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August 06, 2016 12:14 pm

The Most Transparently Stupid Editorial You'll Read This Year

  • by: Colorado Pols
Chuck Plunkett looks for a spot on Mike Coffman's soapbox
Sorry, Chuck Plunkett, but there’s no more room on this here soapbox.

The editorial board at the Denver Post has always been an unabashed defender of Congressman Mike Coffman. This is not something that any reasonable person could dispute with a straight face.

There may be isolated instances when Coffman has been slightly dinged in the editorial pages over the years, but by and large the Aurora Congressman is treated as a favorite child by the Post. This was true when Vincent Carroll was the editorial page editor, and it is certainly the case now that Chuck Plunkett is commanding the keyboard.

As we’ve said many times in this space, journalists are not infallible beings who are able to tuck away every inherent personal bias when writing about a particular subject, and it is unfair for anyone to expect otherwise. Everyone is biased, to some degree, about everything. But it is a different thing altogether when “bias” morphs from favoritism into outright prejudice — the kind of indefensible preconceived slants that are not supported by fact or logic and cannot be reasonably explained otherwise.

This is the kind of blind prejudice that drives an editorial such as the one that appeared Friday evening in the Denver Post (“Rep. Mike Coffman Right to Defy Donald Trump”) in which Mike Coffman is inexplicably defended for his ongoing tap dance about Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. This editorial, presumably written by Plunkett, is over-the-top silly, filled with blatant untruths and constructs so illogical that they end up making Coffman look bad by accident. Let’s take a look:

Good for Mike Coffman. On Thursday the Republican congressman from Aurora went farther than other political candidates in his party have gone by attacking Donald Trump in an online ad headed for a small television run.

The very first paragraph of the editorial is factually wrong. Coffman hasn’t gone “farther than other political candidates in his party” in attacking Donald Trump. Despite his criticisms, Coffman still won’t say whether or not he will support the GOP nominee in November; many other Republicans, such as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, have repeatedly said in public that they won’t even vote for Trump.

But it strikes us as odd for Coffman’s liberal critics to demand for months that he clearly state whether he would support Trump and then cry foul once he does not.

Come again? It’s “odd” that critics would continue to be concerned that Coffman still won’t take a position on Trump even after Coffman has refused to take a position on Trump? This makes no sense whatsoever.

While it’s true that Coffman once maintained he would support whoever won the GOP nomination, he did so in February, when he said he thought Sen. Marco Rubio would get the nod. And Coffman has used much the same language in his ad in recent past statements.

Try to explain this one without getting a migraine. It’s true, says the Post, that Coffman said he would back the Republican nominee for President…but he only said that because he was supporting Marco Rubio at the time, and he thought Rubio would be the GOP nominee.

What the Post is actually saying here is that Coffman was lying when he said he would support the GOP nominee for President, because what he really meant was that he would only support Marco Rubio as the GOP nominee. As a defense of Coffman, this is as blatantly illogical as “2+2=5.”

It’s also worth noting here the disservice that Plunkett does to Coffman, albeit on accident. We’re not aware of any other media descriptions of Coffman’s position on the Presidential race that directly implicate the Congressman as saying he would back the Republican nominee for President; it’s usually Coffman’s former spokesperson, Kristin Strohm, who gets the “credit” for saying Coffman would back the GOP nominee.

Another fact that ought to be obvious in considering whether Coffman’s words can be judged sincere: By challenging the shoot-from-the-hip nominee, he exposes himself to Trump’s vicious and vindictive ways. No small consideration, as any number of critics have learned.

Here the Post says that Coffman is definitely sincere in his criticism of Trump because most everyone else is afraid to say anything negative about Trump. This might make a modicum of sense if it were at all true that there was a general reluctance among politicians Americans at large to attack Trump. Plunkett would have you believe that Coffman is on the leading charge of anti-Trump sentiment, when in truth, the Aurora Congressman can’t even keep his narrative straight within the same news cycle.

This editorial by the Post and Plunkett is journalistic jaundice as its worst. We’ve come to expect this kind of editorial prejudice from the likes of the Colorado Springs Gazette, where editor Wayne Laugesen doesn’t even bother to pretend that his wife doesn’t take money from the same Republican politicians upon which the newspaper will heap praise, but the Denver Post didn’t used to be this way. Former Post editorial page editor Vincent Carroll was an unabashed supporter of conservative Republican principles, but he never would have blindly walked into the same logic traps that befuddle Plunkett here. Carroll didn’t hide his own biases, but he didn’t thumb his nose at factual truths, either.

As the writer E.B. White once said, “Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” Maybe Plunkett was just under a tight deadline. Maybe (probably) not. Whatever the reason, the result is an editorial that is so illogical and silly that it damages the credibility of an entire newspaper.

