Archive for the 'Cari and Rob Show' Category

Should elected officials talk to all journalists, progressive, conservative, or rabid?

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Secretary of State Scott Gessler recently made an appearance Colorado’s flagship Tea-Party radio show, KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado.

I was jealous because Gessler’s office won’t talk to me, and it’s possible that even my audience of three people is bigger than KLZ’s.

But it made me feel a little bit better when I found out that Gessler’s also boycotting the Colorado Independent and AM760’s David Sirota show, as I’ll explain below.

Still, it raises the question of whether it matters all that much that a conservative elected official, not just Gessler but any of them, boycotts progressive media outlets. Or whether a progressive office holder should feel obligated to talk to conservative media types.

If I were Gessler, I’d look at the actual work of the journalist or media person who’s requesting the interview. If their work shows them to be unfair, inaccurate, and generally unconcerned about civil discourse, then an elected official can justify not talking to them.

For my part, I can’t help but be nicer to people if they let me interview them. I normally try to be fair, but I’m even more careful if I actually talk to someone. I like to think most writers are this way.

I asked progressive columnist and talk-show host David Sirota for his thoughts on this broad topic. According to John Turk, producer of the David Sirota Show on AM 760, Gessler spokesman Rich Coolidge told him last week, just after Gessler appeared on Grassroots Radio Colorado, that Gessler had “no interest” in coming on Sirota’s show to talk about possible voter fraud.

Sirota emailed me:

My view is that the best elected officials are those who make themselves available to the widest possible audience of their constituents. In Colorado, though, that’s the exception (Ed Perlmutter is one for instance), not the norm. Here, most politicians see themselves – and carry themselves – as if they are part of an elite country club. They typically only make themselves available to their friends in the media who they know won’t ask them a single substantive or hard-hitting question – those who will simply propagandize for their agenda and kiss their ass in a very public way. I’m not surprised by that. I’m a journalist, and genuine journalism is a threat to those in power who are either ashamed of their behavior or who shouldn’t have to answer to anyone. Most of the politicians in the state know that regardless of party, I don’t pull punches and will ask them tough questions, and so many of them avoid my show. I see that as a badge of honor.

The Colorado Independent’s John Tomasic has also gotten the cold shoulder from Gessler. Tomasic offered these thoughts in an email:

The question of officeholder responsiveness matters mostly in its relationship to accountability.

It seems obvious that when people elected to office are willing to go on public record regularly on topics big and small and to field unscripted questions, it’s always a good sign for the city or state or country they’re serving. As any fair-minded person in a position of authority knows, explaining your actions means making the case for them. If you can do that well, you gain legitimacy for those actions and support for them and cooperation to bring off your grand plans.

The energy it takes to explain yourself, even in fraught political or business environments, is worth it

Our secretary of state is a longtime controversial figure. It’s my opinion that he revels in it. He’s a courtroom attorney. I like that about him, the fact that he’s a fighter, if for no other reason than he’s fun to write about. Unfortunately, in office, it seems clear he is increasingly adopting what has become a familiar approach to the media on the right, which is to malign the media and retreat into a silo of friendly outlets while delivering an occasional stock quote to the paper of record. That just seems like a short-haul strategy to me.

Gessler is not a  representative from some very conservative district.

He is a state officeholder. The topics he deals with every day as secretary of state are enormously important for all the citizens of Colorado. He oversees voting, campaign finance rules– really basic stuff that is of equal interest to citizens all across the political spectrum. For that reason alone, he is a person of interest for everyone reporting about politics in this state: newspaper people, broadcast people, bloggers, etc, and he has a crack staff of communication experts at his disposal. Use them, I say! Let’s hear more every day from spokespeople Rich and Andrew at the secretary of state’s office. Turn those guys loose! “Free Rich!” “Free Andrew!”

Granted, the media is a player in the political process and dealing with the media as an elected official can certainly be like navigating a mine field. It’s only my opinion but, as someone who has watched this politics-media tug of war with keen interest for years and who has watched big political stories unfold from the inside, as an editor and reporter, I can say that the subjects of those stories would have nearly always fared better by talking to the reporters writing the stories.

I’m reporting on the war over voting laws that has taken the nation by storm in the past two years. Gessler has put himself on the frontlines of that war, proposing major changes to our state election rules. So I’ll keep asking questions. Maybe some day soon, I’ll get a response.

