In the 8 p.m. half hour on Monday, shortly before Michelle Obama took the stage at the Pepsi Center for the climactic speech of the Democratic National Convention's first day, Channel 4 ran an onscreen crawl about arrests in a possible assassination plot. And during its 10 p.m. newscast, the station aired a hefty, three-minute-plus report on the arrests of four men, including Tharin Gartrell, beginning at 10:04 p.m. -- a slot suggesting that the station views this development as extremely serious and very credible.
Of course, other news outlets have reported about this story, too -- but without pressing the panic button.
In its August 26 edition, the Rocky Mountain News, Channel 4's newspaper partner, published a modest piece whose headline tried to place the development in a lower-key context: "U.S. Attorney: 3 Men Arrested Posed No Threat to Obama." And the Denver Post published its version of events, "Possible Obama Connection in Gun Arrests," on page fifteen of its special DNC section. Stop-the-presses news doesn't end up there.
Brian Maass, the Channel 4 reporter who helmed the Obama threat package for his outlet, is among the best, most thorough investigators in this market, so his take isn't to be dismissed out of hand. At this point, however, he's making a lot more of the Gartrell arrests than are any of his colleagues, be they local or national. -- Michael Roberts