UPDATE: Denver Post politics editor Chuck Plunkett responded to our criticism today. See his response below. We should note that Plunkett has always been above board, accessible and candid, and readers of the Post are lucky to have a political editor with these qualities.
In short, I think the vitriol you heaped upon us over the Women’s Voices, Women Vote story is misplaced.
Granted, there are many times that a nonprofit’s political leanings ought to be clearly identified. Though I wasn’t this story’s editor over the weekend, I agree with its presentation in today’s paper. I simply don’t see that pointing out that the group leans left is that surprising or that necessary for this particular story. The reporter explains the group’s mission — in the lede — as targeting groups traditionally championed by liberal organizations. Further, there is no tension in the story that would play along the “war-against-voters” storyline that conservatives say liberals are using against them. This is a merely a story about a group that tried to register a particular voter population that botched its own form and about how the appropriate Colorado agencies are responding appropriately.
The next time a conservative group makes such a blatant error and escapes mention, we may come to accept Plunkett’s admonitions. But until then, we are sticking to the story. The power of omission is one of the great powers of the press, and it was wielded here.
Additionally, the voter registration drive was targeting specific political constituencies that favor Democrats, so how in the world does the political affiliation of the funders of that drive not matter? As Colorado is central to Obama’s re-election, we’d think any actions taken to benefit that would merit mention.
The mainstream media has never shied away from mentioning the political affiliation of conservative organizations, but often mainstream reporters "forget" to mention the liberal political nature of groups they cover. Maybe it's because in Colorado the majority of outside groups are funded by liberal interests, and they have a hard time keeping track of them, or maybe it's outright political bias. Whatever it is, an article in today's Denver Post has a glaring and obvious omission that benefits liberals.
Reports The Denver Post's recent addition to The Spot, Sara Burnett:
More than 17,000 Coloradans received voter-registration cards in the mail last week as part of a Washington, D.C.-based organization's campaign to register unmarried women, minorities and young adults before the 2012 elections.
One problem: Anyone who filled out and mailed in the cards won't be registered.
The cards were mailed by the Voter Participation Center, an arm of Women's Voices, Women Vote. The mailing included a pre-printed return envelope addressed to the Colorado secretary of state's office.
But the forms were missing a signature line and affidavit — information required under state law.
Missing from the entire article? The fact that the group that sent the illegitimate voter registration forms is backed by big money liberal special interest groups and spent nearly a million bucks on ads in last cycle's US Senate race in Colorado.
Peak news contributor Dave Diepenbrock writes in to point out the unbelievable omission in the piece and to note how easy it is to find out the political persuasion of the group that sent the forms, Women's Voices Women Vote (WVWV).
The Sunlight Foundation reports that WVWV's Action Fund (WVWVAF), a 501(c)4, spent $878,500 in Colorado in last cycle's US Senate race, including attack ads, like this one, against Republican nominee Ken Buck. (You know the type of organization that Allison Sherry says overwhelmingly supports Republicans, but we digress).
It is important for readers of Burnett's story to know that WVWV is a liberal attack group. They're not just a "DC-based group." It's an important distinction.
Diepenbrock concludes, saying "When secret money (WVWVAF doesn't reveal its donors) romps into Colorado with outside money and reporters choose not to tell readers who benefits from this intrusion, they are facilitating outsiders trying to buy Colorado's elections."
Considering how vicious and personal political coverage has been regarding voter fraud when Secretary of State Scott Gessler has been the topic, you would think reporters would make an effort to identify liberal special interest spending when covering their screw ups.
In fact, this omission is so glaring and so fundamental to the issue at hand, that we think The Denver Post will need to issue a correction on this one.
If they don't, they'll just further confirm to readers how truly biased their coverage has become.