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Dave Perry: Preoccupations

NOTES ON EVERYTHING FROM THE EDITOR OF THE AURORA SENTINEL  — dperry@AuroraSentinel.com @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook


I don’t have to pause for a moment to know the worst part of journalism is the death of children.

Beyond grim, imposing our cameras, our questions and our deadlines into the tragedy of a dead child is viscerally traumatic.

You never forget the stories of children felled by cars, murdered by parents or struck down by cancer. They leave tender scars. That all-too familiar painful knot in the throat struck Tuesday as Aurora Sentinel photographer Gabriel Christus began filing photos of the body of 6-year-old David Puckett being retrieved from the frozen pond in Aurora’s Olympic Park. Puckett went missing New Year’s Eve and was the subject of a massive search. That search ended in the worst way Tuesday morning.

Like any parent, the pain I feel for the little boy is halting. My sympathy for the terror suffered by the boy’s parents is crushing.

And once again, we began the unnerving process of deciding which photos and details to include in the story.

The shots depicted yellow-clad divers on the frozen lake, working to get into and out of the water. One photo showed the rescuers carrying the body of a boy inside a body bag. A small foot was clearly visible. The image made me draw a breath. It brought back waves of revulsion connected to the Chuck E. Cheese’s murder decades ago. It brought back the same feeling as did the story about two Aurora toddlers who died in a house fire while their mom was out partying. Columbine High School. Children killed in car wrecks. Children shot by other children. A baby boy killed when he was flung against a wall by his father.

“Not that one,” I said to another editor as we went through the photos. I felt that uncomfortable flush that I know can become overwhelming and come without warning. When it comes, you have to stop what you’re doing and leave.

Another photo told the story of the end of Puckett’s brief life. The rescuers were carrying a black body bag across the frozen pond. Two rescuers were still in the water, where ice had been cut open so they could descend to a place I can’t imagine ever having to go. Police and rescuers around the perimeter watched the gruesome task.

“That one.”

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Rescue crews carry what was believed to be the body of 6-year-old David Puckett out of the water Jan. 3 at Olympic Park. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

I knew the phone would soon ring with complaints about how insensitive it was to run such a ghastly picture. And it did.

So I want to tell you that we are far from insensitive to such things, just like journalists across town, and across the globe. I’ve seen far more sickening photos and been forced to stoically ask more revolting questions to get revolting answers than I can let myself recall. And each time I decide which photo to publish or which detail to include, I put myself in the place of the victim’s family and friends. And then I put myself in the place of our readers.

Our job is convey to you in the most cogent way, the good and the bad in our world. It’s one thing to tell someone about how horrible it was that a little boy apparently wandered onto dangerous pond ice, and to show you a picture of how that ended. It’s one thing to describe to you what it’s like to watch a park full of cops and rescuers, most of whom have children of their own, stare as a young boy is pulled from his icy death — and instead let you see for yourself as they follow the body bag being carried to shore.

You need to see the scene to truly understand the story. And everyone on the planet needed to see the shocking photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body lying dead on a Turkish beach in 2015. The Syrian toddler had drowned as his family tried to flee the terror of their war-torn country. You’ve seen the photo, and having only heard about it would not bring justice to the story of the boy’s death and the horror in Syria.

Here, and at newspapers across the globe, we make the unwanted and unconvincing decisions about which parts of tragedy to share with the public. These decisions have been fodder for criticism and introspection since the beginning of newspapers.

There is only one thing I’m certain of, that there are no right answers. Balancing the feelings of those dragged into the horror of losing a child with the very real need to tell the community what they want and need to know is an imperfect philosophy.

Am I sure we did the right thing in prominently running that provocative and telling photo? No. Would I make the same decision now? Yes.

And when my tour of newsroom duty finally comes to an end, I will be glad and relieved that I never have to hear such tragedies nor make such revolting decisions again. And I hope those who do it after me feel exactly the same way and make sure they tell us what we need to know.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com.

It’s pretty hard to fit all that went wrong in 2016 into a space this small.

Like most of the planet, I’m aghast at recalling not only the front-page tragedies that struck all over the globe, but the seemingly endless list of wrongs that just couldn’t compete with terrorist and war atrocities in the Middle East, American cities, even nightclubs, and public places all across Europe.

The year illustrated the breathtaking ability for humans to bring about their own misery. And no doubt the personification of “that’s just wrong” is Donald Trump.

Not only is it just wrong that Americans would permit Trump to occupy the limelight on the public stage, but then elect him to the most critical job in the country? It’s difficult to see how anything can be more wrong than putting a blustering, dangerous and ill-informed liar in any position of power, especially the country’s most powerful position.

Even more wrong than Trump himself, is the American electorate who voted for a man who’s promised to make life harder for them, for all of us. The biggest wrong of 2016 was an America dumbed down to the point that the masses can’t distinguish between fact and fiction, lies and truth, movies and reality, good and bad, right and wrong. We’ve become a country where elderly people shake their fists and say, “I don’t want the government interfering with my Medicare.” We’re a country of people who no longer have any options for our futures other than Social Security — and who voted for people who have promised to diminish Social Security benefits.

