A few weeks ago, leadership in the Colorado House Republican caucus handed out a list of media outlets to their members. But instead of just titles, mediums, phone numbers and email addresses, there was an untitled column with one of two descriptors: “friendly” and “not friendly.”
Six outlets, including The Colorado Sun, The Denver Post, Colorado Public Radio, Axios Denver, Colorado Newsline and 9News, were listed as unfriendly, according to a copy of the list obtained by The Sun’s politics newsletter, The Unaffiliated.
This news first appeared in The Unaffiliated. Subscribe here to get the twice-weekly political newsletter from The Colorado Sun.
Seven others, including The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and television station KDVR-TV, were listed as friendly.
The Colorado Sun checked with the three other caucuses in the legislature and their respective spokespeople. All said they don’t have a similar list denoting whether a media outlet is friendly. There may be mental notes about which reporters are better to work with than others, but no written list, Capitol veterans say.
House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, a Loveland Republican, defended the list, saying it was created at the request of a member who wanted to know how to best navigate the Capitol media landscape.
“We just wanted to make sure that as they’re pushing stories out that they know what to expect out of those different media organizations,” McKean said. “If I have a story that I want to push out that deals with Republican principles, with free market, with fiscal conservatism — with kind of a libertarian mentality — I probably don’t push that story to The Atlantic monthly. I probably push it to The Weekly Standard. Those are just different markets — and different takes on things.”
McKean said the list was “absolutely not” meant to be a “blacklist” of outlets. Nor is it intended to encourage lawmakers to avoid talking to certain reporters. He pointed out that the list contained only media outlet titles and not the names of specific reporters.
Every outlet covering the Capitol full time and has a desk in the building has only one or two dedicated reporters. Because of that, outlets and their reporters are often conflated.
The list comes amid the backdrop of debate at the Capitol this year over a media literacy bill aimed at ensuring Colorado students know how to identify trustworthy news outlets and disregard false information.
House Republicans fought hard against the media literacy measure, worried that left-leaning sources would be prioritized. That’s despite the legislation having GOP support in the Senate. The measure, House Bill 1103, is awaiting Gov. Jared Polis’ signature.
“I think there is this symbiotic relationship between the press and the legislators,” McKean said. “We can’t do what we do without you guys.”
The House Republican list of media outlets:
- The Denver Post — Not friendly
- The Gazette — Friendly
- 9News — Not friendly
- CBS4 — Friendly
- Colorado Politics — Friendly
- Colorado Public Radio — Not friendly
- The Colorado Sun — Not friendly
- Denver Business Journal — Friendly
- Grand Junction Sentinel — Friendly
- Denver7 — Friendly
- KDVR Fox 31 — Friendly
- Colorado Newsline — Not friendly
- Axios Denver — Not friendly