Who Had the Worst Week?

  • RIP Streetsblog Denver. The news site focusing on transportation and mobility issues in our city has been on life support for more than a year, and the plug was finally pulled this week. Founder David Sachs, who now calls Barcelona home, penned a farewell column calling on media to better cover issues between cars and pedestrians/bicyclists.
  • From the “any publicity is good publicity” file: The Boulder International Film Festival, apparently desperate for attention, has invited Alec Baldwin to be its first-ever “guest programmer” for its event in March. Baldwin remains under investigation related to the death of a production assistant on the set of his movie, “Rust.”
  • Denver Broncos executive John Elway was named in a lawsuit filed by Black head coach Brian Flores alleging a pattern of discrimination against coaches of color in the NFL. In the suit, Flores says that Elway and Broncos President & CEO Joe Ellis arrived for Flores’ head coaching interview in 2019 “completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had been drinking heavily the night before.” Elway has strongly denied the allegations, but this is not a good look for him, especially as he is trying to join one of the bid groups attempting to buy the Broncos.
  • Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any tougher for prospective home-buyers, the Denver Metro Association of Realtors announced that the number of homes on the market right now is at an all-time low.
  • If you are a well-paid administrator in Denver Public Schools, you should be updating your resume right now. Superintendent Alex Marrero told Chalkbeat that he is reducing the number of administrative positions and that some executives will need to re-apply for their positions.
  • CNN President Jeff Zucker resigned after acknowledging an inappropriate relationship with a co-worker.
  • Whoopi Goldberg has been suspended as co-host of “The View” despite apologizing for comments she made that the Holocaust wasn’t about race because it involved “two White groups of people.” In her apology, she acknowledged, “… it is indeed about race because Hitler and the Nazis considered Jews to be an inferior race.”
  • Oakland University in Michigan mistakenly notified 5,500 applicants that they had received full scholarships to attend the school.
  • The pandemic continues to hit Americans hard, and now it has come for …. our chocolate milk?

So, who won the week?

Quote of the Day

“…in 2019 Mr. Flores was scheduled to interview with the Denver Broncos. However, the Broncos’ then-General Manager, John Elway, President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis and others, showed up an hour late to the interview. They looked completely disheveled, and it was obvious that they had been drinking heavily the night before. It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job. Shortly thereafter, Vic Fangio, a white man, was hired to be the Head Coach of the Broncos.”

Brian Flores’ federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and New York Giants specifically, and the NFL generally. The Broncos have denied the allegations.

Who Had the Worst Week?

So, who won the week?

NBC Lowering TV Ratings Expectations for Beijing Winter Olympics Amid COVID, Human Rights, Timezone Concerns

Claire Atkinson at BusinessInsider: “NBCUniversal is slashing its TV ratings expectations for the Winter Olympics by as much as half, according to three senior marketing sources familiar with the numbers. The media giant, which paid $7.75 billion for TV and digital rights to the Olympic Games through 2032, retooled its estimates after pushback from marketing partners disappointed with the ratings of the Tokyo summer Olympics. “

“Ad agencies are being told to expect a six rating at Beijing — half what the audience guarantees were for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, according to one media agency executive. … One ad executive said NBCUniversal was under pressure to reduce its ratings expectations rather than face the possibility of having to give advertisers make-good ads, as NBCU reportedly had to do after Tokyo, when it had its lowest Summer Olympics ratings ever.”

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • The 2021-2022 ski season could be a tough one for Colorado resorts, according to data released by Vail Resorts that show an 18.3% drop in skier visits to its resorts this year compared to the same period in 2019-2020.
  • The Colorado State Patrol says at least 672 people died in traffic crashes on Colorado roads in 2021, the most in nearly two decades. Officials blamed impaired driving, excessive speeds and distractions behind the wheel as the leading causes of accidents, and noted that approximately one-third of those who died were not wearing seatbelts.
  • Denver attorney Frank “the Strong Arm” Azar found himself in need of his own lawyer when he sued both a CPA who he says screwed up his tax return and the CPA he then hired to fix the first CPA’s work.
  • King Soopers and organizers of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Marade awkwardly faced off over the grocery store’s sponsorship of the event during a union strike that would no doubt have been supported by the civil rights leader.
  • Speaking of Dr. King, the FBI saw him as a communist threat and surveilled him with phone taps and bugged hotel rooms, among other activities, which is why its tweet commemorating MLK Day this week felt pretty self-serving and hollow.
  • After trying and failing to participate in the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic learned that the upcoming French Open also has banned non-vaccinated tennis players. He currently is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer with 20 major tournament wins, and desperately wants to own the record alone.
  • Historians have decided that notary Arnold van den Bergh is the likely culprit who ratted out Anne Frank.
  • It’s been a rough week for the University of Michigan. Its president, Mark Schlissel, was fired for having a relationship with a subordinate and the university agreed to pay $490 million to settle allegations that a doctor who worked with football players and other students sexually abused them.
  • The NBA’s Golden State Warriors distanced itself from minority owner Chamath Palihapitiya’s statement that “nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs,” the largely Muslim minority community that has faced widespread human rights violations in China’s western Xinjiang region. He added, “You bring it up because you really care, and I think it’s nice that you care — the rest of us don’t care.” That will not play well in the Warrior’s hometown of San Francisco.

So, who won the week?

M&M’s Characters ‘Millennialized’

Candy manufacturer Mars announced that the iconic M&M’s characters are getting personality makeovers – and the results demonstrate the lengths that agency marketing teams will go to spend every dime of the client’s budget. The efforts are described as “a modern makeover for a more dynamic, progressive world,” which is code for making them more millennial-friendly. Among the changes:

  • The green M&M has ditched her go-go boots in favor of “cool, laid-back sneakers to reflect her effortless confidence.” Also, the green and brown M&Ms may be lesbians now.
  • The brown M&M’s heels have been “lowered to a professional heel height.”
  • The orange M&M will now lean into his anxiety and the red M&M will no longer bully his peers.

If you are looking for some consistency among all these changes, fear not – the yellow M&M is still an idiot.

‘Fifty years in, Tattered Cover is still having growing pains’

Kyle Harris at Denverite: “Few businesses have grown with Denver like Tattered Cover. The independent book chain has dominated the city’s literary scene for more than half a century. Over the past 20 years, it has kept its doors open — barely — as online retail has battered brick-and-mortar shops. Three new owners, who took over Tattered Cover in December 2020 under the name Bended Page LLC, have been betting on their ability to not just save the iconic independent book chain from bankruptcy, but to turn it into a lucrative, 21st century business.” …

“Yet some staff members — new and old alike — are raising concerns about the new direction and how they’re being managed. They say the store is growing too fast and becoming too corporate, old-timers are being pushed out, staff are overworked, wages are too low and they criticize new CEO Kwame Spearman’s management style.”

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Apologizes for Comments on Officials, and Even Uses the Words ‘I’m Sorry’

It was bad enough to lose a playoff game to the San Francisco 49ers, but Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott compounded the disaster by praising Cowboys fans who threw bottles and other trash at the officials as they left the field. Prescott has built a reputation for being a classy player, which made his comments even more surprising.

We all knew an apology was coming, but given the state of the world I expected it to be the “I apologize if anyone was offended” variety. Instead, Prescott owned it and even used the all-too-rare phrase “I’m sorry:”

“I deeply regret the comments I made regarding the officials after the game on Sunday” Prescott said. “I was caught up in the emotion of a disappointing loss and my words were uncalled for and unfair. I hold the NFL Officials in the highest regard and have always respected their professionalism and the difficulty of their jobs. The safety of everyone who attends a game or participates on the field of a sporting event is a very serious matter. That was a mistake on my behalf, and I am sorry.”

At Least They Haven’t Threatened to Rebrand as ‘Martin Luther King Soopers’

King Soopers and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Marade organizers found themselves in a bit of an awkward standoff yesterday. The grocery store chain, which is in the midst of an ongoing union strike, was the corporate sponsor of the parade honoring a man who was solidly pro-union. Something had to give, and the result was a race to claim the moral high ground.

Marade organizers struck first by formally removing King Soopers as a sponsor, although it was done at the last minute which meant it was largely symbolic. Organizers also tried to return the sponsorship money to King Soopers, but grocery store representatives were having none of it. They refused to accept the money, saying that Marade organizers should keep it despite cancelling the sponsorship “because love should always be bigger than hate.”

How far will this very public spat go? Unfortunately, we’ll never know because the Marade has already come and gone.

World’s Richest Man Holds World’s Biggest Grudges

Rebecca Elliott, Justin Scheck and Drew FitzGerald at The Wall Street Journal: “A partner at law firm Cooley LLP got an unexpected call late last year from a lawyer for one of the firm’s most famous clients, Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc., with an ultimatum. The world’s richest man wanted Cooley, which was representing Tesla in numerous lawsuits, to fire one of its attorneys or it would lose the electric-vehicle company’s business, people familiar with the matter said.”

“The target of Mr. Musk’s ire was a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer whom Cooley had hired for its securities litigation and enforcement practice and who had no involvement in the firm’s work for Tesla. At the SEC, the attorney had interviewed Mr. Musk during the agency’s investigation of the Tesla chief executive’s 2018 tweet claiming, wrongly, to have secured funding to potentially take the electric-vehicle maker private.”

“The probe resulted in a settlement in which Mr. Musk agreed to resign as chairman and pay a $20 million fine. He also agreed to have a Tesla lawyer review in advance tweets about certain topics, including the company’s financial results, sales numbers and proposed business combinations.”

“Cooley has declined to fire the attorney, who remains an associate at the firm, the people said. Since early December, Tesla has begun taking steps in several cases to replace Cooley or add additional counsel, legal documents show. Mr. Musk’s rocket company Space Exploration Technologies Corp., also known as SpaceX, has stopped using Cooley for regulatory work, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • If you are a Colorado Rockies fan, more Monforts involved with the team probably isn’t what you are looking for. Regardless, Sterling Monfort, the son of the Rockies’ owner Dick Monfort, has been named the head of the team’s pro scouting department. An anonymous MLB scout is not impressed.
  • The Sierra Club has threatened to suspend its 20,000-member Colorado chapter, citing “years of unresolved conflicts between the Colorado leadership and executive committee and volunteers.”
  • Pauletta Tonilas is the best communications leader RTD has had in decades. That is why the agency’s new policy requiring media to seek advance permission and obtain liability insurance in the amount of $10 million prior to shooting in RTD-controlled spaces (including Union Station) was so surprising. Media immediately went nuts, and RTD and Tonilas quickly walked back the policy, describing it as a misunderstanding.
  • Approximately 17,000 union employees at King Soopers in Colorado and Wyoming are on strike, and there is no obvious resolution in sight.
  • Five days after accepting the position of news editor at Westword, Helen Thorpe resigned, saying that the job “was not the right fit in terms of tempo.
  • Living through a pandemic the past two years has been hard enough. Now imagine your name is “Kovid.”
  • He’s out … he’s in … he’s out again. Tennis star Novak Djokovic‘s eligibility to play in next week’s Australian Open remains in question after the latest decision to cancel his visa. No doubt lawyers on both sides will be working overtime this weekend as Djokovic hopes to take the all-time men’s major wins record with a tournament win. If he is ultimately allowed to play, it may require him to tune out boos and derogatory comments that aren’t usually associated with tennis.
  • The Golden Globes took place last weekend, and if you didn’t notice, you aren’t alone. The quiet awards season has Hollywood worried about the bigger ramifications.
  • The U.S. government has accused 16 nationally respected universities, including Duke, Georgetown, MIT, Notre Dame, CalTech and Yale, of antitrust violations for allegedly working together to determine financial aid awards for students.

