From time to time we engage in local media criticism here at Colorado Pols, and The Denver Post has been on the receiving end of a few barbs here and there. We try not to go overboard on media criticism, however, because in general we've always felt that the Colorado media does a fairly good job at covering politics in our state. Some reporters and editors are better than others, and mistakes are made in this profession as in any other. We understand that.
With that in mind, and with all hyperbole aside, Kurtis Lee of The Denver Post penned what may be the most irresponsible, inexcusable, shamefully-inaccurate bit of tripe we've seen published in a major newspaper in some time. Seriously.
Maybe the fault isn't all on the part of Lee. Perhaps Political Editor Chuck Plunkett played a significant role here (Lee certainly didn't write the headline, after all). Whatever the case, this is crap. If you haven't read the story titled, "Colorado GOP Senate candidates seek outsider status in shutdown," click on the link and give it a quick once-through. The story is ostensibly about how Republican Senate candidates Ken Buck, Owen Hill, Randy Baumgardner and Amy Stephens are trying to cast themselves as "outsiders" in their bid for the 2014 seat held by Democrat Mark Udall. It's a nice idea, and it makes sense for the candidates to be trying to distance themselves from the GOP disaster on Capitol Hill. But there's one HUGE problem with the story: IT ISN'T TRUE.
As leaders in the U.S. Senate sounded optimistic on Tuesday about a deal to end the government shutdown and find consensus on debt ceiling negotiations, Colorado Republicans vying to replace Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall were aligned in keeping their distance from Washington...
…Those vying to take Udall's seat in 2014 offered few specific ideas Tuesday on how to reopen the government, but instead cast blame toward those on Capitol Hill.
"The ongoing soap opera over the shutdown and debt limit is sad proof that Washington, D.C. is broken," said state Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs in a statement. "As long as politicians in DC think they can run our lives and plan our economy, we will never have sustainable solutions. This is why we need innovative leaders who will make the case that a little more or a little less of the old, broken way of playing politics will never solve the problems we face as a nation today." [Pols emphasis]
Hmm, that's odd to see Hill talking about himself as a different "innovative" kind of leader who is "casting blame" on Washington. Perhaps this is a different Owen Hill than the one who signed a petition promising to do everything he could to defund Obamacare, even if it meant opposing any budget that would include funding for the healthcare measure. Hill has pledged his support to the budget defaulting strategy being driven by Sen. Ted Cruz. He's not even hiding it.
And what about Ken Buck? As the Post "reports":
"We need to have a balanced budget and cannot keep increasing the deficits we already have," Buck said. "The shutdown is terribly unfortunate. It's unfortunate to the government and those businesses that have to do work with the government."
Not only did Buck sign the same pledge as Hill, he's been tweeting using the hashtag #StandWithCruz.
The Post story is so ridiculous that it almost points out that its entire premise is wrong near the end of the article:
State Sen. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs did say he would not support an increase in the debt ceiling, despite global concerns about the U.S. going into default.
Really? Really? Sen. Baumgardner said he would not support an increase in the debt ceiling? He supports Ted Cruz? SO DO BUCK AND HILL!!!
Reading the Post article, it almost seems as though someone in the Republican Party called up an editor or reporter and said, Hey, we could really use a story about how our candidates for Senate are not like those dunderheads in Congress who support defunding the government because of Obamacare. I mean, they DO support those dunderheads, but could someone write a story that says the exact opposite? Thanks.
Either Lee and/or his editors were completely ignorant of reality in this case, or they willfully agreed to write a story that wasn't true. It's a tremendous black eye for the Post, and for journalism in general, that someone could pick up the paper and read this story, and come away with the impression that Hill, Buck and Baumgardner are a different kind of Republican than the type causing chaos in Washington D.C. It's a disgrace, really, because if you ask Hill, Buck or Baumgardner separately — hell, if you just perform a simple Google search — you'll see that the truth is completely different from what was reported in the biggest newspaper in Colorado.
The only way this story could have been less factual is if it claimed that Udall was in fact the driving force behind shutting down the government, though at least then perhaps the Post would have bothered with trying to quote someone who isn't a Republican (which they failed to do in this story as well).
You can't account for bias in reporting, and we accept that. But facts are facts. Period.