Archive for January, 2013

Border security aside, would Gardner support a path to citizenship?

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

It’s obvious that KHOW’s Michael “Heck’ve-a-Job” Brownie is not a journalist.

But his conversation with Rep. Cory Gardner yesterday on the immigration issue is instructive to reporters who interview anyone, Republican or Democrat, on the topic.

They key issue in this debate is the path to citizenship. Will one be offered to undocumented immigrants? How long would they have to wait to become citizens, and what will their rights be during this period? How many new citizens should our country accept and by when? Is anyone concerned that a long waiting period would create an underclass of pseudo Americans?

Brownie doesn’t bother to get Gardner’s views on the citizenship issue at all, much less the details.

Instead, Brown’s focus was border security (surprise!) and how to avoid getting “rolled over like President Reagan did back in the 80’s?”

This is a real issue, but it’s one that the players appear to agree on.

Gardner argued for “putting a policy in place that doesn’t just delay a problem or create a problem in ten to twenty years. And I don’t know that we’re there yet with the policies that have been put forward. But that’s a very serious point that you bring up and something that is going to have to be addressed and people have to feel satisfied with it, [that] it’s not just delaying a bigger problem.

Gardner sounds like border security is all that’s needed. So let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that his can be done. Would Gardner, who opposed offering citizenship to undocumented immigrants just three years ago, please offer up some details on what an acceptable path to citizenship would look like?

Transcript of Rep. Cory Gardner’s comments on immigration on KHOW’s Michael Brown Show, Jan. 30, 2013.

BROWN: What’s happening on the Hill with immigration, and what’s your personal feelings?

GARDNER: Well, my personal feeling — you know, my family—our last name used to be ‘Gardiner’ [spells it out]. They moved to England so that they could get into soup lines, that—to get food. They took out the ‘I’ in our last name to get into those lines. And I would like to believe that every single one of us, if we were living in a world that faced civil unrest, that faced murders, that faced mob control, –we would do anything and everything we could to get our families into the greatest country on the face of the Earth, the United States. But we have got to make sure that we have a system that is based on law, that is legal, that has border security, that promotes fairness. And I want to make sure that any proposal that we have, that comes forward out of Congress, meets the requirement [inaudible] of fairness, border security, to make sure that we are not penalizing people who are actually trying to get through the system legally.

BROWN: One of the things that came up last night, and I don’t even know if you can answer this in the next minute in a half, but, what’s different, and what assurances would I or anybody else who think the this issue at least ought to be addressed, that we’re not going to get rolled over like President Reagan did back in the 80’s?

GARDNER: Well, and that’s where we [inaudible] do the right job of putting a policy in place that doesn’t just delay a problem or create a problem in ten to twenty years. And I don’t know that we’re there yet with the policies that have been put forward. But that’s a very serious point that you bring up and something that is going to have to be addressed and people have to feel satisfied with it, [that] it’s not just delaying a bigger problem.

BROWN: Do you have any opinion or thoughts on how we can literally secure the borders?

GARDNER: I think there are a number of ways that we can secure the borders. We are doing it right now with additional personnel, and do we need additional personnel on the border; whether we need some kind of electronic enforcement; do we need a better system of knowing who’d coming in and out, those can be done electronically, those can be done physically, with personnel on the border. But they’re all parts of a broader solution that I think needs to be put in place.

Candidate for El Paso County GOP chair doesn’t regret booing Log Cabin Republicans

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

David Williams, who’s running for El Paso County GOP Chair, has no regrets for booing Log Cabin Republicans at a GOP assembly in May.

The Log Cabin Republicans were advocating civil unions, which is not part of the GOP platform, Williams told me, adding that he doesn’t regret the booing and he opposes civil unions.

“I did boo,” said Williams, who’s the current Vice Chair of the El Paso Country Republican Party. “I booed because the Log Cabin Republicans were advocating something that was contrary to Republican platform. It had nothing to do with who they are. It had nothing to do with their sexuality.”