So, who won the week?

  • Pat Bowlen’s children won a legal victory that paves the way for them to sell the Denver Broncos in a deal that is expected to net them approximately $400 million each.
  • Estes Park is included on The New York Times’ list of 52 places to go in 2022.
  • Colorado’s own Mikaela Shiffrin won her 47th women’s World Cup slalom this week, the most of any skier ever in a single World Cup event.
  • Poet and activist Maya Angelou became the first Black woman to have her image on the U.S. quarter. Civil rights activists note that the flip side still has a slave-owner on it.

Quote of the Day

“Sterling (Monfort) has earned a reputation as a diligent, hard worker, but I think he’s out over his skis. I mean, Dick Monfort owns the club so he can promote his son if he wants to. But Sterling’s only been doing this for eight years and if his dad wasn’t the owner, I don’t know if he would be hired in the industry. For me, this is another example of the Rockies only looking inside their own organization.”

A veteran MLB scout on the Colorado Rockies’ decision to name owner Dick Monfort’s son as the leader of the team’s pro scouting department.

In Memoriam

When I was 23, I got my first public relations job in Denver at a firm named Darcy Communications. One of the big bosses was Rendall “Rendy” Ayers, and I liked him immediately. He was funny, good-natured and thoughtful, and he always had time to answer questions from someone who was still learning the nuances of the job. His world was big, and he would regale everyone with tales about his beloved kids Sydney and Reed, “old” Denver, tennis, his Porsche and CU Buffs sports, among many, many other things. I struggle to remember a time when he wasn’t smiling and laughing – at one of his own jokes or stories or at someone else’s. Rendy was one of the good ones. He passed away this weekend at the age of 84.

Great Moments in Stunt Marketing

Arby’s claims that its new spicy sandwich (the “Diablo Dare” that comes in chicken or brisket) is so hot that it will only sell it served with a fire retardant – a free vanilla milkshake. The sandwich gets its heat from ghost pepper jack cheese, hot seasoning, fire-roasted jalapenos, a hot BBQ sauce and a chipotle bun.

Who Had the Worst Week?

So, who won the week?

Tennis Star Novak Djokovic’s Aussie Open Vaccine Exemption Creates Outrage in the Country

The Australian Open’s decision to grant superstar Novak Djokovic a COVID-19 vaccine exemption to play in this month’s tournament has divided Australians and resulted in calls for a boycott from local officials and fans.

CNN reports, “One of Melbourne’s most famous former Australian Football League (AFL) stars, Kevin Bartlett, tweeted that Australians had been ‘taken for fools.’ While one of the city’s prominent emergency physicians and former president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Stephen Parnis, said the decision sent ‘an appalling message’ to the public.”

Djokovic is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most all-time grand slam wins with 20, but getting number 21 in Australia may be incredibly difficult if Aussies in the stands turn on him. It would not be surprising to see him withdraw rather than face relentless boos from the crowd.

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • CBS4 reported that the top attorney representing Denver International Airport, Scott McCoy, resigned after being accused of “slapping one of his subordinates multiple times during a holiday party Dec. 16. The incident was apparently witnessed by DIA’s CEO Phil Washington and numerous other of DIA’s top level executives, according to sources familiar with the incident.”
  • Denver only made it a couple of hours into 2022 before it experienced its first homicides of the year.
  • The BBC is under fire for interviewing lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz about the guilty verdict in the case against Ghislaine Maxwell without disclosing – or seemingly even knowing – that Dershowitz represented the man at the heart of the Maxwell trial – Jeffrey Epstein.
  • English soccer start Daniel Sturridge was ordered to honor a $30,000 reward he publicly offered for the safe return of his missing Pomeranian, Lucci. When a local security guard found and returned the dog, Sturridge thanked him but claimed there was no reward. A court ruled otherwise.
  • Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers hasn’t exactly been a role model for responsible COVID-19 behavior, and the theatrics continued this week when he and FOX sideline reporter Erin Andrews conducted a socially distant post-game interview and subsequently shared a maskless hug as soon as the camera turned off.
  • A Florida man, River Rosenquist, thought it might be fun to pet one of the tigers at the Naples, Fla., zoo. It went exactly like you thought it would.

So, who won the week?

‘Brands Walk Fine Line With Olympic Pitches Amid Criticism Over Beijing’

“Advertisers are treading carefully when it comes to peddling their products and services during February’s Beijing Winter Olympics, which have been shrouded by criticism over China’s human-rights record,” Suzanne Vranica at The Wall Street Journal reports. “Some brands are considering not including any references to the host city in their Olympic marketing efforts, according to advertising and marketing executives. Others plan to run non-Olympic-themed ads during the Games. Some are turning to public relations outfits for help to navigate the politics that have surrounded the event.” …

“Mark DiMassimo, founder of ad firm DiMassimo Goldstein, said some of his clients are considering running evergreen ads rather than create specific Olympic-themed commercials for the 17-day event, which is set to start on Feb. 4 and be broadcast in the U.S. by NBCUniversal. … Optimum Sports, a sports-marketing firm, said it has been advising brands to make sure their Olympic ads focus squarely on promoting the athletes. ‘The safest area for any brand supporting the Games,’ said Jeremy Carey, Optimum’s managing director, ‘is to say this is about the athletes.’”

Who Had the Worst Week?

  • Denver travelers can expect DIA construction headaches for another six or seven years under a plan to complete the Great Hall Project proposed by DIA CEO Phil Washington. The new plan will add a little more than $1 billion to the project, giving it a total price tag of $2.1 billion.
  • Deputy District Attorney Kayla Wildeman of the Colorado First Judicial District (Jeffco and Gilpin counties) managed to redirect some of the outrage directed at her boss, District Attorney Alexis King, when she shared a Facebook post of a trophy she received for obtaining a 110-year sentence for runaway trucker Rogel Aguilera-Mederos.
  • Despite Colorado’s historically dry fall, Douglas County commissioners approved a holiday fireworks display that quickly devolved into a series of brush fires. Firefighters were able to get the fires under control before they caused damage, while Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock noted, “Personally, in my opinion, the firework displays were not a great idea.”
  • Less than a week on the job as interim president of the University of Louisville, Lori Stewart Gonzalez presided over the school’s winter graduation ceremony. Unfortunately, during her speech she accidentally referred to the school as its arch-rival University of Kentucky. After realizing her mistake, she joked, “If anyone has a job application I could fill in after tonight, bring it up here.”
  • Facebook was named the “Worst Company of 2021” in a survey conducted by Yahoo Finance. “Those surveyed have a ‘litany of grievances’ toward Facebook, including but not limited to concerns over censorship, reports about Instagram’s impact on mental health, and privacy.”
  • Colorado’s highway system “ranks 37th in the nation for its overall condition and cost-effectiveness, according to the latest annual report from the Reason Foundation, a libertarian organization.” In fairness, we face climate challenges many other states do not.
  • The NFL’s New York Giants appear to be inadvertently trolling their own fans. The team, which currently is 4-10 and in last place in their division, wanted to do something to thank fans for their continued support during the team’s historically bad five-year run (they are a combined 22-56 since 2017). The result: season ticket holders will receive a free medium Pepsi at this Sunday’s game. For the record, it’s the “medium” that makes this art.

So who won the week?

Runaway-Trucker Prosecutor Somehow Manages to Look Even Worse by Showboating After Excessive Sentence

If you thought the backlash to the 110-year sentence that First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King obtained against the runaway trucker Rogel Aguilera-Mederos couldn’t get worse, you would be wrong. Deputy District Attorney Kayla Wildeman, who prosecuted the case along with a colleague, shared a Facebook post of a trophy she received after obtaining the verdict – a semi truck brake shoe with a gold plaque.

District Attorney King quickly distanced herself from it, saying “The post was in very poor taste and does not reflect the values of my administration. We have addressed it internally.” Meanwhile, James Colgan,, Aguilera-Mederos’ defense attorney, called the gift “unprofessional.”

Tristan Gorman, the legislative policy coordinator for the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, told The Denver Post, “It obviously flies in the face of the prosecution’s ethical obligation to seek justice rather than a conviction… It’s just bragging rights about a trial win, where people on both sides, their lives were either ended or forever changed. The tone of it seems almost like the prosecutor is treating it like a game she won.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Colorado craft breweries are reeling after Ball Corp. announced it could no longer fill aluminum can orders smaller than one million units.
  • Colorado First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King obtained a “grossly excessive sentence” of 110 years in prison for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, the runaway trucker who killed four people on I-70 in 2019. The judge in the case had no alternative sentencing options based on the charges King brought. After the public backlash, King quickly backpedaled and now says she would “welcome” a reconsideration of the prison term.
  • It has been one of the most interesting and challenging years in most of our lifetimes, and inexplicably Time Magazine decided that Elon Musk deserved its “Person of the Year” honor. It did not go over well.
  • Car manufacturers have long looked jealously at the way tech companies have used subscriptions to grow what’s called monthly recurring revenue (MRR). MRR is the reason you now pay monthly for a subscription to Office 365 rather than buying the software in a one-time transaction. Toyota has joined the fray and now wants drivers to pay an $8/month charge to use the start feature on their cars’ key fobs.
  • We don’t pay teachers nearly enough, but the least we can do is not rub their noses in it. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened in South Dakota when a local hockey team sponsored a “Dash for Cash” that pitted 10 teachers against each. As you might expect, the backlash was swift.
  • Bros’, a Michelin-starred eatery in Italy, was the subject of the most brutal restaurant review since The New York Times took down Guy Fieri’s Times Square restaurant.
  • The decision to kill off the Mr. Big character on the first episode of the “Sex and the City” reboot (sorry for last week’s spoiler, Jenn Beck) may make more sense after new reports that multiple allegations of sexual assault were leveled against actor Chris Noth.
  • Urban Meyer may have been a college coaching legend, but his tenure as an NFL head coach lasted less than a year.

So who won the week?

