Cancelled: Jon Caldara

Jon Caldara.

Friday evening, local right-wing subcultural institution Jon Caldara, director of the “libertarian” Independence Institute, announced that the Denver Post has pulled the plug on Caldara’s frequently controversial opinion column. Westword’s Michael Roberts reports:

Jon Caldara, president of the libertarian Independence Institute think tank, has never pretended to be politically correct. And he says his disinterest in hewing to such standards — most recently by insisting that there are only two sexes in the context of discussions about transgender topics — resulted in the Denver Post killing the column he’s written for the broadsheet since 2016…

In retrospect, Caldara thinks the seeds for his sacking were sown by a January 3 offering in which he argued that the AP Stylebook — the Associated Press guide used by many media outlets to determine which words and phrases are appropriate or to be avoided — promotes a progressive bias.

To wit, as Caldara wrote on January 3:

The AP has updated its style to say that gender is no longer binary and thus declared a winner in this divisive debate. They ruled that, “Not all people fall under one of two categories for sex and gender.”

And as the conservative Washington Times reported this weekend, Caldara circled back for another round of distasteful transphobia Friday:

“What seemed to be the last straw for my column was my insistence that there are only two sexes and my frustration that to be inclusive of the transgendered (even that word isn’t allowed) we must lose our right to free speech,” Mr. Caldara said in a Facebook post…

He referred to his final Friday column criticizing the comprehensive sex-education bill signed last year by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, which requires school districts that offer “human sexuality instruction” to include the “health needs” of LGBT individuals.

“Democrats don’t want transparency in hospital billing and they certainly don’t want education transparency when it comes to their mandate to convince your kid that there are more than two sexes, even if it’s against your wishes,” he said in the column.

Once upon a time, Caldara and his putatively “libertarian” advocacy group prided themselves on keeping clear of the kinds of social wedge issues that limited the ability of many conservative groups to make inroads with swing voters. At its peak, the Independence Institute instead hosted a multitude of issue-specific conservative organizations in their large Uptown office known as the “Freedom Embassy.”

But for several years now, Caldara’s influence has been in decline as establishment Republicans grew tired of his antics, which frequently resulted in negative press coverage. In 2013, Caldara was nearly prosecuted for vote fraud after registering to vote in Colorado Springs despite living in Boulder. That stunt fell apart in disgrace when Caldara blamed the deadly flooding in the fall of 2013 for not moving, as he (never) intended, in order to avoid criminal charges. During the 2015 school board recall in Jefferson County, Caldara was universally slammed for ads which exploited a disabled student for misplaced sympathy.

As a columnist for the Post, Caldara was known for a particularly tasteless analogy which outraged women readers and advocates: defending the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) by likening the law to “consent” in a sexual context–suggesting that Democrats were committing something comparable to sexual assault by opposing TABOR.

But in the end, it appears that old-fashioned transphobia was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Denver Post’s editorial team. For a guy like Caldara, who has made a living out of pushing the bounds of decency in pursuit of what turned out to be an old-school wedge issue conservative agenda, this is not injustice so much as an inevitable occupational hazard.

On the bright side, once cancelled by the mainstream media there’s always InfoWars.


18 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    His polemical columns were always filled with selective facts and misleading information, designed to enrage, not engage.  So now he complains it’s not cool to not tolerate ignorance and bigotry.

    Caldara: “There are only two sexes, identified by an XX or XY chromosome.”

    Guess he never opened a biology text

  2. MADCO says:

    As far as I know – no one accused him of being a nazi, or pointed out that he jokes about school shootings.
    OTOH- no one ever said he is a net positive to the profit of anything he's associated with.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      In the marketplace of ideas, John Caldara couldn’t manage the menu at a bottom-tier lemonade stand . . .

      . . . on the bright side, he’ll now have an extra three or four minutes a week to devote himself to leading the continuing slide into irrelevance of the Independence Institute.

      ( . . . And, in JC’s defense, it can’t be a great business plan trying to run a righty, pretend think-tank, in a day and an age no right-wingers even bother any longer with the fiction of having any need or reason to think.)

  3. PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

    How is the AP style guide an imposition on free speech?  If you're writing for yourself, nobody is making you use it.  If someone is, you're writing for their platform and these yahoos supposedly think businesses can decide for themselves who gets and doesn't get access, so why would you be upset if the terms of access include using AP style?

    • DENependent says:

      Because enforcing rules at a private business should only be done against "socialists" and possible union members, of course. Not right thinking "libertarians" who reflexively support the job creators oligarchs to take whatever they want and trample on everyone else.

  4. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    I can hardly wait … suppose the Denver Post will be replacing Caldara with a Sebatian Gorka column?  Or, given the need for a focus on Colorado issues, I suppose they could invite one of the currently out-of-office Neville family members to write, shifting odd transportation ideas to begin to read of odd gun ideas. Or maybe convince the University of Colorado Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy to step up and represent?

  5. skeptical citizen says:

    The Denver Post op-ed columns have basically disappeared, anyhow. 

  6. FGBonfils says:

    Good riddance to bad writing. He and his mentor Mike Rosen mastered a pathetic version of straw men holocaust. The hack will not be missed.

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      I’d almost forgotten about Rosen. Thanks for that trip down memory lane. 

      On February 2, 2009 it was reported that Rosen had lost a "seven-figure sum" of his retirement savings from investing with Agile Group, a Boulder investment firm that Rosen had run ads for on the air, and that unknown to Rosen at the time was acting as a feeder fund for  Bernie Madoff. 

  7. doremi says:

    Actually, I'd like to think the Post axed his column because he failed to note the over $1.4millon that the Independence Institute has received from the NRA while encouraging people to buy guns as Christmas gifts (What beautiful way to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace!).  I noted this serious omission in a letter to the editor to the Post, not published.

    Caldara.  Shall not miss him.




    • kwtreekwtree says:

      What does the Post say, Psuedo? (For those of us without a subscription)

      Caldara is no loss – .just a carny barker peddling distractions and an enduring sense of grievance. He’s one in a long line of  entitled rich white folks that want to maintain power and privilege by exploiting prejudices and fears.   From  the Klan to the Coors family to Caldara’s Independence Institute, they are slowly losing ground.

      • DENependent says:

        The Post does not say directly why they dropped his column. They deny that it was because of his conservative views on sex and gender pointing out that they ran the column in question. They go on to say:

        We believe it is both possible and desirable to write about sensitive subjects and about people with whom one disagrees using respectful language. In exercising our right to edit material submitted for publication, we make changes and suggestions to uphold that standard. We expect writers to work with us in a collaborative and professional manner as we strive toward that goal.

        This sounds like he was difficult to work with and/or edit up to professional standards. Perhaps they just did not want to expend $100 worth of editing on $20 worth of product.

        • harrydobyharrydoby says:


          This sounds like he was difficult to work with and/or edit up to professional standards. Perhaps they just did not want to expend $100 worth of editing on $20 worth of product.

          Caldara's beef was with the AP Style guide that the Denver Post insisted on using to edit his column.


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