We’re a country of people who depend on the Affordable Care Act to have health insurance to provide life-sustaining drugs and treatment. But these same people voted for others who promised to repeal the ACA, saying that they didn’t think anybody really meant it.

We’re a country of people struggling for housing, education, health care and even safe or adequate food, spending more on defense and military expenditures than the next eight top-spending nations combined — including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the U.K. and India. And we voted for people who want to significantly increase that bloated budget, meaning we must decrease spending on things like education, medical care, roads and veterans’ benefits. The alternative to that would be raising taxes or borrowing more money.

We’re a country that laughs at our own intelligence agencies when they say the Russians hacked into the email of politicians and political officials for the sole purpose of swinging a presidential election, believing the Russian government instead.

We’re a country of people who voted for people who have continually made it profitable to send manufacturing operations overseas for the sole purpose of exploiting cheaper labor while maximizing tax-savings on increased profits. And the same people then voted for others to bring those jobs back to the United States, even though they won’t change the very tax laws that enabled the exodus.

We are a people who believe mightily in science that we like — science that produces video games, movies on demand, phones that run our lives, cure us from cancer. But we are the same people that discount or scoff at science that  resolutely tells us we are endangering our economies and our very lives by denying our role in global climate change, and that we must address it. We are a people who believe TV stars instead of scientists and our own physicians when they tell us that childhood vaccinations are safe, and ignoring them puts the entire population in peril.

Right here in Colorado we continue to vote for people who refuse to see that Colorado’s rapid growth is destroying the very reasons it’s such an attractive place to live — because we won’t dedicate enough resources to transportation and education.

Right here in Aurora we have all agreed that police transparency is the answer to maintaining trust and peace between cops and the public, yet we repeatedly refuse to create an independent oversight program that can investigate police controversies and deliver a trusted answer to cops and civilians.

No doubt, the year was marred by an endless string of tragedies. But the greatest tragedy of all is how Americans have gone far beyond not taking the time to make informed decisions on matters. Even worse, Americans now form opinions based on lies, distortions, and disinformation — and they don’t know any better, or care.

It would be comforting to believe that the country has bottomed out in 2016, and that we have nowhere to go but up.  But until we wake up and wise up, we are simply leading our own circular parade of fools. History has shown repeatedly that such a reckless march ends only in a very bad place.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

We owe our readers and all of America an apology.

Not just us, but all of the U.S. media have done a grave disservice to our nation’s readers, viewers and listeners during the past few years.

We have lied to you about the 2016 presidential election.

We have lied not in the way that Donald Trump and even the Colorado Republican Party say we have. Actually, it’s worse. We have failed to follow the number-one tenet of journalism: accuracy.

While we, and especially I, have repeatedly blamed the deterioration of the Republican Party and the rise of tea-party activists for making it possible to nominate Trump for president, it is the media that is most at fault.

We were dishonest in that, from the beginning, we treated Trump like any other political candidate, allowing him to say whatever he wanted. On occasion, and often not, we would later in the story or the broadcast add an aside, dutifully allowing competitors or some expert to say briefly that, no, there aren’t countless white people murdered each year at the hands of blacks. No, it isn’t widely accepted that President Barack Obama is a Kenyan citizen and not one born in the United States. No, American Muslims — and actually almost all Muslims worldwide — don’t hate non-Muslims and hope to kill as many as they can or become complicit with Mid-East terrorists.

Just like all of you, we were mesmerized by Trump because he was so laughable and entertaining. Facing almost two years of scores of policy wonks duking it out over partisan talking points looked bleak.

Trump changed all that from the first day. He rode down an escalator with his orange face and comical comb-over and told the world that Mexico sends hordes of rapists and murderers to our country.

It wasn’t until months later, after he rose feverishly in the polls — and his GOP competitors couldn’t yell loud enough or roll their eyes fast enough — that the media began pointing out higher up in the stories that Trump was erroneous about Muslims dancing in the streets as the Twin Towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001. He was erroneous about the Colorado presidential caucus being rigged. He was erroneous about numbers about all kinds of things.

It was well after all of that, after Trump snagged the Republican nomination, that the media outside of editorials and columns began to point out when Trump lied about things. He lies a lot.

But so did we. We were played. We forgot that our most important job is to tell readers the real story, as accurately as possible. We’ve become so accustomed to being what we think is fair to our sources, that we’ve forgotten our first job is to be fair to our readers.

What we should have told you is that a clearly ill-prepared, celebrity billionaire erupted in a shocking racist delusion and announced he would seek the Republican nomination. We could have reserved that fact that he was a pompous lout for the editorial page.

Had Trump been a former state legislator from Idaho or a Midwestern CPA or an Arizona sheriff, that would have been the end of that.

We should have quoted psychologists and pundits, explaining why and how someone like Trump would seek any public office, especially that of the country’s chief administrator. And we should have immediately debunked anything we allowed him to spew into our pages and airwaves. Fact checking — after the fact? That’s a joke.

But we didn’t even do that in the beginning. We allowed Trump to use us to create a vast legion of fearful, paranoid and wretched followers, eager to hear his fantasy about the chaos in American urban areas where blacks only make time to murder whites and themselves, lying about  a massive crime wave that doesn’t exist. He’s created a virtual militia that passionately believe that every Muslim in America is a threat to our security.