True prejudice and bias doesn’t recognize its own flaws, and neither does the Post in this instance. When your logic in defense of a subject is so terrible that the subject ends up looking worse as a result, you’ve lost the ability to even attempt to appear reasonable. This editorial is just plain silly, and “silly” is about the worst thing that can happen to a news organization.


65 thoughts on “The Most Transparently Stupid Editorial You’ll Read This Year

    1. This is fun stuff for us and Pols likes blowing the occasional gasket but really, nobody but us cares about how honest or dishonest Coffman is about years worth of fill-in-the-blank. That's not where this election is going to be won or lost. Most voters don't pay attention on anywhere near that granular a level.

      Tying him to an unpopular top of the ticket candidate and all his negatives simply by pointing out that he talks like an independent minded guy but goes along with his party and their candidate where it counts and presenting positive reasons to vote for Carroll instead is about as complicated as it need to be for voters. Such detailed tsk tsking will not penetrate. 

      But, hey. This is a political blog for political junkies and that's what we do because we like it. Pretty sure we know we're not changing many minds here.

  1. Who will Chuck Plunkett and the Post editorial board endorse for President? That's a more interesting question to me. They seem to be telegraphing that it won't be Trump. So….Clinton? Johnson? Stein? Bueller? Anybody?

    1. Harking back to when Dan Haley "made history" by pre-endorsing candidates for each party before the 2008 caucuses, I would wager that Plunkett will lobby the editorial board (what little remains of it anyway) to not endorse anyone — certainly not Hillary, for sure.

      1. Not so sure this time. He really does despise Trump and HRC is polling way ahead. Particularly if going into the final laps Trump looks as hopeless to win as he does now, Chuck and friends may as well endorse her over the crazy and or demented person. Did you see Kathleen Parker's  column in the Post today?

        1. Yes, I saw that.  But I believe Trump's behavior isn't a recent development.  He's always been a self-aggrandizing narcissist.  He is 70 so I guess you can't discount the possibility of encroaching dementia as well. I agree he lacks a filter between mind and mouth; when that developed is a good question.

          The column to me was more about Ms. Parker's own confessions about the effects of her condition.  But the new information for me was what Krauthammer had to say regarding Trump.  I knew he got his medical degree, but I didn't realize he ever practiced, especially not psychiatry.  I would be interested in hearing more of his opinion on Trump's mental state.  Perhaps he'll reveal his opinion after the election is over and Trump is back out of harming America's way.

          1. I agree Trump's general behavior isn't a new development but disagree that Parker's intent was mainly to talk about her own condition for her own sake. Clearly she was talking about it in this column as a window into exploring Trump's.

            Why can't Trump be a text book narcissist who is also suffering from the earliest stages of dementia? I don't suppose being a narcissist or sociopath protects one from suffering from dementia. And of course Reagan proved that suffering from the early stages dementia, as he so clearly was before the end of his first term, isn't an insurmountable barrier to election.

            Gee, wouldn't it be fun if the GOP turned out to be responsible for giving us both the first and second presidents ever elected despite suffering from early stage dementia with one of those also being the first narcissistic sociopath in the WH?

            Hmmm…maybe not so much

            1. While I agree Parker's intent was to compare her symptoms with Trump's to explain his bizarre behavior, I just didn't find her case particularly compelling (except her personal situation, which was very much so).

              What I do find interesting is that Trump has begun his own "Apology Tour", issuing endorsements to Ryan, et al, and even more astonishingly, admitting to be mistaken about the "secret" Iranian tape.

              I'm pretty sure that his campaign staff gave him an ultimatum late Thursday that either he own up to his mistake, or they would walk.  Ivanka and Donald Jr. probably convinced him that he didn't have a choice, either.

      1. So we can anticipate an HRC endorsement and on its heels a Coffman endorsement with the marching orders to stand strong against HRC? 

        What next? Paid advertisements from COGA posing as news?

        1. Either that, or Plunkett and the Editorial Board will twist themselves into logic pretzels trying to endorse Trump because he's Republican, and they're counting on other Republicans to rein him in and control him. And Supreme Court. And yada yada HRC Bad!!!!

          Logic is not the Post's strong point these days, sorry to say.

          1. The Plunkster must try to please the boss any way possible: Trump* gets it via Anyone But Hillary logic. 

            * – I'm still betting no Trump when November rolls around. 

          1. This just in. Chuck refers to Obama's factual explanation of the unfrozen Iranian funds being returned to Iran as part of the negotiations for the nuclear deal, so far a huge success, as Obama's "narrative" while still pushing the discredited ransom theory in today's Post. Never once mentioned it was Iran's money in the first place.

