Here was The Denver Post headline about the campaign to recall Colo Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) last Tuesday: “Effort to recall Colorado Senate president on track as deadline nears, organizer says“
And this was the newspaper’s headline three days later: “Organizers needed 13,506 signatures to force recall vote of Colorado Senate president. They handed in 4.”
So what happened? On Tuesday, the news, if any, should have been about the approaching deadline, not about the anti-Garcia activists’ claim that they were on track.
That’s how Colorado Public Radio presented the story on Tuesday: “Campaign To Recall Senate President Leroy Garcia Plans To Turn In Signatures.”
If The Post had information Tuesday to confirm the claim of the recall campaign’s likely success (trusted sources, evidence of signatures gathered), then you could justify a story about imminent success. That would be good journalism. But such information did not exist.
Instead, The Post apparently simply regurgitated the claim, which lead CO PeakPolitics, a conservative blog, to gloat that Garcia had “arrogantly predicted” that voters had “no appetite” for a recall election. Oops.
The blog removed its post after the four-signature truth came out Friday, saying that no amount of correcting could have salvaged its story.
The Post left its piece in place, which was the right thing to do, and it now serves as a reminder that the shrill and unverified utterances or screams of small numbers of credibility-challenged discontents and their backers, while deserving of respect, shouldn’t dominate the news or certainly a news cycle, whether it’s at the beginning of a failed recall campaign or at the end of one.
This is especially true given that recall proponents demonstrated that their claims simple weren’t credible.
House Republican Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock announced with gun extremist Dudley Brown that recalls against state Sen. Jeff Bridges (D-Greenwood Village) and state Rep. Meg Froelich (D-Englewood) were coming. They weren’t.
Backed by Brown and Neville, Colorado Republican Party Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown launched a recall of state Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora) on May 13. She dropped it less than a month later. The Colorado Politics story reporting on the Sullivan recall included this line:
Republicans and their conservative allies have said they plan to launch a dozen or so recalls against Democrats.
This also did not happen.
Organizers of the statewide recall efforts aimed at Colorado Gov. Jared Polis were similarly factually challenged. One group, calling itself the “Official” Polis Recall, never even pulled recall petitions. Donors were furious and demanded refunds. Rather than return the tens of thousands of dollars, however, leaders simply moved donors’ money from account to account before giving it… to themselves.