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May 13, 2009 07:55 PM UTC

Denver Post Belatedly Gives One Line Half-Nod to Udall on Credit Card Reform

  • by: Colorado Pols

We got a little impatient with our friends over at the Denver Post a couple of weeks ago, noting their obsessive coverage on a series of questionable polls about Colorado officials while completely ignoring a huge story on Sen. Mark Udall’s longsuffering credit card reform efforts. For one thing, we think that responsibly reporting on the latter would directly affect the results of the former–making their curiously silent status quo seem a little, well, irresponsible.

Weeks later, somebody in the Post editorial department finally, grudgingly mentioned Udall in reference to this extremely popular bill:

The so-called Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights has advanced from an earlier version penned by Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, who sponsored it when he served in the House.

That’s it. One throwaway line of halfhearted praise. We don’t really understand what’s going on here, since the Post’s newsroom still hasn’t written a single story about this, and a curt one-line acknowledgment that at some point in the past Udall may have had something to do with this bill, in an editorial, is not even close to meeting their journalistic responsibility.

No, for journalistic responsibility these days, we’re turning to the Pueblo Chieftain:

Mark Udall was still a congressman from Boulder when he authored the Credit Card Holder’s Bill of Rights in 2006, an ambitious list of consumer protections that garnered praise but little action from Congress.

Then Wall Street collapsed last summer and lawmakers suddenly needed to mollify voters infuriated at getting charged double-digit interest rates on their credit cards by banks that were begging Congress for billions in federal bailout funds.

Udall is now Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and earlier this month, the House voted 357-70 for legislation that kept Udall’s title and most of his language. It was sponsored and shepherded through the House by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and chairman of the House subcommittee on credit and financial institutions.

This week, likely Thursday or Friday, a similar bill will come to the floor in the Senate with Udall as a co-sponsor. In the rush to take action on credit card rates, senior New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a fellow Democrat, pushed to be prime sponsor but ultimately Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, took the lead.

Udall has some pride of authorship, but is more pleased the Senate is moving the bill.

This is part of a larger problem we predicted with the closure of the Rocky Mountain News, and the weakened nature of major local media in Colorado generally. In the absence of competition for good stories between robust newsrooms, there are fewer good stories. Worse, we begin to smell an agenda on this selective coverage, especially at the Denver Post. We’re not quite ready to say that the Post is just plain ignoring subjects inconsistent with Dean Singleton’s political agenda, and we still have great faith in certain reporters like Lynn Bartels, but there’s a growing consensus that we are getting markedly less important political coverage today than we were before the Rocky folded. And in the case of Udall’s credit card reform bill, the omission is a little dubious–this is a story that would definitely be of interest to their readers.

On the other hand, it was reported today that the Denver Post is considering a subscription wall for much of their news content, and a couple of weeks ago the Post announced it was scaling back delivery to outlying regions of the state. It remains to be seen what the effects of the Post’s diminishing reach will be, but we can’t imagine it will be bad for the Pueblo Chieftain


15 thoughts on “Denver Post Belatedly Gives One Line Half-Nod to Udall on Credit Card Reform

  1. This is a very thoughtful post.  I have wondered, since even before the Rocky’s shuttering, if Singleton hasn’t decided to wage an under-the-radar war against those officials and issues he decries.  I’ll never forget the front page, irrational diatribe against Ritter that defied any semblance of journalistic integrity.  Much like the “pro-life” movement, the aims haven’t changed, but the methods certainly have.  And it’s close to impossible to verify that this is the tactic.

    I have intuited that copy is less than even-handed and inclusive, but the lack of Udall coverage offers proof.

  2. As Steve Harvey pointed out proof is a mathematical concept, but this is clearly evidence.

    I am usually one to assign media failure to incompetence, laziness or insufficient resources, but the evidence is beginning to point to malevolent design at the Post.

  3. …the right-wing prejudices of the Post didn’t require closure of the Rocky to become evident.

    There are, as you point out, many, many ways a publisher and the editor he hires can and do influence coverage. None of them have to do with the work of individual reporters, and all of them are appropriate for a free press.

    There is, for example, a famous cliche to the effect, “forget about the stories, just let me write the headlines.” The same might be said for layout–page 1 or page 12? Above the fold or below? Eighteen inches or two? What’s not in the paper at all — or in/on any other media outlet — is just as relevant and revealing as what’s included.  

    Nothing wrong with any of this. Certainly it was evident in the era of the Founders–which was also the era of many, many newspapers and no real alternatives. But for the Post, it’s ultimately self-defeating in an era when papers are already endangered, since when it becomes glaringly obvious, as it now is, the paper loses credibility with those on the other side of the political aisle, loses readers, and presto! Denver becomes the second, will it be, major metro area without a daily paper. Time was newspapers were like franchises, except in a handful of cities with more than one. That era is passing/has passed. Blogs, wikijournos or not, come nowhere near to filling the gap. (I’d like to say the Rocky was a balancing act, but not really. For years it was the Republican paper to the Post’s Democratic stance; what changed is the Post.)

    A major, major crisis of American democracy is unfolding.

    1. Udall is an interesting mix. He runs away from his constituents and avoids any unscripted moments in public. But he brings forward some really good legislation. And he appears to be doing a good job in DC.

      It leaves me with mixed emotions because I think it is an absolute necessity for elected representatives to meet their constituents. It would be a lot simplier if Udall had been elected 100 years ago when our elected officials did not talk to the riff-raff.

        1. If it’s a controlled situation he does fine. But having an open forum event where people can ask him any question that is announced in advance, I’ll be shocked if he does them. In his last 2 years in the house he did one.

  4. of the Denver Post by looking at their line up of local columnists that appear on the Op-Ed pages: Vincent Carroll, David Harsanyi, Mike Rosen, Al Knight, John Andrews.  Nope nothing to see here.  Move along now folks.

    Harsanyi is the most left leaning of the bunch and he is a die hard Libertarian.  They might as well rebrand the Denver Post to the Fox Post.

    1. In a country with an African-American President, three female Secretaries of State in the last decade, a state with a 20% Latino voting population, and (until Groff’s departure for said President’s administration)all African-American leadership at the State Capitol, the Denver Post editorial lineup is overwhelmingly middle-aged heterosexual white men with a retrograde view of The Way Things Ought to Be.  None of them have managed a thought exceeding Mastery of the Obvious for years.

      No wonder the Post readership is tanking.  Not only is this group unoriginal, it’s completely irrelevant.


      1. Wonder how many Hispanics, African-Americans and other minorities subscribe to the Post. Probably a tiny fraction.

        Soon it’ll be the Denver Teabag.

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