We were polite or remiss in not pointing out that Trump is a crackpot, like we diligently point that out about people such as David Duke and Colorado’s own Capitol kook, state Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chapps” Klingenschmitt.

Day after day, week after week, we allowed Trump to gain millions and millions of dollars worth of unfettered, free air time and print advertising, building a massive propaganda machine. It sucked in millions of Americans who now believe that the United States is on the cusp of collapse, and only he can stop it from happening with iron rule. And he’s worked hard to ward off any potential dose of reality that could dispell the delusion. He began and will finish his campaign banging the drum against the media, which he says are corrupt, conspiring liars. Meanwhile, he uses them nearly 24/7 to perpetuate his growing repertoire of fantastic lies, exaggerations and refuted denials.

We are sorry. I am sorry. While I was at the front of the parade warning readers about the clear danger of what seemed then to be merely reckless rhetoric, we, too, have published endless inaccurate wire and local stories. We were complicit in allowing Trump and his followers to perpetuate gross and outrageous lies by not clearly calling them out early in the news pages.

Sunday night, as news that FBI Director James Comey has again cleared Clinton of criminal intent or behavior in a bizarre twist in her email saga, the Associated Press ran headlines of Trump’s reaction, claiming that the FBI is wrong, that Clinton is clearly guilty of something, and that “she knows it.”

It’s a lie. The entire short, miserable political life of Donald Trump is a complete and total lie, and we’re sorry.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

You’re being played.

Donald Trump is successfully creating a delusional world of fear and lies to persuade people who later will know better that he is just a ruthless con.

If you’re buying into the racket that Trump is selling this time, you’re about to get stuck with the worst time-share deal in the history of this country.

I get why about a quarter of Americans would fall for Trump’s scam. Some of these people put their faith into a belief that hard work will always lead to success — only to have their lives turned upside down by industry after industry that went after cheap labor abroad. Some of these people are flagrant or closet racists who live in fear of brown and yellow Americans assuming power and doing to them what, as a nation, we’ve done to minorities for centuries. Some of these people see Trump as a savior to route out a government run not by the will of the people, but the will of big-money interest calling the shots in Congress.

These are people who have bought into the decades-long demonization of Hillary Clinton. Clinton most certainly is guilty. But she’s guilty of being a political animal, just like every other U.S. president, congressman, senator, governor and state legislator in history. And she’s guilty of being a woman.

She’s guilty of being hunted and stalked by alt-right critics like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, who accuse her of being a “pay-to-play” government official. Her alleged crime is giving an audience to wealthy people from here and abroad in exchange for their donating huge sums of money to the Clinton Foundation. The sole purpose of that foundation has been to address problems in disease- and poverty-ravaged hot-spots on the planet that nobody else cares about. Gingrich? He was thrown out of his office after being found guilty of tax-exempt fraud and ethics violations — by his own party.

Donald Trump’s foundation is now shut down in New York and accused of using money he solicits for his business interests. Fraud.

And her GOP critics in Congress? Each and every one spends endless hours giving an audience to owners of big corporations, industries or interests who donate billions of dollars to their campaigns to keep them in office, Republicans and Democrats alike. These fat-cats don’t donate money to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa or feed starving children. They donate money to lawmakers to get votes for their own cash benefit. The entire American political system is based on pay to play, made even worse by the infamous Supreme Court Citizens United decision. Clinton has used it to help wretched people abandoned by the rest of the planet. Trump has used it to build failed hotels, fraudulent-colleges and bankrupt casinos.

Clinton is being pilloried for stupidly and arrogantly using a non-government email system as secretary of state — just like past secretaries of state and other officials have, as well as endless members of Congress and the Bush administration. The FBI concluded after a long investigation that Clinton did not commit any crime. There was no criminal intent. None. But Trump has exaggerated and outright lied about the issue, convincing those who despise her of his own erroneous “reality.”

These are people who agree with or overlook the indisputable fact that Trump has repeatedly made outlandish racist threats and remarks that have caused his own party leaders to strike out at him. They have, unthinkably, endorsed his Democratic opponent. Trump lashed out against a California judge born in Indiana over his Latino heritage. He struck out against the father of a Muslim American killed while fighting for his country. He struck out against a South American Miss Universe winner — whom he had called a fat pig — after the woman publicly admonished Trump for his callous cruelty, spreading fiendish lies about her.

Military officials, defense officials, justice officials, past presidents and presidential candidates — all Republicans — and every single hard-line, reputable conservative newspaper in the country have all adamantly insisted that Trump is not only unqualified to be president, he is a threat to national and international security, economic stability and the very rule of law.

How can anyone be so deaf to something so clear and consistent?

Because they are being played.

Trump has used the media to persuade people that they can’t trust the media. That the indisputable documentations about his lies, are just lies. He’s used the media to persuade people that the media is to blame for women lining up to tell the same story about being sexually assault by Trump — just like he detailed those crimes himself in the infamous Billy Bush video. Just like he admitted to on past radio shows when he got some kind of thrill and celebrity charge out of being a TV sexual bad boy.

Trump’s blinded fans keep calling it “man talk.” They say the growing list of accusers are liars. Bitches. Sluts.

