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Petroleum Club and McInnis Disagree on Canceled News Conference

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Journalists should tell us when a political candidate doesn't show up for a scheduled news conference, and they should try to find out if the explanation given for the absence is accurate.

The Colorado Independent and the Denver Post made the right journalistic move, while other media outlets in town did not, in reporting today that Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis didn't attend a press conference after his speech to the Denver Petroleum Club yesterday.

McInnis Spokesperson Sean Duffy told The Denver Post that McInnis had other events to attend.

But the Independent reported a different explanation, which was that Duffy told journalists who were waiting for McInnis after his speech that McInnis was unaware of the press conference.

Another journalist, who was also waiting for McInnis, told me that Duffy entered the room and told reporters that the Petroleum Club hadn't "told him [McInnis] about the press availability, but Duffy said he'd schedule individual meetings with anybody who wanted one."

I asked Joyce Witte, President of the Denver Petroleum Club, if it was true that the McInnis Campaign wasn't informed about the news conference.

"No, he did know about it, and I am not sure why he decided not to participate," Witte told me. "It was my sense it was a last-minute decision on behalf of his campaign."

I wanted to be sure I had this right, so I asked Witte, "But you're sure he got the message, or Sean got that message somehow, because Sean is putting the blame on you guys?"

"Nope. They knew about it."

Both McInnis and Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper spoke to the Denver Petroleum Club. A press conference with Hickenlooper took place, as planned, before his speech.

Hickenlooper sat down with about a dozen reporters and took questions not only about oil and gas issues, but about healthcare, immigration, stimulus funding, and more. At one point, the Mayor said he thought the press conference was going to be about oil and gas issues only, but he answered most all of the questions put to him. (He told one reporter he'd have to get back to him on a question related to a national identity card.)

Hickenlooper's spokesperson George Merritt told me that his campaign was aware of the scheduled press conference well in advance.

I was on the press list for Petroleum Club event, which was moderated by Adam Schrager of 9News, and I attended half of it. I didn't see a single organizational flaw in the event. The planned press events, with both candidates listed on press materials, was emailed to me two weeks in advance.

A call to Duffy was not returned.