Face the State provided more distorted, inaccurate headlines

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

The "news" website Face the State suggested on its August 21 front page that Colorado media outlets are gratuitously covering a conflict-of-interest controversy surrounding Colorado State Board of Education member and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer, when in fact an Associated Press article it linked to with the headline "MEDIA STILL STUCK!" advanced the story with new developments. As Colorado Media Matters has noted repeatedly, Face the State frequently uses misleading headlines on its aggregated news articles.

On August 21 the "news" website Face the State suggested through the headlines "MEDIA STILL STUCK!" and "FLASHBACK: SAME OLD STORY ..." -- which linked to August 21 and August 8 Associated Press articles, respectively -- that Colorado media outlets are giving gratuitous coverage to ProgressNowAction executive director Michael Huttner 's conflict-of-interest accusations against Colorado State Board of Education member and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer.

As The Denver Post reported on July 31, ProgressNowAction accused Schaffer "of selling his vote on the Colorado State Board of Education to the owner of a charter school company." The August 8 article to which Face the State linked similarly reported that Huttner accused Schaffer of "hypocrisy" for having "told board members they should disclose donations from people doing business with the board" before "accept[ing] contributions to his Senate campaign from a board consultant."

Face the State linked to the two articles under the banner headline "HUTTNER AT IT AGAIN!!" -- implying that Huttner had instigated the August 21 AP article. In fact, the AP reported that at an August 20 meeting, "[m]embers of the Board of Education drew up a draft code of ethics" following Huttner's accusation.

Face the State describes itself as "a one-stop-shop for political news affecting Coloradans." On the July 1 broadcast of KTVD Channel 20's Your Show, founder Brad Jones stated that "if ... your [website] content is regularly incorrect you will lose credibility." As Colorado Media Matters has documented repeatedly (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), Face the State frequently publishes misleading headlines on its aggregated news articles.

From Face the State on August 21:

Huttner at it again!!

Media still stuck!

Flashback: Same old story...

As the AP reported on August 8, "The head of a liberal advocacy group is accusing Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer of hypocrisy for advice he gave his fellow members of the state Board of Education on disclosing contributions." The article continued: "ProgressNowAction executive director Michael Huttner said Schaffer told board members they should disclose donations from people doing business with the board. Huttner said Schaffer then accepted contributions to his Senate campaign from a board consultant."

Contrary to Face the State's suggestion that the AP's August 21 article merely restated the "same old story" it had reported on August 8, the AP, in fact, advanced the story with the news that the Board of Education had begun to take action to address possible conflicts of interest.

From the August 21 Associated Press article, "Education Board Takes Up Ethics Code Proposal":

(AP) DENVER Members of the state Board of Education drew up a draft code of ethics on Monday, saying they need guidelines to know when they cross the line and take action on issues that could leave them vulnerable.

Assistant attorney general Tony Dyl told board members if they have questions about whether they should vote on a matter before the board, they probably should recuse themselves. He also told the board that it's difficult to draw up a code that covers every contingency.

"You don't want a code of ethics that is so restrictive it paralyzes the board from action," he said.

The August 21 article further reported that the board acted after Huttner noted Schaffer received a $3,600 Senate campaign contribution from the owner of a company to which Schaffer voted to award a contract:

The board asked for help after the head of a liberal advocacy group accused board member Bob Schaffer, who also is a GOP Senate candidate, of hypocrisy for advice he gave his fellow members of the state Board of Education on disclosing contributions.

ProgressNowAction executive director Michael Huttner said Schaffer told board members they should disclose donations from people doing business with the board and then accepted contributions to his Senate campaign from a board consultant.

Huttner said Schaffer cast the deciding vote to award a contract to a company owned by David Brennan, which provides programs for charter schools, and accepted $3,600 in contributions from Brennan for his Senate campaign.

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