The Denver Post’s Ridiculously Biased Story on Bob Beauprez and IUDs

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

If there’s one thing that makes me more angry than politicians endorsing stupid policies, it’s journalists writing biased and fact-distorting “news” stories. Frankly I usually don’t expect any better from politicians. But I do expect better from journalists, who are supposed to be the defenders of truth, justice, and America’s constitutional republic.

John Frank’s recent article in the Denver Post, “Bob Beauprez’s IUD Remark in Debate Generates Controversy,” represents the worst kind of biased (and frankly partisan) “reporting.”

By way of background, it is no secret that I advocate a woman’s right to get an abortion and that I strongly oppose the so-called “personhood” ballot measure. Indeed, I’ve spent many hours researching and writing about the “personhood” efforts over the years (see the paper I coauthored with Diana Hsieh). In 2006, the last time Beauprez ran for governor, I endorsed Democrat Bill Ritter over Beauprez, largely over “Beauprez’s religious stand against abortion.” This year, I have (tentatively) endorsed Beauprez over incumbent John Hickenlooper, partly because Beauprez has substantially run away from his efforts to outlaw abortion, and largely because I’m sick of Hickenlooper’s antics.

But whatever my personal positions, and whatever Frank’s personal position may be, intellectually honest people can at least be open and candid about the facts. On that score Frank has failed, miserably.

Frank correctly notes that, in a recent debate, “Beauprez suggested that intrauterine devices, known as IUDs, cause abortion.” Specifically, he said, “IUD is an abortifacient.”

Then Frank writes,

Beauprez drew a rebuke from experts in the medical community who called his assertion false. . . . The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and 10 other physician organizations, as well as the Federal Drug Administration, define IUDs as contraceptives that prevent a pregnancy. . . . Dr. Daniel Grossman, an ob/gyn who does reproductive research and who practices in San Francisco, said the definition of a pregnancy as the implantation of a fertilized egg is an established scientific standard. He said IUDs are not abortifacient.

But the relevant debate is not whether an IUD can kill a zygote once it has implanted in the uterus; rather, it is whether an IUD can kill a zygote before it implants in the uterus—and for Frank to ignore that issue is journalistic incompetence (or else intentional fraud). Basically, Frank is trying to trip up Beauprez on a definition, rather than address the substantive underlying issues.

So what are the facts? In 2012, Pam Belluck wrote for the New York Times:

By contrast [to hormonal birth control pills], scientists say, research suggests that the only other officially approved form of emergency contraception, the copper intrauterine device (also a daily birth control method), can work to prevent pregnancy after an egg has been fertilized.

A web site for Paragard, a brand of copper IUD, states, “The copper in Paragard . . . interferes with sperm movement and egg fertilization. Paragard may prevent implantation.” Implantation of what, you may ask? Obviously, of a zygote. And what happens if a zygote does not implant in the uterus? It dies. The FDA-approved prescription information for Paragard states, “Mechanism(s) by which copper enhances contraceptive efficacy include interference with sperm transport and fertilization of an egg, and possibly prevention of implantation.”

In other words, the copper IUD can work by preventing fertilization, and it can work by preventing the implantation of a (fertilized) zygote. If it works by the first means, it is a “contraceptive,” meaning that it prevents conception. But if it works by the second means, calling it a “contraceptive” is misleading, which is why the so-called “pro-life” crowd calls it “abortifacient.” But, by the definition of Frank’s “experts,” it’s not an abortion if it kills a zygote before it implants in the uterus. Well, they can define it that way if they want, but the definition used does not alter the underlying facts.

Let’s use another example to illustrate the point. I could define a “journalist” as a writer of news stories who gets his facts straight and who does not omit relevant facts. By that definition, John Frank is not a “journalist” (“hack” might be a better descriptive, at least in this case). But another common meaning of “journalist” is simply anyone who gets paid to write for a news organization. By that definition, Frank is a “journalist.” But real journalists (in the first sense of the term) do not play “gotcha” games with definitions as a way to obscure the relevant issues.

I believe the editors of the Denver Post do have integrity and do try to publish good, factually complete stories, so I call on them to issue a correction to Frank’s story.

