Media, Muslim Family Sabotaged GOP in Colorado in 2010

John Ransom
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Posted: May 23, 2011 12:01 AM

It’s official.

Media malpractice combined with disgruntled Muslim Republican family- who later defected to the Democrats- caused the GOP to lose the governor’s race in Colorado in 2010.

The Colorado Supreme Court’s Attorney Regulation Counsel issued a report last week clearing the top Republican candidate of unsubstantiated charges made by the Denver Post and the Hasan family at the end of the campaign. The charges influenced the outcome of the election.

A scan of the report can be found on Complete Colorado.  

Sadly, the report came too late to give Republicans a real choice on who their nominee for governor would be in 2010. 

In a race the GOP was destined to win, the strongest Republican candidate, Republican Scott McInnis, got bulldozed by reporting regarding plagiarism that was not just largely wrong, but wrong in almost every respect, we now know.

The case is almost a treatise on why the public no longer trusts their newspapers and local TV stations to be fair and accurate. If there were any more red flags on the case, they would have had to include the hammer and sickle.   

The Colorado Supreme Court’s Attorney Regulation Counsel issued a report last week that McInnis’ version of events, not the Denver Post’s or the Colorado Independent’s or the Gazette’s, was correct; that in fact McInnis did nothing wrong.    

McInnis however was so damaged by inaccurate, questionable reporting in the weeks leading up to the primary election that he lost the nomination narrowly to a challenger who had no experience in politics. Republicans as a consequence, were left with the most inexperienced candidate by default.

That candidate ended up being a comic-opera politician; the worst nominee for governor in the state’s history.  He was such bad candidate that I can’t even mention his name.  He may have been the worst candidate in the history of the country.

Mcinnis, a former congressman from the Western Slope of Colorado, looked to be buoyed in the last election cycle by the national trend favoring Republicans in 2010. All told the GOP took 12 governors mansions from Democrats.

McInnis expected, with good reason, to be lucky 13. 

McInnis held a 57 percent to 29 percent lead to the challenger in the primary race in June.  

Then, on July 13th, the Denver Post wrote a story that raised questions about whether the GOP frontrunner plagiarized portions of a report on water that he wrote for the Hasan Foundation in Colorado.

The Hasans are wealthy and prominent Muslim family from Pueblo and past supporters of the GOP. Their son, Ali Hasan, ran for Treasurer as a Republican but earlier in the election cycle failed to secure enough support at the state convention to make the ballot.

The family was bitterly disappointed.     

“In one of his installments of the musings, titled ‘Pumpbacks and Roundtables,’ McInnis uses four full pages that are nearly reprinted verbatim from [someone else’s] earlier work,” reported the Post regarding the private submission to the Hasan family.

The tip off to the Post likely came from the Hasans.  Who else would be interested in running a plagiarism check on a water report called “Musings on Water?”

McInnnis denied the charge, promptly, saying that the plagiarism was the work of a water engineer who was hired by him as a researcher with the complete knowledge of the Hasan Foundation.  Any plagiarism was an oversight, not intentional. 

“In order to complete this project, I retained a renowned Colorado water expert. That expert, Rolly Fischer, spent nearly three decades with the Colorado River Water Conservation District and is well-respected across the state,” said statement by McInnis in response. “During our collaboration, he provided research for the articles.”

The Post not only hit McInnis on the charges of plagiarism, but then hit him for how he handled the story. In fact, that was the story they killed him on over a period of three weeks. 

“But that's only the beginning,” wrote Post columnist Mike Littwin in his rush to judge McInnis of guilty of lying about the plagiarism a full 3 days after the original report was published.

Talk about investigative reporting. Apparently that’s all they do at the Post, talk about investigative reporting, rather than doing any.

“What's worse is everything that came next” continued Littwin.  “You can start with McInnis' effort to scapegoat his longtime friend and supporter, the water expert Rolly Fischer. It's one thing to be truth- challenged. This is a politician we're talking about, after all. It's another thing to stick it to your old buddy while everyone is watching.”

Most of the reporting was in a similar vein. Fischer, who was 82 at the time, disputed McInnis’ version of events. Media outlets played up the age angle like McInnis was beating up on an old man.

“McInnis lying, says engineer,” reported the Gazette.

“Researcher Says Scott McInnis Lied,” reported the local ABC news affiliate.

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent  wrote: “’Scott's responsible for it,’” stated Fisher, an engineer who worked for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, when asked whether he was responsible for articles attributed to McInnis.”

The Hasan family meantime, disappointed that Ali Hasan failed to make the ballot in the Treasurer’s race, after presumably counting on a McInnis endorsement that never materialized for him, drove the knife in deep.

"In light of the accusations against Scott McInnis regarding plagiarism of articles to the Hasan Family Foundation, I am shocked, angry and disappointed," Seeme Hasan told the Denver Post. “"In addition, there were never discussions nor any knowledge by the Foundation that Mr. McInnis was working with a 'research advisor.' ... The work that the Foundation hired Mr. McInnis to do was to be done solely by Mr. McInnis, and not in concert with anyone else.”

The problem however is that none of that, including the implication from Littwin that McInnis threw over a friend, is true.

The reports from the high court says that despite statements to the press that are contradictory, “contemporaneous, handwritten notes” that both Fischer and Hasan took back up McInnis’ version of events.

“While both Mr. Fischer and Ms. Hasan provided contradictory accounts to the press at the time the issue was raised by the Denver Post,” concludes John  Gleason, Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court, “a more thorough review of their archived material demonstrates that both had forgotten several specific communications with Mr. McInnis that had happened several  years before.”

Those notes prove that Fischer believed that the plagiarized text he used was in the public domain and free to use without citation; that Fischer used the text without notifying McInnis that he was using someone else’s work; that Hasan  told less than the truth when she issued a press release saying  “there were never discussions nor any knowledge by the Foundation that Mr. McInnis was working with a 'research advisor.'”

Oops.    

The question is why the Denver Post didn’t conduct a more thorough review before publishing the story? Where is the outrage from the supposedly “conservative” Denver Post editorial staff like Dan Haley, Vincent Carroll and Chuck Plunkett?

Where’s the outrage from the supposedly centerist publisher?

I paraphrase: It's one thing to be truth- challenged. This is a newspaper we're talking about, after all. It's another thing to stick it to your editorial staff while everyone is watching.

"I'm pretty confident the Denver Post will have a future for a long time in Colorado,” said editorial page editor Dan Haley who recently announced he’s leaving the paper for a job with a bank.

I’m not so sure. 

It wasn’t like the Hasan family had pure motives when they provided Post with the supposedly damning evidence used to do in McInnis. It wasn’t like the Post didn’t know who they were dealing with in the Hasans.

Either the Post knew and ignored the conflicts the Hasans had or…they knew and ignored the conflicts.

Ali Hasan?

Oh, he left the Republican Party in December after being “personally recruited … to join the Democratic Party,” by Nancy Pelosi.

Denver Post never even reported it.

 Ali wrote in the Huffington Post: “my dearest Republican Party, please know this - I will never regret our time together.”

Wish we could say the same Ali. Wish we could say the same.


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