We've been talking for the last week (and longer) about ethics problems at the Pueblo Chieftain, whose news reporting has shown a troubling bias against Democratic Sen. Angela Giron as she faces a recall election next month. These concerns were underscored by disclosure that several top employees of the Chieftain had in fact signed the recall petition against Giron. Media Matters for America summed up the situation last week:
Despite the seriousness of the allegations, the Chieftain dismissed the charges of unethical behavior in an editorial titled "Unethical? Nope," which claimed that despite writing politically conservative editorials, it has endorsed Democrats and Republicans and even supported a number of Giron's legislations. It further dismissed the conflict of interest inherent in its executives signing the recall petition of a legislator it covers as "another freedom guaranteed ALL Americans in the Bill of Rights."
Further evidence of the Chieftain's partiality came Friday in an absolutely ridiculous story about an "ethics complaint" filed against Sen. Giron–breathlessly reporting on the presence of Giron's capitol phone number and state email on her personal website. A brief tour of legislator's websites reveals the same "infraction" on the websites of Senators Bill Cadman, Randy Baumgardner, Kent Lambert, Scott Renfroe, Ellen Roberts, Kevin Grantham, and probably most of the rest of the GOP caucus, but that doesn't stop the Chieftain's Anthony Mestas from letting Pueblo County GOP chair Becky Mizel prattle on unchallenged about how "disgusted" she is. If you understand the facts, which likely most readers of the Chieftain do not, the story was simply laughable–but the headline arguably was the whole purpose.
Today, the Chieftain's editorial board weighed in with a strongly and unabashedly pro-recall message to its readers. To be clear, the editorial board is the right place for opinions, as opposed to news coverage. But there's another, much more basic problem with today's editorial:
The immediate cause of those who signed the petitions was Sen. Giron’s support of a package of gun control statutes which caused many gun owners to seek a redress of their grievances. We agree with most of the opposition to those statutes and we stated that stance when the Legislature was debating the bills…
We urge voters living in Senate District 3, which includes all of the city of Pueblo, Pueblo West, Beulah, Colorado City and Rye, [Pols emphasis] to study the issues — and not all are gun-related — beginning now, because mail ballots will be sent out by Mr. Ortiz’s office on Aug. 19. Please become informed.
We'll do our part by "informing" the Chieftain that fully three out of the five cities they mentioned in the above editorial are not located in Senate District 3. Senate District 3 includes the urban area of Pueblo and Pueblo West. Beulah, Rye, and Colorado City are in fact part of Larry Crowder's Senate District 35. We have no doubt that the pro-recall Chieftain would like for those redder locales to take part in this recall, but they can't. In a special election already fraught with misinformation, piling on with more really does no one any favors.
Above all: if you're going to proudly go in the tank, make sure you have basic facts straight.