Of course, as a matter of policy, it should matter not at all whether an IUD can act to prevent the implantation of a zygote. Women have a moral right to use the birth control methods of their choice and to seek an abortion if they wish to do so. A zygote is not a “person” and does not have rights. Frank does helpfully report that Beauprez said “in an interview after the debate” that “the use of IUDs [is] a ‘personal choice.'” Indeed it is—and it should continue to be.

Denver Post Publishes Misleading “Assault Weapons” Story

Note: Commentary originally preceding the article below now appears in a separate post, “Entering the Gun Debate.”

Dear Ms. Sherry,

Readers of the Denver Post are well aware of your newspaper’s political agenda to pass more restrictive gun laws.

However, I would hope that the news pages would refrain from editorializing, offer relevant context, and seek to inform rather than mislead the reader.

I read with interest your article of today (December 18), “Perlmutter to lead assault-weapons ban effort in the House in next Congress.” Congressman Ed Perlmutter represents my district, so I am keen to hear what he is up to.

Unfortunately, your article was misleading in two important ways, and biased in an additional way.

First, although you discuss “assault weapons,” you give no indication of what that means. Traditionally, the term “assault weapon” applied to fully-automatic guns. Now advocates of restrictive gun laws use that term to refer to semi-automatic guns with arbitrarily defined cosmetic features that are irrelevant to the gun’s basic operation. A rifle arbitrarily categorized as an “assault” rifle functions the same basic way as any semi-automatic rifle. It is unfortunate that your article gave no indication of this context.

Second, although you mention Perlmutter’s proposed “assault-weapons ban,” you offer no direct indication that what he has in mind is a ban on the sale and importation, rather than the possession, of so-called “assault” guns. You indicate this only by referencing the expired “assault weapons ban” that banned sale and importation, but many readers are unaware of what that expired law covered. As should be obvious, there is an enormous difference between banning the sale and importation of “assault” guns, and banning their possession. The latter involves the confiscation by police agents (probably themselves armed with “assault weapons”) of people’s guns.

Third, you use biased language with respect to Representative Diana DeGette’s proposed “ban on high capacity ammunition clips.” (This is aside from the fact that that what you actually mean to refer to here is a “magazine,” which is very different from a “clip.”) What Ms. DeGette regards as a “high capacity” magazine, I usually regard as a “normal capacity” magazine. For example, many semi-automatic handguns owned for self-defense readily and naturally (due to their size) accept a magazine that holds more than ten rounds (which is the arbitrary cut-off I presume DeGette has in mind). The appropriate term for a magazine that fits naturally and easily into a given gun is “normal capacity.” I suggest that, rather than use the evaluative terms “high” or “normal” with respect to the size of gun magazines, you simply report what the law in question proposes.

Thank you for your consideration.


Ari Armstrong

Denver Post Publishes Bologne About Food Stamps

It’s a little discouraging that,  after I conducted two separate “food stamp diets”—spending less on food than is available from food stamps—the Denver Post is still publishing nonsense about food stamps.

A coule days ago the Post published the following commentary:

[Newark Mayor Cory] Booker suggested they both [he and a critic] live on food stamps for a short time and see how they fare. The woman, known as TwitWit, reportedly has agreed.

Given that the average monthly food stamp benefit per person in New Jersey is somewhere around $133 a month, they’ll have their work cut out for them.

We see a lot of ramen noodles in their near future.

However, as I wrote back in 2007, the “average” figure is NOT the amount of funds available for food.

The current information is as follows. Perhaps this time the Denver Post will actually attend to the relevant facts:

SNAP [the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] expects families receiving benefits to spend 30 percent of their net income on food. Families with no net income receive the maximum benefit, which equals the cost of the USDA Thrifty Food Plan (a diet plan intended to provide adequate nutrition at a minimal cost). For all other households, the monthly SNAP benefit equals the maximum benefit for that household size minus the household’s expected contribution.

The maximum amount available for a single person is $200 per month, or $6.67 per day.

Now, whether the government should actually provide food stamps is a much broader debate. That it provides food stamps to 42.4 million Americans is a disquieting reminder that the American economy remains weak as the welfare state expands.

Correcting the Denver Post’s Errors About Guns

On the whole, the Denver Post—along with the Colorado media in general—has done a valiant job covering the difficult and horrifying story of the Aurora murders. Honestly, I’d have a very hard time reporting a story like that on location due to the emotional trauma of it all.