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The El Paso County Sheriff’s office violated the gentleman’s agreement that you don’t overtly politicize Santa Clause when it tweeted a photo of St. Nick applying for a concealed carry permit. The Second Amendment crowd has defended the tweet, but we’ll see how they feel when someone like NARAL tweets a photo of Santa taking his granddaughter to get an abortion. Speaking for most of us, keep Santa out of your culture wars.
  • Better.com CEO Vishal Garg learned the hard way what a backlash to stupidity feels like when he fired 900 employees over a mass Zoom call. In the three-minute video meeting, Garg told employees, “If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off.” He later explained that the employees were “stealing” from their colleagues and customers by being unproductive.
  • Singer Billie Eilish may have 97 million followers on Instagram, but her recent “can’t-miss” book has sold only 64,000 copies in seven months. At least Eilish was on the receiving end of the advance. The publisher, Grand Central Publishing, invested well over $1 million in the project.
  • Hundreds of protesters demonstrated against Boise State University professor Scott Yenor after he made misogynistic comments about women in the workplace at the recent National Conservatism Conference. In what I can only imagine was a cadence similar to that of Andrew “Dice” Clay, Yenor said, “Every effort made must be made not to recruit women into engineering, but rather to recruit and demand more of men who become engineers. Ditto for med school, and the law, and every trade.”
  • In what researcher’s say is a sign of the hidden toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, “American adults’ blood pressure rose markedly in 2020 compared with the year before.” The largest increases were found in women.
  • Pro tip: When you have just killed someone, even inadvertently, listen to your lawyers and try to keep a low profile. That’s the advice that actor Alec Baldwin ignored when he appeared in a disastrous interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. The public reaction to the interview was so bad that Baldwin deleted his Twitter account.
  • Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was convicted of staging a hate crime, and faces the very real possibility of serving jail time.
  • Peleton isn’t happy that Mr. Big died of a heart attack while riding the ubiquitous exercise bike in the reboot of “Sex and the City.” The company quickly responded blaming lifestyle factors – specifically “cocktails, cigars and big steaks” – for the fictional character’s death.

So, who won the week?

  • It finally snowed in Denver.
  • Woodland Park native Nichole “Vapor” Ayers was one of 10 people selected to become a NASA astronaut from a pool of more than 12,000. Ayers graduated from the Air Force Academy and currently flies F-22 Raptor fighter jets for the Air Force.
  • Tiger Woods will make his first return to competitive golf next week when he joins his 12-year-old son in the PNC Championship that allows pro golfers to team up with family members. Woods was in a brutal car accident in February that many thought would end his hopes of playing competitively.
  • Journalists across the country are cheering the news that Lee Enterprises – publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Buffalo News, among others – rejected an unsolicited offer from vulture capital firm Alden Global Capital. Among the journalists cheering loudest are those at The Denver Post, who have been subjected to Alden’s draconian ownership tactics.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • RTD said it would partner with the TSA and the Guardian Angels to increase security around Union Station downtown after the union representing RTD workers complained of unsafe working conditions that included open drug use, vandalism and violence. 
  • Denver Police Officer Dewayne Rodgers has been fired after allegedly watching a gunshot victim bleed out rather than provide first aid.
  • CNN suspended anchor Chris Cuomo following reports that he was more engaged in protecting his brother, disgraced former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, than originally understood. The new allegations include that Chris used his position as a CNN journalist to seek intelligence about what other media outlets were planning to report about his brother.
  • An Austrian surgeon was fined $3,000 and paid $5,700 in damages after he amputated the wrong leg of a patient. Clearly, there is no Frank Azar equivalent in Austria.
  • The NFL suspended oft-troubled Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown for three games after it determined that he submitted a forged COVID-19 vaccination card to get around rules for unvaccinated players.
  • Actor Joshua Malina, most noted for his roles in “The West Wing,” “Sports Night” and “Scandal,” penned a column in Variety lambasting Warner Bros. for considering Mel Gibson as director of a fifth movie in the “Lethal Weapon” franchise. Malina said that Gibson is “a well-known Jew-hater” who has a well-documented history of spewing wildly racist and anti-Jewish language.
  • Colorado State fired head coach Steve Addazio after he went 4-12 over the past two seasons. His termination means that CSU now owes former head coaches Addazio and Mike Bobo more than $6 million in remaining guaranteed money.

So who won the week?

WTA Shows Other Leagues What Leadership Looks like

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) is doing what no government or other sports organization, including the NBA and the IOC, will do: Hold China accountable for its human rights abuses.

Following concerns about the safety of tennis player Peng Shuai, who disappeared from public view after making allegations of sexual assault against a former high-ranking Chinese government official, the head of the WTA announced that all of its tournaments would be suspended in the country until it was clear Peng was safe.

“Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way. While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe, and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation,” said WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Dr. Nickie Bell, the assistant superintendent at the Cherry Creek School District, pleaded guilty to animal neglect for driving 32 miles from her home and dumping her very-much-alive eight-year-old dog in a dumpster. A construction worker found the dog clinging to life the next day. Now, more than 3,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the school district terminate Bell, arguing she can’t be trusted with kids.
  • The last person a director should ever cast in a historical drama is Matt Damon. Action hero? Sure. Down-on-his-luck Bostonian? Yep. But medieval French knight? Nope. Nevertheless, otherwise accomplished director Ridley Scott did just that and, of course, “The Last Duel” is officially a flop. Scott, however, diagnosed what he believes is the real problem: “Millennials who were brought up on these fucking cellphones.” Not sure if that’s a dig at attention spans or media consumption habits, but either way he’s in denial.
  • Aurora police union president Officer Doug Wilkinson has been suspended for an email he sent to his membership stating that if Aurora wants its police force to mirror the community, “we could make sure to hire 10% illegal aliens, 50% weed smokers, 10% crackheads, and a few child molesters and murderers to round it out. You know, so we can make the department look like the ‘community.’” 
  • Journalists at publications such as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Buffalo News are fearing the worst after Alden Global Capital announced a takeover bid for parent company Lee Enterprises. Alden is the hedge fund that has turned The Denver Post into a shell of itself.
  • The city of Aurora continues to deal with juvenile gun violence. A middle-of-the-street shootout between a 17-year-old and a former police officer was the third incident in a week. The week’s tally: One dead, 10 injured.
  • The new “Nu” Coronavirus variant has spooked scientists, politicians and investors alike. Today, light post-holiday trading still saw U.S. markets decline 2-3%, and a host of European countries quickly reinstated travel restrictions.
  • Waiting for a FedEx package from a friend in Alabama? You may be waiting longer than expected after officials found 300-400 packages dumped in a ravine.
  • Bloody hell … The United Kingdom Wine and Spirit Trade Association is warning Englanders about a potential holiday liquor shortage.

So who won the week?

  • Colorado Rockies broadcaster Jenny Cavnar will host a new national show on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio channel starting Monday. 
  • Kyle Clark’s commentary on how the media fails to hold politicians like Lauren Boebert accountable went viral and resulted in Clark appearing on Rachel Maddow’s national MSNBC show.
  • The now 49-year-old woman who became famous as the face of Afghanistan when her haunting portrait was featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine has been granted refugee status by Italy and is living in Rome.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Unusually warm weather in Colorado has forced Steamboat and Telluride to delay the opening of their ski seasons. And with no snow in the forecast through Thanksgiving, meteorologists predict the city of Denver will set a new record for the latest snowfall recorded, breaking the current record of Nov. 21 set in 1934.
  • An annual report measuring recycling state by state found that Colorado ranks in the bottom 20, a stunning development for a state that thinks of itself as an environmental leader. We only recycle 15% of our trash, compared to the national average of 32%.
  • Speaking of discouraging news, a first-ever national study on lead levels in kids found that an estimated 72% of Colorado children under age 6 had lead detected in their blood, well above the national rate of 51%. Children from Black-or Hispanic-majority communities were disproportionately affected.
  • Colorado Public Radio is conducting a bracket-style challenge to identify the state’s favorite Christmas carol, and it is already off to an inauspicious start. Due to a glitch, CPR disclosed that votes for “O Come, All Ye Faithful” didn’t register for part of the voting window. Ironic for a media outlet that is more likely to cover #StopTheSteal protests than start them.
  • Denver Public Schools Board member Tay Anderson has sued his accusers who made unsubstantiated accusations against him for $1 million, a move that keeps the story alive longer and exposes him to the threat of legal discovery.
  • As if heavy rain and flooding wasn’t bad enough, the combination has forced scorpions from their hiding places and into houses in the Egypt. So far, more than 500 people have been hospitalized with scorpion stings.
  • Expectations were high when the Los Angeles Rams traded for QB Matthew Stafford in the off-season. While the team is 7-3, they have lost two straight, and the pressure may be mounting. So much so that Stafford’s wife, Kelly, threw a soft pretzel at a fan in the stands who was heckling her husband.

So who won the week?

  • Casa Bonita’s new owners – “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker – have given hope to generations of fans that the iconic restaurant may survive. This week the restaurant announced two promising things: 1) that it has hired three-time James Beard-nominated chef Dana Rodriguez as its executive chef, and 2) that it is retaining the 50-plus current Casa Bonita employees while the restaurant is closed and paying them to volunteer at local nonprofits.
  • Reese’s made national headlines with its Thanksgiving Pie – a comically large 3.4-pound, nine-inch diameter peanut butter cup. Reese’s offered 3,000 of the pies via its website, and they sold out in two hours.

Casa Bonita Selects Feed Media for PR Support

The bankruptcy and resurrection of iconic restaurant Casa Bonita, now owned by “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, has been quite the media story over the past few months. Casa Bonita has now retained Denver’s PR agency Feed Media to help provide strategy and direction to future media and social media coverage. One of Feed’s first assignments was this week’s announcement that the restaurant has hired three-time James Beard-nominated Denver chef Dana Rodriguez as its executive chef.

SE2 Takes Principled Stand Against Facebook

“Until Facebook institutes meaningful changes that contribute to our collective good, we will no longer recommend to our clients that they spend money on its products, including paid promotion of their content on Facebook or Instagram. Furthermore, SE2 will no longer spend its own money on Facebook’s platforms. (In just the past two years, our own spending on Facebook platforms totaled over $15,000.)”

SE2’s Eric Anderson, Susan Morrisey and Brandon Zelasko in a blog post announcing the firm’s new policy

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • In a story that you won’t see on 9News or any other Denver TV station due to professional courtesy, former 9News reporter Kristen Aguirre has sued the station, alleging racial and disability-related discrimination.
  • The University of California Hastings College of the Law, the state’s first law school and home to a number of prominent lawyers including Vice President Kamala Harris, is dropping the name of its founder, Serranus Clinton Hastings. The decision follows the commission of a report that determined that Hastings profited off the killings and displacement of Native Americans in Northern California.
  • A Colorado Business Committee for the Arts study found that the pandemic wiped away nearly a decade’s worth of growth in Denver’s art community. That impact totals nearly $1 billion in economic losses over the past year and a half.
  • In what appears to be a soccer version of a Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding situation, Paris Saint-Germain’s Aminata Diallo was arrested by French police following an attack in which two hooded men beat her teammate on the legs with iron bars. Diallo then replaced her injured teammate in the line-up in a game that preceded her arrest.
  • We’re still two weeks away from Thanksgiving, but KOSI 101 has already started its annual holiday transition to 24-hour-a-day Christmas music. KOSI program director Jim Lawson said, “We’ve had listeners asking us to change to Christmas music since Labor Day.”
  • Erratic CEO Elon Musk offered to let Twitter followers decide if he should sell 10% of his stake in Tesla, but news reports noted that a sale was inevitable given that he has a $15 billion tax bill coming due.
  • Students at Armstrong High School in Pennsylvania have been banned from the school’s hockey games after they targeted an opposing female goaltender with vulgar and sexist chants. Armstrong’s principal said he was “disgusted” that parents and security guards did nothing to stop the chants.
  • Westword noted that part of the current substitute teacher shortage in metro Denver schools could be that people can “sometimes make more money serving burgers at In-N-Out than doing the often difficult, consistently stressful work of educating the next generation of metro residents.” 