Why do email phishing scams, car-lot schemes, furniture sales ploys, time-share wrangling and a long list of other grifts still exist? Because they still work. Because there are still suckers out there these con men can count on to believe that they really might get a cut of Mr. Baradhuh Hamilton’s fortune in a Swiss bank that he will share if they just provide their own banking information. There are still people who believe that if they don’t sign for a car on the first lot they visit, they’re going to miss out on the best and only deal of their entire lives. There are still people who think that there is a media conspiracy to persuade America that every single, reputable conservative think-tank, columnist, editor, military official, and past sexual assault victim is lying because they don’t want someone else to get to that Swiss bank account.

Trump is a swindler, and he’s the worst kind. And when he can’t deport all the Mexicans and Muslims? And when he can’t kill trade agreements because those industries and companies that truly own Congress won’t let him? And when he can’t deliver cheap and “wonderful” health care because the health-care and drug industry would never stand for it? And when the terrorists strike here in America again because that’s what terrorists do? Trump will say it’s the fault of the media. The Congress. The rigged system.

His believers won’t get what they want, they’ll only be stuck with him.  But not you. You will either say, “I told you so,” or you will realize you’d been played. Or we can all avoid this by voting for Hillary Clinton.

Don’t be played by Trump.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter or Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com.

Take a slow, deep breath, folks. Nothing’s really changed in the last few days, or the last several months for that matter.

While Trump and his supporters want to make it that the absurd concussion grenade FBI Director James Comey tossed into the election Friday is a game changer, it’s just not.

Donald Trump is the same bombastic, prevaricating, bloviating, conspiracy-spinning, sexual predator and demagogue that he always was. No matter what’s happened during the last few days, Trump has yet to earn the serious endorsement of a single reputable newspaper. Even those conservative newspapers that have never, ever endorsed a Democrat, the message has been relenting and consistent. These newspapers don’t just suggest a better and higher road with Hillary Clinton, they have one by one agreed that Trump is a dangerous, inept, foul, con man who will inflict untold damage on the nation and its citizens.

That is not hyperbole, and it’s not unwarranted. Trump has been gleefully doubling down on his hateful, delusional rhetoric since Comey announced Friday the FBI wanted to see emails on the computer of the disgraced and perverted spouse of a Clinton aide. Comey’s rolling, surreal disaster in how he’s handled the entire Clinton email issue is a problem unto itself, wrongly inflicted on the waning days of this campaign.

But the immediate problem is Trump, not Comey. Trump has repeatedly insisted in the last few days that Colorado’s election system is “rigged” and unreliable. That if is shows any result other than his victory, it’s been corrupted.

His bizarre and repugnant blathering and behavior have washed over the country so long and with such numbing vitriol that dangerous and despicable stunts like that no longer garner the shock and disgust they should.

This inept fool is saying that in a state where a staunch Republican in charge of all elections and an army of equally staunch Republican county election clerks, they are so inept or corrupt that they would encourage or allow Democrats to cheat their way to victory, especially in the presidential race. It’s a lie.

Trump’s spurious and unbridled inanity knows no bounds. He has been that way from the beginning, and he will finish Election Day the same pathetic liar and cheat he began this race, whether he wins the White House or not.

Nothing has changed. And the problem of Donald Trump didn’t spontaneously inflict the United States a few months ago. Responsibility for the monstrosity of Trump lies squarely with the Republican Party. It was GOP rank and file during the first Bush administration that let this ugliness through the door with “leaders” like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh. By flirting with this fringe group and using them for new votes and cash, Republicans at first emboldened them. Then they began to embrace them, elevating previously unthinkable extremists to high-profile spots. Extremists like Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Joni Ernst, Tom Cotton — and Donald Trump — are now the face of the Republican Party.

The new Republicans began their dogged stalking of Hillary Clinton as soon as she became first lady, and they’ve only ramped up their obsessive hyperbole since.

The unbridled exaggerations and outright fabrications about Clinton are without precedence. And as her second run for the White House became imminent four years ago, their witch hunt has reached fever pitch, playing the tell-a big-loud-lie game started by Limbaugh and Gingrich decades ago.

Naively trying to find ways to scuttle their stalking attacks, Clinton has made dumb mistakes, mistakes that have purposely been blown so far out of proportion that to anyone honest and informed, they appear comical. Even dependable conservative media have highlighted that fact.

But in their zeal to stop Hillary Clinton at all costs and appease their festering tea party, the GOP has come undone.

Now, the inmates have taken ruthless control of the GOP asylum, and the rank-and-file and even party leaders are petrified of what Trump’s minions will do. Rather than boldly and courageously denounce Trump for what he is, a fraud, they contrive ways to distance themselves just enough to keep from infuriating his fans — but not draw invective from mainstream Americans for their stunts.

It’s scandalous, given what’s at stake. These same Republicans fear a Trump victory even more than do Democrats, knowing that they dare not “stand up” to a President Trump. If they do, he has made it clear he and his fans will destroy them.

If Trump wins, and when his fraudulence is outed, Democrats will make hay in Congress in two years to punish Trump’s supporters and to try and save the country. All is lost for the GOP with a Trump victory. But worse, all would be lost for all of us.

It’s been that way since Trump road the golden escalator down to announce his run for president, promising to “make America great again” by wrapping the worst of humanity in an American flag.

