors a “cut” to Medicare of $716 billion, based on Miklosi’s backing of Obamacare. Lee reported Miklosi’s denial of Coffman’s attack and left it at that.

Winter wrote:

Considering that the $716 billion complaint has been a leading GOP attack line for months, and has been factchecked many times, this sort of he-said/he-said isn’t good enough.

Had the Post delved into the issue, it might have noted that several nonpartisan health-care analysts and factchecking groups have found the thrust of the Republican challenge to be overstated, misleading, or even false.

A couple months earlier when Coffman spokesman Owen Loftus told Lee that Miklosi favored a $500 billion cut to Medicare, based on Miklosi’s support of Obamacare, Lee added the following paragraph to his article:

In a Washington Post fact check of similar claims, the health care law tries to identify ways to save money, and so the $500 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as “the baseline”) and the changes the law makes to reduce spending.

This prompted me to write a blog post with the subtle headline of, “Denver Post reporter inspires respect for journalism by correcting Coffman spokesperson’s assertion that Dems cut Medicare.”

I wondered why Lee did the right thing in one case and the wrong thing the second time, but there was no comment from Lee in Winter’s article.

Why? Did Winter call Lee?

“No, I did not,” Winter told me. “What I try to do always is give anybody we’re dinging a heads up. Unfortunately, this got posted really fast. I emailed Kurtis and literally about three seconds later his story posted. And then I instantaneously sent him a link and said, Kurtis, by the way, it’s already up. Again, hope you understand it’s my job to do this. I dinged you.”

I don’t always reach out for a comment from journalists whom I criticize either, mostly because I don’t want to bother them too often. Or I don’t want to bother them with something that’s likely way less important to them than me. On a very rare occasion, I’m in too big a rush.

But in this case, especially for the Columbia Journalism Review, I thought Winter should have asked Lee about his reporting.

“In this case, we were looking through the prism of the reader, more than any other factor,” Winter told me, adding that if she were raising ethical concerns, she would definitely have contacted Lee. “We weren’t on an real tight time deadline. What’s the reader going to make of all this? The reader isn’t privy to his thoughts. That was our primary goal in this piece, to ask questions that a reader would have.”

For news reporting, she said, “it’s always best to err on the side of calling somebody, but this was criticism.”

That’s fair enough, but Winter made a broad crtique of the Post’s reporting, writing that the newspaper wasn’t correcting the GOP attack on Medicare, and she should have called to make sure she was correct. Had she done so, Lee might have pointed out that he had corrected the Coffman campaign’s Medicare assertion previously. Then Winter would have had a different set of questions to ask Lee.

So I thought I’d hear what Lee had to say.

I wrote him this email:

Why did you correct Loftus previously, or at least offer a nonpartisan perspective, but decided not to in the case Winter cites?

Do you agree with Winter that so many nonpartisan sources have found “the thrust of the Republican challenge [$716 billion “cut” from Medicare] to be overstated, misleading, or even false” that a reporter should present additional facts for readers when the accusation is made by someone like Coffman?

Guess what Lee had to say to me on the topic? Nothing.

He wrote that he respects my work, and Winter’s, but he did not want to respond.

And he didn’t respond to my follow-up email asking why he didn’t want to comment and if he would have responded to Winter, if she’d contacted him.

So where does this leave us?

You have to think, judging from Lee’s work in the past, that he thinks Coffman is seriously misleading us when he asserts that Miklosi favors a “cut” to Medicare. And you have to hope he thinks the issue is important enough, and sufficiently settled, that he gives readers the views of nonpartisan fact checkers in the future.

So let’s hope Lee does the right thing next time, as he’s done before, and informs readers about Coffman’s Medicare scare tactics.

A list of the best political journalism in Colorado so far this election cycle

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Compared to the 2010 election in Colorado, this one has been mostly a snoozer, journalistically.

But the 2010 election wasn’t really an election. It was a dramatic comedy show, with so many stories to tell and scandals to uncover that journalists almost couldn’t help but be stars.

Still, reporters have turned out some excellent work this time around, and I’ve listed my favorite reporting below. I’m hoping to see more great work in the next few weeks, but this list is inspiring.