Yet, while most of the Denver Post‘s reporting on the Aurora murders has been good, its writers have made a couple factual errors related to guns and offered some imprecise commentary. Here my aim is to correct those problems.

Please note that this article is quite limited in scope; for my general discussion of gun policy, see my article published by The Objective Standard.

The “High-Capacity” Magazine “Ban”

A July 23 Denver Post editorial states:

We also know the high-capacity magazine [the murderer] is accused of using would have been covered under the federal assault weapons ban. Had the ban remained in place, that magazine would not legally be available. . . . A handful of states have laws placing limits on the number of rounds that magazines can hold. Under the assault weapons ban, such magazines were limited to 10 rounds.

The Denver Post‘s statement is factually misleading. The ban pertained to the manufacture and sale of new “high-capacity” magazines (excepting police), and to the possession of illegally manufactured magazines. Pre-ban magazines remained available, though granted, they were less available and more expensive.

The ATF explains:

The LCAFD [Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device] ban was enacted along with the SAW [semiautomatic assault weapon] ban on September 13, 1994. The ban made it unlawful to transfer or possess LCAFDs. The law generally defined a LCAFD as a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device manufactured after September 13, 1994, that has the capacity of, or can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition. (emphasis added)

To state the point differently, two identical magazines, one manufactured on September 12, 1994, and the other on September 14, 1994, were treated totally differently under the law; it was perfectly legal to sell, buy, or possess the former, but not the latter.

Apparently federal politicians did not savor the idea of attempting to confiscate factory-standard magazines from millions of Americans. The Post, on the other hand, thinks “federal lawmakers ought to outlaw . . . high-capacity magazines,” apparently completely. How the Post envisions the enforcement of such a law—door-to-door sweeps of the homes of the hundreds of thousands of Coloradans who possess such magazines?—the paper does not mention.

The Post editorial also neglects to mention that the murderer first opened fire with a pump-action shotgun. If a future criminal uses only pump-action shotguns, will the Post then call for their abolition as well?

The Type of Semiautomatic Rifle

The Post‘s David Olinger, along with the paper’s editorialists and many other reporters, refers to the semiautomatic rifle in question as an “AR-15.”

Actually, the rifle is a Smith & Wesson M&P15, as the Post‘s Danielle Kess points out. The AR-15 is manufactured by Colt. This is a minor confusion; they are different brands of comparable guns.

Update: James Dao writes for the New York Times that the Smith & Wesson “belongs to a class of weapons broadly known as AR-15s, after the original civilian version of the rifle.” Wikipedia, on the other hand, claims, “The name ‘AR-15’ is a Colt registered trademark, which refers only to the semi-automatic rifle.” So this seems to be a case of applying a particular brand to a general category of item. As I noted, it’s a minor issue.

The Theater’s Gun Policies

Olinger writes:

On its website, Gun Owners of America, a group opposed to stricter gun laws, blamed Holmes’ ability to shoot so many people on the absence of guns in the audience.

“The gunman used a movie gunfight to cover his actions and further surprise the innocent patrons. Worse, the theater in Aurora reportedly has a ‘no guns’ policy,” the group stated. “Despite gun control’s obvious failure, the calls for more restrictions have already begun.”

According to various reports, theaters in the same chain as the one in Aurora prohibit people from carrying concealed handguns on their premises. But I have as yet seen no definitive evidence regarding the Aurora theater’s policies.

Perhaps somebody at the Post (or someone else) can track down the answer definitively.

The “Gun Lobby”

Twice the Post editorial refers to “the gun lobby” as that which “Congress [needs] to beat back” in order to pass more gun restrictions. Obviously, that’s not an error, but it is a cheap shot intended to demean rather than illuminate. A more accurate term is “gun-rights advocates” or “civil arms advocates.”

By referring to a “lobby,” the Post hopes to draw readers’ attention away from the fact that that “lobby” is quite simply the millions of Americans who support the right of gun ownership. It is also the millions of Americans who would have to live under the gun laws that editorial writers and disarmament advocates wish to arbitrarily concoct.