So here we are, days from an election, fighting the same fights. Never have so many people that so Americans trust from all sides of the political spectrum gone out of their way to warn against Donald Trump. Trump’s allies fighting back include the likes of dubious extremists like Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, Roger Ailes, Andrew Breitbart and the infamous racist David Duke.

Take a deep breath, America. If you can’t see clear of the smokescreen, then look to those you admire and trust. The chances are almost certain that they’re voting for Clinton, even if they don’t agree with her political platform. And most likely, these people will  beseech you to vote for Clinton, too.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

Thanks to Donald Trump and a boatload of downstream political dudes, we now know it really does suck to be an American woman.

Not so long ago, a more polite yet misogynistic society referred to Trump’s penchant for accosting women as the boorish behavior of a “masher.” It was something Doris Day might breathlessly have said in a powder-blue suit while starring with Rock Hudson. Often forgotten and forgiven, it’s just as a guy thing.

Now we can be frank and honest. Trump’s behavior constitutes sexual assault. His victims aren’t coming forward with stories of buyer’s remorse the morning after. They’re women who consistently back up what he bragged about on that now notorious bus-tape with TV personality Billy Bush. He has molested strange women by forcing unwanted kisses and gropes, often just moments after meeting them.

And no matter how repulsive you think Trump’s pursed lips unexpectedly attaching themselves to yours would be while he holds you still for the attack, you can pretty much rest assured that his buds, the rest of the country and even some of your friends just shrug it off, and would expect you to as well.

Locker room banter. Guy talk. Boys will be boys. At least he thinks you’re attractive.

I’ve been just as guilty as Billy Bush at times, laughing off the awkward gaucheries of pals who tell waitresses such winning flirtations such as, “and I’ll take a side of you with that.”

Women hate that. I hate that. But rather than say, “That was rude, dude,” I’ve looked the other way at that and much worse.

I know how awful this is mostly because of my wife. She’s drop-dead gorgeous. I don’t mean stunningly beautiful like every guy should think his wife is eye candy. I mean almost everyone who meets her makes those comments.

I’ve never lied about the fact that it got my attention the moment we met 20-some years ago. But I can honestly say her wit, intelligence, talent, charm, integrity, compassion, hedonism and mutual love of steep and deep Colorado snow make me love her. I thank my lucky stars every day that I won the girlfriend jack pot — except for when she disagrees with me. Which is every day.

And while I appreciate just looking at her all time, so do a lot of men.

She gets marriage proposals while picking apples in grocery stores. Funny? More than once these guys then follow her to her car in the parking lot. It’s a better day when the guys just follow her around the store and then lose interest after a while.

She can’t really go for walks by herself in our totally walkable neighborhood. On several occasions, cars drive by her once, then twice, then slow up and pace her, guys asking for “directions” or just wanting her to get in their car.

Sober men insist she yield her time or at least her phone number. Inebriated men badger her for a “date.” Behind every eye roll women offer against harassment is a worry about how far this guy is going to take it.

And she’s like millions and millions of other American women. She’s expected to just laugh it off, look the other way or spend her time explaining why it’s not going to happen. And when she does? She’s “a bitch.”

And we all just shrug it off because that’s the way things are. Or were.

It’s been this way so long, even though women have seriously pushed back against it for years now, that it seemed it could be no other way.

And it won’t change, unless men make it stop. Instead of being Billy Bush — who not only acquiesced Trump’s molester talk, he went much further by becoming complicit, asking a woman whether she had a hug for Trump — we need to push back against the pack mentality.

Men must tell each other they’re being rude, thoughtless or repulsive. I don’t mean that we can’t have friendly, flirtatious banter among peers and friends who have trust and understanding. But your co-worker isn’t your friend and doesn’t want to know that you think her shoes make her look hot. Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly doesn’t want to hear former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tell her she’s “fascinated” with sex because she asks questions about the effect of Trump’s accusers on his campaign. Women in Aurora don’t want to hear Congressman Mike Coffman say he doesn’t know if allegations against Trump constitute sexual assault. They do. Women want men to stand up to each other because nothing else will make it stop.

If Trump were to mash his mouth against my daughter’s or my wife’s? If he were to run his hands over them like he brags about? I’d call the cops because I know they wouldn’t. They know what happens to too many women who out “mashers.”

And the next time I hear a guy tell a strange woman how she should take a load off her pretty feet and sit on his lap, I’ll tell them they sound as creepy as Trump, making American women grate again.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@AuroraSentinel.com

Clearly this difficult election has been made so hard for Republicans and all of us ornery reporters because we’re just not speaking the same language any more.

“Privacy” means one thing to may Republicans and something completely different to the media world.

Republicans in Aurora and Colorado and, hey, all across the country have been vocal about telling the likes of reporters here at the Aurora Sentinel and other places to quit trying to vote-shame them about whether they will or they won’t be voting for Donald Trump.

Congressman Mike Coffman and other Colorado big-office Republicans are being pummeled by stories about how they let a man who is arguably the worst presidential candidate in the history of presidential candidates to become the face of the GOP. They are tired beyond tears of us asking whether they’ll vote for Trump, and when they decided they wouldn’t, and how painfully they lament they ever heard of the guy. The problem for them is, such contrition would be good for the sole purpose of assuaging angry reasonable people, but such bad-mouthing of the man assured to Make America Great Again enrages the fiery Trump crowd.

