Beware of Unverified Claims by Credibility-Challenged Recall Campaigns

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here was The Denver Post headline about the campaign to recall Colo Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) last Tuesday: “Effort to recall Colorado Senate president on track as deadline nears, organizer says

And this was the newspaper’s headline three days later: “Organizers needed 13,506 signatures to force recall vote of Colorado Senate president. They handed in 4.”

So what happened? On Tuesday, the news story, if any, should have been about the approaching deadline, not about the anti-Garcia activists’ claim that they were on track.

That’s how Colorado Public Radio presented the story on Tuesday: “Campaign To Recall Senate President Leroy Garcia Plans To Turn In Signatures.”

If The Post had information Tuesday to confirm the claim of the recall campaign’s likely success (trusted sources, evidence of signatures gathered), then you could justify a story about imminent success. That would be good journalism. But such information did not exist.

Instead, The Post apparently simply regurgitated the claim, which lead CO PeakPolitics, a conservative blog, to gloat that Garcia had “arrogantly predicted” that voters had “no appetite” for a recall election. Oops.

PeakPolitics Post

The blog removed its post after the four-signature truth came out Friday, saying that no amount of correcting could have salvaged its story.

The Post left its piece in place, which was the right thing to do, and it now serves as a reminder that the shrill and unverified utterances or screams of small numbers of credibility-challenged discontents and their backers, while deserving of respect, shouldn’t dominate the news or certainly a news cycle, whether it’s at the beginning of a failed recall campaign or at the end of one.

This is especially true given that recall proponents demonstrated repeatedly that they weren’t credible.

House Republican Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock announced with gun extremist Dudley Brown that recalls against state Sen. Jeff Bridges (D-Greenwood Village) and state Rep. Meg Froelich (D-Englewood) were coming. They weren’t.

Backed by Brown and Neville, Colorado Republican Party Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown launched a recall of state Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora) on May 13. She dropped it less than a month later. The Colorado Politics story reporting on the Sullivan recall included this line:

Republicans and their conservative allies have said they plan to launch a dozen or so recalls against Democrats.

This also did not happen.

Organizers of the statewide recall efforts aimed at Colorado Gov. Jared Polis were similarly factually challenged. One group, calling itself the “Official” Polis Recall, never even pulled recall petitions. Donors were furious and demanded refunds. Rather than return the tens of thousands of dollars, however, leaders simply moved donors’ money from account to account before giving it… to themselves.

6 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. kwtree says:

    Colorado peak politics now has  a post blaming the Denver Post ( not the recall organizers) for giving them bad information. 😄

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Yeah it’s obviously that worthless Denver rag’s fault that Moderatus and his illiterate Pueblo ilk also can’t count past four??? . . .

      . . . hmmmmm, I wonder what fool in a stained blue dress penned crayoned that post??

      We took down our original blog, because it was flat wrong and no amount of correcting could have saved it us [from looking like the gigantic blithering douchetards we is].

    • Voyageur says:

      The Post was accurate in the sense that it doubtless accurately quoted the lie by the organizers and attributed it to them.  Where the paper had no ready source of independent verification, it left it to the Secretary of State to make the count.

      Whether it is adequate to objectively report a lie is an old journalistic dilemma.  Since the truth was sure to come out quickly, I think The Post did its job, albeit minimally.

      • Jason Salzman says:

        in a normal case, maybe, but the credibility of the Pueblo organizers was really low when The Post wrote its story. So in this case, it was the wrong decision, especially to make their claim the emphasis of the headline and story. 

        • Voyageur says:

          I disagree.  The Post also reported the high probability that the numbers would be short after the verification process.

          The facts came out very quickly.  The paper could have wasted many reporter hours to report them what, one day earlier?

      • bullshit! says:

        I think the headline was worse than the story and reporters don't usually write the headlines.

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