Those who wish to restrict the gun ownership of peaceable Americans often refer to “the gun lobby” in order to bring to mind some money-driven conspiracy (about which those on the left tend to obsess). No doubt gun manufacturers and sellers enjoy their profits, as they should. But “the gun lobby” in the sense of those who defend the right to own guns is, overwhelmingly, the mass of Americans who own guns or support that right.

But I will happily don the term “gun lobbyist” if the Denver Post editorial board will concede to being part of “the gun-restriction lobby”—or to state it more negatively, “the victim disarmament lobby.”

With such an overwhelming amount of detail to sort out quickly, it is understandable that a reporter might miss a detail or two. The editorial is just sloppy; my TOS article addresses the matter of “high capacity” magazines in more detail.

I want to end on a positive note and offer my sincere gratitude to the law enforcement officers who responded to the call, the medical teams who treated the wounded, and the reporters who keep the community informed about this horrible crime and its victims.

Denver Post Publishes Two Misleading Headlines

The headline is part of the story. A misleading or factually incorrect headline is just as bad as an error in the text (if not worse, as it’s more visible). Today, the Denver Post published one ridiculously misleading headline and another arguably misleading one.

The following headline, “Colorado hospitals warn legislators that push for pricing transparency would ruin finances,” flatly contradicts the reporting by Michael Booth.

Booth explicitly writes that the fundamental concern is not “transparency,” but rather price controls. He writes, “Hospital officials from across the state said that they agree with more transparency in their charges and charity policies but that Aguilar’s bill amounts to price fixing that will ruin many facilities.”

Booth confirmed in an email that he did not recommend the title.

I contacted John Ealy, an editor with the Post, to get a better sense of how headlines are produced. “Reporters don’t have anything to do with it,” he confirmed. He said that, after a reporter files a story, that story moves to a copy editor, who writes a “web headline,” ideally “search-engine optimized.” Then the same editor or possibly a different one writes a headline for print. (It’s unclear to me how often a print headline varies from a web headline.)

In addition, Ealy said, “We have a copy chief. After the copy editor writes the headline and edits the story… it moves to another status, and a copy desk chiefs comes in and vets that headline, looks at it for accuracy.” Then “another copy editor” looks at page proofs.

So it does seem to me that considerable oversight goes into a headline. I wonder, though, whether it might make sense for the Post to bring the writers back into the process at some point, say, by allowing reporters to authorize or flag headlines. After all, the reporter is most familiar with the facts and nuances of the story. My guess is, that had he been asked, Booth would have recommended something more accurate.

The second misleading headline is the following: “Anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce handcuffed, sent to jail.” My complaint is about the description, “anti-tax.” To my knowledge, Bruce has never voiced support for the abolition of taxation. As an activist, he has worked for lower taxes, not no taxes.

In this case, though, the headline corresponds to the reporter’s text. The reporter, Jordan Steffen, describes Bruce as a “tax opponent.”

It is true that Bruce has tried to eliminate certain types of minor taxes, and it is true that generally his goal is to cut taxes. Yet still I think the headline and the copy offer readers a distorted view of Bruce’s activism. Ideologically, there is a huge difference between advocating lower taxes and advocating no taxes. I know true “anti-tax activists”—people who advocate the complete abolition of taxation (and I myself am interested in radical, long-term alternatives to financing government)—and their views ought not be confused with the views and activism of Bruce.

Certainly the Post should make every effort to avoid publishing blatantly misleading headlines, as in the case of Booth’s article, but I think the Postshould make the extra effort to avoid publishing headlines that are even arguably misleading. The fact is that Bruce is a “tax-cut activists,” not an “anti-tax activist.” I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the Post make the extra effort to achieve accuracy and clarity in its reporting.

Perhaps some consider my complaints trivial; after all, don’t the two headlines “sort of” get to the gist of what’s going on? Indeed. But I think we should strive to clarify our thinking as much as possible, not rely on approximate “truths” and vague understanding. In fact, there’s a difference between transparency and price controls. In fact, there’s a difference between somebody who advocates lower taxes and somebody who advocates no taxes. No doubt I too have slipped on comparable matters, but I think it’s worth stepping back sometimes and recommitting ourselves to pristine accuracy. (For example, for the headline of this piece, I added the word “Two” to clarify my meaning.)

