Reporter kicked out of Colorado GOP state assembly after being told her work is 'unfair'

Sandra Fish was removed from the GOP state assembly on Saturday, after receiving a text saying the party chair considered her work "unfair."
Colorado GOP Reporter
Posted at 9:06 AM, Apr 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-08 15:12:34-04

DENVER — A reporter from The Colorado Sun was kicked out of the Colorado GOP state assembly in Pueblo on Saturday, after she was informed her work was considered "unfair" by the party chair.

Despite all the national attention Sandra Fish received this weekend, the political data journalist took some time for herself on Sunday. She walked around a Denver park, guided by her phone while playing Pokémon GO.

“I'm kind of an amateur. I'm not very good at this really, but I like to do it," Fish said about the game. “I made a Pokémon friend at the assembly the other day. I won't go into who it might have been.”

Fish has been a reporter for almost 40 years. She's covered countless stories on a wide variety of topics during her career — including the Colorado GOP state assembly.

She covered the congressional nomination assemblies on Friday, and intended to report on the statewide assembly Saturday. Her story took a turn she did not expect at all.

“I had heard through the grapevine, when I got there on Thursday night, that I might be denied entry. And my people back here [at The Colorado Sun], started making calls to people and had a tough time getting through to the people at the Republican Party," Fish explained.

Fish said she was texted by the event organizer, who said they would reach out sometime on Thursday night.

"I had a text from him from 3:45 in the morning on Saturday, saying that they were going to deny me entry because of my unfair coverage," Fish said. “I was never able to get anybody to say what was unfair."

She showed the text message to Denver7, which claimed, in part:

"The state party has made the decision that today's assembly is not an "open" press event. This is to inform you that your name is not included in my final press credentials list currently being typed up. The state chairman believes current reporting to be very unfair."

Fish still went to the assembly on Saturday.

“I just went anyway because it's important to cover these sorts of events. There were only maybe 3,000 or 4,000 Republicans there and there are 900,000 Republicans statewide, and a lot of unaffiliated voters who lean more toward the Republican Party," Fish said. “They gave me a press pass. And I talked to some folks, I interviewed some people, talked to some people I knew there. And the assembly was just getting started and a security guy came over and asked me to leave. And I said, 'well, they gave me a credential.”'

The removal of Fish from the assembly was caught on camera by Anna Lynn Winfrey, a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain.

Fish believes she was singled out by the party.

“These people never even called me by my name. I guess it was just like, 'Hey, get that old lady with purple hair out of here,'" Fish said with a laugh. “We, as journalists, have got to stand up and fight for our right to cover what needs to be covered... It's important that we're there to cover these meetings, because they're important to democracy... I've written things that Democrats don't like too. I mean, you know, we need to tell people what the truth is. And this is the truth.”

The Chair of the Colorado GOP, Dave Williams, sent Denver7 the following statement:

We make no apologies for kicking out a fake journalist, who actually snuck into our event, because her publication is just an extension of the Democrat Party’s PR efforts, and the only backlash we see is from the fake news media, radical Democrats, and establishment RINOs who hate our conservative base and who always look for opportunities to boot lick the crooked press or pundits who hate true Republicans and President Trump.
Dave Williams, Colorado GOP Chair

State Rep. Matt Soper — R, Delta and Mesa Counties — was at the state assembly. He described Fish as a "high-caliber journalist" and said The Colorado Sun is on his daily reading list.

Soper was embarrassed, ashamed and shocked to hear Fish was kicked out of the state assembly.

“The public has a right to be there and has the right to observe, and especially the media, because the media is that Fourth Estate — the ability to hold elected officials accountable," Soper said over a Zoom call from the Western Slope. “Some people certainly have their gripes and complaints against certain reporters or maybe certain news outlets. You know, I've felt similar frustrations at times. But what I can tell you is I still go back and I still do interviews. I still want to be open and transparent, because those reporters and those news outlets still have a duty, really, to report what's happening.”

Soper believes the decision to remove Fish from the GOP state assembly was wrong.

“It may be one thing to call a reporter's reporting unfair. It's an entirely different bridge to cross when you have that reporter removed from a state party assembly. To me, that's one bridge too far," Soper said. "The media has a right to be there. Period, end of story.”

The press surrounding Fish being kicked out of the assembly is not a setback for the party, according to Soper.

“I don't believe this impacts the operations of the state party. This is going to last for a few days," Soper said. “I do see this as being one more wake up call and reality check that okay, we can't be doing amateur hour. We're professionals. And we need to be held to the highest standard.”

Fish said her goal, with every story, is to provide the public with the information necessary to be free and self-governing — a basic principle of journalism.

“Democracy is kind of at a fragile state right now. And, we need to be doing this work," Fish said. “When a political party is trying to shut down reporting about them and their activities, the public should be concerned and the public should know.”

The Colorado Sun is a nonprofit organization supported by donations and membership.

Reporter kicked out of GOP state assembly, told work is 'unfair'

D7 follow up bar 2460x400FINAL.png
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.