When Aurora Sentinel reporters pressed down-ballot folks for who they’re supporting at the top of the ticket, there was chagrin, tap dancing and outright indignation.

At the top of the resentment this week was Republican Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, who sniffed at our question of will-you-or-won’t-you and declined to answer.

“The secret ballot is as much a cornerstone of American democracy as is freedom of the press, and last time I checked, officials and office holders of both parties still enjoy the right of a secret ballot,” Hogan told Reporter Brandon Johansson. He went on to say he didn’t think it was newsworthy to ask elected officials who they were voting for so close to the election. “That just doesn’t feel like reporting news to me. It feels like making news. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but it doesn’t feel right,” he said.

That was how Hogan felt until Thursday morning, when the campaign to re-elect Congressman Mike Coffman issued a release saying that Hogan and other Republican mayors in the metro area were only too happy to tell residents they were voting for Coffman, and they should, too.

“Mike has been a strong advocate for Aurora. He has made protecting Buckley AFB, and completing the V.A. Hospital critical priorities during his service in Congress. Mike deserves another term,” Hogan said, according to the release.

Apparently not all ballot secrets are worth keeping.

Hogan isn’t alone among local Republicans only too happy to share their ballot secret about their choice for Congress, but solemnly sworn to not tell a soul about their choice for president.

“All three Arapahoe County commissioners, commissioners Nancy Sharpe, Rod Bockenfeld and Nancy Doty, chimed in to support Mike,” Coffman’s campaign said in the release.

That bell rang flat, however, for Doty. Running now for a state Senate seat in southeast Aurora, Doty maintains that she can’t tell the Sentinel or anyone who she’s voting for president, because of the sacred secret ballot thing.

Of course, I could have this thing all wrong. Being truly secret, it could be that these local Republicans are more like New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who may vote for one candidate while supporting another while circling in regard to an endorsement. It could well be these Republicans talk nice about Coffman in public, but then plan to vote for his Democrat challenger, state Sen. Morgan Carroll, when they get the lead out on the actual ballot. It would be their little secret.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and FaceBook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com

Hey, Morgan Carroll and Mike Coffman. Stop already with the lame-brain negative ads against each other.

Sheesh.

Let me set this straight, and then let’s move on: Morgan Carroll, a Democrat state senator running against incumbent Congressman Republican Mike Coffman, is not a sleazy lawyer who used her position as state Senate president to get her or anyone else rich. Did not happen.

And Mike Coffman has never snuggled up to Donald Trump and is nothing like him. He probably despises the guy. Who in their right mind doesn’t?

Now stop beating each other over the head with these ridiculous TV ad claims and tell voters something that really might move the needle in one direction or the other in the race for Aurora’s 6th Congressional District seat.

Still not convinced?

Let me tell you about Mike Coffman. I’ve been writing about him so long that we were both young, handsome guys when I first wrote about his leave of absence from his state House seat to fight in the first Iraq War. It was before there was electricity. Now, we’re just old handsome guys.

Mike has always been a smart, savvy and passionate politician. And while he regularly defines himself as a military veteran, he is a career politician. He’s been elected to five very different government positions a whole bunch of times.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

As a legislator, state treasurer and secretary of state, Mike was obsessive about his work. Right or wrong — in my opinion or that of others — he’s always diligent. I’m as appreciative of his long public elected service as I am his exemplary military service. Having watched Mike all these years, I have no doubt his opinion of Donald Trump is only slightly better than my own. I’m not saying that Mike doesn’t deserve knuckle raps for standing silent on the obvious Trump disaster until it was too late to prevent it. In fact, I have said that. But Mike is a politician, and he has the self-preservation instincts and success record over these many decades to prove it — just like every politician I’ve ever met.

I can guarantee you, that if the roles were reversed and the Democratic presidential nominee was an outright lying, mentally unstable, dog-whistling-for-a-national-racist meltdown, fascist, Democrats would be handling this the same way.

They’re all political animals, and so is Morgan. She’s a lawyer, and a really good one. She’s incredibly smart and perceptive, listening to people describe problems and being able to quickly start offering solutions. It’s the lawyer thing. Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer. And Barack Obama. And his wife. And Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. There’s nothing wrong with being a lawyer. For years and years she’s represented people who were victims and being taken advantage of. She’s the voice for people who don’t have a way to make their own voice heard. Some of that work has been for injured clients, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re in big-box store and suddenly get clobbered by a crate stored wrong, and the store owner says “toughies,” who are you gonna call? A plumber? Dial-a-prayer?

I’ve watched Morgan take in troubled people to her own home and her own life so they could get back on their feet and move on. She brushes aside political consequences for things like that, and does what she thinks is just right: help people. I’ve seen her work tirelessly to pass bills that have huge impacts in people’s lives, even though that bill may result in someone getting just a couple hundred dollars a year. Just a few weeks ago, she was pressing for ways to help disabled Colorado residents, probably our state’s most vulnerable neighbors, dig through the nightmare of legislation and regulations that prevent them from helping themselves.