So who won the week?

  • The Welton Street Cafe has struggled during the pandemic, in part because its current building in Five Points has had significant HVAC issues. But the iconic restaurant announced that it has signed a new lease in a different building one block north of its current location, giving hope that the 35-year-old restaurant will continue its run for years to come.
  • Denver homeowners can expect home values to remain high as a new report found that demand for homes continues to outstrip supply.

What Impact Could Stan Kroenke’s NFL Legal Woes Have on the Avs, Nuggets, Rapids & Altitude Sports?

As the owner of the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) – a holding company that in turn owns the Altitude Sports network, Ball Arena and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, among other things – Stan Kroenke wields outsize influence in Denver’s sports community.

Despite this presence locally, it is his ownership of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams – and the franchise’s relocation from St. Louis to L.A. in 2016 – that is causing the biggest headlines and headaches for the billionaire mogul. Prior to relocating the Rams, Kroenke signed an indemnification agreement with the NFL protecting the league and fellow owners from legal fees and judgments from any suit filed by St. Louis related to the team’s departure.

However, ESPN reported that four years and millions of dollars in legal fees later, Kroenke is now trying to narrow the scope of that indemnification. That concerns his fellow owners because St. Louis has been on a roll legally and the idea that it could be owed multi-billions of dollars in real and punitive damages is becoming more likely. A sports legal analyst said recently that a potential judgment “could wipe out a minimum of half of Stan Kroenke’s net worth.

Which begs the question: what would happen to Kroenke’s Colorado assets if he was hit with such a judgment. Would the teams and stadiums immediately go up for sale? KSE has been in a three-year stalemate with DISH and Comcast over carriage rights to Altitude Sports, and as a result has been subsidizing the money-losing network. Would that continue?

GFM, Turner Lead Colorado PR Firms on Outside Magazine’s ‘Best Places to Work’ List

Outside Magazine released its 2021 Best Places to Work list, and Colorado companies again dominated. In fact, 26 of the 50 companies selected are based in Colorado. Below is the list of public relations, advertising and digital marketing firms that Outside recognized:

5. Fortnight Collective, a Boulder advertising agency
10. Booyah Advertising, a Denver digital marketing agency
17. GroundFloor Media, a Denver public relations and digital marketing agency
19. Parallel Path, a Boulder digital marketing firm focused on health and wellness
42. Turner, a Denver-based public relations and digital communications agency

Among the Colorado firms recognized in the honorable mention category were:

  • Backbone Media, a Carbondale brand marketing and public relations agency
  • Egg Strategy, a Denver marketing strategy firm
  • SRG, a Boulder brand consulting and creative services agency
  • TDA_Boulder, a Boulder advertising agency
  • Verde Brand Communications, a Boulder media and digital marketing firm
  • WorkInProgress, a Boulder advertising and public relations firm

Industry Pub Names Fox31 the Fourth-Worst TV Station to Work For in America

FTVLive, an inside-baseball publication that covers the industry of television news, has named Fox31 as the fourth-worst TV station to work for in America.

Explaining its ranking, FTVLive said it “often hears from staffers at the Denver station and their complaints are numerous. Many feel that managers play favorites and if you are not sucking up to the boss, you are on the outside looking in. ‘It should be about the job you do and not how much you kiss ass,’ said one station employee told FTVLive.”

Celebrity Activists Pressure Edelman to Drop Fossil Fuel Clients

More than 100 influencers and celebrity activists have signed an open letter to Edelman protesting the firm’s representation of ExxonMobil, Shell and “organizations that deny climate change and promote the agenda of the world’s worst polluters.” Signatories include Amy Poehler, David Cross, Amy Schumer, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Milla Jovovich.

Edelman has been on the defensive about fossil fuel clients for several years, and earlier this year CEO Richard Edelman described his firm’s work for ExxonMobil as economic in nature. “We do not talk about any opposition to climate legislation and our work is to do with job creation, economic opportunity and land access,” he said.

Denver’s Top Parking Enforcer Voids 21 Tickets on His Own Car, Claims Secret Program to Test His Ticket-Writers

Brian Maass at CBS4: “A CBS4 Investigation has found Denver’s Director of Right of Way Enforcement, Jonathan Featherston, received 21 parking citations on his personal car in 2021 and 2020. He ordered every one of the citations canceled, with Featherston now explaining that he received the tickets while he was engaging in a secret ‘mystery shop’ campaign to test how well parking agents were doing in handing out parking tickets.”

“The curious practice came to light when a whistleblower in the Right Of Way Enforcement division noticed what Featherston was doing and filed a complaint in September with the city Board of Ethics, suggesting Featherston was engaged in ‘questionable ethical conduct,’ using his public position for private gain.”

“In his ethics complaint, which was obtained by CBS4, a supervisor under Featherston- noted that he believed what Featherston had done might amount to fraud. ‘Employees who receive a parking citation shall pay their citation, go before the parking magistrate or schedule a court date to contest their citation’, wrote the employee. None of that occurred with Featherston’s tickets – instead he just ordered them dismissed. The employee called Featherston’s actions ‘unethical conduct by a higher ranking DOTI (Department of Transportation and Infrastructure) official. The type of conduct found has resulted in disciplinary action and/or termination with past employees.'”

Photo of Jason Alexander as embattled NYC parking commissioner Marion Sandusky in the movie, “The Paper.” This is who I imagine Jonathan Featherston to be. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Denver residents continue to mourn the loss of the fabled Denver Diner that was located at Colfax Ave. and Speer Blvd. And this week’s news that banking Goliath JPMorgan Chase purchased the building and plans to convert it into a bank branch didn’t help.
  • Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has claimed for months that he has been “immunized” against COVID-19. It turns out that what he meant was that he received a homeopathic treatment to try to raise his antibody levels. The MVP candidate has now tested positive for the coronavirus and is ineligible to play against the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend.
  • The air rage epidemic may be spreading. A Southwest Airlines pilot is accused of assaulting a fellow crew member at a Doubletree hotel bar over a dispute about wearing masks. The pilot was cited for assault and battery.
  • Zillow announced it will stop buying and flipping homes and will cut its workforce by 25% after it purchased too many homes at higher prices than it now expects to sell them. The company reported it lost $304 million in Q3.
  • Italy and Croatia are fighting a wine-related trademark war over the name Prosecco.
  • Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was cut by the team and faces up to 26 years in jail following a car wreck that killed a 23-year-old woman. Ruggs III was reportedly traveling 156 mph and had a blood alcohol level of 0.161.
  • Actor Chris Pratt is facing criticism for an Instagram post that appears to throw shade on his ex-wife, actress Anna Faris, and his own nine-year-old son who was born prematurely and has faced health issues throughout his young life.

So who won the week?

The Business Impact of COVID on PR Agencies

From Aleda Stam at PRWeek:

“Interpublic Group agency Golin saw revenue from healthcare work rise 18% year to date. The agency’s healthcare practice and Virgo Health, Golin’s healthcare communications agency, brought on 33 new employees in 2021 just to handle the extra work.” …

“FleishmanHillard saw a similar jump of 15% in revenue year over year from its healthcare practice and won close to $30 million in new client work before Q4 2021, according to Anne de Schweinitz, Fleishman’s global managing director of healthcare. Healthcare is the firm’s largest individual practice at almost a quarter of the work the agency does.” …

“Edelman’s healthcare practice accounts for 21% of the agency’s global revenue — or more than $176 million annually — according to Kirsty Graham, Edelman’s global chair of health. The practice also grew 19% in revenues year over year in 2021.”

Who Went Where

  • Lauren Noser joined GroundFloor Media as director of Communications. She previously was a senior policy and advocacy coordinator at Children’s Hospital Colorado. GFM also promoted Amy Moynihan to the position of vice president.
  • Mikayla Ortega was named PIO for the Denver Office of Emergency Management. She previously was a senior assignment editor at KMGH/Denver7.
  • CenterTable added Diana Harper as assistant editor and creative services coordinator.
  • 104West Partners hired Kiley Hayward as a director to help lead the agency’s newest accounts. Hayward previously served as a managing supervisor at FleishmanHillard and also spent time at Porter Novelli and Edelman.
  • Linhart PR announced it has added Drew Howland as an account executive, and Sari Winston and Alicia Whitman as account associates.
  • CBS4 promoted Kristine Strain to the role of news director. She previously was assistant news director and she replaces Tim Wieland, who was promoted to general manager. The station also added reporter Marissa Armas who previously worked at KOAT-TV in Albuquerque.
  • Fox31 added Talya Cunningham as co-anchor to its 4 pm weekday newscast. She previously was with WRIC-TV in Richmond, Va.
  • The Colorado Sun added Tatiana Flowers as its reporter covering social and economic inequality issues.
  • Colorado Community Media added Kristen Fiore as its West Metro editor.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Facebook is such a sketchy company that it decided it needed an alias. Meet Meta.
  • A New York woman was shocked – SHOCKED! – to discover that strawberry Pop-Tarts are not as healthy as she was led to believe. Despite sugar and corn syrup being two of the first three ingredients listed, it was actually the inclusion of pears and apples that sent her to her nearest class-action attorney. She wants $5 million.
  • An unnamed and lost hiker in Colorado declined repeated phone calls from search and rescue emergency personnel because he or she thought the unknown numbers were robocalls. Clearly people would rather die than hear about extended car warranties.
  • Researchers at George Washington University purchased food items from McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Taco Bell and Chipotle, all of which contained trace amounts of industrial chemicals called phthalates. These harmful chemicals are linked to a host of health problems ranging from fertility issues to learning and behavioral disorders in children. Bon appétit!
  • Former Colorado Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville was forced to resign as head coach of the Florida Panthers because of his knowledge and inaction related to a sex abuse scandal while coaching the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.
  • Florida police authorities acknowledged they lost track of fugitive Brian Laundrie when they mistook his mother who was wearing a baseball cap for him while surveilling his home. A North Port Police Department spokesperson said, “No case is perfect,” while Laundrie’s mother likely said something like, “What the hell? I look just like a guy?”
  • Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston offered its chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer position to a Black man, then rescinded it four days before he started because he was “too sensitive about race issues.” Ahhh, Texas.

So who won the week?

