Griswold apologizes after tweet asking national media not to post results on election night

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold asked national media to refrain from calling races or even announcing election results in a series of posts Thursday evening on Twitter.

She later deleted the thread and posted an apology.

“ATTN NATIONAL MEDIA EXECUTIVES: Our democracy cannot be held hostage to a ratings race,” Griswold said in the first tweet. “If you care about our democracy, you will protect it. Full Stop.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic and the President of the United States has telegraphed that he may claim victory on election night, even when millions of ballots will not have been counted,” the first-term Democrat continued. “In the coming days, I will ask election administrators, voting rights organizations, media ethicists, corporations, religious leaders, and all concerned Americans to stand with me in demanding media executives #PressPause for democracy.”

Another tweet, which called on national media to “pledge to #PressPause for democracy” and neither project winners nor announce results on Nov. 3, was deleted hours later. The tweet was “misinterpreted,” Griswold said, and she posted a replacement that called on national media not to call “a presidential winner/loser until the millions of outstanding mail ballots are counted.”

Responses ranged from thanking Griswold to calling her idea “lunacy.”

“Strongly disagree,” tweeted Colorado Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a fellow Democrat. “This will only cause mass confusion and creates an opening for reckless behavior from the President. Demanding journalists to withhold verifiable facts or rational projections is counter to how a free democracy works.”

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, which includes The Denver Post along with other media statewide, offered this response: “The news media so far seems to be doing a pretty good job of helping the public understand why it’s likely some states won’t be called on election night.”

Colorado GOP Chair and U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who asked the Justice Department to investigate Griswold’s office earlier this week on a different issue, had this to say to her Thursday evening on Twitter: “Why are you sowing doubts about the results of our elections? Coloradans deserve to know election results as soon as they are verified. Not after you’ve had a chance to #PressPause and consult your bosses at MSNBC.”

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Griswold’s entire thread was deleted about 11 p.m. Thursday, and she issued a statement: “I would like to apologize for a tweet I put out earlier tonight. It was confusing, and the point I was trying to make was made inartfully. My intention was to draw attention to the fact that other states across the nation are drastically adopting new voting procedures, and it is critically important that these changes be taken into account in election night reporting. Unlike Colorado, some states may not be able to process ballots until Election Day or after.  A free press is a key pillar of our democracy, and I have full confidence the media will handle this professionally and accurately.”

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