Meantime, I’m developing a cordial and, I must say, fruitful relationship with the secretary’s office conducted via the Colorado Open Records Act. It could be worse.

I’m ready to join the “Free Rich” campaign, and I’m thinking about offering myself up for the dunk tank at the first “Free Rich” fundraiser.

But as Tomasic illustrates, part of the trick of journalism is to find ways to get information when you can’t get it mouth-to-mouth. Who else knows? What documents are available? Getting blacklisted for interviews, even in an apparently partisan manner from the Secretary of State, is how it  goes.

And obviously both parties do this. Gov. John Hickenlooper won’t go on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show, the hosts allege on air. Though he’s on KOA’s Mike Rosen’s Show monthly.

Rep. Scott Tipton isn’t talking to the tea-party-leaning radio program, the Cari and Rob Show. But Tipton’s Democratic challenger Sal Pace will go on the show.

KHOW’s Peter Boyles likes to say no elected official will go on his show anymore, though I heard Rep. Chris Holbert and Sen. Ted Harvey on Boyles’ show Feb. 15 to discuss their gun bills.

Mitt Romney skipped over all the major Denver media last month, eliciting an admirable Howard-Beale-like outcry from Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols.

It’s always been this way, you’d say. But the changes in the media make the situation worse for real people (who stopped reading this blog post before the first paragraph, even though I put “rabid” in the title to lure them in).

With the major media in decline, and more small outlets lining up along ideological lines, many people are less likely to hear from elected officials they disagree with.

Progressives, for example, who consume news from progressive news outlets, won’t be hearing from Scott Gessler directly any time soon, it appears.

That’s not good, and you have to think it will get worse, because, politically, Gessler can write off the left, talk to his conservative base, and try to reach moderates through other means, which may or may not include The Denver Post in the long run.

Under this scenario, how does the partisan divide do anything but get wider?

To be fair, and this is my attempt at ending on a hopeful note, I should tell you that even after Gessler’s office rejected my own interview requests, Gessler was willing to speak with me when I approached him after a speech  he gave at Colorado Christian University. I told him I was a liberal blogger, and he still spoke with me.

In the semi-public setting, maybe he felt a responsibility, as an elected official, not to turn away from me?

But,  like Westword, I didn’t ask him the right follow-up question. Who knows if I’ll get another chance?

Major Denver media ignoring important candidate in CO Congressional race

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Just after Tisha Casida announced her candidacy last year to represent Colorado’s 3rd congressional district (the race featuring Republican incumbent Scott Tipton and Democrat Sal Pace) she got a call from Ryan Call, the Chair of Colorado’s Republican Party.

Call asked Casida not to run for Congress because it could hurt the Republican Party’s chances, according to a report in the Colorado Statesman .

“He was very polite,” Casida told me yesterday. “After I made it clear that I was going to run for Congress, he tried to get me to run in a different district.”

She immediately rejected Call’s suggestion, she told me, because it would be “carpet-bagging.”

“I’ve lived here my whole life,” she said. “This is the part of the state that I love and want to represent.”

It’s no surprise that Call would try to talk Casida out of running. Apparently, Call’s assumption is that, as an unaffiliated candidate with ties to Tea Party folks disillusioned with the GOP, Casida could siphon off voters who might otherwise back the Republican. For example, Casida has the support of Bob McConnell, who ran for the 3rd congressional seat in the GOP primary in 2010. You never know whom third-party voters will go for, so Casida could pick up Dems too, but if you look at Casida’s positions, you think Tea Party.

And everyone knows that, at least for now, the race for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional seat is expected to be among the closest in the nation.

Casida was on the syndicated Cari and Rob Show Thursday, where host Rob Douglas called her a “serious candidate,” and some journalists in the district are treating her like one. She’s gotten good coverage in, among other outlets, the Grand Junction Sentinel, Craig Daily Press, on Grand Junction’s NBC affiliate, Channel 11, and others.

But despite the stakes and the intereting political undercurrents, no major Denver media have reported on Casida’s shoestring campaign. Not the Denver Post. Not any local TV station.

On the radio Thursday, Casida, a Colorado native who’s run a small marketing business for the past six years, explained why she wants to be in Congress:

“What really started  to make me more interested in politics is a lot of the federal rules and regulations that are coming down the pike that are having negative repercussions on small businesses, which are the backbone or our economy, and in my opinion something we really have to allow to flourish to get out of the economic turmoil that we’re in.”