  • The venerable bookstore Tattered Cover celebrated its 50th birthday. It you have a minute, jump on Amazon and order it a gift.
  • Spanx founder Sara Blakely sold her company for $1.2 billion. To thank her employees, she purchased each two first-class airline tickets anywhere in the world, and threw in $10,000 per employee in spending money.
  • The “Rickroll” became a thing again for a minute when a prankster posted a sign in the Highlands advertising that a joint Meow Wolf/Casa Bonita pop-up was planned. Alas, the QR code on the sign took you here.

Quote of the Day

“What’s the biggest threat to the future of local TV newsrooms? The long-term challenge may be how to build a sustainable model around a new generation of consumers who will never watch a linear newscast at 5, 6, or 11. But news directors and their bosses are increasingly concerned about a more immediate problem: the pipeline of talent for both sides of the camera is drying up.”

Andrew Heyward, Senior Research Professor, TV News at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The town of Morrison’s Police Department is like a piece of chewed gum stuck on the shoe that is Red Rocks – you’d be happier if it wasn’t there. But it is, and it is having a tough time hiring a police chief because no self-respecting law enforcement official will take a job where 98% of police activity is writing speeding tickets and nearly half of the town’s budget comes from those tickets.
  • Often-combative and provocative actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a crew member on his movie set using what was supposed to be a prop gun. No charges have been filed and investigators are still trying to determine exactly what went wrong.
  • The 185 TV stations in 86 markets that are owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group found themselves the victims of a ransomware hack that rendered their computer systems inoperable. In addition to disabling all electronic communications, it took down the on-air systems they rely on, resulting in meteorologists giving the five-day forecast using hand-drawn graphics on a whiteboard, for example.
  • It’s been a rough year for Robert E. Lee and a host of other confederate leaders who saw statues and other tributes to them removed. Now, however, it is the Founding Fathers’ turn to get nervous. The New York City Council has voted to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson from its chambers, which surely is making a lot of eponymous counties and schools – including those in the metro area – take notice.
  • Life is an expectations game, and Vic Fangio and the Denver Broncos made the mistake of getting our hopes up with their 3-0 start. Since then, they have gone 0-4. Fangio may survive to coach the rest of the season, but when he is fired – and he will be fired – it will be last night’s loss to the Cleveland Browns that sealed his fate.
  • Ahhh, Facebook. It’s the PR disaster gift that keeps on giving. This week, we learned that Facebook has so badly burned its reputation that it wants to walk away from its own name and start over. 9News’ Jeremy Jojola took suggestions for the new name, and responses included, “Facepalm,” “Ads & Birthdays,” “OK Boomer,” and “404 – Page Not Found.”
  • “The Freedom of Information Act is broken,” according to a First Amendment attorney. He was commenting on a FOIA response that came to a New Orleans reporter 12 years after he filed the request (and six years after he left journalism).
  • The metro area’s Tri-County Health became Bi-County Health and then Uni-County Health in a matter of weeks.

So, who won the week?

PR Agencies Responding to Employee Demands on COVID Vaccine Requirements

On the heels of Edelman’s announcement that receiving a COVID vaccination will be “a condition of employment” at the agency, PR Week spoke to agency leaders who noted that it is vaccinated staff members – not necessarily leadership – who are demanding policies requiring vaccinations for co-workers working from the office.

“’We are definitely seeing more and more the issue of employees not wanting to come back into the office if they are not assured everyone is vaccinated,’ David Fisher, counsel in the labor and employment practice group at Davis+Gilbert, says. He notes these employees may have children at home under 12 who can’t get vaccinated or are living with someone who is immunocompromised, and don’t want to become a breakthrough case that could infect them.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Hoity-toity private school Kent Denver made unexpected headlines this week when two former teachers at the school were arrested in a bizarre espionage scheme to sell nuclear secrets. Adding concern about the quality of education Kent Denver provides, the former teachers allegedly packaged the nuclear secrets in a peanut butter sandwich before handing them off to “foreign adversaries” who were actually undercover FBI agents.
  • Comedians have always pushed cultural boundaries and, relatedly, been lightning rods for criticism. Netflix is experiencing that with Dave Chappelle, whose latest Netflix special, “The Closer,” has been “criticized as transphobic by some LGBTQ+ advocates, artists and employees.” Adding fuel to the fire, Netflix suspended a trans employee who criticized the company for streaming the Chappelle special.
  • Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was forced to resign less than one-third of the way through a 10-year, $100 million contract after a series of his racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails surfaced. Two days later, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter got caught up in the same email leak when his showed he gave sources drafts of his stories for them to edit – a journalistic no-no.
  • And the bad week for journalism wasn’t over. In addition to the Adam Schefter news, former “Today Show” anchor Katie Couric admitted that she covered up former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comments opposing athletes who kneel during the national anthem. Couric said she was a big fan of Ginsburg and wanted to protect her from criticism from the justice’s liberal supporters.
  • Southwest Airlines built its reputation on being unlike other airlines – it offered budget pricing that delivered a great experience. Unfortunately, this week chaos reigned as hundreds of flight cancellations wrought havoc on the airline’s schedule, stranding frustrated passengers in cities across the country.
  • To paraphrase an old adage, if a goal is scored but no one can watch it because of a carriage dispute, does it matter? That’s the situation the Colorado Avalanche (and the Denver Nuggets, for that matter) face for the third straight year due to a fight among billionairesStan Kroenke’s Altitude TV and Comcast/Dish Network.
  • A year after acknowledging he received $1.1 million for speeches he did not deliver from a fund intended to help needy Mississippi residents … let me repeat that, from a fund intended to help needy Mississippi residents … an audit found that former NFL quarterback Brett Favre still hasn’t repaid all the money. The auditor said Favre will face a civil suit if he doesn’t repay the money with interest in 30 days.

So who won the week?

  • Local restaurants Frasca Food & Wine and Comal Heritage Food Incubator were recognized by The New York Times as two of the 50 best restaurants in the nation.
  • Star Trek actor William Shatner inspired generations of nerds to pursue careers in the space-related sciences, so it is fitting that he would finally – at age 90 – make a trip to space himself.
  • CBS4 promoted Kristine Strain to the position of news director, replacing Tim Wieland who was promoted to General Manager. Strain had been the assistant news director.

Quote of the Day

“Snow sports are already expensive enough that equity issues have been persistent, and financially disadvantaged families have long been unfairly priced out of access — something a Fast Tracks policy is sure to only make worse.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), objecting to Copper Mountain’s parent company’s plans to offer “Fast Tracks,” a $49 fee that would allow skiers to jump to the front of ski lift lines at the expense of the riff-raff who only buy the $119 daily lift ticket.

Could 9News Get ‘Aldened?’

Denver’s 9News is owned by TEGNA, a multi-billion-dollar media company that owns or operates nearly 70 TV stations across the country. TEGNA has been on the block – officially or unofficially – for more than two years, and reports now are that one of its largest investors, Standard General, is working with the investment firm Apollo Global Management to finance an acquisition of the media company.

If an investment/private equity firm owning media properties sounds vaguely familiar, that’s probably because of Alden Global Capital’s ownership of The Denver Post, among others. If you are a 9News employee, or someone who just values journalism, you can’t be comfortable with the idea that Apollo might do to TEGNA what Alden has done to the Post – bleed it to near death to maximize the return on investment.

Fans Shut Out for Third Straight Year as Avs & Nuggets Begin 2021-2022 Seasons

The Colorado Avalanche kick of their 2021-2022 season tonight with a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks. While the odds-makers have the Avalanche among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season, the biggest news is that for the third straight year most Coloradans won’t be able to watch the team play (or the Nuggets, for that matter) due to the ongoing carriage dispute between Stan Kroenke’s Altitude TV and Comcast/Dish Network.

That the fight among billionaires – and resulting TV blackout – coincides with unusually successful periods for both teams is maddening. During a window of time when the Broncos are clearly below average and the Rockies can only dream of being average, it is a moment when the Avs and Nuggets could capture the attention of the state. Instead, they are out of sight and out of mind.

Former Denver Post Reporter/Current ESPNer Adam Schefter Under Fire for Journalistic Ethics Breach

On Monday, leaked emails from an NFL investigation into the Washington Football Team took down Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden. This morning, additional email leaks are threatening the reputation of former Denver Post reporter and current ESPN information broker Adam Schefter.

According to one email to former WFT GM Bruce Allen, Schefter violated one of the cardinal tenets of journalism – giving a source editorial control over a news story. Prior to publishing an article about collective bargaining between the player’s union and the NFL, Schefter sent a draft of his article to Allen with the note:

“Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked. Thanks, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. (I) plan to file this to ESPN about 6 am.”

Raiders Coach Resigns One-third of the Way Through a $100M Contract

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but emails live forever everywhere. That is a tough lesson that Oakland Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden learned the hard way when nearly a decade’s worth of racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails he wrote surfaced over the weekend. Facing an onslaught of criticism and a locker room full of large, athletic men who likely wanted to punch him, Gruden was forced to resign less than one-third of the way through a 10-year, $100 million contract.

Photo courtesy of SkySports

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The Boulder Daily Camera took the extraordinary step of retracting a recent article on the impact of 9/11 on several Boulder residents after it investigated allegations that information and quotes in the article were exaggerated and/or fabricated. The reporter, April Morganroth, is no longer employed at the Camera or any of its sister publications.
  • Facebook seemingly subscribes to the Donald Trump approach to scandals – have so many of them that it wears down people’s ability to be outraged. This week, however, the company faced unprecedented scrutiny when a whistleblower shared secret inside information about how it knew that its platforms were detrimental to teen girls and democracy, among others.
  • The Denver Nuggets gave star player Michael Porter Jr. a $207 million contract in the off-season, but his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine is now creating headaches for the team. Per NBA protocols, he won’t be allowed to play games in California or New York, and will be required to eat, dress and travel separately from teammates and staff.
  • Many global billionaires had their underhanded financial dealings exposed this week as part of the so-called “Pandora Papers” that detailed how they avoid taxes and launder money using shell companies. They haven’t been this exposed since … the similar “Panama Papers” scandal in 2016 that appears to have done absolutely nothing to slow them down.
  • Former Ohio State University and current Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer apologized for a viral video that showed a young woman grinding on him while at a bar over the weekend. Meyer was alone at the bar because his wife was … babysitting their grandkids.
  • University of Colorado football coach Karl Dorrell had to apologize after shoving a CBS4 photojournalist while leaving the field following last weekend’s loss to conference rival USC.

So who won the week?

Bawmann Group Celebrates 25 Years

Congratulations to Brad Bawmann and the team at The Bawmann Group as the agency celebrates its 25th anniversary. Brad shared his top lessons learned in a post about the milestone:

  1. Telling the truth matters. Being responsive matters.
  2. Some clients heed our counsel; others choose to disagree. Regardless, fierce conversations are crucial to achieving alignment and making progress.
  3. Work hard. Do great work. The money will follow.
  4. Culture is everything. I have more than once taken my eye off this “ball” and it cost me a foot of my large intestine, a debilitating bout of anxiety, and some poor financial decisions.
  5. Love what you do. I started TBG with the intention of working only with those trying to make the world a better place. Adhering to that filter has never let me down.