9News Kyle Clark: “Coffman won’t explain Obama ‘not an American’ comments” Rather than let Coffman hide, Clark went out and found him.

Fox 31’s Eli Stokols:FOX31 Denver goes one-on-one with Paul Ryan” Stokols shows how an informed journalist can challenge a candidate’s spin.

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels and Tim Hoover: “Anarchy, chaos behind Colorado civil unions bill may have long-lasting effects” They dug deep to show, among other things, how the upcoming election influenced the legislative debate on civil unions.

The Denver Post’s Tim Hoover: “Noncitizen ID’d fraction of those first alleged by Gessler” No matter where you sit on the political spectrum, to understand Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s behavior and priorities, you have to understand the blizzard of numbers Gessler tosses around. Hoover did a great job clarifying Gessler’s figures in this piece.

Associated Press’ Ivan Moreno: “Voter Purges Turn Up Little Evidence Of Fraud Despite Republican Insistence” Like Hoover, Moreno gets to the heart of the voter “fraud” issue by looking at the details.

Fox 31’s Eli Stokols: “Colo. girl registering ‘only Romney’ voters tied to firm dumped by RNC over fraud” Stokols quickly connected the dots from Colorado to a scandal that was developing nationally.

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd: “Romney Loses Cool When Questioned About Marijuana, Gay Marriage” Boyd keeps her cool and sticks to her questions even as Romney flips out.

KBNO radio host Fernando Sergio’s interview with President Obama, which makes the list because Sergio almost certainly got the first interview with a sitting president on Spanish language radio in Colorado.

Colorado Statesman’s Judy Hope Strogoff: “Perry campaigns with friends in Colorado” I love this scoop, with the photos. An illuminating and fun piece.

The Denver Post’s John Ingold: “GOP’s VP candidate, Paul Ryan, emphasizes contrast with Obama’s vision” I like how Ingold gets at the candidates’ underlying view of government, as he reports on a campaign stop.

Local TV news fact checkers Shaun Boyd (CBS4), Matt Flener (9News), Brandon Rittiman (9News), and (sometimes) Marshall Zellinger (7News). I don’t always agree with them, but what they do is really important, especially on local TV.

Tancredo still pursuing legal battle against Metro for giving tuition break to undocumented students

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Westword’s uber blogger Michael Roberts reported Sept. 19 that Tom Tancredo, a former Republican Congressman from Colorado, had placed ads in Metro State University’s student newspaper seeking plaintiffs for a lawsuit seeking damages resulting from the University’s decision to offer undocumented students a reduced tuition rate, below the out-of-state fee but higher than the rate for Colorado citizens.

Tancredo tells me that some students who are paying out-of-state tuition have replied to the ad, but they’re scared to sign up with Tancredo and sue, like good Americans do.

You might think, it’s Tancredo they’re scared of. But no, according to Tancredo, the students are worried they’ll feel the heat from Metro professors.

Tancredo said: “Problem is, the ones we’ve talked to, they are afraid of the ramifications in the school, whether teachers would treat them unfairly. We’ve got several saying it’s unfair. But they say, I’m scared, what if they do something to me?”

Tancredo plans to continue running his ad through the end of this month, hoping he can find plaintiffs.

His ad reads: “Paying Out of State Tuition? Annoyed you are being ripped off by Metro’s policy allowing a lower rate for noncitizens?”

I asked Tancredo if he tells his potential plaintiffs that Metro teachers will not bite back against them.

“I don’t want to be overly optimistic and say that would never happen,” he said. “It certainly could. I don’t want to lead them astray. They have to make a decision about whether they want to brave that particular outcome.”

Tancredo’s lawsuit, especially because it’s being pushed by one of Colorado’s top Republicans, could be seen by some as a Republican attack on Hispanics who, along with women, are seen as decisive voters in Colorado.

So I asked Tancredo if he’s he waiting until after the election to drop the suit.

“Believe me, I would drop it tomorrow if I had that one plaintiff,” Tancredo replied.

Tancredo fired a question back at me.

“Have you asked the question to Metro?” he asked. “Did they do this to influence the election? I think it’s a distinct possibility.”

Metro didn’t return a call seeking comment, but the University has said in the past that its policy was based on business considerations.

