DENVER – “I’m not a political reporter. I’m just very pro-fact,” tweeted 9News anchor Kyle Clark on Wednesday night.
While that may be true, Clark’s report on 9News Thursday night about some glaring deficiencies in the proposed bill to ban standard capacity magazines over 15 rounds also exposed another glaring deficiency — the lack of hard hitting reporting coming out of many reporters assigned full time to the political beat.
Clark’s recent rise to become the preeminent political reporter in the state, despite his other duties covering all manners of stories as a 9News anchor, has conservatives and liberals alike cheering.
He was heralded nationally last year for devastatingly effective and damaging interviews with President Obama and Republican Congressman Mike Coffman.
Clark has become known as a journalist who won’t suffer fools nor stale soundbites that many local reporters elsewhere willingly digest when spewed by politicians.
As conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics noted Friday, “Clark has long been the worst nightmare of the unprepared politico.” After his damning expose, along with 9News’ Brandon Rittiman, on how the magazine limit legislation could inadvertently ban all manners of regular gun magazines, Peak Politics added “now he and sidekick Rittiman are the worst nightmare of ill-conceived legislation also.”
To the hard working Capitol press corps’ credit, they have a Herculean task covering hundreds of bills passing through the General Assembly with a cadre of Capitol colleagues much diminished from years past.
Simply put, there isn’t the manpower to follow every bill and campaign the way there was only a few short years ago, when Denver was a two-paper city. Ever since the closing of the late, great Rocky Mountain News, political coverage has suffered. There is less competition for scoops and less bodies assigned to follow stories.
That caveat aside, the two major scoops on the gun control debate have been broken by journalists who spend little time under the Gold Dome.
While many in the Capitol press corps tweeted at length about civil unions, Clark (who himself has covered stories like civil unions and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants at length) and Revealing Politics were busy breaking the big stories of the day.
Just recently Revealing Politics released video of State House Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Thornton) saying on the House floor that women on college campuses might not know when they’re about to be raped and might “pop off” at someone by accident if they were allowed to carry a concealed weapon.
The offensive remark was made on a Friday night, with a table full of journalists sitting mere feet away, but none of them caught it. It only became news when Revealing Politics published their video, turning the almost-forgotten remarks into a national story, eliciting angry responses from citizens from Detroit to Denver.
While Revealing has had almost unparalleled success among alternative state-based media, racking up nearly 2 million views on their YouTube channel since their founding 9 months ago, they still lack the large audience and nearly unimpeachable credibility that a station like 9News has among swing voters and the large segment of the population that still relies on local TV stations for their news.
It is in that space — the mainstream media — that Kyle Clark has run circles around the usual suspects covering the State Legislature.
The fact that Clark’s star has shined so brightly in recent months must be embarrassing to the Capitol press, who haven’t been able to pull their weight when it comes to providing the kind of investigative and critical reporting essential to debunking the he-said-she-said claptrap that often dominates political coverage.
Perhaps they were too busy playing gun control bingo during the legislative debate to pay attention to what the real impacts of the legislation would be.