One question I neglected to ask Ealy is whether the Post ever runs corrections for faulty headlines. Perhaps he will let me know.

Joey Bunch Misstates Gun Statistics in Denver Post

[Update 6:31 pm: The Denver Post has issued a revised correction for the online article in question.]

[Update December 29: Joey Bunch related that he takes responsibility for the mistake and apologizes for his initial reaction. For my part, I am satisfied with the way the Post has handled the issue.]

In their article for today’s Denver PostJoey Bunch and Kieran Nicholson claim, “More than 500 children in the United States die in gun accidents each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2007 report, which estimated 1.7 million children live in homes where guns are kept.” However, there seems to be no factual basis for that claim.

As Bunch is listed as first author and his contact information appears below the article, I contacted him to see where he got his figures. Unfortunately, in a series of emails (see below) he flatly refused to provide me with a citation. Apparently that is because no such citation exists.

CDC provides a search page for reviewing mortality statistics. The results for unintentional firearm deaths for 2007, ages zero through seventeen, is 112. Notice that the anti-gun Brady Campaign reports comparable figures. (Of the estimated 2,436,652 deaths in the U.S. in 2009, a total of 588 for all age groups resulted from “accidental discharge of firearms.” Final figures for 2007 show a total of 613 deaths. Please see pages 19 and 39 of the linked CDC report, and notice that I provided an actual citation for my claim.) To get figures as high as Bunch claims, one has to look at decades-old data. (Note that, in this article, I am concerned only with Bunch’s factual claims. I will address the “big picture” issues elsewhere.)

So how did Bunch get from 112 to “more than 500?” I don’t really know, given he refused to tell me. I do have a guess, however. A top Google hit for “kids die guns” is a 2008 article from MomLogic. That article includes the same numbers as Bunch uses — “more than 500” and “1.7 million households.” My guess is that Bunch cribbed these figures (from this web site or a comparable one) without bothering to verify them or even review their meaning.

Here’s what MomLogic has to say: “More than 500 children die annually from accidental gunshots. … Last year, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found more than 1.7 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked guns.”

What is similar between this article and Bunch’s article is that both include the same year for the CDC claim (2007), both include the phrase “more than 500 children,” and both include the phrase, “1.7 million children live in homes.” One important detail to notice is that the MomLogic article does not cite the CDC for the “more than 500” claim. Also notice the important qualifier in the MomLogic article about the 1.7 million households: these are “homes with loaded and unlocked guns.” Bunch offers no such qualifier, rendering his statement wildly inaccurate. (Neither MomLogic nor Bunch actually cite a specific CDC publication.)

I did find some support for the claim about 1.7 million households, but this comes not from CDC but from the American Academy of Pediatrics. (Perhaps there was some association between CDC and the Academy.) (Update: As USA Today relates, the authors of the study did have a direct relationship to the CDC.) That 2005 article states, “Findings indicate that ~1.69 million (95% confidence interval: 1.57-1.82 million) children and youth in the United States <18 years old are living with loaded and unlocked household firearms.” USA Today offered a popular summary of the study. However, the study is based on survey data, so its conclusions are suspect. (Please notice again my actual citations.)

At this point, then, the Denver Post either needs to come up with an actual citation supporting Bunch’s claim, or else issue a correction.

And, in general, I encourage reporters to a) actually have real citations backing up their claims (see also my write-up of a 2008 incident), and b) make those citations available to those who ask for them. Anything less constitutes journalistic negligence.

Following is today’s email exchange between Bunch and me:

Ari: Dear Mr. Bunch, You write: “More than 500 children in the United States die in gun accidents each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2007 report.” Please send [me] your citation for that claim. Thanks, -Ari

Joey: CDC. I cited my source.

Ari: I see that you wrote down CDC in your article. The problem is that when I look at the CDC web page, I find very different numbers than the ones you claim. So what I’m asking you for is the actual citation for a specific document that backs up your statement. Please provide that, and stop being coy. Thanks, -Ari

Joey: It took me all of about 3 minutes to find that report. With all due respect, Ari, you’re a columnist for a competing newspaper, do your own work.