“If there were someone who advocated for Obamacare,” he said, “they would also be booed.”

Williams is running against Jeff Hays to lead El Paso Republicans.

Tancredo fits nicely in the talk-radio bubble as he trashes immigration reform proposals

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

I was looking forward to hearing former Rep. Tom Tancredo on talk-radio radio, after Obama’s announcement yesterday, and he didn’t disappoint.

He appeared on KNUS’ Kelley and Company, KHOW’s Peter Boyles show, and KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado, where he called the Senate immigration deal a “Republican suicide pact” that “opens the door for millions who will not vote for us.”

On KLZ, Tancredo said Republicans are “smoking the substance I haven’t tried” if they think a softer immigration stance will move Latino voters to the GOP.

He got into more detail with his immigration soul mate Boyles this morning, and here’s an entertaining taste of their conversation. (For me, Tancredo usually at least scores points on the entertainment scale.)

TANCREDO:  The Republican Party, I don’t know, it’s on its last legs, I think.

BOYLES:  I do, too.  It’s on life support, right now, and it should be.

TANCREDO:  Yeah!  Honestly, for so long, it has tried to play this game of stealing the page out of the other guy’s playbook, and just being a little bit, you know, a ‘Democrat Lite’ on a lot of issues, and spending like crazy.

BOYLES:  You see that now they are going to make a deal on immigration.

TANCREDO:  Of course, I saw it!  Absolutely, I see it, and they think, they think–

BOYLES:  –It’s going to help them.

TANCREDO:  –that it’s going to help.

BOYLES:  Yeah.

TANCREDO:  You know, Pete, get this!  In this last election, Romney only got 27% of Hispanic votes.  Everybody goes, “Oh, my God!  There, it [just] goes to show you, you’ve driven the Hispanics away!”  The Republicans – do you know who got the lowest percentage of Republican votes in recent history in a presidential race?  Bob Dole!

BOYLES:  Yeah.

TANCREDO:  Twenty-one percent!

BOYLES:  Right.

TANCREDO:  And what was the immigration issue then?  None!  Was he a hardliner on immigration?  Absolutely not! It’s because he was a lousy candidate!

BOYLES:  Exactly.

TANCREDO:  We had the same situation, right?

BOYLES:  Agreed.  I agree.

TANCREDO: [Hispanics] don’t vote for Republicans because they are big government people, for the most part.  Hispanics, God love them, I wish we could convince them, what they’re doing is trying to – Many people who have just come here, immigrants, are voting this way, are voting to put in place a situation here in America exactly like the one from which they ran.

BOYLES:  I agree.

TANCREDO: You know what I mean?  And that’s what we have to explain to them! And, when you ask Hispanics, over and over and over again, in poll after poll after poll,  “What do you think the most important issue?”  They never say immigration, unless you give it to them as one of the list, they don’t even put it on the list!

Tancredo’s appearance on Boyles’ show sounded a lot like the conversations elsewhere in radioland. That is, one sided. Shocking, I know, and also a shame because the Republican talk-show hosts might learn something if they popped the bubbles that surround them and talked to someone with different views than their own.

They might learn, for example, that Tancredo is right, insofar as Hispanics aren’t all about immigration, or even mostly.  And Tancredo is correct that Hispanics wouldn’t like Tancredo or GOP talk-radio hosts, even if they favored a path to citizenship.

But here’s what Tancredo doesn’t understand. Hispanics are a lot like the rest of the American voting population whom Republicans need to win over, and those people want immigration reform too, just as they want basic health care, reliable government, a safety net, good schools, basic opportunity, and so on.

Coffman’s change of heart toward “Dreamers” deserves scrutiny

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Correction 2-22-13: The Dream Act of 2010, which Coffman voted against, would have granted a citizenship path to some undocumented children who graduate from high school or enroll in the military. College enrollment was not one of the Dream Act’s paths to citizenship, as erroneously stated below.

