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Gazette not only blocks story of local fracking protest, but assigns goon to disrupt it

City Hall, December 11, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.- This past Tuesday saw the largest demonstration yet against oil and gas drilling in Colorado Springs and the ugly practice of hydraulic fracturing. Several dozen fractivists allied with Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights (CSCCR) and Occupy were joined on the steps of City Hall by Colorado College students who’d marched from their campus with banners and posters denouncing fracking. You didn’t hear about it did you? After the rally everyone filled the council chamber to give 3-minute personal testimonials that ran for two hours. That too went unreported, in particular by the Gazette, who had two reporters in the room, one who’d conducted interviews, and both who took notes during the presentations. But neither produced a story — an odd dereliction of responsibility you might say. Even more odd was the role played by Gazette editorial page writer Wayne Laugesen who ultimately opined on the city council’s decision to postpone their vote, as “caving to anti-energy activists”, offering no details. Laugesen actually interjected himself into the rally outside as a lone counter-protester, interrupting interviews being filmed for TV stations KRDO and KKTV. When they asked Laugesen to let them do their job, the goon replied that he was doing his. So the Gazette was not satisfied to blackout reports of the community rally, but aimed to sabotage it as well.

Whose job was Wayne Laugesen doing exactly? Was he confusing his publisher for the overseers who hold his tether: the pro-industry PR mill Americans For Prosperity? It could be. But the Gazette is now hardly distinguishable from contract stink-tank corporate profiteering advocacy. When conservative mummies Freedom Communications supervised the Gazette, the pretense was tax-cutting, tax-dodging libertarianism. The Gazette’s new owner made his billions in corrupt oil, real estate and privatization schemes, so prospects are looking dim for the region’s daily paper to offer authentic news. Having their editorial hit-man on the ground as a pretend grass root weed killer is a disturbing development that must not go unchallenged.

Contrast the Gazette blackout and the relatively tepid coverage by the weekly Independent, with the monthly African American Voice which gave the previous anti-fracking rally a front-page, full color, two-page article, whose theme accurately accused the city council of being “out of touch with the community.” AAV publisher James Tucker has participated in several of the rallies and understands whose interest he represents.

On the other hand, Tuesday was the umpteenth time the Gazette has ignored the rising community effort to oppose the oil and gas lobby. For many months of city council meetings, Gazette correspondent Daniel Chacon has dutifully sat at his stenographer’s seat and witnessed testimony after testimony from community voices without reporting a single one. On one particularly contentious council meeting in November, Chacon summarized the council’s decision without mentioning the overwhelming community presence.

This Tueday’s voices were joined by EPA-whistleblower Wes Wilson and environmental activist Phil Doe, who’d come from Denver to testify before the Colorado Springs council. Phil Doe made an earnest plea for council to support the people of Longmont, who had just succeeded in voting in a ban against facking. It seemed an improbable request, to ask the Springs city council to back the people of Longmont, while council opposed supporting their own. But Doe’s request highlighted the incongruity of our council’s stand. Would they take the side of the oil industry against the electorally established will of the people of Longmont? How utterly undemocratically corrupt of them if they do not.

But that’s council, and there is still time for their constituents to pin their ears if they continue to pretend their only masters are the oil players. With his gentle logic, Phil Doe offered city council a redemption it can’t refuse. Unless of course, his act and their response goes unreported.

It’s time the Gazette is called out for what it is, not just a propaganda arm for regional kleptocrats, but a corporate mercenary spoiler, willing to stoop to unprecedented lows to fowl public well-being.

One thought on “Gazette not only blocks story of local fracking protest, but assigns goon to disrupt it

  1. The Independent constantly makes a profit. The Gazette under “Freedom” MisCommunications had to operate under bankruptcy protection for a few years while they were shopping around for somebody who was both a) rich and b) stupid enough to buy their trash. The Gagzette sells for a buck, (if I recall correctly) and the Indie and Black Voice and Voz Hispana are given away.

    Maybe the non-rich have a lot more experience with tight budget restrictions so we’re actually better at managing our money.

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