The undocumented students involved say it gives them hope. The Denver Post quoted one such student in August. He told The Post he entered the U.S. in 1999 illegally with his parents.

“It’s really tough; you get frustrated because all we want is the chance to get out of the shadows, to become someone,” said Oscar, 20, a freshman. “We’ve talked about going back, but Mexico is a place we don’t know, and we feel like, ‘We grew up here, we belong here.’ “

House candidate calls alleged assertion in Business Journal a “misquote”

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

In a Sept. 21 article in the Denver Business Journal, Amy Attwood, who’s running against Brittany Pettersen for State House, was paraphrased as saying that the state government’s move in 2010 to repeal tax credits forced businesses to lay off workers.

The Journal reported:

Attwood, CFO of Clemons Construction of Littleton, emphasizes that as an officer of her family’s general-contracting company, she’s seen the negative effects state policy can have on business. The “Dirty Dozen” tax-credit cuts of 2010 stopped investment, stalled private construction and forced downsizing — and company owners are worried more rumored tax-credit cuts that could come in 2013 will freeze investment again, motivating her to prevent such moves, she said.

Asked about this, Attwood told me, “I didn’t say that.”

“The forced downsizing, I never talked about that,” she said, adding that “it was just a misquote.”

“I live business every day,” she continued. “Having a stable business climate and not having more burdens placed on us by government will help us to produce more jobs and to get our economy going.”

Business Journal reporter Ed Sealover said:

“What she told me is that her business is at five employees now, down from a high of 12 employees. I didn’t specifically ask her when that high of 12 employees was. And so maybe that’s the miscommunication. They downsized at some point. I can tell you that.”

Attwood maintains that “the dirty dozen has hurt business across the state.”

What’s her evidence to support that?

“Just talking to thousands of business owners,” she told me. “They’re going into next year not knowing what to expect, and if they elect candidates like myself whose priority is jobs and the economy, they will know what to expect. And who are the jobs producers? Private business.”

Central casting’s “liberal mainstream media” not amused by Gessler’s partisanship

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

You may have heard that Secretary of State Scott Gessler said last week, in a speech to fellow conservatives, that the “left” doesn’t care about voter fraud. But he also said, during the question and answer portion of his presentation, that he likes to “tease” that The Denver Post is the embodiment of the “liberal mainstream media.”

Gessler: I always teasingly say that if I wanted to call central casting for a movie to get the mainstream media, the liberal mainstream media, they would send me The Denver Post editorial board.

That’s Gessler’s idea of teasing? I’ve heard him say this before, and it didn’t sound like he was teasing then, but even if he is teasing, you wonder if arch conservative columnist Vincenet Carroll, who sits on the editorial board with radical lefty Post founder Dean Singleton, is amused.

I doubt it.

And they’re definitely not amused about Gessler’s serious comments.

Articulating what most reasonable people were thinking about Gessler’s attack on the integrity of everyone on the left, The Post called his comments “troublesome this close to an election.”

Denver Post: Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s partisanship is ill-advised in general, but it’s particularly troublesome this close to an election.

On the substance of election fraud, The Post stated that what Gessler “has previously called the ‘widespread fraud’ of non-citizens voting was not even a rounding error.”

From the perspective of someone on the left, whom Gessler thinks “is more than willing to lie” to win elections, and who, in actuality, would do just about anything to stop voter fraud no matter who’s doing it, I would have liked The Post to have hit Gessler even harder, with an editorial saying that he owes people like me and the state an apology and, sorry to say, that he should step down before the election.

But why would Gessler’s embodiment of the liberal mainstream media agree with a liberal like me?

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.


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.

Skewed coverage of Islam spotlighted in Post story

Monday, October 8th, 2012

It was great to see The Denver Post dedicate solid space Saturday in its increasingly flimsy print edition to a conference at the University of Colorado addressing, in part, media coverage of Muslims, including stories about the recent international protests against the U.S. and an anti-Islamic film.

I remember seeing video of those protests and thinking that they looked awfully small but hearing much more emphasis on the anger than the size.

