A strange story has unfolded behind the scenes at two rural newspapers in the last couple of weeks. Gov. Jared Polis’ spokesman, Conor Cahill, asked their editors to unpublish an article they took from an online outlet, The Center Square.
That’s according to the outlet and the papers.
The story picked up by the Kiowa County Press and the Chronicle-News in Trinidad was about Polis creating a new office, the Office of Future Work, and that it was the third office he created in less than a year. That’s all true.
Cahill’s problem, according to the emails obtained by Center Square through a public information request, was with the outlet itself. He described it as “not a reputable news source.”
That caught Kiowa County Press Publisher Chris Sorensen off guard.
“As a tiny rural publication, it is rare for a government entity to reach out with anything other than a media release,” Sorensen wrote in an email to The Post. “My initial reaction was thinking that I’d missed a serious error in the material that needed to be corrected. Once it was clear that the issue was not the accuracy of the article, but the source, there was no question about restoring it to our website.”
Center Square describes itself as a “nonprofit, nonpartisan news media outlet” with a “taxpayer sensibility,” which means it’s fiscally conservative. It also hires writers with long histories of working for right-wing publications. The Colorado editor, for example, also works for The Daily Caller.
“When we looked into this group and discovered that it was not an objective wire service, but instead a branded website funded by the Koch Brothers’ political organization, we were alarmed that it was being reprinted by reputable news outlets in the state,” Cahill told The Denver Post. “The people of Colorado deserve quality, objective news they can trust so they can make their own informed decisions. Newspapers can publish whatever they want to, anywhere they want, at their own prerogative, but the public is served best when articles by partisan organizations are placed in the opinion section or branded accordingly.”
Colorado Freedom of Information Council Director Jeffrey Roberts told Center Square he thought the article in question “fairly straightforward.”
“This is kind of surprising to me to see a request like this when there’s a story that’s already been published,” the outlet quoted Roberts as saying. “It’s valid to ask about inaccuracies. But if you’re going to state that it’s not a reputable news source, there’s more that needs to be talked about than just stating it’s not a reputable news source.”
Or, as Sorensen said, “My hope is that this situation was just an extremely unfortunate error in judgement for a still-new administration.”
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