“He called me a fake journalist. I’m not”: Colorado Sun reporter responds to being ousted from state GOP Assembly

Screenshots from a video posted on X/Twitter, by @annalynnfrey.

The Colorado GOP Assembly happened over the weekend. That’s where state Republicans select representatives for the Republican National Committee, which helps choose the nominee for president. There, they also worked to set their platform for the upcoming election season, and advanced candidates to the primary ballot for the University of Colorado regent at large. A Colorado Sun politics reporter was escorted out of that state GOP assembly on Saturday by a sheriff’s deputy, after being told that party Chairman Dave Williams thinks her current reporting is “very unfair.”

Her name is Sandra Fish, and she’s been covering politics since 1982. She joined KGNU’s Jackie Sedley on the Morning Magazine to share the details of her experience over the weekend.

You can watch the video of her being ousted here.

Listen:

  • cover play_arrow

    Sandra fish Jackie Sedley

Transcript:

Jackie Sedley:  You’re listening to The Morning Magazine. I’m Jackie Sedley. The Colorado GOP assembly happened over the weekend. That’s where state Republicans select representatives for the Republican National Committee, which helps choose the nominee for president. There, they also worked to set their platform for the upcoming election season, and advanced candidates to the primary ballot for the University of Colorado regent at large.

A Colorado Sun politics reporter was escorted out of that state GOP assembly on Saturday by a sheriff’s deputy after being told that party chairman Dave Williams thinks her current reporting is “very unfair.” Her name is Sandra Fish and she’s been covering politics since 1982. She’s here with us this morning to share the details of her experience over the weekend. Good morning, Sandra.

Sandra Fish: Good morning, Jackie. I’m kind of old.

Sedley: Not a bad thing. So let’s just start at the beginning. You were all set to go to the Colorado GOP Assembly at the State Fairgrounds in Pueblo, and then you received a text around 3:45 a. m. Saturday morning. Is that right?

Fish: Yes, I did. And it’s worth noting that I did attend the 3rd Congressional District and the 4th Congressional District nominating assemblies on Friday, which were really the big news coming out of this, but I had asked about credentials and I got this text at 3:45 a. m. saying that, um, you know, I wasn’t going to be let in. But I thought, “Hey, I’m going to try to go anyway.” I’ve been going to these for a long time. And, you know, this is a group of about three or four thousand Republicans making decisions on behalf of all 900,000 registered Republicans in the state. And so I went and they, you know, I went in the door, they gave me a press credential, um, and I was like hanging out talking to people that I know and people that I don’t, and new friends and you know, then they, after I’d been there a little more than an hour, and they realized I was there and got rid of me.

Sedley: And what was the interaction like between you and those that told you you had to leave?

You know, the security staff at the event center was kind of apologetic and just like, “You’ve got to go.” Finally Eric Grossman, um, who was the event coordinator came over and talked to me, but refused to answer any of my questions about, what is it that’s unfair? Um, he seemed kind of angry and, and, and the, the deputy, they were totally professional. I mean, it, it was fine. You know, I get that I have written stories about the Colorado GOP’s finances in the past year. They’re not good – first time since at least one in at least 20 years that they haven’t employed full-time staff. I’ve written about the chairman using party resources to promote his candidacy for the Fifth congressional district. And I expect that’s what he is angry about, but I I would like specifics because has he called and corrected anything about those stories? Nope.

Sedley: So when they said that Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dave Williams finds your current reporting “very unfair,” it sounds like you maybe had an idea right off the bat what they might have been referring to. Have you heard feedback like this before from other Republicans or other folks that maybe aren’t appreciative of your reporting?

Fish: You know, there are, there are people who don’t want to be covered in what they perceive as a negative light. I mean, at the end of, in February, I went up to Representative Elizabeth Epps in the Capitol to ask her why she had been participating only remotely in House floor sessions. I mean, she was clearly in the Capitol that day, right after the House floor session that she’d participated in remotely. And she refused to talk to me. She just sort of looked at me and I asked her a question several times. And there’s a recording of that.

I mean, I get that people don’t want that kind of reporting, but I got to say, journalism is here to give people the information they need to be free and self-governing, and we are reporting on behalf of the public and our democracy, and that’s why I felt I needed to be there, to hear what was being said there, and to let others know.

Sedley: So, did this feel personal, or to you, does it represent a larger dynamic between politicians and the free press?

Fish: I, I think it, it does represent a larger dynamic in, in that this is happening around the country, that some people are trying to exclude certain members of the press. I mean, it is kind of personal because it was just me. Um, I mean, Heidi Beedle from the Times Recorder, bought a guest pass and they, they, they I don’t, they probably should have seen that she was live-Tweeting from there, but, you know, they didn’t kick her out. So, uh, but it is a larger dynamic that’s been coming on for a while.

Like, I’ve seen in the last eight years or so, certain politicians refusing to participate in public debates sponsored by, say, the League of Women Voters. Um, and it’s concerning because if you’re going to be responsible to the public, you need to respond to the public.

Sedley: And in the last 20 seconds or so, has William said anything else about your ousting since it gained traction in the media?

Fish: Um, he has called me a fake journalist. I’m not.

Sedley: Sandra Fish, data journalist and politics reporter for the Colorado Sun. Sandra, thank you so much for sharing your story with us this morning. We appreciate it.

Fish: Thanks, Jackie.

Picture of Jackie Sedley

Jackie Sedley

Search

Now Playing

Recent Stories

Upcoming Events

KGNU PARTNERS

This May 1st and 2nd, we’re encouraging you to give and to publicly express what KGNU personally means to you.

We join other public and local stations across the country for this second annual event. It’s your forum to support and champion how KGNU connects with your values.

Donate

Learn More