The Current

Colorado newspaper to sue senator over 'fake news' allegation

A local newspaper in Colorado is taking matters into its own hands after being accused of publishing "fake news." The paper is launching a lawsuit to defend its reputation and its work — as another politician cries fake news.
Colorado state Republican Senator Ray Scott is being sued by the Grand Junction Sentinel for accusing the paper of publishing 'fake news.' (rayscottcolorado.com)

U.S. President Trump, along with some other Republicans, have taken to calling certain news organizations and their reporting "fake news." Publications like the Washington Post, CNN, and the New York Times have all been accused of peddling in untruths.

But it isn't just in Washington that Republicans are hurling the charge of fake news at media outlets. 

Recently, Colorado state Republican Senator Ray Scott accused the local newspaper, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, of reporting fake news.

Scott took issue with an editorial in the paper calling out the Senator for cancelling a hearing on a state bill. The Senator responded to the editorial by tweeting that the Daily Sentinel publishes fake news.

The accusation has not sat well with the publisher of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Jay Seaton.  He intends to sue the Senator and tells The Current's Laura Lynch about the damage this allegation has caused to the paper.

"The greatest asset of any newspaper or any news source is its credibility," says Seaton.

"I know that we've lost subscribers in response to that tweet. Now since then ... the response to the push back on that tweet has been quite positive. But the tweet itself did, I know, cause us real damage."

Seaton says the relationship with Senator Scott has been at arms-length but the paper did endorse the Senator during the last election cycle when "he was more than happy to tweet that to all of his followers."

"But when he is called out on … what he was doing in the Senate, his response was not to criticize us, or say 'hey I disagree with this editorial' or 'this was sloppy reporting' — that I can live with," Seaton tells Lynch.

"Rather it was … the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel is fake news. They are deceivers of their readers."

Seaton advises other news organizations that may be accused of fake news to take action.

"I think we need to keep reporting on [fake news] but I also think there is a remedy in the judicial branch which is not tainted by politics."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien.

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