On Independent Thinking, Caldara omitted guest's GOP ties in attacking Democrats

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Jon Caldara interviewed website operator Brad Jones on KBDI Channel 12's Independent Thinking about Jones' conservative site posting a Democratic legislator's controversial email disparaging charter school supporters. But he did not disclose Jones' ties to numerous Republican candidates and to the conservative Independence Institute think tank, of which Caldara is president.

During the April 6 broadcast of KBDI Channel 12's Independent Thinking, host and Independence Institute president Jon Caldara asked guest Brad Jones, operator of the conservative website FacetheState.com, to tell him "a little bit about the reaction" after Jones published a controversial email from Rep. Michael Merrifield (D-Manitou Springs) that disparaged charter school supporters. Jones replied, "There's a lot of talk about me and attacking me and my colleagues," but he and Caldara failed to disclose that, as Colorado Media Matters has noted, Jones has worked as a contractor for numerous Republican candidates and with the Independence Institute. Further, Caldara suggested that Merrifield is "anti-children" and "anti-education," but he failed to mention that Merrifield was an award-winning public school teacher for three decades.

The broadcast dealt with Face the State's March 29 posting of the December 8 email that Merrifield sent to state Sen. Sue Windels (D-Arvada) in which he criticized charter school supporters. Merrifield wrote, "There must be a special place in hell for these Privatizers, Charterizers and Voucherziers. They deserve it!" According to a March 31 Rocky Mountain News article, Face the State obtained the email by "fil[ing] an open-records request for Windels' correspondence."

Caldara asked Jones to talk "a little bit about the reaction after you published this [email by Merrifield]." While Jones acknowledged that "the reaction has been partly against Mike Merrifield," he stated that he also has been criticized for publishing the email, with critics citing his public records request:

JONES: And the fallout response has also been that a lot of radical liberal blogs and people in that kind of sphere of influence are attacking the source and not the actual issue. There's a lot of talk about the appropriateness of us asking for open records requests. There's a lot of talk about me and attacking me and my colleagues when --

CALDARA: Well, it shows me -- I like attacking you too, so that's not a problem.

JONES: Exactly. A lot of people do, and I'll take it. But we should really be talking about the issues here.

But Caldara and Jones failed to disclose that Jones has worked for Windels' 2004 opponent in the state Senate District 19 election, Jessica Peck Corry, who is director of the Independence Institute's Campus Accountability Project. Colorado Media Matters has pointed out that Jones worked as research assistant under Corry's direction, as evidenced by a brief biographical note at the end of an online article that they co-wrote. Jones also has a byline on another article posted on Corry's website.

Further, Caldara and Jones failed to note that as a member of the College Republicans at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Jones participated with Corry in a controversial anti-affirmative-action activist bake sale that charged different prices for baked goods depending on the customer's skin color.

During the same broadcast, Caldara claimed that Merrifield was "anti-children" and "anti-education" by citing reported comments from Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma):

CALDARA: Well, there's also a lot of pressure among the state legislators. Representative Cory Gardner from Yuma was up there saying, "Wait a second, Mr. Speaker of the House, this is the guy you put in charge of the education committee and he's anti-children, he's anti-education, he wants people to roast in hell?"

However, Caldara failed to mention that Merrifield "taught public school for 30 years, including 16 years as teacher and director of choirs at Coronado High School in Colorado Springs. His choirs earned national recognition, and he received the Crystal Apple award in 2000 as one of Colorado Springs School District 11's finest educators," according to Merrifield's website.

From the April 6 broadcast of KBDI Channel 12's Independent Thinking:

CALDARA: Talk to me a little bit about the reaction after you published this.

JONES: Sure. It's, it's been interesting that the reaction has been partly against Mike Merrifield. Very early on he was unapologetic. He told April Washington of the Rocky Mountain News that it was well known that he objected to charter schools and didn't really address his language at all. Someone in legislative leadership, I think, had a conversation with him Friday morning after this story had broken.

CALDARA: Well, there's also a lot of pressure among the state legislators. Representative Cory Gardner from Yuma was up there saying, "Wait a second, Mr. Speaker of the House, this is the guy you put in charge of the education committee and he's anti-children, he's anti-education, he wants people to roast in hell?"

[...]

JONES: And the fallout response has also been that a lot of radical liberal blogs and people in that kind of sphere of influence are attacking the source and not the actual issue. There's a lot of talk about the appropriateness of us asking for open records requests. There's a lot of talk about me and attacking me and my colleagues when --

CALDARA: Well, it shows me -- I like attacking you too, so that's not a problem.

JONES: Exactly. A lot of people do, and I'll take it. But we should really be talking about the issues here. And it's a good thing -- I mean, the one good thing coming out of all of this is that we're talking about the great success that charter schools are having around the state to give parents and kids the chances that they need to get a good education.

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