Here’s the bill summary from 2010:

This bill would establish a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants under the age of 29 who were brought to the U.S. by their parents before the age of 16 and have graduated high school or promise to serve in the military. Applicants for citizenship under the DREAM Act would have to meet certain criteria designed to prevent the bill from being exploited and to weed out applicants that have been in trouble with the law. Immigrants granted conditional citizenship under the bill, pending final status adjustment, would not be allowed to receive federal benefits like food stamps and Medicaid.

It is true, as written below, that Rep. Mike Coffman does not support the Dream Act, because he only supports one path to citizenship (military enrollment) not the second path (high school graduation).


A politician can change his or her mind. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but when it happens, a reporter should obviously ask about it.

And so it goes with the all the politicians, like Rep. Mike Coffman below, who are now acting nice to undocumented immigrants when not long ago they were big-time meanies.

Just today, Coffman announced that he wants to open military service to so-called “Dreamers,” young people brought to America illegally by their parents.

Trouble is, Coffman voted against the Dream Act in 2010, which would have allowed these same young people to attend college in the United States and eventually become U.S. citizens.

Today, Coffman sings a sweeter tune on Facebook:

Coffman: I am pleased that the President‘s immigration proposal included a plan aimed at expanding the eligibility for military service to the young men and women who were brought here as children through no fault of their own. Today, I introduced the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act that seeks to do just this. Regardless of the final outcome of the larger comprehensive package being discussed by the Senate, I strongly believe this piece of the plan must be adopted. This is a critical issue, not only because it gives these young people an opportunity to earn citizenship through service to our nation, but it will also broaden the pool of eligible recruits for our military.

What’s the evolution of Coffman’s thinking. Why the change of heart?

Would he still vote against a law allowing Dreamers to attend college in the U.S.? Or is military service the best fit for young immigrants, in Coffman’s mind, with no college opportunity?

Will the GOP base bite back if their leaders flip on a path to citizenship?

Monday, January 28th, 2013

With an immigration-reform compromise coming soon, including some path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the question is, how willl the GOP base respond?

On the Democrats’ side, immigration reform moves their leaders more closely in line with their base voters.

But on the GOP side, if you recall the last GOP primary and the name Rick Perry rings a bell, things are different. The GOP base is in the Tancredo camp, for the most part.

Just a few days ago, on Friday’s KRMA-TV Channel 6’s “Colorado State of Mind,” you had Colorado State Sen. Ted Harvey trashing a path to citizenship:

Harvey: The problem is, we did that once. Ronald Reagan  did it in the 1980s. When he gave amnesty to about 10 million people, saying, “All right, this is the last time we’re going to do this. We’re going to stop the illegal immigration. And we’re going to allow this population to be normalized.

Well, that didn’t work. We now have upwards to 50 million illegal immigrants in the United States looking for help. And it is a tough situation. You know, a lot of these kids have been here a long time. They think of themselves as American. But if we do this, it’s just going to encourage an entire ‘nother generation. Just like the Reagan policy did. And that’s something that is not good for America. We are a country of laws.” (BigMedia emphasis)

So how will a guy like Harvey, and GOP activists who share his views, respond to fellow Republicans, like Rep. Cory Gardner, who told Fox 31’s Eli Stokols he’s reviewing an immigration compromise, despite Gardner’s history of opposition to proposals involving a path to citizenship?

That’s the story to watch for, as the immigration compromise unfolds. How will it be received by the GOP base?

Gazette Editor says CO Springs officials didn’t apply pressure to re-assign or fire reporter

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Colorado Springs Gazette Editor Joe Hight told me this morning that he received “no pressure” from CO Springs government officials to fire or re-assign former City Hall reporter Daniel Chacon.

The Colorado Springs Independent reported Friday that Hight had not responded directly to its question about whether officials connected to CO Springs Mayor Steve Bach pressured the Gazette to remove Chacon from the City Hall beat.