Ari: Joey, If you found it, then please *send me the cite*. The fact that I write for the Grand Junction Free Press (hardly a competitor to the Post) is entirely irrelevant. I did my own work, as I mentioned, and I found different figures. So now, again, I ask you to back up your claim with a specific citation. Thanks, -Ari

Joey: I told you the name of the report and the year it came out. Would you like me to print it out and drive it to your house? I’ll pick up coffee and doughnuts on the way. Good luck with your story, Ari.

Ari: No, I would would like you send me the link to the relevant document, or, if the document is not available online, the title and authors of the printed document. That will be trivially easy for you to accomplish, so please, again, send me the citation. Thanks, -Ari

Joey: I do freelance work sometimes. I’ll send you a bill for research, and when it’s paid I’ll spend my time doing your work. Failing that, you could call the CDC and ask them to send it for you. There could be a per-page fee for that, however. Have a nice day.

Ari: Dear Mr. Bunch, According to your own claims, you’ve *already done the work*, and it took you “all of about three minutes.” If you’ve already done the work, and found the citation that informs your article, then it will take you about ten seconds to send me the relevant link (or title with authors). As a writer for the Denver Post, you have a responsibility, both to your readers and to the owners and managers of the paper, to back up your factual claims with specific citations. Please do so at this time, and please stop acting so evasive and frankly unprofessional. Thanks, -Ari

Joey: One more time and the last time I’m saying it: do your own work. You work for a newspaper. You are a journalist. Do your own work. Conversation over.

Update: Apparently the conversation is not yet over. After I sent an email to several representatives of the Denver Post linking to this write-up, Bunch again responded, claiming (among other things), “I told you the name of the report.” I wrote back noting that he has not, in fact, provided me with the title of the report or anything like a verifiable citation. I will update this article when and if Bunch provides me with an actual citation to the alleged report in question.

Update: Kevin Dale, news director for the Denver Post, states via email, “We are correcting the statistics. Page 2 in tomorrow’s paper. We’ll be correcting the online story shortly. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. We take our accuracy very seriously indeed.”

Update 5:03 pm: I sent a follow-up email to Dale:

Dear Mr. Dale,

Thank you for promptly following through on the matter of the claimed gun statistics published in today’s Denver Post.

Unfortunately, the Denver Post’s online “correction” also is in error [as of the time of this update].

The “correction” states that in 2007, 138 children died due to “fatal shooting accidents.” But that figure is for ages 0 through 19. Last time I checked, the legal age of adulthood is 18. Therefore, the correct figure is for ages 0 through 17, which is 112 (as I mentioned in my write-up). (While the figures vary only slightly in this case, I still think the Post ought to get its basic facts straight.)

I invite you to see for yourself here:

Moreover, the online article continues to falsely state, “The CDC also estimated 1.7 million children live in homes where guns are kept.” The Post’s claim here is wildly inaccurate. The figure actually pertains to children “living with loaded and unlocked household firearms.” The number of children living in homes “where guns are kept” is many times that amount.

Again, I invite you to see for yourself here:

(Anyway, that article relies on survey data, which are notoriously unreliable in these matters.)

Thank you for your attention to this matter.
-Ari Armstrong

Update 6:31 pm: The Denver Post has issued a revised correction for the online article in question.

Belated Apology to Littwin

Back during a September GOP debate, Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul if “society should just let” people without insurance die. A handful of people in the crowd cheered. When Paul explained why that’s not his position, the overwhelming majority of the crowd applauded enthusiastically.

I was irritated, then, when various commentators mentioned the reaction of the few but not of the large majority. A Talking Points Memo video in particular went out of its way to misrepresent by omission the crowd’s reaction.

In explaining this lack of context, I wrote, “If ‘half the truth is a great lie,’ then Talking Points Memo, [Curtis] Hubbard, and [Mike] Littwin are great liars.” In a column, Littwin mentioned the reaction of the few in the crowd (which he characterized as a Tea Party crowd) but not of the many. However, as any decent writer takes seriously his responsibility to report the truth, I ought not have brought out the “l” word with respect to Hubbard or Littwin, and I apologize for doing so. Even though I used the term in a very delimited context (regarding “half the truth”), it’s just not the sort of word that one should swing around lightly. I should have reviewed the same factual material without making my criticisms so personal.

