Colorado media parrot GOP's "Democrat [sic] Party" label

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Echoing Republican politicians, strategists, and radio hosts, several Colorado media figures recently have used the word "Democrat" as an adjective to describe things or people of, or relating to, the Democratic Party.

Echoing Republican politicians, strategists, and radio hosts, several mainstream Colorado media figures recently have engaged in the practice -- noted by Media Matters for America -- of employing the word "Democrat" as an adjective to describe things or people of, or relating to, the Democratic Party. Newsradio 850 KOA host Mike Rosen, an avowed Republican, explained during his July 18 broadcast that "[t]he reason why some Republicans -- myself included -- sometimes refer to it as the 'Democrat' Party ... is several-fold." Rosen said that one reason is "just to annoy Democrats, 'cause they hate when we do that" and that another reason is to ensure "that readers won't be confused into thinking that this is the party that's democratic and the other party is anti-democratic." But in recent months, presumably nonpartisan Colorado media outlets -- such as KCNC CBS4, the Rocky Mountain News, and Denver Post editorial writer Dan Haley in his weblog, "Haley's Comment" -- also have used "Democrat" instead of "Democratic."

In an August 7 article, New Yorker magazine senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg noted that the word "Democrat" is a noun, not an adjective:

The American Heritage College Dictionary, for example, defines the noun "Democratic Party" as "One of the two major US political parties, owing its origin to a split in the Democratic-Republican Party under Andrew Jackson in 1828." (It defines "Democrat n" as "A Democratic Party member" and "Democratic adj" as "Of, relating to, or characteristic of the Democratic Party," but gives no definition for -- indeed, makes no mention of -- "Democrat Party n" or "Democrat adj".) Other dictionaries, and reference works generally, appear to be unanimous on these points.

Citing Hertzberg's article, Media Matters noted that Republicans' widespread use of the noun "Democrat" as an adjective was part of a deliberate strategy disseminated by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Republican pollster Frank Luntz. Hertzberg stated that Republicans "as far back as the Harding Administration" have referred to the "Democrat Party," including the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), who "made it a regular part of his arsenal of insults," and former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS), who "denounced 'Democrat wars' ... in his [1976] Vice-Presidential debate with [former Sen.] Walter Mondale [D-MN]."

In his article, Hertzberg also noted that "among those of the Republican persuasion," the use of " 'Democrat Party' is now nearly universal" thanks to "Newt Gingrich, the nominal author of the notorious 1990 memo 'Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,' and his Contract with America pollster, Frank Luntz." While Hertzberg noted that Luntz "road-tested the adjectival use of 'Democrat' with a focus group in 2001" and "concluded that the only people who really dislike it are highly partisan adherents of the ... Democratic Party," he also wrote that Luntz had told him recently that "[t]hose two letters ['ic'] actually do matter," and that Luntz "recently finished writing a book ... entitled 'Words That Work.' "

During campaign appearances, President Bush frequently substitutes "Democrat" for "Democratic," as he did during an October 4 fundraiser for Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez:

I strongly believe that we've got to give our folks the tools necessary to protect you. In this case, Senate Democrats, key members of the Democrat Party tried to kill a bill that would have given people the tools necessary to protect you.

Beauprez himself also substitutes "Democrat" for "Democratic," as he did in an interview with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio's Colorado Matters that aired on September 3, 4, and 9. Beauprez referred to the "Democrat Party" while explaining the outcome of a House vote on an amendment to an immigration bill regarding criminal penalties for illegal immigration:

BEAUPREZ: I want to be very clear on the felon question. I actually voted for an amendment that would have reduced that to a misdemeanor. And the reason that that did not pass is that overwhelmingly the other party -- the Democrat Party -- voted against that.

In addition to Rosen, other conservative Colorado media personalities have substituted "Democrat" for "Democratic."

On the September 26 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show, co-host Dan Caplis referred to the "Democrat elite" and the "Democrat Party" during a discussion of the upcoming elections. Similarly, former Republican Colorado Senate president John Andrews also referred to the "Democrat Party" during a discussion about Connecticut Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont on the September 10 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio.