The Post’s Electa Daper quoted Megan Reif, a political science professor at CU Denver, pointing to evidenced that this was, in fact, the case:

In most places, other than in Pakistan, violent protests were carried out by “a minuscule percentage of the population,” Reif said, mostly by chronically unemployed, desperate young men. Yet coverage of these few have affected the presidential political campaign and more.

“We’re actually negotiating our diplomatic relations now through the media,” Reif said. And presidential candidate Mitt Romney, responding immediately to media reports, criticized Obama administration foreign policy.

“It alienates (Muslims) when the media fails to differentiate between the few on the street and the average Muslim,” Reif said.

Obviously this is a structural problem with the news media. At any given moment a tiny band of aggressive or creative people can hijack the attention of the world through a media event, leaving misperception in their wake.

But still, it’s worth spotlighting intelligent voices on the topic, like The Post did.

I doubt the facts from the conference will trickle down to the anti-Islamic bigots on talk radio, where attacks on Islam were ferocious after the Sept. 11 killing of the U.S. Ambassador in Libya.

Such attacks are a staple of the conservative radio airwaves, even when there’s no media event to propel them.

But the bigotry was elevated after the attacks.

Here’s a sample from KZNT’s “Black, White and Right,” which airs in Colorado Springs on the weekends.

One of the hosts, Robert Blaha was a Republican congressional candidate this year, losing in a close race to Rep. Doug Lamborn.

The other host is Derrick Wilburn, of the Rocky Mountain Black Tea Party.

DERRICK WILBURN: [speaking about the attack of Muslim terrorists on a school in Russia, years back] […] in 2007, 2008, something like that, and killed a bunch of kids in Russia. So, and they’ll do the same thing to Hindu, they’ll do the same thing to anybody who does not name Allah as the proph—uh, Mohammed as the prophet and Allah as God. Now it’s worse for us because of our principles of freedom. But no one is immune.

ROBERT BLAHA: Well, I wouldn’t agree with that. I think we are the focus –

WILLBURN: You wouldn’t agree that they took a school in Russia?

BLAHA: No! Oh, no! I would agree they took a school in Russia—

WILBURN: Well, is that the West?

BLAHA: The focus! The focus is the Western way of life. There’s no question about that.

WILBURN: Well, which is it, now? Is it that you don’t agree? Or is it that the focus is the West?

BLAHA: The focus is the West

WILBURN: So, you DO agree!

BLAHA: Well, I agree that this is the West, but you’re trying to bring in Russia and other places.

WILBURN: Well, make up your mind! Do you agree or do you not agree?

BLAHA: The bottom line here is, we are under attack. The way of life which is established in this country is what is under attack

WILBURN: Thank you for agreeing that I am right. Uh, because—

BLAHA: That was agreement. Okay.

WILBURN: Muslims – they do this with other muslims! I mean, Muslims, they go after Muslims all the time!

BLAHA: Exactly. They will kill anybody.

It appears that the Islamic hate on talk radio wasn’t addressed at the University of Colorado panel, but it’s a natural outgrowth of the problem that was discussed.

The simplistic and sensationalized coverage of Muslims generally, especially in the Middle East, spawns what you hear on talk radio.

This, in turn, trickles up to political candidates, like Blaha himself and others, where you have to hope it will be spotlighted by journalists.

But how often do you hear local journalists asking local candidates, even in congressional races, about their views of Islam?

People like Blaha generally get a pass when they’re talk-radio hosts and when they’re candidates. That’s a problem.

Gessler’s speech to conservatives is yet another warning to reporters about his brazen partisanship

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

The Denver Post ran a good piece yesterday morning, and the Colorado Indpendent followed with a more expansive piece yesterday afteroon, on Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s appearance at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s conference, held in Denver Thursday.

Gessler was on a panel titled, “Stealing Elections: What the Left Doesn’t Want You to Know About Voter Fraud,” and the media outlets reported, among other things, Gessler’s accusation that the “left” doesn’t care about election fraud.

Gessler’s comments, especially when you read his entire speech, should be seen as yet another warning sign to reporters about his brazen partisanship, which should obviously be a huge concern for all journalists with the election coming.

Gessler came to the podium after a speech by Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote. (The Colorado Independent provided its own transcript of the speech as well.)