She’s the patron saint of people in trouble.

Both of these candidates are smart, caring people. They’re politicians, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Mike has spent the last few years focusing on Aurora’s vast immigrant population, and his critics say he did it all for show to try and keep his job in an increasingly liberal district. Maybe, but he really has spent a lot of time at a long list of events with immigrants and minorities, listening to them. Observing them. Nothing but good can come from that. Too many of his conservative peers make judgments without knowing who America’s immigrants really are. Knowledge changes everything.

And Morgan has spent her life being a voice for people under duress. It means she knows what happens when legislation goes bad, because she hears from constituents as a lawmaker, and from her clients as a lawyer when innocent people get strangled by red tape.

What does separate these candidates is their stance on critical issues, and, in full disclosure, that’s where Mike and I often disagree.

If you think climate change isn’t nearly as bad or imminently dangerous as scientists make out, and messing with the economy is a bigger worry, Mike’s your guy. If you think scientists don’t make this crap up and transitioning from a petroleum world ain’t nothing compared to mass starvation from devastating droughts, vote for Morgan.

If you think that we realistically must and morally should assimilate the millions of illegal Americans living in this country, except the felons, Morgan is your pick. If you think we can cherry-pick those immigrants, and wait-and-see what to do with the millions who don’t really fall into the “yes” or “no” baskets, Mike is with you.

If you’re outraged because a woman’s reproductive rights, abortion rights, are being chiseled away by pro-life lawmakers who do things like vote for defunding Planned Parenthood and backing weak-acid legislation, Morgan is at the front of the battle to make it stop. Mike? He’s voted to defund Planned Parenthood with his pack.

Fix Obamacare and drive down prices with a public option? Morgan. Scrap Obamacare and try something else? Mike.

With these two candidates, issues are the issue, not their personal shortcomings, which seems to be what they’re fighting over. Do your research on the issues and pick the one that you want to vote in Congress like you would.

But if you just want a brilliant, handsome older guy who’s never been wrong and is funnier than a pig on a frozen pond, write me in.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@AuroraSentinel.com

The moment of truth, and I do mean truth, for Colorado Republican elected officials is now as they must either unequivocally denounce the catastrophic candidacy of Donald Trump or suffer the inevitable consequences.

In the minds of rational, thinking Americans, conservative and liberal, Democrat and Republican and none of the above, Trump is an unparalleled political abomination in the history of the United States.

As his critics from the left, center and the right have pointed out, and as anybody in their right mind can plainly see, Trump is uninformed, unintelligent, unprincipled, unpredictable, unrepentant and unable to exert even a modicum of self control over his anger or his ego.

A trove of sociologists, psychologists, political scientists, marketers and more have already spent countless words trying to explain how and why Trump enjoys the voter support he does, even though it now seems to be dissolving fast.

The explanation of Trump no longer matters. What matters is that there are throngs of his post-factual-politics fans that are either distracted, ill-informed or full-throttle racists and fascists like Trump himself.

In a few months, a few years or a few decades, we will all be judged by how we reacted to Trump. We’ll be judged in the very same way generations have been judged by how they dealt with George Wallace, David Duke, Joseph McCarthy, Adolph Hitler and Manuel Noriega. We will all soon have to own up to how we handled the Trump nomination.

But Republicans must own up right now, for the good of the country, and if for no other reason, the good of their own careers.

This has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with Hillary Clinton. It wouldn’t matter if Donald Trump were running against Nancy Pelosi, Jane Fonda or Mother Teresa, Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president.

I’m not discounting Hillary Clinton’s considerable problems with her own candidacy, but to say that they are so egregious as to make Trump a realistic choice is as ridiculous as saying that a spoiled 6-year-old boy can pilot a 747 because he bought one and can, sort of, ride a bike.

No. I and a growing list of other journalists, from the left and the right, as well as more Republicans and other conservatives each day understand the menace, and the need for honesty and accuracy.

Now it’s time for Republicans in Aurora and across the state to do the same.

Last week, Congressman Mike Coffman tapped a political white cane around the tea party’s third rail of Trump for President. In a paid political ad, Coffman said he “didn’t think very much” of Trump.

The move smacks of the same half-hearted political opportunism that allowed Sen. Joseph McCartney to extort the U.S. Senate for America’s dark and unnerving “Un-American Activities” charade in the 1950s. If Coffman is as courageous a politician as he makes himself out to be, he must “stand up” to Trump now, not after he’s president. If he believes it, he must tell Trump that America has no place for such blatant racism and fascist leadership. Dozens of prominent Republicans across the country have summoned the courage to risk alienating the spiteful tea party base by calling Trump out for the imminent danger he is.

Because if Coffman, Sen. Cory Gardner, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, congressmen Ken Buck, Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn and GOP state lawmakers and county officials from all over the state don’t publicly, staunchly and undeniably make clear that they abhor the candidacy of Donald Trump and refuse to support or vote for him, then they leave the public with two options. Either GOP elected officials have such poor judgment that they cannot themselves be trusted to represent their more rational constituents, or they are so cowardly that they will not risk their own political jobs by angering the tea party inmates that are now running this surreal GOP asylum. It is this very same cowardice and poor judgment that allowed for segregation and Jim Crow laws in the South, the Holocaust, apartheid and a long list of odious regimes in places like Russia, China and all over the Middle East.

