BREAKING: Dean Singleton Still Hates Unions

The editorial board of the Denver Post is frequently accused of being a "left-leaning" opinionmaker in the state. And it's true that on many issues, they do generally live up to that billing. From health care reform to gun control, Republicans have plenty of reasons to gripe about the Post's editorial leanings. Likewise, liberal Democrats frequently agree with the Post's editorials.

That is, until the Post brings up anything even remotely concerning organized labor.

It's a phemomenon we first called out in 2007, after the Post went drastically overboard following then-Gov. Bill Ritter's executive order allowing state workers (as it turned out) very limited ability to negotiate on certain employment matters. Despite the fact that in hindsight this has proven to be a restrained and beneficial relationship, at the time the Post decried Ritter in a rare front-page editorial as "a toady for labor bosses" and "a bag man for labor unions." By all accounts, this editorial was heavily influenced by Post publisher Dean Singleton–as the story is sometimes told, Singleton is the sole reason it was so bombastically and sophomorically written. 

"When Coloradans elected Bill Ritter as governor," intoned the Post, "they thought they were getting a modern-day version of Roy Romer, a pro-business Democrat. Instead, they got Jimmy Hoffa."

Now, in hindsight, we should all be able to agree that the doom the Post confidently predicted would ensue from Ritter's 2007 order did not materialize, and the oddly slanted non-editorial news coverage after that editorial predicting this would cause businesses to flee the state was a bit shortsighted. But the episode was a valuable lesson in modern-day Citizen Kane-style manipulation by an overzealous newspaper publisher.

This past weekend, the Post again veered from its usual political leanings–and commitment to quality prose–in an editorial shrilly demanding that Gov. John Hickenlooper veto Senate Bill 13-025, a firefighter unionization bill sponsored by Sen. Lois Tochtrop and Rep. Angela Williams. In an ironic twist, the Post defends Gov. Bill "Jimmy Hoffa" Ritter's 2008 veto of a similar bill–while warning that to dare allow those greedy bastard firefighters to unionize would be "ill-conceived," "onerous," "deplorable," a "disaster," and "fundamental nonsense."

Now folks, is it just us, or is that rhetoric a little overboard? Like maybe calling Bill Ritter a "toady" for Jimmy Hoffa?

Bottom line: if Singleton wants his newspaper to echo his personal opposition to a bill in the legislature, that's fine. If he wants his newspaper's editorial board to reflexively oppose organized labor at every step, that's his prerogative as the boss. If he wants his newspaper to incongruously lash out against unions while tracking progressive on just about every other issue, well, he signs the checks.

It would be more effective, though, if the writing didn't go to hell in a telltale manner every time they do.

12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    Thank you. It's pathetic and it's obvious.

    ATTENTION DENVER POST: You fear and loathe unions more than the people who read your paper, and that will always be weird.

  2. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    Yeah, when I saw that editorial, I just had to shake my head in disbelief.  But I did get my 2 cents worth published at the time:

    Re: “Cleaning up the governor’s mess,” Dec. 2 editorial.

    So we are again treated to the Post editorial board’s attempt to draw sparks from the damp, fizzled embers of the controversy surrounding the governor’s executive order giving state workers not quite the same rights as private sector workers.

    As the governor has stated, this is about fairness, and giving state workers a voice. The voice of The Post’s editorial board is heard every day, and I would suggest you turn it down from the current “11” to about “3,” where it belongs. The editorial charges that the order is “already raising costs” but still fails to share that analysis with your readers. You also refer to “Big Labor”; do you mean the collection of American unions that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics has seen membership drop from 20.1 percent of the labor force in 1983 to a mere 12 percent in 2006?

    You use the word “tragically” to refer to this supposed “mess.” Tragedies are when people die needlessly, or are denied the basic rights with which to support themselves and their families. This is not a tragic mess, nor even is it a tragedy when the editorial board of a big-city newspaper shames itself three times by publishing this tripe.

    Harry Doby, Denver

  3. EccentricRepublicanEccentricRepublican says:

    Oh pshaw. Everyone hates unions now, even Democrats. Even Michiganders. Even union members!

    It's much easier to convince the staff to agree while you lovingly cup their jobs in your hand like a pair of testicles.

  4. DaftPunkDaftPunk says:

    Don't forget "bag man."

  5. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    "as the story is sometimes told, Singleton is the sole reason it was so bombastically and sophomorically written."

    The point is pretty inescapable.   The then-editorial page editor, Dan Haley, reported directly to Singleton.  The editorial was published on the Front Page and only Singleton could have made the decision to put it on the Front Page.  As far as anti-labor publishers being rather liberal on other issues, face it — it's easy to be liberal when spending other people's money.  

  6. Albert J. Nock says:


    Are not all governments a union of sorts by default?


    It is not like any fireman is going against a nasty, greedy, slave driving, profiteer…


  7. skeptical citizen says:

    Sad commentary on the gradual demise of local news.  Why subscribe to a newspaper that has canned Mike Littwin, while hanging onto columns from the likes of Vince Carroll, Mike Rosen, and Dave Harsanyi?


  8. ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

    The Post's editorial was quite well written and raises very valid concerns not only in terms of the cost of the bill but also in the manner that (perhaps illegally) it undermines Colorado's Home Rule system.  

    Now you have raised issues as to tone.  Let's look at a few of the quotes you called out:

    1) "ill-conceived" – hardly evidence of "overboard" rhetoric.  In fact, not even inaccurate.  The bill is ill-conceived when you look at it from a Home-Rule perspective

    2)  "onerous" – used in this sentence: "And this year's version is actually more onerous than the version vetoed by Ritter." – not exactly extreme rhetoric.  "Onerous" is being used to describe that this bill has more stringent conditions than a prior bill.  How is that "overboard" rhetoric?

    3) "deplorable" – used in this sentence: "For Democrats in the statehouse to jam through a one-size-fits-all measure that threatens to undercut labor contracts in municipalities that already have them and force unions on jurisdictions that have chosen a different path is deplorable." – This represents a policy/philosophical determination.  Now you might disagree with such determination.  However having a differing conclusion than you hardly constitutes "overboard" rhetoric. 

    4) "disaster" – used in this sentence: "What is surprising is that Gov. John Hickenlooper hasn't stepped up to stop this disaster before it gets made worse."
    You are on slightly stronger ground with this one.  However, using the word disaster in a single instance hardly makes the editorial "overboard."

    5) "fundamental nonsense" – used in this sentence "Hickenlooper, who likes to talk about "eliminating the fundamental nonsense of government," has an opportunity here to stop this fundamental nonsense before it gets worse."
    Fundamental nonsense is just conclusory language.  Given that this sentnece was the conclusion of the piece (and thus arguably supported by the piece's analysis in the body) its use here is hardly an example of overboard rhetoric.  Again, your mere disagreement for the Post's conclusion hardly constitutes the Post's conclusion being "overboard." 

    In short, these collectively do not evince the Post's writing going "to hell in a telltale manner" – Instead they evince the Post disagreeing with you.  And that isn't the same thing.


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