Gessler: Thank you, very much. Let me start off by of course welcoming CPAC back to the great state of Colorado. Some of us would say, “The Greatest of States” Colorado. Um, you know, so I was elected back in November of 2010, took office in January of 2011. And I think most people would agree that when it comes to elections, it should be easy to vote but tough to cheat. And, you know, I’m focused on both efforts. But the “tough to cheat” tends to draw a little bit of controversy. And I think you’re going to hear from some folks who have really great examples of the vulnerabilities and problems we have throughout our country.

But what I was really struck by after taking office is the level of anger and the level of intensity with which the Left opposes efforts to make sure we’ve got clean and accurate voter rolls and honest elections. And I’ve thought a lot about that –to think about what drives them. And, so, I guess the topic here is, you know, “What the Left Doesn’t Want You to Know”. That’s hard to answer because they’re just so obvious in their behavior. Uh, but I think that one of the things that’s going on, is the people who oppose election integrity efforts, they frankly don’t care about vote fraud. They really don’t care about it. They may say they do, but they don’t.

And when you argue with them, or when the public debate – and this is sort of how the public debate goes. The Left will argue there is no vote fraud, there really isn’t any vote fraud.

They’ll say there’s corruption in our ballot initiatives. They’ll say there’s corruption in campaign finance. But when it comes to voting in the booths, our hearts are pure and without malice, and ne’er shall a dark thought cross our minds.

That’s their attitude. And so you show them that there’s fraud and mistake and abuse there, and then they change their argument. They say, “Well, there’s just a little bit. You haven’t shown me very much. It’s just a little bit.” And so you may show them a few more, and there’s more, and then they say, “Well, it’s not organized.” As if organization is the hallmark. And so, sometimes we’ll actually be able to show organization and then they’ll say, “Well, it hasn’t affected an election. You can’t prove to me that it has affected an election.” There’s examples where it has affected an election. And then they’ll argue, “Well, it’s not widespread.” And of course, for them, widespread is never widespread enough when it comes to vote fraud. It’s always minimal. And then, after you pin them down on that argument, they’ll say, “Well, let’s focus on getting people to vote. Because that’s really what America’s about.” And the reason why I’ve become so confident that they don’t care about this is, when you look at Colorado, we’ve made efforts to clean our voting rolls. We’ve also made massive efforts to register people to vote. Actually, those efforts have outweighed, from a resource standpoint, um, the non-citizen and voter ID issues. But the Left doesn’t care about that. They’re only focused on denying that vote fraud exists. It’s unfortunate. I think the other thing that’s going on is people on the left, to be frank among us and others, are manipulative. They just manipulate this issue. And I think – I mean, I think some people are very sincere when they deny vote fraud or – they’re misguided, but sincere. But I see two ways in which they really manipulate it. One is, when it comes to illegally registering people to vote. Voter registration drives don’t suffer the consequences. They’ll go before people – for example, non-citizens, they don’t care if they are non-citizens. They’ll register them to vote. And if that non-citizen registers and then votes, they suffer serious consequences: criminal prosecution, loss of the ability to ever become a US citizen. But the voter registration drive doesn’t suffer any of those consequences. So I think they’re very happy to manipulate people into believing that it’s okay to ignore these laws. I think the other thing that they are willing to do, is manipulate people to demagogue an issue, to sort of try and rile up anger, or use anger as a tool. And that’s happened throughout our history. But to sort of manipulate people to get them angry against a make-believe enemy that doesn’t exist, in an effort to win votes, to demonize, frankly, people who are conservative and believe in limited government. This is the tool they use, and of course the ultimate card they play is the racism card. And they’re more than willing to lie to do this. We’ve done some investigation in some of our voter registration drives, and one person was lying, telling people they were no longer registered to vote. And when that person was confronted, they got very angry. They said, “It doesn’t matter what I say, as long as I’m trying to register people to vote and get people mobilized.” In other words, “It’s okay to demagogue an issue,” this person thought, as long as their end is pure—their – the means justify the ends, [inaudible –in that sense (?)]. And so we’ve seen that repeatedly. It’s an unfortunate dynamic.