Dawn Doty Honored with PRSA Outstanding Educator Award

Most of us know Dawn Doty from her days as a partner at Linhart PR, where her clients included Chipotle, Crocs, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Southwest Airlines and the U.S. Air Force Academy. In 2016, though, Dawn joined the University of Colorado Boulder as a full-time public relations instructor, and she has been as successful there as she was in the agency world. And that is why PRSA has honored Dawn with its 2021 Outstanding Educator Award. Congratulations, Dawn.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Digital media start-up Ozy Media announced today that it is shutting down following reports that one of its executives impersonated a YouTube executive during a conference call with Goldman Sachs. The bizarre-but-well-sourced allegation spurred a flury of scrutiny that quickly toppled the high-flying media company.
  • Organizers have cancelled Denver’s Chowdermeister festival – an event that brought to life and celebrated the the results of “a Twitter poll asking which food and drink combination was the most vile.” Jägermeister inexplicably was a sponsor, but pulled out following “press attention that was deemed unflattering.”
  • National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) commissioner Lisa Baird and general counsel Lisa Levine have been removed from their positions, several days after The Athletic reported that the league ignored allegations of abuse by a long-time coach.
  • Ouray County pulled its paid meeting notices in the The Ouray County Plaindealer – a roughly $10,000 per year hit – following reports from the newspaper that the county was violating the Colorado Open Meetings Law by holding secret meetings. The county swears the decision was a coincidence.
  • Think the results from Googling your name are tough? Alexandra Souverneva will forever be known as the woman who started the destructive Fawn Fire in Shasta County, Calif. by attempting to boil bear urine to drink.

So, who won the week?

Who Went Where

  • Jason Michael has joined Elasticity as SVP to help open the firm’s Denver office. He previously was a partner at Barokas in Denver, which announced its sale to Finn Partners in July.
  • Novitas Communications named Jaime Gardner as the firm’s business development and communications director. She formerly was the principal at High Plains Communications in Yuma, Colo.
  • Liesl Leary-Perez has been named VP of corporate marketing at Hubilo. She previously was head of global marketing at TTEC.
  • Dinosaur Ridge named Kristen Kidd director of Marketing & Communications. She previously spent time at Levels Beyond and M&C Communications.
  • Alexandra Hilker has been promoted to director of Brand Strategy, Insights & Innovation at Egg Strategy.
  • The National Cattleman’s Beef Association named Jennifer Nealson SVP of Global Marketing & Research.
  • Linhart PR added Claire Sisun as an account executive.
  • Barefoot PR added Hannah Morris as senior associate.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Denver Public Schools board member Tay Anderson, who has spent much of the past two years organizing protests, found himself the subject of a 1,000 student-strong walkout this week following a formal censure by his fellow board members. A Denver Post editorial strongly supported the censure and the Aurora Sentinel called for his recall. Anderson, for his part, announced on Tuesday that he was taking “some time off of social media,” a self-imposed exile that literally lasted less than 18 hours.
  • The late, great Gwen Ifill created the term “Missing White Woman Syndrome” to describe the media frenzy that accompanies news that a usually-young, usually-attractive, usually-blonde woman has gone missing. This week’s overwhelming news media coverage of the Gabby Petito disappearance was a stark reminder that, sadly, things haven’t changed much.
  • The Colorado Rockies were officially eliminated from the playoffs this week. In their 28-year history, they have never won their division, which includes only four other teams.
  • Nielsen has long been the gold standard for measurement of television audiences, but competitors smell blood in the water and networks are evaluating other options after Nielsen lost its accreditation from the Media Ratings Council (MRC), the independent body that enforces fair and transparent measurement standards in media. 
  • Inconsistent travel volumes, trouble recruiting TSA agents and long-term construction projects have created the perfect storm for extraordinarily long security lines at DIA, a situation The Denver Post described solemnly as “bananas.” Meanwhile, The Post reported that DIA has removed its real-time security wait indicator from its website “as a cost-cutting measure.”
  • Founded in 1929, Fortune – 92 years later – finally named its first female editor, Alyson Shontell.

So, who won the week?

  • A recent survey found that Denver has the seventh-highest salary nationally. If you are wondering where it all goes, the answer is rent/mortgage.
  • I hope former Rocky Mountain News reporter Jim Sheeler had a sense of how beloved and respected he was when he was alive. His death this week brought a tidal wave of praise for who he was and what he did. He was most known for his story titled “Final Salute,” which earned him a Pulitzer Prize.
  • Alyson Shontell was named editor of Fortune, the magazine’s first female editor in its 92-year history.

PRSA Colorado Announces Gold Pick Special Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 PRSA Colorado Gold Pick Special Award winners:

  • Lifetime Achievement: Wendy Aiello, Aiello Public Relations
  • Public Relations Person of the Year: Winna MacLaren, City and County of Denver
  • Business Person of the Year: Tory Bruno, President & CEO, United Launch Alliance
  • Media Person of the Year: Ed Sealover, Denver Business Journal
  • Rookie of the Year: Anna Ritz, CIG Public Relations
  • Mentor of the Year Award: Liz Kamper, CBRE
  • Chapter Service Award: Michelle Lyng, Novitas Communications
  • Public Relations Team of the Year: Sage Restaurant Concepts

The winners will be recognized at this year’s Gold Pick awards on Oct. 6.

Great Moments in Disembarkments

The University of Southern California football team can’t be happy with the conclusion of its flight to Pullman, Wash., to play Washington State University. And United Airlines and Boeing can’t be happy for the world to see what happens when you unload the people and heavy equipment from the front half of the plan without utilizing a tail stand.

Who Had the Worse Week

  • Rapper/singer Nicki Minaj became a social media meme when she tweeted that people should carefully consider whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine because her cousin’s friend got it and “became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding.” Popular opinion is that he actually cheated, got an STD and is now trying to blame the vaccine.
  • Walmart had to play defense when a fake press release was distributed via GlobeNewswire claiming that the retailer would begin accepting cryptocurrency at its stores. The release was almost certainly part of a pump-and-dump stock scheme.
  • A New York woman, Morgan Hellquist, discovered that her gynecologist of nine years, Dr. Morris Wortman, was actually her biological father. And her lawsuit alleges that he was aware of the relationship.
  • U.S. Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, among others, testified at a Congressional hearing that the FBI failed to properly investigate their claims that disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar abused them. As the hearing concluded, reports surfaced that the FBI had fired Michael Langeman, one of the lead agents in the investigation.
  • Legendary Philadelphia cheese steak restaurant Pat’s became the backdrop to a quintessential Philly crime when a “violent group of soccer hooligans beat a man to death with a garbage can lid.”
  • The hits keep coming to the Aurora Police Department, and this week it was Attorney General Phil Weiser who delivered the blow. Weiser is requiring the department to make to make “sweeping reforms after a year-long investigation found officers’ pattern of racially biased policing and use of excessive force routinely violated state and federal law,” according to The Denver Post.
  • Traveling right now is stressful enough, but imagine coming back from a trip to find that your car had been stolen from DIA. According to Denver Police, that is an increasingly common situation.
  • Kim Kardashian did what she does best – make headlines for inconsequential things – at the annual Met Gala. The unusual dress she wore was compared to Star Wars’ Darth Vader, dementors from Harry Potter and the alien from the movie, Alien.

So, who won the week?

  • Always acerbic, wry and deadpan, Norm Macdonald was a comedian’s comedian, more respected among his peers than the general public. But his death this week at age 61 resulted in a flood of public tributes from both.
  • Denver Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio is on the hot seat, but things got better on Sunday when, for the first time in his three years with the team, they won a game in September.
  • Immersive art company Meow Wolf made tons of headlines when it officially opened its Denver facility this week. It even nabbed U.S. Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet, along with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, to attend its ribbon-cutting event. That’s even more impressive when you consider that President Joe Biden’s visit earlier in the week to NREL only attracted two of those four.
  • The Drone Racing League secured a $100 million sponsorship deal with blockchain platform Algorand. Never heard of the DRL? Me either, but they have $100 million now.
  • Americans love their pick-up trucks, so it was news this week when electric truck manufacturer Rivian was credited with beating Ford, GM and Tesla to deliver the first consumer-ready electric pick-up truck.

Documenting The Denver Post Beat Changes

Several weeks ago, Corey Hutchins broke the news that The Denver Post was scrambling its beats, and today he offered an update on the moves:

  • Elizabeth Hernandez moves from higher education to the new millennial/younger readers beat
  • Conrad Swanson moves from the Denver City Hall beat to the environment beat
  • Joe Rubino moves from real estate/tech/consumer news to the Denver City Hall beat
  • Jessica Seaman moves from the healthcare beat to K-12 education
  • Bruce Finley moves from the environment beat to higher education
  • Meg Wingerter moves from K-12 education to healthcare

Not everyone was thrilled with the changes that were reportedly a surprise to many of those affected. For example, Justin Wingerter, who was moved off of federal politics and assigned to the business desk, instead has chosen to leave the Post.

It seems curious to lose the relationships and institutional knowledge that accompany changes like these, but as SE2’s Eric Anderson, a journalism veteran himself, noted, sometimes beat changes can allow reporters to see things with fresh eyes. And, cynically, it saved the Post at least one future buyout.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The Human Rights Campaign fired its president Alphonso David following an investigation into his efforts to help former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo fight sexual harassment allegations. Cuomo is the third rail of politics – Roberta Kaplan, the co-founder and board member of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund also recently resigned under pressure after helping Cuomo.
  • Ex-Denver Broncos running back Clinton Portis pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges this week. Portis, who earned more than $42 million during his career, submitted fraudulent medical claims totaling $99,264 to a healthcare program for retired NFL players.
  • After failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the US Men’s National Soccer Team has little margin for error if it hopes to make it to the 2022 World Cup. The team hasn’t impressed much so far – it started with two draws – and it lost one of its best players, Weston McKennie, when he broke team COVID rules and spent the night with an “unauthorized guest.” He was suspended and sent back to Italy, where he plays for Juventus, a team that suspended him in April for … wait for it …breaking COVID protocols. The good news is the team beat Honduras 4-1 in a must-win game this week. Take that, Honduras.
  • Women have outnumbered men on college campuses since the 1970s, but the pandemic has significantly accelerated the gender imbalance as men have dropped out at three times the rate of women. In fact, the latest data show that colleges now skew more than 57-43 female. One of the consequences: colleges are now lowering their admissions standards for men in an effort to keep parity. The patriarchy, amiright?
  • It’s been a tough couple for weeks for philosophical CEOs. Jonathan Neman, co-founder and CEO of the salad maker Sweetgreen, attempted to “start a conversation” by blaming fat people for the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. And now-former Tripwire CEO John Gibson proved again that the worst PR crises are self-inflicted when he decided that as the CEO of a video game maker he should weigh in on Texas’ new controversial abortion law. How did it end? You read the “now-former” part, right?
  • And, finally, an oldie but goodie. Underperforming Confederate General Robert E. Lee continues to be a modern-day punching bag. This week, it was Richmond, Va., that chose to remove a statue of Lee. The event was celebratory, with workers counting down the moment that Lee was removed via crane as onlookers cheered.