Littwin assures me that he was trying to establish that the crowd was spirited in order to set up his discussion about Rick Perry, not otherwise characterize the crowd or the Tea Party as a whole. Especially given that I’m asking for more charitable interpretations of the motives of Tea Partiers, I too should be more charitable in interpreting the motives of others. Even when they irritate me.

Denver Post Covers Liberty On the Rocks

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think the Denver Post is trying to woo the center-right slash conservative slash libertarian slash free-market readership. What else explains the appearance of the Post‘s Kurtis Lee, recently a transplant from the District of Columbia, at this evening’s Liberty On the Rocks’ event?

The real purpose of the evening’s festivities was to celebrate the third anniversary of the People’s Press Collective (to which this post will feed). Allow me to add my congratulations here, and to thank the organizers of PPC for creating a wonderful platform.

But Lee attended to gather reactions to the GOP debate (which I could barely hear on the bar’s echoing television sets). Lee wrote up an articlethat mentioned the event’s drinking game (with the word “jobs” acting as the trigger) and that included some substantive and interesting comments.

Regina Thomson told Lee she’s looking for a “constitutional conservative” and would favor Herman Cain if he had a chance.

I loved Santiago Valenzuela’s response. He said he’s looking for real immigration reform “that allows peaceful people” to work here and eventually earn citizenship. I agree with his position, as I’ve writtenelsewhere.

Valenzuela is a friend of mine, by the way, and he writes some great posts for Mother of Exiles. Interestingly, I also met a very nice fellow at the event who worked on Tom Tancredo’s campaign for governor. And one thing that amazes me about Liberty On the Rocks is how well it facilitates social mingling and networking among people with such diverse views. (I should also note here that I run Liberty In the Books, a project of Liberty On the Rocks, and got paid a bit to do so.)

Valenzuela’s reply about jobs was classic: “I’m also looking for a jobs plan that gets the government out of our busisness to allow job creators to do their thing.” He added that he dislikes Romney because he is the Father of ObamaCare.

Lee’s appearance is not unprecedented, however; last year, the Post‘s Chuck Plunkett actually spoke at a Liberty On the Rocks event — something that perked up the ears of talented leftie blogger Jason Salzman.

The Post needn’t worry; it’s left-leaning credentials remain unchallenged. But I do appreciate the Post‘s willingness to broaden its coverage and its readership, and I think it’s a much better paper for making the effort.

My Newspaper Paywall Plan for Dean Singleton

Today the Denver Post sent its minions to my local grocery store, and they hooked me into a discussion by offering a drawing. This reminded me that“Denver-based MediaNews Group announced… that it has launched an online subscription paywall at 23 of its newspapers in five states but not in Colorado.” I figure we’re next.

So if a paywall is going to happen, I’d like it to happen the right way. (And I wrote about this back in 2009.)

Obviously a monthly subscription is the most standard model. The problem with this is that many readers — especially those who live elsewhere — may want to read an article only occasionally. This is especially true for a big paper like the Denver Post. So a subscription-based paywall should be only part of the approach.

Ideally newspapers will offer two additional ways to read an article online: pay per view, or watch an advertisement.

Here’s how I envision the pay-per-view model. The paper reveals the first bit of an article, then offers the option to read the rest by clicking a pay button (say, for anywhere from ten cents to a buck, depending on the sort of article). I purchase credits through the system (say, $30 at a time), log in, then spend my credits however I want (and they never expire). I have no idea how to work the technical side of this, but surely it’s possible. Indeed, a robust system could allow other players (including bloggers) to join the same system (for a percentage).

The third option is to view a video (say, 15 seconds) advertising a specific product as “payment” for reading the article.

Readers get the content they want, they have flexible payment options, and journalists earn a living. Does that not make everyone happy?

Why Not Signed Editorials, Denver Post?

I sent the following letter to the Denver Post:

The Denver Post‘s editorials fluctuate noticeably in style, tone, and ideological bent, because they’re written by different members of your editorial board.

I like the fact that the Daily Camera and the Colorado Springs Gazetteoffer signed editorials. Ideally, the Denver Post would note the author (or authors) of each editorial and the board members in agreement. That would provide transparency, help readers track the views of particular writers, and encourage writers to offer their best work.