I think the ‘take-away’ from all of this is, the people who oppose election integrity on the left, they’re never going to change their minds. They really sort of dug their heels in. But the broad mass of people in America are common sense, and they agree with us. And so, I think we have to remain steadfast in our efforts, through solid evidence, persuasion, and patience, and ultimately, ultimately we will prevail in this battle. And thank you for being here. And thank you for all you do.

Post should have explained why State House candidate’s arrest doesn’t appear in statewide crime database

Friday, October 5th, 2012

The Denver Post reported Tuesday that GOP House candidate Rick Enstrom “does not have an arrest record, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation,” even though a Grand Junction Police report states that Enstrom was, in fact, “arrested for sale of drug paraphernalia.”

How could this be? How could Enstrom have been “arrested,” according to police in Grand Junction, and have no arrest record at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation?

The Post piece, written by Lynn Bartels, gave us no explanation, so I called the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to try to figure it out.

“Finger printing is the trigger for an arrest to be uploaded in our system,” said Susan Medina, spokeswoman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

“You have to be physically processed through a police department where finger prints are taken,” she said.

This explains why Enstrom’s arrest doesn’t appear in the Colorado Bureau of Investigation database.

Enstrom was issued a summons and “released at the scene” of his 1985 arrest, according to Grand Junction police spokesperson Kate Porras.

“Because he wasn’t booked in a jail, we didn’t take finger prints,” Porras told me, adding that, as far as the Grand Junction police are concerned, Enstrom was arrested. She called Enstrom’s arrest a “non-custodial arrest,” because he wasn’t taken to jail.

“A Colorado Bureau of Investigation background check is not an end all,” Medina told me. “Our system just tells a piece of the story. If someone were issued a summons, it may be in a local jurisdiction’s database. To get into the statewide system, you need finger prints.”

CO media say Romney won debate but CO news stories on CO undecided voters don’t support this

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Update 8:30 p.m.: Denver’s Fox 31 also brought together a group of 12 undecided voters yesterday, and I regret to write that I missed the story. Read it here. Fox 31’s voters did not give Romney the victory. After the debate, one was leaning toward voting for a third party candidate, one toward Romney, and one toward Obama. Another was planning to vote for Obama. A fifth had made up his or her mind or was leaning toward an undisclosed candidate.

Update 10:30 a.m.: I asked The Post’s Jeremy P. Meyer to clarify the impact that the debate had the undecided voters assembled by The Post last night.  Meyer told me that of 15 undecided voters interviewed, 14 appeared to be still undecided and one person was now going to vote for Romney. Of the remaining 14 people who were still undecided after the debate, five were leaning more to Romney and three thought Obama did a better job, Meyer said.


Colorado news outlets are reporting that Mitt Romney won last night’s debate (e.g., Denver Post “Round One: Romney”), but we all know it’s the undecided voters who count, and news stories about undecided voters in Colorado showed that they mostly weren’t swayed by the debate one way or the other.

For example, 9News’ Kyle Clark asked a focus group of 12 undecided voters in Colorado who won the debate, and more said that Obama did.

Clark: Who thinks President Obama decisively won tonight’s debate?

[A third of the group raised their hands]

Clark: Who thinks Mitt Romney decisively won tonight’s debate?

[One man raised his hand]

Clark: Was any person in this room convinced to cast their vote for one man or another based on what you saw here tonight?

[No one raised a hand]

Clark: Not a single person in the room was convinced.

The Denver Post’s focus group of Colorado undecided voters came to pretty much the same conclusion, though The Post reported that “many” of its group thought Romeny had a “successful” debate, and “some” said they’d now vote for him.

The Post’s story on its focus group began with:

A group of undecided voters who gathered at The Denver Post to watch Wednesday’s debate came away mostly still on the fence about who to support Nov. 6.

Yet, The Post’s front page banner in the print edition read: “Round One: Romney.”

The truth is, in Colorado, the best evidence we have so far about what really matters, the undecided voters, shows that the debate was, as 9News political analyst Ryan Frazier, a Republican, put it, “a bit of a wash.”

Yet the tenor of news coverage in Colorado, blaring a Romney win, did not reflect this reality. 9News and The Post both did the right thing by convening focus groups of undecided, even if the Post should have better spotlighted what these voters had to say.