So, who won the week?

  • The Colorado Sun turned three this week. It took a lot of courage for the group of former Denver Postians to launch their own newspaper, and it is gratifying to see it succeed.
  • Original Blues Clues host Steve Burns this week comforted a generation of millennials who apparently suffered abandonment issues when he unexpectedly and suddenly left the show two decades ago. Appearing via a video dressed as Blues Clues Steve, he apologized to viewers and then dropped a little positive reinforcement about how terrific they are all doing.

Former Denver Bronco Clinton Portis Pleads Guilty in Federal Fraud Probe

ESPN: “(Former Denver Broncos running back) Clinton Portis was among three former NFL players who have pleaded guilty for their roles in a nationwide scheme to defraud a health care program for retired NFL players, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday. The 40-year-old Portis … faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 6. … According to court documents, Portis caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to the plan on his behalf over a two-month period, obtaining $99,264 in benefits for medical equipment that was not actually provided.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The city of New Orleans barely has time to recover these days from the devastating winds and floods brought by the most recent hurricane before it is hit with another. This week, it was Hurricane Ida that brought death and destruction to one of America’s most interesting cities. Not content to just ravage the Gulf Coast, the remnants of Ida continued north and hit New York City, causing surprise floods that killed 43.
  • Billionaires don’t become billionaires by leaving money on the table, a point proven by Colorado’s own Phil Anschutz. Despite a fortune estimated at $10.3 billion by Forbes, Anschutz is appealing the recent dismissal of a lawsuit against the state seeking an $8 million tax refund he says he is owed due to a loophole in the CARES Act, the pandemic response bill Congress passed in 2020.
  • A Colorado Springs high school swimmer with diabetes is suing CHSAA, the organization that oversees high school athletics in Colorado, for disqualifying him from the state championship meet because he wore tape over his glucose monitor to keep it in place.
  • Former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer made headlines this week for for a viral video that showed him getting physical with one of the players he now coaches at a high school in Nashville.
  • The Denver Department of Excise and Licensing has ordered the owner of LoDo’s Beta Nightclub to explain why it should retain its liquor license following a series of high-profile shootings outside the club and a police investigation that found drug dealing, large brawls and gang-related fights inside the club.
  • Tulane University had its own Rocky moment (actually, a Rocky II moment, but you get the idea) when it beat out a host of usual suspects to capture this year’s #1 ranking of Top Party Schools. The University of Colorado Boulder, one of those usual suspects that routinely nabs top 10 spots on these lists, fell to #24. Unfortunately, Tulane’s victory was overshadowed by the fact that its administrators don’t watch the weather on the local news and they failed to evacuate students from its New Orleans campus until after Hurricane Ida. Administrators said they thought the storm would be a Category 1 hurricane, not the Category 4 that it was.
  • Americans have a deep love of football, and ESPN has a deep love of ratings, so it was only a mild surprise that the sports broadcaster would eventually start airing high school football games to fill programming time. Unfortunately, though, high school teams don’t belong to recognizable conferences that let you know they are legit. This week, ESPN aired a game featuring Bishop Sycamore, which later was revealed to have questions about whether it is an actual school. It definitely is a football team – it played another game two days before its ESPN appearance, something no legitimate school would ever allow to happen. The Washington Post called the entire matter “embarrassing” and authorities are still investigating.

So, who won the week?

  • Fans of everything from the Mary Tyler Moore Show to the Pixar movie Up know actor Ad Asner, and there was an outpouring of love for him following his death this past week. It was his lovably gruff performances as Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off Lou Grant that endeared him to a generation or two of journalists.
  • Former Colorado Rockies star Larry Walker will enter the Hall of Fame next week, no easy feat given the lack of respect Coors Field has among the baseball purists who vote.

Fox31 Names Erika Gonzalez Permanent Evening Anchor

Fox31/KWGN anchor Erika Gonzalez has been filling former anchor Aristea Brady’s seat on the 5, 9 and 10 pm newscasts for the past month, and her bosses apparently like the job she was doing because this week they named her to the role permanently.

And in a world full of PR people who come from journalism, Erika is a unicorn. Her first job was in PR in Miami before starting her career in journalism as an assignment editor with WFOR in Miami.

Beta Nightclub Under Pressure Amid Rash of LoDo Shootings

If you are a fan of LoDo’s Beta Nightclub, you might want to get a few more visits in before Oct. 18. That is when the club’s owner, Valentes “Don’t Call Me Don” Corleons will have to appear before the Denver Department of Excise and Licensing to explain a rash of high-profile shootings nearby, as well as the results of an undercover police investigation that found drug dealing, large brawls and gang-related fights inside the club.

Elise Schmelzer at The Denver Post reported: “Police data collected by The Denver Post shows that Beta Nightclub this year has the highest number of reported crimes connected to its address of all bars in Denver’s Union Station neighborhood. … Denver police have recorded at least four aggravated assaults and one robbery at the nightclub’s address. In comparison, the two bars on either side of Beta Nightclub — Seven Grand and 1UP Arcade Bar — have no crimes reported at their addresses.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Fox31/Channel 2 anchor Keagan Harsha took a news director job in Montana, and he made his own headlines last weekend when his U-Haul full of all of his worldly possessions was stolen from a hotel parking lot on what was to be his last night in Denver.
  • Denver’s Valor Christian high school made national news for firing a coach because he is gay. As I noted earlier this week, the school missed an opportunity to practice the under appreciated art of looking the other way.
  • Researchers found that each hot dog you eat shortens your life by 35 minutes. RIP Gil Rudawsky.
  • Tina Tchen, the CEO of the anti-harassment organization Time’s Up, resigned under pressure following her behind-the-scenes support for former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
  • ESPN gave reporter Rachel Nichols the slow-motion kick to the curb after her racially insensitive comments were recorded and shared several months ago. ESPN first removed her from covering the NBA playoffs in June, and this week it quietly cancelled her afternoon TV show and formally dropped her from its NBA coverage.
  • Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten went full angry-old-man in a column this week that listed all the foods he has no interest in eating (the headline literally was “Gene Weingarten: You can’t make me eat these foods”). Old Bay Seasoning and bleu cheese were on the list, but it was the inclusion of all Indian food that set parts of the internet on fire. The Post hasn’t yet explained what journalistic need was filled by Weingarten’s rant, but … clicks!
  • We marketers spend $2.6 billion globally buying ads on websites that promote misinformation. The U.S. accounts for $1.6 billion – 62% – of that total.
  • Members of the Afghan girls’ robotics team who narrowly escaped the country ahead of Taliban rule had to have a lawyer send a cease and desist letter to Allyson Reneau, an Oklahoma woman who has been claiming outsized credit for their escape. The team says that her self-promotion and use of photos of current and former team members risks the safety of other members who remain in the country.

So, who won the week? Tim Wieland, the CBS4 news director, has been named VP and GM at the station. He replaces Walt DeHaven, who retired last month.

Great Moments in Stunt Marketing

It’s unlikely to rise to the level of Lincoln-Douglas, but PR Week reports that Taco Bell has secured the services of the University of Georgia and Clemson University debate teams to argue whether its new Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco is, in fact, a taco or a sandwich. Chances are you associate Georgia and Clemson more with football than the art of forensics, which is why the debate will air in four parts as commercials during the Georgia vs Clemson college football game on Sept. 2.

The Underappreciated Art of Looking the Other Way

Denver’s Valor Christian is, not surprisingly, a private Christian high school and it is under duress at the moment. Parents are protesting, students are walking out and media are camped out on the school’s sidewalks. Why? Because school administrators forced a popular coach out because he is gay.

I get it – Valor is a Christian school and it has to throw a nod toward Christian values (disclosure: I am a graduate of a Christian university). But that’s why you perhaps include some language in your official handbook and then you practice the art of looking the other way. It’s 2021 – not 1991 – and its not a good look, much less a good practice, for anyone to be firing people over who they are.

Photo of the student protest by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Freelance Meteorologist Tries to Convince Coloradans We’re All Living in Cleveland

Kids who parse and argue every point anyone makes usually either have that trait beaten out of them by high school or grow up to be lawyers. But one of those kids beat the odds and grew up to become a freelance meteorologist.

And if you are a freelance meteorologist, you need to be provocative to get people’s attention. Denver’s own Andy Stein did just that for The Denver Post when he wrote that Denver doesn’t get the 300 days of sunshine per year that the chamber of commerce claims, but rather only 103 days.

So, which is right? It depends on your definition of “sunny.” Stein claims “partly cloudy” days don’t count as sunny. If you have lived anywhere that truly has gray winters you recognize the stupidity of that argument. But, hey, Denver Post column!

The Denver Post Spins the ‘Wheel of Beats’

You spend all that time trying to build a relationship with a reporter, and then this happens.

In the latest edition of his must-read newsletter covering Colorado media, Corey Hutchins reports that The Denver Post is in the midst of a “disorienting beat scramble” that will see eight reporters shuffled to new beats. Eight may not seem like a lot, but let’s face it, that is like half of the newsroom in the Age of Alden.

Among the reporters shifting beats, Hutchins reports, are Bruce Finley (from environment to education) and Justin Wingerter (from federal politics to business).

You can subscribe to Hutchins’ weekly-ish newsletter at https://coloradomedia.substack.com.

Who Had the Worse Week?

First, a reminder that I avoid political gaffes when it comes to my lists of the biggest PR mistakes. If I didn’t, there wouldn’t have been room for anything else over the past 10 years (this week alone would have been Joe Biden, Greg Abbott, Tina Peters, Andrew Cuomo, John Cox, the State of Alabama, Dan Patrick, Gavin Newsom, Lauren Boebert, Gettr, Michelle Fiscus and a dozen others). Not to mention everyone views whether political issues qualify as PR gaffes through their own partisan lens. Now, on to the this week’s list:

  • A 9Wants to Know investigation found that Colorado’s Exposure App that is designed to alert residents when someone in close proximity to them tests positive for COVID-19 only worked 8% of the time. While the app was free from the Association of Public Health Laboratories, the state spent $875,000 to market and maintain the service.
  • Hassan Moustafa, the president of the International Handball Federation, said new rules were “very likely” after the federation was heavily criticized for requiring female players to wear bikinis in official play. Adding attention to the issue, the singer Pink offered to pay a 1,500 euro fine the federation levied against Norway’s women’s beach handball team for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms in a recent tournament.
  • Snopes, the gold standard of separating fact from fiction in our Internetified world, “has retracted 60 articles after a BuzzFeed News investigation found that the site’s co-founder plagiarized from news outlets as part of a strategy intended to scoop up web traffic.”
  • Detroit Tigers TV analyst Jack Morris has been suspended indefinitely after he used a mocking and racist Asian accent on air to talk about L.A. Angels star pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani.
  • An apology for disparaging statements about women, Jewish people and Haiti by newly announced Jeopardy host Mike Richards shows why you shouldn’t let the person in charge of vetting candidates pick himself.
  • Data breaches have become so common that they rarely make big headlines these days, but T-Mobile’s latest one involving customer data for 40 million past and current customers managed to do just that.
  • The US Open tennis tournament begins in a little more than a week, and already some of the biggest draws such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and 2020 winner Dominic Thiem have withdrawn due to injuries. Combine that with women’s stars Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka having trouble advancing deep in tournaments recently, and it could be a dud of a tournament this year.

