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August 06, 2013 11:38 AM UTC

Pueblo Chieftain's Reporting Bias Getting National Attention

  • by: Colorado Pols

gironethicsMedia Matters for America picks up our criticism of a recent Pueblo Chieftain story, regarding an "ethics compliant" filed against Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo by an out-of-district Republican detractor ahead of her recall election next month:

Colorado newspaper The Pueblo Chieftain is credulously reporting on an alleged "ethics complaint" by Democratic State Sen. Angela Giron, which, according to a Colorado ethics watchdog group, will be "almost certainly dismissed as frivolous."

The Chieftain's reporting on the complaint — that Giron posted her state email address and phone number on her campaign website — is latest piece of questionable Chieftain coverage of the recall campaign targeting Giron over her support for stronger gun violence prevention laws…

According the top local news story in the August 3 edition of the Chieftain, "An Avondale man sent an ethics complaint in an email to the Colorado Secretary of State's office Friday" alleging that Giron "is using her state-provided email address and phone number on her campaign website." The complainant reportedly does not live in Giron's district, but contacted the Secretary of State because "he is not a fan of her politics, especially her votes on the state's gun control laws." The story also quoted Becky Mizel, chairwoman of the Pueblo County Republican Party, who falsely claimed that "Angela Giron has chosen to use state resources and taxpayer money for her own political gain," and added that she was "disgusted" by Giron's actions.

In response to the Chieftain article, left-leaning political blog Colorado Pols noted that a number of Colorado state legislators — both Republicans and Democrats — feature state contact information on their campaign websites. In fact, a Media Matters review of Colorado's 100 General Assembly members' campaign websites found that 53 members listed a state phone number, e-mail address and/or mailing address. [Pols emphasis]

After reading about this complaint, it was a simple matter for us to find plenty of Republican legislators who commit the same "infraction" on their own websites. Media Matters found more than half the Colorado legislature lists their official contact information on their campaign websites. The Chieftain reported the original complaint, and a silly, over-the-top response from Pueblo GOP chair Becky Mizel–never bothering to check if this is actually an uncontroversial standard practice. Which, big surprise here folks, it is:

In an interview with Media Matters, Colorado Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro called the allegations against Giron "extremely thin" and predicted that the complaint would "almost certainly [be] dismissed as frivolous." Toro noted that his assessment of the complaint was based on the contents of the Chieftain article as the complaint has not yet appeared on the Colorado Secretary of State website.

Toro told Media Matters that the allegations in the Chieftain article are not properly described as an ethics complaint, but would instead be correctly termed a campaign finance complaint as the complaint concerns Giron's conduct as a candidate, not as a legislator. He added, "The paper would do well to understand the difference between an ethics complaint and a campaign finance complaint" and that it "would be helpful for them to understand the underlying law" so that its readers could be informed as well.

Asked about the permissibility of using state contact information on a campaign website, Toro explained that "the reason everybody does it is because it's legal," and — noting that no money is involved in the allegation against Giron — added that "what's illegal is using state funds to contribute to a campaign."

Bottom line: of course, factuality was not what this Chieftain story was about. The sole purpose of this was to provide a headline for a completely frivolous complaint, ignoring or downplaying all the reasons it is frivolous. It's virtually certain that this "news" story about nothing will find its way into a mailer against Sen. Giron in the coming weeks, with the Chieftain's masthead, the headline and scandalous selective quotes.

That's why credible newspapers check to see if a story is worth writing. But it seems the Pueblo Chieftain is no longer interested in such basic journalistic best practices where the story concerns Angela Giron.


17 thoughts on “Pueblo Chieftain’s Reporting Bias Getting National Attention

    1. Pueblojangle – 

      So, are you an intern at the chieftan instructed to shill or paid shill for the recall campaign? Just want to know what kind of shill we're dealing with. 

        1. The return of H-man with a new employer.  If you can't tell the truth than blame Michael Bloomberg or George Soros.  I bet it cowers under it's bed at night clutching it's little gun and oh so fearful that the bogeyman is just outside the window waiting to confiscate it.

          Hey you little punk.  I bet nobody has come to your door since July 1st demanding that you surrender your guns.  Tell the truth you little liar.

        2. It reads like they've got some general purpose template for their shills has been used. Liberals or liberal group or liberal media or specific Dem Pol unjustly accuse conservatives or conservative group or conservative media or specific R pol of fill in the blank out of desperation and/or use strong arm tactics and/or are financed by George Soros and/or hate America and/or hate God and/or hate babies and/or hate Christians and (this is always an and, not an and/or) want to take away your guns and so forth.

          It's quick. It's easy. No knowledge required. No need to waste time on reading or listening to anything or tracking down any facts. Indeed, any ignorant intern can handle it.  You don't even have to pay them.

  1. That would be the Arlington VA based AFP, aka 'inside-the-beltway' east coast (nearly) elite (Arlington ain't low-rent) Plutocratic (Koch Bros)…coming to the defense of the Pweblo Whachyamacallit

      1. I have always been charmed by the pronunciation,

        "pee-eh-blow"… with the accent on the second syllable. I have heard a lot of old timers call it that.

              1. Nope..not a Yankee. Just what we southern boys call a “western gal”.
                I just spent a couple of weeks in Boston and southern Maine…now THOSE people are Yankees. They Pahk the cah in the yahd…and such. It is good to be home in Colorado where people talk normal…:)

              2. Nope..not a Yankee. Just what we southern boys call a “western gal”.
                I just spent a couple of weeks in Boston and southern Maine…now THOSE people are Yankees. They “pahk the cah in the yahd”…and such. It is good to be home in Colorado where people talk normal…:)

  2. Most people here say, "Pee eh bluh", or "Pweblow", which i closer to the original Spanish origin of the name for "people". Pueblans say, "Puh'EHblo".  I just still get tickled thinking of Bill O Reilly, mid-rant, spitting out, "Peee blow".  I'm easily amused, I guess.

    Speaking of ranters, I saw Peter Roper from the Chieftain at the Giron fundraiser at the Union Depot last night. He was keeping a low profile, talking to a few people. Mending fences?  One can hope.

    I should say that, as a kid of a 25 year  "newspaperman", I don't want to see any newspaper die. We as a society need a variety of media and viewpoints, I think.  My belief is that the Chieftain needs to adapt its editorial stance, as well as its digital presence, in order to survive in the modern era.

    Pee-eh-blans have a special nostalgia for the history of our town, even transplants from Denver like myself.  We like our Passkey sandwiches, Union Street,  and to walk and boat on the Arkansas and Fountain waterways. We like to visit the well-planned parks system that a generous union economy put in place. So maybe part of P'EHblo nostalgia is to have a cantankerous, opinionated, 145 year old newspaper uncle named "Chieftain".

    The riverwalks and the Passkey franchises are self or tax supported, though. The Chieftain isn't. I think it will have to adapt, and it will be interesting to see if it can do it.

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