The Independent cited a Facebook post by former mayoral candidate Buddy Gilmore, raising concerns about the unproven allegation that pressure from Bach’s office was applied. (This apparently led to the formation of the “Free Daniel Chacon” Facebook page.)

“There was no pressure,” Hight told me. “This is the transition of a reporter from one beat to another. Does City Hall express concern? That’s part of what you’d expect.”

But he said there was no pressure from Bach’s office to fire or re-assign Chacon.

Gazette State Capitol reporter John Schroyer was also assigned a new beat, the Independent reported. Hight told the Independent.

“It’s perfectly reasonable for newsrooms to realign reporters and their beats, especially those who have been on ones for periods of time,” Hight writes. “It is even more reasonable considering our focus on expanding our news and information products and services. We are a growing organization and need to make moves and transitions, similar to the newsroom management realignment we announced last week, as well as bring in new people to meet those needs. John and Daniel are experienced journalists who will be assets in their new positions and provide talent to important newsroom endeavors.”

Publications like the Gazette obviously get pressure from all quarters, and it’s no surprise that Bach’s office could have been angry over Chacon’s reporting.

But if a public official demanded the firing or reassignment of a reporter, and did so on the record, a newspaper should definitely report it.

Hight did the right thing by talking about the matter to me and the Independent. There was a day when an editor might have refused to discuss it.

A call to Colorado Springs government offices was not immediately returned.

In November, Philip Anschutz’s Clarity Media Group purchased The Gazette from a California-based newspaper chain.

Follow Jason Salzman on Twitter @bigmediablog.




KVOR host doesn’t want to explain televised gay kiss to kids on New Year’s Eve

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Last week, I reported that KVOR talk-show host Jeff Crank told his audience it was “disgusting” that NBC showed gay men ushering in the New Year with a big kiss.

I tweeted him to find out if he thinks a televised heterosexual kiss would be equally disgusting.

Crank, who ran against Republican Doug Lamborn for a Colorado Springs congressional seat, didn’t answer my question, but he invited me on his show Sat. to discuss the topic in more detail.

On the show, Crank scolded me for not including enough context in my blog post about his comment. He found a lot of the New Year’s antics on CNN and NBC disgusting, he said, including a crotch kiss between CNN co-anchors and partial nudity.

It’s true, Crank did mention these things, in addition to the gay kiss, previously, and he told me that part of what he found “disgusting” was this other stuff.

“You focused on just one thing and made it sound like I was bashing people because of this kiss,” he told me.

Ok, but still, I asked Crank, does he think it’s “disgusting” for gay men to kiss on TV? He said:

“It’s the whole social set up that the media tries to use…to push a social agenda. I find that disgusting. I find it dispiriting, wrong, terrible that on the one night of the year, when most kids are up at midnight.. if there were two hertersexuals kissing there, most American families wouldn’t have to explain that moment to their children who were watching. And I just think it’s wrong that we continue to have that forced upon us so that we have to talk to our kids about it. And I just wonder why people don’t respect that there are some people who don’t want to have to describe that to our children, and that’s why it isn’t on the cartoon channel during the day.”

The norms of society have passed Crank by somehow, because he doesn’t see his view as discriminatory.

If Crank hasn’t already talked about gay relationships with his children, given the prominence of gay relationships in pop culture and in mass society, then New Year’s Eve is a good time for him to do so. God forbid folks explain love to their kids. It might ease their own fear, or even save their lives, if they’re gay or not.

I wouldn’t put a gay kiss in the same category as a crotch kiss, like Crank does. But I appreciated Crank having me on the show to talk about it, to air it out.

Listen to the interview here: Jeff Crank interviews me Jan. 19 on KVOR

Not news: Gessler raises specter of “dramatic” fraud, if election-day registration passed

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

If you’re a reporter, you’re naturally inclined to pay attention to your Secretary of State when he or she warns that possible legislation could lead to “dramatic” vote fraud.