            The most annoying part of all this is that every Republican was complaining bitterly when the release of imprisoned Americans was not part of the nuclear deal. Clearly that release was achieved via delicate diplomacy getting that release in a way that allowed Iran to maintain that they were not forced to give up the Americans as one of the many unpopular (In Iran) conditions of that deal. That's how diplomacy works. A little face saving doesn't hurt anyone and gets the job done.

            Since there's nothing Rs hate more than an Obama success, instead of admitting they were wrong when they first got hysterical over the Obama administration leaving our people out of the negotiations and supposedly abandoning them, now they're doing a 180 blaming the Obama administration for getting them out.

            In order to do that they have to present the release of previously frozen Iranian funds as part of a successful deal as paying ransom.  That's the R's "narrative" and they're sticking to it because, as far as they're concerned, the Obama administration getting our people freed is bad news. Good news for them would have been all of them still rotting in Iranian prisons so they could blame Obama/HRC for it. Their execution would have been even better news.

            To bad, so sad for you and your GOP buddies it didn't work out that way, Chuckie. Have you seen Obama's approval ratings lately?

    2. The Denver Post will endorse Hillary Clinton for president, Michael Bennet for Senate and everyone of the incumbent members for the U.S. House.  That will very likely be how voters will go, too.

  2. The Denver Post's editorial actually harms Congressman Coffman's chances of winning the general election. The editorial board goes out of its way to justify Mr. Coffman's stance by stating that "Donald Trump is bad for the country and bad for Republicans, and Coffman is right to try to stand up to him," but above all they want the voters to believe, including Republican voters, that he is sincere in abandoning Trump and the board clearly wants all of us to believe Mr. Coffman won't vote for him either.

    The point here is what does this editorial communicate to the voters, especially the ones in CD-6 and even more importantly, to CD-6 Republicans?  There is somewhere in the neighborhood of 25% of CD-6 voters who are hardcore Trump supporters. They will never vote for Morgan Carroll or any other Democrat but this editorial unequivocally tells them Coffman has completely and forever abandoned Trump, the candidate they are most committed to. With that in mind, many of them won't vote for Mr. Coffman and they are voters he normally could count on. That makes it imperative for him to pick-up voters from a different segment of the voter spectrum and that's the rub for him.

    He has certainly convinced the Post he's completely and permanently abandoned Trump and he (and the Post) are counting on the fact that the key motivation for CD-6 voters rests on his support or lack of support for the Republican presidential candidate. That puts him in a very difficult spot. What if Mr. Trump's political fortunes recover over the next several weeks? If Coffman back tracks he'll look like a two faced politician and loose all credibility, especially among hardcore Republicans. And what is the Post going to say then, especially after they categorically said:  "Donald Trump is bad for the country." Is Trump suddenly going to be "good for the country?" Coffman has (and now with the help of the Post) cut himself off from CD-6 Republicans, especially the hardcore ones who, in the past, made up the most reliable part of his base.

    Coffman is in uncharted waters and there is no friendly port in site. The Post's editorial did not do Coffman any favors. All it accomplished was the further erosion of his Republican base.   

    1. Maybe Trump loving CD 6 Rs will vote for Trump and for whoever the Birchers run. down ticket.

      My husband's aunt in Idaho always votes Bircher for Prez but maybe Trump is loony enough for her tastes. Of course it never matters in Idaho. The only real races there are the primaries.

      Here, it's been a lot more interesting this century.

    1. Predicting this as "the most… editorial" is challenging: it IS incredibly early. I'm thinking Mr. Plunkett and the remainder of the Editorial Board may be warming up, and will hit their full stride as they try to write endorsements for all 7 US Reps, a Senator and a President.

  3. Question for Chuckles . . . 

    . . . so why the fuck is the brave Mikey continuing to still fundraisie to his base with e-mails stuffed full with Drumpfsferian falsehoods????   

    Brave, brave Sir Mikey . . .

    Brave, brave Sir Chucky . . .


  4. "But it strikes us as odd for Coffman’s liberal critics to demand for months that he clearly state whether he would support Trump and then cry foul once he does not."

    And somehow Plunkett claims to be an analyst of politics? This is exactly what every party tries to do — maneuver the opponent into a place from which he can be more easily criticized. Job well done, liberal critics. Job well done.

    1. +10. 

      That's Op-Ed Speak being used by the Plunkster. As has been already cued above, I can't wait for the logical twists and turns (and crash-and-burns) he and team use to try to sway their readers who give a crap and who might care what the Op-Ed page of the Denver Post says. 

  5. I really miss the Rocky. Not that I agreed with its editorial positions on most things but it kept the Post in line. Once we became the one-paper town, the Post really started circling the drain.