So, who won the week?

  • Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock had the game of his life last weekend, potentially heading off a likely career-ending challenge by Teddy Bridgewater. We’ll see if he can keep it up this weekend.
  • The Paralympic Games begin Tuesday in Tokyo, and Colorado Public Radio profiles 11 competitors who are from Colorado. If you haven’t watched the Paralympics before, do yourself a favor and tune in. NBC is broadcasting 1,200 hours, and it is even more inspiring than the Olympics.
  • Zaidy’s, a legendary Denver Jewish deli that closed during the pandemic, has re-opened thanks to support from the Appel family (the founders of the OxiClean empire).

Karma Wins – Ex-Cuomo Staffers who Helped Trash New York Governor’s Accuser Lose Jobs at PR Firm

Theo Wayt at the New York Post: “Two former staffers of Gov. Andrew Cuomo who helped their ex-boss smear sexual harassment accuser Lindsey Boylan have left their jobs at a politically connected public relations firm with millions of dollars in state contracts, The Post has learned. Josh Vlasto and Richard Bamberger — both former top Cuomo staffers who were named throughout the attorney general’s report into the governor’s “inner circle” — confirmed Monday they had left their jobs as managing directors at PR firm Kivvit.

‘“We agreed to amicably part ways,’ Vlasto and Bamberger said in a joint statement to The Post.

“Kivvit — which has counted Google, Tesla, Citigroup, Lyft, Princeton University and the US Olympic Committee among its clients — had already scrubbed the pair from its website by Monday morning.”

Pandemic Increases the Value of Influencers for Marketing, PR Campaigns

Chris Daniels at PR Week reports: “It’s another sign of the times amid the COVID-19 pandemic: social media influencers are asking for — and getting — significantly more money for sponsored posts and brand partnerships than even a year ago. That’s in part because consumers continue to spend more time online. Nearly half (48%) say they increased the time they spend on social media, giving influencers a larger and more engaged fanbase, according to research from DoubleVerify. 

‘“The pandemic changed the game for influencers,’ confirms Jenny Heinrich, senior partner for global digital and influencer strategy at Finn Partners.”

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • The Colorado Rockies learned the hard way about the importance of guardrails when commenting during a crisis. In a game earlier this week, broadcasters for the Miami Marlins claimed a Coors Field fan screamed a racial slur that was caught by its microphones, and the Rockies validated that before looking into it by posting to social media that it was “disgusted at the racial slur by a fan … .” The next morning, it became clear the fan had actually yelled “Dinger,” the name of the Rockies’ mascot, in an attempt to get a photo. Media quickly backtracked and blamed the Rockies for legitimizing the story with its social media post (as evidenced by this post from 9News’ Nicole Vap).
  • Trust in government isn’t exactly high these days, and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reinforced some of the worst suspicions of the tin-foil-hat crowd when it lied about Independence Pass being closed recently due to a mudslide. Media uncovered emails this week showing back-and-forth among CDOT officials about how to reduce traffic on the congested pass, and claiming a fictitious mudslide was the consensus winner. CDOT officials quickly realized two things: it is bad policy to lie, and that discussing it via email was a mistake. Officials reversed their decision after a day and discoverable email discussions were not part of that process .
  • The Royal Family and Prince Andrew are in the spotlight once again this week because of Andrew’s affiliation with disgraced pedophile/sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein. A New York woman filed a lawsuit against Andrew this week alleging that he raped and sexually abused her when she was a minor. Andrew’s previous denials only made the situation worse and the Royal Family has remained silent on the lawsuit, signaling that they understand what a dumpster fire this entire situation is. Here’s hoping he becomes Prince Andrew, Duke of York Prison before this is all over.
  • Nostalgia purveyor Garrison Keillor hasn’t been heard from much after he was booted from his home on Minnesota Public Radio in 2017 due to allegations of inappropriate behavior with a female assistant. But this week, he came roaring back, making headlines for equating the U.S. Social Security Administration with the Nazi SS after he got caught in a bureaucratic snafu trying to obtain a replacement Medicare card.
  • The chile wars between Colorado (Pueblo chile peppers) and New Mexico (Hatch chile peppers) heated up this week when The Pueblo Chieftain ran syndicated content from its parent company, Gannett, that was pro-Hatch chile. Chieftain News Director Luke Lyons issued a formal apology distancing the newspaper from the story, saying in part, “The article … was not meant to cause harm or to infer that the Hatch chile was superior. … We apologize for the harm and offense the story has caused.” It’s not clear whether journalism purists are more offended that Lyons would apologize for content or that he confused “infer” for “imply” in his apology.

So, who won the week? I’m going with “Tiana,” a somewhat anonymous Tokyo Olympics volunteer. She paid for a taxi out of her own pocket when Jamaican hurdler Hansle Parchment took a wrong bus and mistakenly ended up at the aquatics venue. Thanks to her generous help, Parchment made it to the track stadium in time and subsequently won a gold medal in the men’s 110 meters hurdle event. Parchment was able to track down Tiana afterward to thank her and repay the fare, and Jamaica’s minister of tourism has now invited Tiana for an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean island.

A Plot Twist in the Reported Coors Field Racial Slur

Generally speaking, if the Colorado Rockies are making national headlines, something has gone badly. And, this morning, that would be an understatement. Microphones for the Miami Marlins television feed picked up a fan at Coors Field yesterday screaming something that the Marlins broadcasters and media nationwide quickly reported was the N-word. But audio replays seem to show that it actually a fan screaming, “Dinger,” the name of the Rockies mascot. That would make more sense given that no one in the stands said they heard anyone scream the N-word. You can decide for yourself:

Horse Punch Allows Germany to Catch Belarus for Most Coaches Banned from the Tokyo Olympics

Germany hasn’t exactly been tearing it up at the Summer Olympic Games this year – they have roughly one-third the number of medals as the U.S. – but it is distinguishing itself in one area: the number of coaches sent home from the Olympics.

Last week, German cycling coach Patrick Moster was banned after he was caught on camera yelling racist remarks to his riders, and today German modern pentathlon coach Kim Raisner was sent packing after she punched a horse … let me repeat that, punched a horse … that refused to perform during the competition.

Raisner’s horse punch allowed Germany to catch Belarus, who had two coaches sent home earlier this week for trying to strong-arm an athlete to return home to the authoritarian country after publicly criticizing her delegation. The athlete, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, instead accepted a humanitarian visa from Poland and is now in Warsaw.

Who Had the Worse Week?

  • Denver’s air quality this week put it as the worst in the country and among the Top 10 worst in the world. It’s not often that we share space on lists that include Kabul, Jakarta, Kolkata, Dubai and Delhi. Denver would need to cut its pollution roughly in half to match that pristine oasis that is New York City.
  • Actor Matt Damon proved once again that the worst PR crises are self-inflicted when he shared that he stopped using the homophobic term f****t “months ago” after his daughter called him out on it. He later insisted that has never used the term personally, and instead was referring to its use in movie scripts, which only reinforced the old political adage that if you are explaining, you are losing.
  • Speaking of “if you are explaining, you are losing,” Bill Gates is trying really hard to put his association with pedophile/sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein behind him by … explaining. This week, he appeared on CNN to share that he simply was seeking foundation donations from the disgraced financier, but recent reports of Gates’ skeevy behavior with female Microsoft employees has caused many to re-evaluate his standing.
  • CNN anchor Chris Cuomo is feeling the fallout from his secret PR strategy support for his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued a report this week that documented multiple instances of sexual harassment by the governor, and Chris Cuomo’s CNN peers reportedly “expressed dismay” that he has not been held accountable or explained his ethically challenged decision to work behind-the-scenes for his brother while on CNN’s payroll.
  • Rapper DaBaby is reeling after his homophobic comments on HIV/AIDS caused promoters to drop him from the line-up at Lollapalooza, iHeartRadio Music Festival, Austin City Limits and Denver’s KS 107.5 Summer Jam, among others.
  • Mike Richards, the relatively anonymous executive producer of the television show Jeopardy, has orchestrated a string of celebrity try-outs over the past few months to identify a successor to the late Alex Trebek. Among them: Mayim Bialik, Anderson Cooper, LeVar Burton, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Aaron Rodgers. The news this week is that Richards has pulled a Dick Cheney and is now negotiating for himself to be the host. Fans are not pleased.
  • The City of Englewood caused a bit of a panic this week when it notified a huge portion of the metro Denver area that residents should boil water due to traces of E.coli. Non-Englewood governments and water systems scrambled to reassure residents that the water in their communities was safe.

So, who won the week?

  • Olympic gymnast Suni Lee stepped into the void of Simone Biles’ withdrawal and won the gold in the women’s all-around event.
  • Former CBS4 GM Walt DeHaven and soon-to-be-former Downtown Denver Partnership President & CEO Tami Door. Two of Denver’s most influential leaders are basking in positive profile articles and good wishes related to their retirements.
  • Denver, after Forbes increased its projected value of the Denver Broncos to $3.75 billion, a 17% jump over last year. That valuation increases the odds that the dysfunctional Bowlen kids will sell the team, and that a new owner can put the team on the right track again.

The End of an Era

CBS4 GM Walt DeHaven retired Friday, and I’d be remiss in not acknowledging his tenure and impact on Denver’s news community. Broadcasting & Cable wrote a nice piece that scratches the surface of who he is and what he has accomplished:

“Walt DeHaven, VP and general manager of KCNC Denver, … has spent 20 years atop the CBS-owned station, and 14 more with other stations in the CBS group, including ones in Chicago and Boston. The longest-serving general manager in the CBS Stations group, DeHaven has spent 34 years with the Viacom and CBS groups.

“Wendy McMahon, president and co-head, CBS News and Stations, saluted DeHaven in a note to KCNC staffers. ‘Walt’s importance to our organization has been defined not only by his longevity, but also by his leadership, poise and the passion he has for caring about the communities we serve, our clients and all of you,’ she said. …

“DeHaven will remain active in non-profit organizations in and around Denver. He is president and treasurer of Take Note Colorado, which provides musical instruments and education to schoolchildren, and vice chair at Swallow Hill Music, which provides music education to underserved communities.” 

Who Went Where

Among the recent changes: