Denver Post Spontaneously Rediscovers Fact Checking

On its face, it's tough to argue with the story in the Denver Post today from reporter Ryan Parker. The story responds to a defense offered by Sen. Evie Hudak, as you know now in the hot seat for telling a testifying rape victim that "the statistics are not in your favor" in terms of defending one's self even if armed with a gun–which has subsequently gone viral on conservative social media. As Republican lawmakers and surrogates eagerly pounced on Sen. Hudak's "insensitivity," Hudak offered a statistic in defense of her argument, that 83 women die by a gun for every woman who kills with one in self-defense.

After scrutiny by the Post, Ryan Parker declares:

Seeking clarification on figures used by Hudak to support her claim, The Denver Post discovered the statistics are not an equal comparison to the argument.

Got that? Not "an equal comparison to the argument." You see, the study Sen. Hudak cited applies to women attacked by "intimate acquaintances," but the witness Hudak was responding to was attacked by a stranger. The Post's editorial board in their companion editorial blasting Hudak does note a more applicable study that shows in general that "individuals who possessed a gun during an assault were roughly 4.5 times more likely to be shot than those who did not." That's much closer to justifying what Hudak said, but unfortunately it's not the statistic she offered in her defense when the press started calling for comment.

It wasn't Sen. Hudak's finest hour. Her biggest mistake was in challenging in any way the obviously sincere and deeply-held opinion of this victim. The the only responsible thing to do in the situation Sen. Hudak was in is to nod empathetically, thank this woman for her testimony profusely, and do not attempt to take issue with anything she says. Late in an daylong marathon debate, after having been shouted at by thousands of angry citizens and deafened by honking horns, Sen. Hudak screwed up. Her underlying point was at least somewhat defensible, but she used it at the worst possible time, bungled the delivery, then was not adequately prepared to defend it.

Because we have consistently argued for better (or at least some) fact checking from the Colorado media, we would be hypocrites if we failed to acknowledge that the criticism of Sen. Hudak in both the news and editorial pages of the Denver Post today is more or less accurate. What doesn't make sense, though, is the relative scrutiny of Hudak's misstatements compared to what we have repeatedly described in this space as some of the most free-ranging truthlessness we have seen in any legislative debate in our over eight years covering this state's politics. Given the demanding requirement made on Sen. Hudak to not just be generally accurate, but really precisely accurate down to the minute details, here's some other items that we feel deserve the same treatment:

Sen. Greg Brophy's claim that House Bill 13-1224 would "ban shotguns."

The claim from Sen. Mark Scheffel and numerous other GOP legislators that House Bill 13-1229, closing the background check loophole, "would prohibit and criminalize the private transfer of firearms."

The claim from the president of the National Rifle Association to the Denver Post's own editor Greg Moore that post-Columbine gun law reforms were "reasonable," when in fact the NRA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing them.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg–what about the "Hick: don't take our guns" airplane banner that hardly any reporter bothered to correct even though it was laughably untrue? What about Sen. Randy Baumgardner's silly chestnut about hammers killing more people than guns? The fictional slippery slope from background checks to "universal registration?" Rep. Kevin Priola comparing magazine limits to internment of Japanese-Americans?

Folks, we're not displeased at the intensity and unforgiving nature of newsroom/editorial board scrutiny of the handling of this episode by Sen. Evie Hudak, or the defense she offered when called out on her remarks. But it's a high bar they've set, and it had better not stop with her–or it risks becoming something else entirely.

15 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

    • roccoprahn says:

      Well done, sir.

      • BlueCat says:

        Even so,  a lot more sensitivity to victims willing to come forward and make public statements in intimidating venues on matters such as these than what Hudak displayed both at the time and since in her apology is definitely required.  I'm not going to be like our rightie friends here in making excuses or  going on the attack by virtue of whether there is a D or an R attached to a name. Hudak was a jerk in her response to this young woman, her apology was not b much of an improvement and she gave the radical pro-gun lobby soemthing to feed the news cycle with. Not kind.  Not smart.

        • roccoprahn says:

          True enough. That was very unfortunate.

          Evie's my State Senator. She's done great work for19. She's tough, smart, and brave. There's no doubt this stance, as well as her very unfortunate reply to that very brave lady will hurt her in this Senate District. There are goobers by the bushel basket here, and it's going to resonate next run.

          Having said that, in all reality, we're probably lucky that her gaffe is pretty much the only case of frustration resulting from the non stop intimidation coming from the goonies packing chambers, on the steps, most likely in front of her home, by her car, on the street, and at the store.

          Next to the anti choice dead enders, like the harrassment reptiles outside Planned Parenthood Clinics, the gun lobby is probably the meanest, nastiest single issue group out there. And maybe the goonies are worse. It's close

          Make no mistake, the goon lobby is a one issue militia infused cult that doesn't listen to anything other than the dog whistling from the fire arms industry. Her reaction was poor, at best, but try to put that one comment in context with the slurs she and the other very gallant members of the Senate and House, trying to do this, are being pummelled with every day.

          Two wrongs don't make a right, but I can say, from volutnteering for her, going to Denny's monthly breakfasts, as well as City meetups at the VFW, watching her in very testy converstations, with really obnoxious partisans, she's cool and measured.

          That was unusual.

  1. The realist says:

    Minor correction needed: It was Randy Lee Baumgardner who said hammers kill more people than guns.



    • Colorado Pols says:

      Actually, they've both said it–Sen. Steve King said it Monday during the Judiciary Committee debate. But you're right that the link we gave we gave was to Sen. Baumgardner saying it, so we've corrected.

  2. JeffcoBlue says:

    If the Denver Post applied this level of scrutiny to the shit Rs say, the GOPers would get run out of town.

    Personal bias and a desire to keep controversy alive for newspaper sales. It's gross and it is obvious.

  3. GalapagoLarry says:


    But it's a high bar they've set, and it had better not stop with her–or it risks becoming something else entirely.

    And that something else might be — irrelevence? Sorry, the Post has already achieved that.

  4. dwyer says:

    Back in the day when I was young and hopeful, the newspaperS used to have

    a reporter who had the police beat.  Crimes committed would be reported, what kind and where.  It would be good if the Denver Post would resume reporting all crimes from the police blotter.  It would be good to see how many reported rapes there are in Denver and where they are occuring.  If the college campuses and parking garages are as dangerous as I think they are, then it is not just guns that we need to be talking about, but, rather, how do reduce crime in dangerous places.

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