Tis the season to reflect on the last year – the triumphs, the failures, and the untruths.
Next with Kyle Clark has rounded up the top nine untruths of 2017, or the nine times "BS" was called on someone in a position of power in Colorado
"Lie" is a strong word. It seems that these people weren't necessarily trying to deceive anyone, but they were in some way mistaken and needed to be called on it. Once they were, we were all able to have a conversation about the facts.
Kyle's Top 9 Untruths of 2017:
9. “80 percent of employees at a trucking company in Colorado flunked a drug test.”
That claim showed up in a CNN article. Not true.
The woman who was named as the source of the information, Calvina Fay with the Drug Free America Foundation, says it was just 80 percent of employees at one location for a company that has many locations. Privacy concerns kept her from saying where. America loved the headline, even though it completely misrepresented the truth.
Read 9NEWS' entire fact-check of the CNN article here.
8. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock promises 400 new affordable housing units.
Hancock said this in July, and we asked him where the units are going.
“They're throughout the city, probably some of the newer developments. We'll get you specifically where they are,” he told us.
They were actually nowhere at that point. The plan was, in fact, in the “conceptual phase,” and they were just beginning to look for the vacant spaces then.
7. Republican Congressman Ken Buck said he didn't support President Trump's healthcare bill.
Congressman Ken Buck tried to re-write history when President Trump wanted to pass his healthcare bill.
Buck wasn't a hard no, but he never fully supported it, either. He specifically told 9NEWS over the phone in April, “I was not completely sold on the bill."
But then he convinced the president he had been totally on board the entire time, by writing an op-ed in The Hill. He wrote, “I supported the American Healthcare Act last Friday because it was the right vote.” Then the president tweeted out his support of Buck.
A spokesperson told Next that while Buck was publicly saying he hadn't committed to the bill, he actually had. When we went Buck-hunting in Washington for an answer, the Representative doubled down with a factually-inaccurate claim about our report. Then he walked away from our camera.
6. The story behind the eagle atop Denver's City and County building
Even tour groups spread the rumor that a disgruntled architect designed the eagle statue to sit in a pooping position, as an insult to Mayor Robert Speer.
9NEWS went digging. Historical documents proved the design wasn't even conceived until after Mayor Speer died. And then we found the grandson of the man who designed the building.
The true story behind it all is pretty fascinating, and worth your time, if you have a few minutes to watch.
(Big thanks to Denver Zoo and its eagle for their very special contributions to this report.)
5. Immigration checkpoints in Colorado
The rumors spread online, and were often very specific, with a time and place. But we never could find any proof that ICE was doing random checkpoints in Colorado. Despite our daily debunking, those rumors scared a lot of people.
4. Accusations of a Confederate flag at a school football game
Manual High School's principal publicly accused kids on the Weld Central football team of displaying the Rebel flag at their game in Denver, as well as using racial slurs. No evidence emerged. The district was eventually forced to admit it wasn't true, but not before a whole town had been smeared as racists.
3. Longmont Police's denials about their warrantless searches of public housing.
We learned just this week that the officers who conducted illegal searches of affordable housing units got a slap on the wrist. The Longmont Housing Authority had invited officers along as they searched the apartments. A landlord can search a rented unit, with notice, but an officer cannot search even affordable housing without permission, or a warrant. It was not made clear to the residents that they could deny the searches.
"We made it quite clear that we needed permission to go in,” the Police Chief Mike Butler told Next back in June.
That wasn't true. Imagine if the journalists who reported this story, and the public, had taken authorities at their word, instead of continuing to dig. Officer didn't get permission to search, and they didn't log the searches to their superiors until a month later, when Next reported on them.
To Longmont's credit, when they were faced with the facts, they fessed up.
"I was wrong, when I made those comments to you,” Butler later told Next.
2. Colorado's Democratic House Speaker Crisanta Duran said that immigrants in the U.S. illegally clean the Capitol building.
This one sits high on the list because of Duran's position, and she said it on the floor of the legislature during a debate about immigration.
"You know a lot of time who's working behind the scenes in the hotels and the restaurants, and who comes here late at night to do the cleanup work in this Capitol, and clean up after all of us? Do you know who those people are? Sometimes they are undocumented individuals."
The Colorado state government employing people here illegally would have been a scandal of immense proportion. But it's not true. The state requires federal I-9 forms ensuring its workers are here legally.
Speaker Duran told us she meant it figuratively, not literally. Facts are not figurative.
1. A Colorado representative's "take a knee" email
Most of these untruths were corrected when we called them out. This one… not so much.
If any "untruth" could be considered a lie this year, it'd be the one from Republican Representative Dave Williams. What else would you call an outrageous statement made by a politician who won't offer a shred of proof?
Williams, of Colorado Springs, claimed in a mass email that Democrats in the Legislature were going to "take a knee" at the start of the special session – quote – "to show solidarity with NFL players who show contempt for the flag and our military's sacrifice."
That appears to have been total and complete fiction.
Williams didn't have the courage to answer Next's repeated attempts to ask him for evidence. He never provided it to any journalists. Our invitation to Representative Williams to appear on Next still stands.
There was a time, not too long ago, when making outrageous claims without any evidence would damage, or even destroy a political career. But Representative Williams knows some people will lap up such nonsense. Perhaps he'll even consider it a badge of honor to have spewed the biggest Untruth of 2017.