KREX called Montrose County Dem "Slick Willie," omitted GOP lawmaker's link to failed recall attempt

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

August 14 and 15 broadcasts on Grand Junction's KREX News Channel 5 reported the unsuccessful effort to recall Democratic Montrose County Commissioner Bill Patterson, but omitted mention of the Republican elected official who reportedly was involved in the recall effort. Additionally, the anchor on the August 15 broadcast referred to Patterson as "Slick Willie" in noting that "the Montrose County district attorney cleared Patterson of any criminal wrongdoing."

Reporting on the unsuccessful petition drive to recall Democratic Montrose County Commissioner Bill Patterson, Grand Junction CBS affiliate KREX News Channel 5 on August 14 and 15 broadcasts failed to mention that Republican state Rep. Ray Rose (Montrose) reportedly had a role in the recall effort. In contrast, The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction reported on August 15 that Rose had publicized the petition "at a Republican fundraiser in May," had "delivered documents alleging malfeasance by Patterson to 7th Judicial District Attorney Myrl Serra," and had "held a press conference in June to bring attention to the recall attempt." The Daily Sentinel further reported, "After no wrongdoing was found, Rose distanced himself from the recall effort and said he had 'nothing to do with it.' "

In addition to omitting Rose's reported link to the recall effort, anchor Stan Bush referred to Patterson as "Slick Willie" during the August 15 broadcast of News Channel 5 at Noon even though his report noted that "the Montrose County district attorney cleared Patterson of any criminal wrongdoing."

As the Daily Sentinel reported on July 21, "A petition to recall Commissioner Bill Patterson, a Democrat, from office was based on documents given to Serra by state Rep. Ray Rose, R-Montrose, charging Patterson with 'serious financial improprieties and accounting irregularities.' " The article further reported:

To avoid a conflict of interest, Serra gave the documents to an independent agency, which he did not name in the news release he issued Friday.

"The result of the independent review is that based on the materials submitted, no probable cause exists for the filing of criminal charges in this matter against Commissioner Patterson," Serra wrote.

Rose first announced the recall petition at a Republican fundraiser in late May, and he outlined his views on the recall effort during a news conference June 13.

But when asked Friday afternoon about Serra's statement, Rose said he respected the decision and distanced himself from the recall effort.

"I didn't support it," he said. "I had nothing to do with it."

That seems to contradict statements Rose made in a two-page news release sent the day of his news conference in which he detailed Patterson's alleged misdeeds. It reads, in part: "These are very serious allegations of his lack of honesty, lack of integrity, lack of good judgment and illegal activities on the part of Mr. Patterson."

Anchor Keira Bresnahan -- who also is News Channel 5 news director -- reported on the August 14 broadcast of News Channel 5 at 5 p.m., "Montrose County Commissioner Bill Patterson is breathing a sigh of relief tonight. Petitioners failed to provide the county with enough signatures to place a recall of Patterson on November's ballot." She further noted, "The committee needed 3,950 signatures. But county clerk Fran Long says only 2,300 were valid. The clerk's office declared that 1,700 names were not eligible electors of Montrose County."

While the August 14 report aired an audio clip of Patterson saying that he "thought that they would be more careful in reviewing the signatures" and pointed out that "the district attorney cleared Patterson of any criminal wrongdoing," News Channel 5 made no mention of Rose's reported involvement in the recall effort or his later denial that he "had nothing to do with it."

Similarly, Bush introduced the August 15 broadcast of News Channel 5 at Noon with a reference to Patterson, saying, "Montrose's only elected Democrat dodges another bullet from his opponents." Later in the broadcast, however, Bush applied to Patterson the derisive nickname for former President Bill Clinton by stating, "Well, you might as well call him 'Slick Willie.' Montrose County Commissioner Bill Patterson is breathing a sigh of relief today." Bush further reported, "Earlier this month, the Montrose County district attorney cleared Patterson of any criminal wrongdoing. The petitioners have 15 days to file a protest, but Patterson speculates that the petitioners' method of gaining signatures may not have -- may have been fraudulent, and does not believe the committee will be able to gather the additional 1,700 names." Like Bresnahan, Bush failed to mention that Rose reportedly played a role in the recall effort.

Unlike News Channel 5, the Daily Sentinel reported in its August 15 article that "Patterson, a Democrat, said the petition drive was in part politically motivated" before noting Rose's involvement and conflicting statements:

The petition was first made public by state Rep. Ray Rose, R-Montrose, at a Republican fundraiser in May. Rose also delivered documents alleging malfeasance by Patterson to 7th Judicial District Attorney Myrl Serra, and Rose held a press conference in June to bring attention to the recall attempt.

Serra gave the documents to the La Plata County district attorney to see if an investigation was warranted, and Patterson was exonerated of any wrongdoing. Nothing was found to support allegations of malfeasance, Serra said.

After no wrongdoing was found, Rose distanced himself from the recall effort and said he had "nothing to do with it."

Rose said Tuesday afternoon, "If what I understand is correct, I'm sure Mr. Patterson is relieved, and he will be able to put this behind him."

From the August 14 broadcast of KREX's News Channel 5 at 5 p.m.:

BRESNAHAN: Montrose County Commissioner Bill Patterson is breathing a sigh of relief tonight. Petitioners failed to provide the county with enough signatures to place a recall of Patterson on November's ballot. The committee needed 3,950 signatures. But county clerk Fran Long says only 2,300 were valid. The clerk's office declared that 1,700 names were not eligible electors of Montrose County. The recall drive was based on a dispute over an alleged mishandling of funds and manipulation of business at Montrose Regional Airport.

PATTERSON [audio clip]: This was a professional organization that had been hired out of Denver to do this, and I thought that they would be more careful in reviewing the signatures that had been put down and make sure they had enough. Now, I thought it would be close.

BRESNAHAN: Earlier this month, the district attorney cleared Patterson of any criminal wrongdoing. The petitioners have 15 days to file a protest, but Patterson speculates that the petitioners' method of getting signatures may have been fraudulent and does not believe the committee will be able to gather the additional 1,700 names.

From the August 15 broadcast of KREX's News Channel 5 at Noon:

BUSH: Montrose's only elected Democrat dodges another bullet from his opponents. This is News Channel 5 at Noon.

[...]

BUSH: Well, you might as well call him "Slick Willie." Montrose County Commissioner Bill Patterson is breathing a sigh of relief today. Petitioners failed to provide the county with enough signatures to place a recall on Patterson on the November ballot. The committee needed 3,950 signatures, but county clerk Fran Long says they were only able to muster 2,300 valid signatures. The clerk's office declared that 1,700 names were not eligible electors in Montrose County. The recall drive was based on a dispute over the alleged mishandling of funds and manipulation of business at the Montrose Regional Airport.

PATTERSON [audio clip]: This was a professional organization that had been hired out of Denver to do this, and I thought that they would be more careful in reviewing the signatures that had been put down and make sure they had enough. Now, I thought it would be close.

BUSH: Another long line in the fight for Patterson. Earlier this month, the Montrose County district attorney cleared Patterson of any criminal wrongdoing. The petitioners have 15 days to file a protest, but Patterson speculates that the petitioners' method of gaining signatures may not have -- may have been fraudulent, and does not believe the committee will be able to gather the additional 1,700 names. Patterson is the only Democrat on the Montrose County Commission.

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