Locals in the picturesque southwest Colorado town of Durango wondered what “Durango” FOX News was talking about, as the Herald’s Shane Benjamin reports:
The story, headlined “Legalized marijuana turns Colorado resort town into homeless magnet,” was the most-read U.S. story Wednesday on www.FoxNews.com.
It was written by Joseph J. Kolb, a Fox contributor who was in town for a soccer shootout last weekend, according to those he interviewed. For his 850-word piece, Kolb quoted five sources: a man holding a cardboard sign; a gift shop manager; an anonymous hotel clerk; Durango Police Chief Kamran Afzal; and Tim Walsworth, executive director of Durango Business Improvement District,
In an interview Wednesday, Walsworth took exception with Kolb and his story, saying the reporter barely identified himself, omitted comments that didn’t fit his angle and based the article on a few opinions. The result was a superficial glance at an issue in a community the writer was passing through, those who talked to him said.
“I question the credibility of the reporter,” Walsworth said.
And he wasn’t the only one:
“Just this year there has been a major influx of people between 20 to 30 who are just hanging out on the streets,” [gift shop owner Caleb] Preston was quoted as saying. “The problem is while many are pretty mellow, there are many more who are violent.”
Preston said he didn’t say those exact words, and his comments centered around the idea that panhandling has risen to the forefront of public discourse; not that the problem has become worse. [Pols emphasis]
The consensus seems to be that FOX News reporter Joseph Kolb was determined to write a story about how legal marijuana had turned Durango into a “haven for recreational pot users” regardless of what local sources actually told him. And sure enough, Kolb’s portrayal of Durango is nothing any of us who have been there would recognize:
The picturesque town near the New Mexico border, once a vibrant, upscale community dotted with luxury hotels, is being overrun by panhandlers – thanks, in part, to the legalization of marijuana.
The town suddenly became a haven for recreational pot users, drawing in transients, panhandlers and a large number of homeless drug addicts, according to officials and business owners. Many are coming from New Mexico, Arizona and even New York.
So folks, let us reassure from personal experience that Durango is very much still a “vibrant, upscale community,” and the luxury hotels are busy in all four seasons. We recommend the historic Strater Hotel downtown, though it’s far from the only choice. There is absolutely no appearance along Durango’s Main Avenue that the place is being “overrun” by homeless folks in town for pot or anything else.
In short, the entire story is textbook FOX News cockamamie bullshit. We sincerely hope this misinformation doesn’t do anything to harm Durango’s tourism economy–and to help make sure it doesn’t, we’re booking a weekend at the Strater. We encourage you all to do the same.