But if it’s Colorado’s Scott Gessler, we’ve all learned by now, journalists can relax. Just relax. No need to race to get it up on Twitter. No need to rush anywhere, because it’s not news. He’s lost his credibility way more than Chicken Little.

So, I hope you didn’t get excited if you happened to be listening to Greeley radio station KFKA Monday morning and heard Gessler say this to host Tom Lucero:

“I’ve heard a lot of radical stuff coming out of the Legislature. We’ll see what actually happens.

“But one of the things that I’ve heard that they want to push is same day voter registration, where someone shows up on Election Day and registers immediately. And that creates all kinds of havoc in our systems, and it’s not secure at all. We’ve seen, you know, real, real, dramatic vote fraud in other states, especially urban areas that have used that same voter registration. So, I’m afraid that they’re going to push it nonetheless, and despite all our success in voter turnout, and despite our increased participation, I’m afraid that they’re going to claim that things are terrible nonetheless, and use that as an excuse to push for something that really opens us up to vote fraud.”

[Gessler said some other stuff about his work with the courts on other election matters, and you can listen here: Scott Gessler raises specter of voter fraud if election-day registration passes.]

But, please, we all know by now that if fraud were a real issue, the clerks would be worried. All of them may not be right all the time either, but they’re worth listening to.

And in any case, just for the sake of saying it, you don’t need to dig deep to find out that we can have safe election-day voter registration in Colorado. It doesn’t favor one party over another, which wouldn’t be a reason to oppose it, even if it did.

Bottom line for reporters: You can forget about this blog post and get back to real work.

As GOP continues promotion of anti-women and anti-Hispanic policies, reporters should recall sweet talk after election

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Correction Jan. 31, 2013. Michael Brown’s quote below was imprecise. The actual quote should read: On Denver radio station KHOW Jan. 16, Michael “Brownie” Brown, George W. Bush’s FEMA Director, told his talk-show listeners, “You hear these sob stories…. I don’t care whether they were two years old or they were 16 years old when their parents brought them across the border. They’re here illegally…. I really don’t have any sympathy.”


As civil-unions legislation hits the home stretch at the State Capitol, along with a bill granting in-state tuition to undocumented college students, let’s take a moment to encourage reporters to recall a jump-up-and-down-arms-waving op-ed that appeared in The Denver Post, just days after the election:

Rupublican thinkers Josh Penry and Rob Witwer wrote about the problem with the Colorado GOP:

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.

Now, two short months later, most Republicans at the State Capitol are lining up against the ASSET bill, offering reduced tuition to undocumented college students.

The Post’s Lynn Bartels is calmly pointing out that even fewer Republican lawmakers appear to support a civil-unions bill this year than last year, because the GOP moderates were booted out by voters.

Rep. Cory Gardner is proudly telling the media how much he’d love to fill the GOP tent with women and Hispanics, without saying he’s against all abortion, some forms of birth control, as well as comprehensive immigration reform. Ditto for the rest of the CO GOP delegation, at least with respect to a path to citizenship.

Republicans are NOT jumping-up-and-down-arms-waving to denounce bills, introduced by fellow Republicans at the State Capitol, attacking abortion rights, including a bill banning all abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest.

On the radio, you have Michael “Brownie” Brown, W’s FEMA director with deep Republican connections, effectively thumbing his nose at Penry and Witwer by saying: “You hear these sob stories… I don’t care if they were two-years-old when they came. They’re illegal.. I have no sympathy.”

Secretary of State Scott Gessler may not see the irony that, just as ASSET is debated in Colorado, he’s scheduled to join a panel tomorrow at the Heritage Center with Kansas SOS Kris Kobach, who played a big part in creating the much-maligned anti-hispanic, anti-immigration law in Arizona. They’ll be talking about how to get tough on voting, but tough talk about immigration may pop up given the venue and the audience.

I could go on here, but why make a blog post long when a short one makes your point–and you have other stuff to do, like go on a walk with your 83-year-old mother in Commons Park, where you can relax and watch the GOP self-destruct?

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.