Gazette corrects Owens roadless rule falsehood, says Colorado Media Matters "got it right"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Following a Colorado Media Matters item, The Gazette of Colorado Springs corrected an article that uncritically quoted Gov. Bill Owens's (R) false claim that former President Clinton's roadless rule was "established hastily without public input."

Following a Colorado Media Matters item, The Gazette of Colorado Springs corrected a September 21 article that uncritically quoted Gov. Bill Owens's (R) false claim that former President Clinton's roadless rule was "established hastily without public input." In its September 23 correction, The Gazette noted, "In fact, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule of 2001 was crafted with more than 1 million public comments and 600 public meetings over three years."

The Gazette's original September 21 article stated that "USA Today, The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times contributed to this report." In its correction, The Gazette identified the AP as the source of the article's misinformation.

As Gazette editor Jeff Thomas explained on the paper's weblog, The Newsroom, "the website Colorado Media Matters spotted an error in an Associated Press story we published on Thursday, Sept. 21." Thomas's September 25 post, titled "This critic got it right," continued:

Under the headline "Judge overturns Bush roadless rules, brings back Clinton-era ban," the story contained this passage:

Colorado's Gov. Bill Owens criticized the ruling Wednesday in a statement:

"It would be very unfortunate if we were to revert back to a rule established hastily without public input during the waning days of the Clinton administration. We simply should not have a federal magistrate in San Francisco unilaterally dictating natural resource policy for the entire country."

Later in the evening of Sept. 20, the AP sent an updated version of the story, which contained a new paragraph, inserted directly after the governor's quote:

"Clinton issued the Roadless Area Conservation Rule just days before he left office in January 2001. It was crafted with more than 1 million public comments and 600 public meetings over three years."


That additional information, directly refuting Owens' claim that the public had no input on the Clinton policy, certainly changes the complexion of the story. We should have included it, and published a correction in Saturday's paper.

Owens made his false claim in response to U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte's September 19 decision reinstating President Clinton's roadless rule, which restricted road construction, drilling, and logging on almost 60 million acres of roadless national forests.

From the "Corrections/Clarifications" section of the September 23 edition of The Gazette:

An Associated Press story on A1 Thursday about a ban on roadless areas in national forests quoted Colorado Gov. Bill Owens as saying, "It would be very unfortunate if we were to revert back to a rule established hastily without public input during the waning days of the Clinton administration." In fact, the Roadless Area Conservation Rule of 2001 was crafted with more than 1 million public comments and 600 public meetings over three years.

A tip from reader S.M. contributed to Colorado Media Matters' original September 22 item on this topic. Thanks, and keep them coming!

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