Warnings like mine aren’t hyperbole or hysteria; they are real alarm bells signaling serious danger to democracy and humanity. Never before have respected members of a political party, including 50 GOP security experts and a growing list of elected officials, called out their own party’s presidential nominee for his utter ineptitude and the imminent danger he represents.

Colorado Republicans must join those ranks. We all must join those ranks.

Because even if Trump is obliterated in the election, his candidacy will live on like a festering cancer in America. And once that cancer’s finally gone, we will all have to answer to what we did to either stop it, or feed it.

If you’re confused about what side of the argument you want to be on now, consider what side of history you want to be on years from now. You know the answer. And we must all summon the courage to act on it.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com.

Editors and reporters must offer readers the facts about Donald Trump no matter how hard he and his increasingly angry mob of fans push back.

As an industry we must tell the public not just why Trump should never be U.S. president, but why he shouldn’t be president because of what he did today, and every day.

There has not been one single day, not one press conference, not one rally where Trump hasn’t blustered through a litany of things ranging from inept to frightening and dangerous.

If this is just my opinion, it’s also the expressed opinion of Republicans, his allies, pundits and experts from the left and the right, and a growing number of conservatives who once thought they could quietly tolerate his candidacy.

The media is under extreme pressure from both Trump’s knowing and naive followers to treat the New York hotel magnate and his campaign just like any other. Daily, we are bombarded by fanatical and unreasonable critics saying our overly moderated yet pointed and regular coverage of the outlandish, menacing and treacherous things Trump says only proves to them how unfair the media is to him.

I learned journalism from masters. They were serious thinkers who not only studied our ethical, legal and integral role in democracy, but who practiced what they loudly and regularly preached. Former Rocky Mountain News copy desk chief Greg Pearson — as dean and creator of Metro State University of Denver’s unique journalism school — howled this mantra almost every day I saw him for years: “Accuracy. Accuracy. Accuracy,” he bellowed at every tiny mistake he uncovered.

Every day, I, and most journalists, ask the same questions every time we file a story, a brief, a headline, a photo or a caption: Is it accurate? Is it fair? Is it written for the reader and not the source? Above all, is this the real story?

Most of us learn enough about journalism to understand the rudimentary rule of the profession: he said, she said. Supposedly, objective and fair reporters let each side tell their own story, stand back, and then the reader decides who’s right.

But allowing Donald Trump to make comments without context and background make the story inaccurate.

“(Russian President Vladimir Putin is) not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want,” Trump said Sunday during an interview George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

It’s not Trump’s opinion. It’s erroneous. Putin’s grab of the Crimea is already a historical scandal and acknowledged threat to world peace. Likewise, it’s not an opinion that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya — it’s false. It’s untrue that Obama is a Muslim. It’s untrue that “global warming” is a hoax. The China trade deficit this year isn’t $505 billion, it’s closer to $340 billion. Ten percent of American bridges are deficient, but 61 percent are not on the verge of collapse. He said ISIS built a hotel in Syria. No. They commandeered one. He said that in the event Iran goes to war with Israel, the United States must side with Iran because of the Iran Anti-Nuclear Agreement. Absolutely not.

Despite what his followers say, these aren’t opinions that the media should obligingly permit Trump to espouse in the same vein that “Obama is the worst president ever,” or “Ted Cruz is the biggest liar ever.” He is a walking, talking fountain of misinformation and disinformation, and if the media — especially the wildly tilted Fox News brand — doesn’t point that out, his naive fan club simply takes his froth at face value. Despite what he says, there aren’t two sets of facts — and he’s regularly on the wrong side of them.

And when the media does point out his inaccuracies, which are usually so glaring to have captured media attention, his fans rabidly accuse the press of bias, and in some sort of conditioned response, rattle off their complaints about Hillary Clinton.

First, the media rightfully treats the accuracy and problems of each candidate separately. But more important, the contest, in the eyes of Trump supporters, is one of weighing who is the most egregious candidate based on the level of shrillness created by critics.

I’ll bite. Hillary has plenty of faults, but as a person, as a politician, as a candidate, her missteps and shortcomings pale compare the off-the-charts horror that Trump parades every single day. And the media has erred in not making that clear, despite what his unaware or complicit fan club says.

It’s like the media reporting on the sinking of the Titanic with Trump at the helm and his supporters pointing out that the dinner served on Hillary’s ship was cold.

Clinton’s shortcomings are real, but they’re irrelevant to Trump’s. For voters, weighing one brand against the other is expected, but when Trump says 81 percent of murdered white people are killed by blacks, and he cites the crime statistics bureau of San Francisco, which doesn’t exist, the press has a duty to point out that 85 percent of murdered whites were killed by other white people.

Trump is a geyser of mistakes, hyperbole, bloopers, gaffes, howlers and outright lies, and the media is irresponsible in not being more forthright about immediately debunking what he says, essentially as he says it.

Trump is not just another flavor of political candidate, he is an unparalleled threat to America and the world that cannot be exaggerated. So the least the media can do is stick to the canons of our profession and ensure readers are offered the facts.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@aurorasentinel.com.