During a KNUS radio interview Saturday, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman implied that ColoradoPolitics reporter Joey Bunch is writing unflattering articles about her gubernatorial campaign at the behest of Republican mega-donor Phil Anschutz, who owns ColoradoPolitics and the Colorado Springs Gazette through Clarity Media.
KNUS 710-AM HOST CRAIG SILVERMAN: [at 12 minutes] I don’t know if your ears were burning last night, but on “Colorado Inside Out”, Joey Bunch — veteran political reporter — said, “What’s up with Cynthia Coffman? She doesn’t really have a campaign.” I know you have a website now. But, do you have a full- blown campaign? Do you have a campaign manager? Are you ready to really participate in this race?
COFFMAN: You know, I’m going to say, “Baloney!” to Joey. Joey Bunch works for the Colorado Springs Gazette, owned by Phil Anschutz, who has already put out an editorial saying everyone in the Republican primary field should just clear the way for [Colorado Treasurer] Walker Stapleton, because that’s who [Anschutz] supports. So, I think you need to consider the source. Yes, I have a campaign. As I told you, I won Attorney General statewide by a higher percentage than anyone else. I know how to run a statewide campaign and I think people need to stop worrying about the girl in the race.
In fact, the Gazette published a finger-wagging editorial last month stating that Coffman and the other GOP gubernatorial candidates, except Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton, “would do themselves and their party a favor by selflessly clearing the field and helping [Stapleton] win against the odds.”
And, in fact, Bunch appeared on Colorado Inside Out Friday, saying, “You know what is holding up? The fact that Cynthia Coffman doesn’t have a campaign or a message or any momentum at all. And she also doesn’t have any money.”
And, in fact (again), Bunch has posted multiple articles that raise questions about Coffman’s campaign (e.g., here, here, here, and here). ColoradoPolitics reporter Ernest Luning has written one as well.
But unfortunately, those three facts don’t come close to proving that Anschutz is dispatching Bunch to attack Coffman in hopes of promoting Stapleton.
Coffman’s implied accusation is the kind that’s heard when a journalist is reporting information that a candidate doesn’t want to hear.
And in this case, Coffman hasn’t responded to Bunch’s specific points, made by other political observers as well, about lack of money, momentum, or campaign operations. So the evidence-free implication about Bunch being in Anschutz’s tank serves as little more than the ultimate insult for a professional journalist.
In an email, Bunch stood behind his reporting, writing, “I’ve reported what’s she said, her financial report and what appears to be a lack of an organized campaign or clear message on transportation and where she stands on abortion, something that matters deeply to the Republican base. Her first quarter in the race she spent about $14,000 and raised a little less than $100,000. I haven’t heard from any press person she’s employed, and it’s not clear who her campaign manager is.”
BUNCH: “I’ve said worse about her. I’m flattered she cared enough to mention me by name. I can live without positive attention.
Maybe I’m wrong, Maybe she actually does have a campaign.
Man, what a world, a conservative criticizing me because I work for Anschutz. I thought the liberals were supposed to do that.
But in this race Cynthia doesn’t know who she is, and that’s a big part of her problem: no money, no message, no base. Is she Cynthia who shouted “Go Trump” on Election Night, or is she Cynthia who told the NYT people lament not electing a woman president the same night?”
Coffman’s office did not respond to my request for evidence that Anschutz is directing Bunch’s reporting.
As Bunch points out, you’d expect to see the red flags about Republican donor Anschutz and ColoradoPolitics being waved by progressives. My response to them is, I trust the journalists at the Anschutz-owned outlet to let us know if the owner’s fist pounds the table and demands bias. They’d know, and I think at least some of them would tell us what’s going on.