However, in recent months, the incorrect replacement of "Democratic" with "Democrat" has not been limited to Republican politicians and conservative media figures. For example, in an October 24 article by reporter Lynn Bartels titled, "Dems Drop Complaint," the Rocky Mountain News referred to "Democrat attorney Ed Ramey":

A Democratic attorney confirmed Monday he has dropped his complaint against a top GOP group accused in a blog of laundering money.

Democrat attorney Ed Ramey said he dropped the complaint after the Trailhead Group presented him with financial documents about its contributions.

On the September 5 broadcast of CBS4 News at 10 p.m., reporter Raj Chohan began a "Reality Check" segment analyzing a campaign ad attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter by referring to "Democrat candidate for governor, Bill Ritter." (An online written version of the Reality Check correctly referred to "Democratic candidate for governor, Bill Ritter.")

CHOHAN: Democrat candidate for governor, Bill Ritter, is the target of a tough new TV ad by the Trailhead Group, a 527 committee with connections to Governor [Bill] Owens, Pete Coors, and other big money Republicans. The ad is a TV version of the radio attacks you've probably heard that portray Ritter as a weak prosecutor.

On October 17 and 18, Denver Post editorial writer Dan Haley published items on his Post weblog "Haley's Comment," in which he referred to the "Democrat party" and "Democrat support," respectively:

From the October 17 Denver Post "Haley's Comment" weblog entry, "Big Sky Dem goes a mile high":

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, considered a rising star in the Democrat party, will co-host a fundraiser Thursday for Democrat Bill Ritter's gubernatorial campaign.

From the October 18 Denver Post "Haley's Comment" weblog entry, "New poll: Musgrave increases lead":

Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave leads Angie Paccione by 10 points, according to a SurveyUSA poll. Musgrave led by only 4 points in a previous SurveyUSA poll. The difference seems to be Musgrave picking up more support from male voters and Paccione losing some Democrat support.

From the July 18 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show:

ROSEN: Charles Harrington Elster is our guest, his most recent book: The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations. All right, let's talk about "Democrat" versus "Democratic" when referring to the proper noun, the Democratic Party -- with a capital "d," as opposed to a lower-case "d." I think your analysis was correct, the official name of the party -- and I've looked up this, I've looked up this factoid because it's come up in the past -- is the Democratic Party, and a member of that party is called a Democrat. The reason why some Republicans -- myself included -- sometimes refer to it as the Democrat Party rather than the Democratic Party is several-fold. One is, just to annoy Democrats, 'cause they hate when we do that, I'll admit to that. Another is that calling it the Democratic Party is self-serving on the part of Democrats because they arrogate -- and I like that word in this context -- to themselves some exclusivity between the two major parties toward the one that is "Democratic" -- the implication being the other isn't. So those are two of the motivations that come into play. If -- if I'm talking about this party as a political force with its own agenda, there are times when I prefer to call it the "Democratic" Party -- excuse me, the "Democrat" Party -- so that readers won't be confused into thinking that this is the party that's democratic and the other party is anti-democratic. So there you go. That's the explanation.

From the September 26 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show:

CAPLIS: And this is where the Democrat elite just don't have a feel for the American people, including the real Democrats. Because the American people and the real Democrats are smart. I mean, they understand a lie when they hear one. They understand bluster. They understand somebody acting unpresidential. They understand somebody being partisan. So if that's the path to victory, you know, more power to you. I don't think it is at all. But I think what it was was it was a guy just venting his frustrations because he looks at the landscape. He doesn't see anybody on the Democrats' side who can seize the reins now. He, you know, hates Republicans the way some Republicans used to hate him and it's driving him crazy that the Democrat Party can't take advantage of the political opening he sees now. But he just doesn't get it. The reason is because across party lines, the American people don't want to lose in Iraq. They don't want to lose to terrorists, so the Democrats are left without a message.

From the September 10 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio:

ANDREWS (addressing guest, former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong): We're coming to the political topic that I -- I want to explore with you in our final minutes together. We can make a transition through the recent primary in Connecticut where your one-time U.S. Senate colleague Democrat Joe Lieberman was upset by anti-war, get-out-now peace candidate businessman Ned Lamont. Do you see that as setting a trend -- or confirming a trend that was already evident in the Democrat Party -- of just turning their back on those national security considerations that you just spelled out?

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