  6. If you're going to criticize someone's writing, yours ought to be up to par.

    Is it "by accident" or "on accident?"  You used both.

    I vote for the former.

        1. I would say "accidentally" or "by accident". “On accident” just sounds uncouth to me. Not sure why since "on purpose" sounds fine and nobody says "by purpose". "On accident" just isn't something I heard from educated people growing up back in the dark ages.

      1. More so every day, you?

        What I found suggested association with low SES, midwestern upbringing, youth;

        also a strong argument comparing similar constructions in other languages for “by.”

        1. Oh yeah, my age shows all over anymore . . . 

          . . . as does my immaturity. 

          Not sure why I went teh Google on (by?) this earlier this morning . . . 

          . . . other than maybe I guess I might have been feeling a little on-or-by curious???



    1. Using prepositions correctly is one of the most  difficult tasks for English learners. Unlike other languages, there is little consistency to the "rules" for when to use on, in, at. "By" at least implies causality, so I tend to stick with that.

      1. As in "death by misadventure". I guess "on purpose" doesn't involve causality and is more like "with purpose" which still doesn't make much sense for the use of "on". All I know is one sounds right to me and one doesn't! And I'm old.

          1. "Impactful" is my pet peeve and and you can't listen to  public radio without hearing it constantly. Also the answer to every question now begins with "so".

                1. One of the more irritating things to hear, as a matter of personal preference, is the prefacing of each new subject, and often each new sentence or paragraph, in a verbal narrative with the utterance represented here; "Now, blah, blah, blah…"

                  Most Polsters, I am betting, have never lived in an MSM training market where all the broadcasters fall into one of two categories. Either they are fresh out of school, hailing from who knows where, (which leads to a complete inability to pronounce words like "Uncompaghre".), or they are the ones who never got hired away to some other, larger market…for reasons that can best be explained by the Peter Principle. 

                  When one has been subjected to this sort of local news coverage for 4+ decades, all one can do is beg the forgiveness of ones fellow bloggers for our, perhaps, overly sensitive reaction to the evisceration of the English language.

                  You have always been, as memory serves me, very well written, but we do have differences of opinion on some generally trivial matters. I will not pretend that I am not, however unjustified, an expletive generating device during the excruciating process of watching local news in Grand Junction, Colorado.

                  And, thanks to those who might suggest the print media in Happy Valley as an alternative, but that won't help. It is not appreciably better in any way.

                  I might reiterate, DP, that I am speaking from personal preference only. I am not channeling William Safire…I am no expert. I just thought we were discussing peeves. There may be perfectly good reasons to substitute a four word phrase for a single adverb, but since there are at least 6 other synonyms for "mostly", I believe the incredibly frequent use of the phrase "for the most part" is unnecessary and unprofessional when it comes to writing or broadcasting.

                  Sufficiently unpacked…?




      2. Let us not overlook the unending assault on our dear, neglected, friend…the adverb… 

        " for the most part”..instead of “mostly" ? Really?

        …or should I say..”for real” ?

  7. You know, I'm one of the few remaining Denver Post hard copy readers.  It ain't cheap.  Someone needs to interview this creep and see if  he gets his news anywhere other than Faux News and Trump Press Releases.

    1. Me too. I'm hopelessly addicted to a print paper to read at my kitchen table in the morning. I feel guilty about continuing to buy this increasingly lame and expensive paper.  

  8. Colorado Pols' whine about the Denver Post's editorial is pretty hypocritical considering this whole website is based on Democrats can do no wrong and Republicans can't ever do anything right.  The difference is many more non-political junkies (regular voters) will see the DP editorial than will ever come here for political news. 

    Trying to get objective political news here is like reading The Onion to get the real news.

    1. ummmm…..It's a political blog where people exchange opinions as well as info, not a news site. Kind of the same deal with editorials. They are opinion, not news. 

      People can also read your opinions and the opinions of anyone else who cares to contribute here so WTF are you whining about.

      Don't like it? Feel free to stop dropping by.

    2. this whole website is based on Democrats can do no wrong and Republicans can't ever do anything right.  

      This comment is not true. Simply not true. NO ONE has ever claimed this site was non-political and objective… It definitely is generally left of center. But the claim you make is pure horseshit.

    3. You chose to get on here to promote your pro-Coffman talking points. You are still free to continue doing that, unlike some of the right blogs such as Redstate or  CPP, which censor or ban dissenting opinions.

      People may be a bit rough or rude in comments sometimes, but again, we’re mild-mannered compared to the abuse liberal commenters get on comparable right-wing politics sites.

      So you have no feedback on my "Coffman's VA Oversight : Too Little, too late" diary?





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