Statesman gave GOP platform to bash Ritter, legislative Democrats, but omitted a Democratic response

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Wrapping up the 2007 legislative session, The Colorado Statesman in its June 8 edition published two articles that uncritically reported Republican attacks on Gov. Bill Ritter (D) without providing any Democratic response. One article reported that Ritter "for the most part went along with the union and trial lawyer interests that drive his party"; the other article quoted House Minority Leader Mike May's (R-Parker) suggestion that Ritter didn't follow through on his campaign agenda.

In its June 8 edition, The Colorado Statesman (available through subscription) published two separate articles featuring Republican attacks on Gov. Bill Ritter (D) and the Democratic-controlled legislature without providing a single Democratic response. In fact, a front-page article titled "Ritter caves to liberal groups, says GOP" quoted the criticisms of Republican state Reps. Mike May (Parker) and David Balmer (Centennial), as well as Republican state Sens. Ted Harvey (Highlands Ranch) and Greg Brophy (Wray), about Ritter's alleged "union [and] trial lawyer bias," but it failed to include a comment from the governor himself.

The front-page article by Terry Scanlon reported, "While Republicans cheered some of Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter's recent vetoes they said the freshman governor for the most part went along with the union and trial lawyer interests that drive his party. The vetoes he did cast were merely token measures designed to appease the business community, many of whose leaders supported his campaign last fall, Republicans said." The article then quoted May as saying, "Gov. (Bill) Owens vetoed these regulatory bills last year and candidate Ritter said he would not sign some of the same bills ... so I guess he tried to hold true to his campaign pledge."

The article also reported that Balmer "agreed with the suggestion of other Republicans that Ritter was 'soft' when it came to saying no to labor, lawyer and environmental interests" and uncritically quoted him as saying, "For some reason he [Ritter] didn't veto any of the trial lawyer bills ... [h]e let the trial lawyers pass almost everything they attempted to pass." Further, the Statesman quoted Harvey's assertion that Ritter signed "15 bills [sic] anti-consumer, anti-regulatory bills." The article included Brophy's comment that the 2007 legislative session "was about blue ribbon panels to study issues you ought to already understand ... [b]ut what everybody is going to remember is the property tax increase that was shoved through in the eleventh hour -- that's going to be a defining issue of the session."

Despite the numerous criticisms of the governor's legislative agenda, the article did not include a single response from Ritter or any member of the legislature's Democratic majority.

Similarly, another June 8 Statesman article, "House Republicans says Dems' 'Colorado Promise' was hurtful to business," uncritically reported May's attacks on Ritter's policies. The article, which ran without a byline, echoed GOP talking points critical of Ritter's "Colorado Promise" agenda, and it quoted May as saying, "The Colorado Promise doesn't mean anything if you don't intend to keep it ... Where is the pro-business Ritter that campaigned for governor?" The article noted that "House Republicans had dubbed many of the bills [coming out of the Democratically-controlled legislature] as damaging to Colorado consumers and business," but did not include any Democratic comment. The article also listed a number of bills vetoed by Ritter and former Gov. Bill Owens that May recognized with a "Golden Anvil Award," which he created in 2006 "as a way to highlight legislation that would have particularly damaging consequences for the Colorado business community and for consumers." The Statesman reported that "May said he was pleased to see the legislature kill four of the bills he had granted the dubious honor of receiving the Golden Anvil Award."

According to the Statesman's website:

The Colorado Statesman focuses its in-depth coverage on local and statewide politics, including the Colorado Legislature, state government, public policy issues, campaigns and elections, the state's political parties, and the people and personalities behind them. We are nonpartisan and do not endorse candidates; instead, we provide our targeted audience of decision-makers around the state with excellent information on which they can form their own opinions.

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