She wants to be a “good statesman, not a politician” in the mold of Ron Paul, who’s “advocating for use of the Constitution at the federal level of government.”

She also likes Justin Amosh, who’s “doing something great for the youth movement and the liberty movement.” Host Cari Hermacinski pointed out that Casida is a young woman “frankly a face that the conservative movement needs more of.”

Asked by host Hermacinski if she gave some thought to running on the Republican ticket, Casida said:

“Absolutely. I did for a brief period of time. I did follow what happened in 2010 with the McConnell campaign fairly closely. I feel like a lot of the Republican Party has become fairly corrupt in saying that they stand for small government, saying they stand for the Constitution, Republican values, so they profess. But I don’t believe they are actually standing for that. And I think the race with McConnell was one that people might recognize. The Republican Party, at least in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District is not ever going to allow a candidate like myself to run on the Republican ticket.

We have to get back to what our founding fathers had intended. Our founding fathers warned us against political parties, and the reason is, political parties are a collective, which is collective rights, which is the antithesis of individual rights, which is what the Constitution protects.”

Casida believes she needs to raise $250,000 to “compete effectively” in the race.

“In July/August we’ll have a good idea on how effective we can be,” she told me. “It’s not only financial support but also grassroots support. The ballot access is fairly easy. I need 800 signatures, and we have a window of time to capture them in.”

“I feel that there’s a group of people whose voice isn’t being heard by the two party system,” she said.

Sweeping statements, like Coors’ assertion that his votes would be opposite of Permutter’s, should catch reporters’ attention

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

You don’t have to read the polls to know that real people (none of whom read this blog) are tired of our rude and extreme political culture.

Journalists like to think of themselves as representing real people, so reporters should ask public figures to explain themselves when they make mean and sweeping statements.

Case in point: Joe Coors, who’s running in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, hopped on the syndicated Cari and Rob radio show Feb. 8 and pretty much trashed the entire voting record of Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Coors said:

And my track record, well I don’t have a voting track record, but the things that I would vote for are things that Perlmutter has voted against. His voting track record is, you know, he voted for the stimulus packages. He voted for the Obama health care. He voted against Keystone, which is just absolutely tragic in my opinion. So there’s a clear choice for the voters here on Nov. 6, 2012.

This is the kind of statement that should catch the ears of journalists. The way I read it, Coors is saying Perlmutter completely sucks, nothing good about him, at least when it comes to his voting record.

So reporters should ask Coors if he’d vote against all the stuff that Perlmutter supported: payroll tax cut, unemployment-insurance extension, government insider trading regs (passed 417-2), auto bailout, HIRE Act (incentives to hire unemployed workers), ENDA (stopping discrimination based on sexual orientation), Lily Ledbetter (equal-pay-for-equal work), etc.

And would Coors vote for some of the most extreme Tea Party legislation, opposed by Perlmutter, that moved through the House this session? I’m thinking of last month’s vote not to concur with the U.S. Senate on extending the payroll tax break. Early votes not to extend the debt limit? Not to pass continuing budget resolutions?

The ins and outs of these positions are complicated, I realize, but reporters should be advocates for basic civility and truthfulness, and you can bet that Coors’ sweeping condemnation of the votes of a sitting Congressman is most likely something Coors himself would back away from if asked for details.

There’s a desperate tantrum-like quality in public figures who make sweeping allegations, like Mitt Romney’s statement on a Colorado talk radio show earlier this month that Obama has done “everything wrong when it relates to building an economy.”

Reporters should listen carefully for comments like these, and dig into them.

Partial transcript of Joe Coors’ appearance Feb. 8, 2012, on the Cari and Rob Show.

Hear entire segment here. Joe Coors on the Cari and Rob Show 02-08-12

Hermacinski: Mr. Coors, why at this point are you choosing to run for political office?

Coors: Very Good Question. This thing has been growing on me. What’s happened in the last three years back in Washington DC is almost unconscionable. I just feel compelled and called to stand up for limited government, balanced budgets, and a business approach to running Washington DC. And that’s why I’m in it…. I can tell you, based on caucus meetings I attended, voters are angry. And they are fed up with the liberal agenda back in Washington DC. And my track record, well I don’t have a voting track record, but the things that I would vote for are things that Perlmutter has voted against. His voting track record is, you know, he voted for the stimulus packages. He voted for the Obama health care. He voted against Keystone, which is just absolutely tragic in my opinion. So there’s a clear choice for the voters here on Nov. 6, 2012….

Douglas: …Talk about the importance of [the Keystone Pipeline] and of energy in the 7th congressional district.

Coors: …Personally, I just don’t understand why we import oil from countries that don’t like us. We have more resources in the state of Colorado for energy than whole Middle East combined. Why the environmentalists or the squeaky wheels keeping us from tapping that resource is something I’m going to challenge.

Romney’s tour of Colorado talk radio leaves questions lingering

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Mitt Romney apparently isn’t making himself available to real journalists in Colorado, in advance of Tuesday’s GOP caucus, but he called into conservative talk-radio shows today, where, predictably, he found a copacetic environment, free of annoying follow-up questions.

That’s unfortunate, because Romney said a few things that deserve a closer look by reporters, if they ever get access to Romney.

On KOA’s Mike Rosen this morning, Romney suggested that he didn’t like the insurance mandate that was included in the Massachusetts health care bill, and he would have vetoed it in favor of offering tax breaks to people with insurance.

Romney told Rosen:

“In one important respect, the incentive to get people to have insurance in our state was associated with a penalty, which is if you don’t have insurance, you have to help pay the cost of your health care in our state. I would’ve rather given a, if you will, a benefit — a tax break — to people who had insurance. So you’d give people a, if you will, a positive, as opposed to a negative. When you do that you accomplish the same objective, which is to get people insured and have people take responsibility for their own health care.”

Romney said, “There were a number of features in the [MA] health care bill I vetoed, and those vetoes were all overridden by a legislature which is 85 percent Democrat.”

Romney has tried to separate himself from the mandate before, though you may not believe it given that it’s central to the Massachusetts policy.

But as this New Yorker article shows, and others have documented, Romney agreed with the policy and sold it.

Romney’s appearance on the Cari and Rob Show, with hosts Rob Douglas and Cari Hermacinski, was similarly pleasant for Romney, with a few questions that were leading toward difficult territory but went nowhere with no follow-up questions asked from two conservative hosts who’ve asked tough questions of Rep. Scott Tipton in the past.

Romney trashed Obama’s entire economic record, literally “everything” Obama has done for the economy, despite this morning’s news that unemployment is heading toward a three-year low.

“I’m delighted that we’re seeing some job growth finally,” Romney told Douglas and Hermacinski. “It’s taken a long, long time. This has been the slowest recovery since Hoover, and one of the reasons it’s been so slow is because this president has frankly done everything wrong when it relates to building an economy. [BigMedia emphasis].

Douglas and Hermacinski might have asked Romney if he supported extending unemployment insurance or cutting the payroll tax, or some itty bitty thing Obama did, but alas, nothing like this flowed from the two hosts.

I hoped Craig Silverman on KHOW would have the courage to ask uncomfortable questions of Romney, like he did of Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck in 2010. But his questions, like should Colorado host the Olympics and does the GOP want pro-choice voters, were easy for Romney. Dan Caplis, Silverman’s co-host, was his usual GOP-mouthpiece self.

So, Romney’s apparent plan of talking to friendly radio hosts in Colorado, and avoiding journalists, paid off this time, though I hold out hope for Silverman and Cari and Rob, if he tries it again.

Ironically enough, Scott Tipton is refusing invitations from Douglas to appear on his show, which is known for its Tea-Party bent, but that didn’t scare off Romney or Sal Pace or Rick Santorum, and others who’ve been on Cari and Rob Show recently.

You wonder where that puts Scott Tipton.

I asked Douglas if he’d tried to land Tipton lately.

We’re very pleased that Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michael Reagan, Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, Doug Lamborn, Sal Pace and many others are coming on our program to speak to our audience about the current campaigns and issues that are important to our audience. From the start, our goal has been to provide a venue for Coloradoans and others to have their voices heard and to hear from elected representatives and others who impact public policy.

To that end, we always welcome elected representatives and legitimate candidates on our program.

While we have not extended an invitation to Congressman Tipton recently, he is always welcome on our program and we expect he’ll want to speak with our audience between now and the time when he must stand before the voters in his district. Given Congressman Tipton’s interaction with our audience as both a candidate and as a elected representative over the last several years, we assume he knows he has a standing invitation from our program.

Follow Jason Salzman on Twitter @bigmediablog