As we’ve found over the years, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) does not possess what you would call a strong moral compass. We’re talking about a guy who said in October 2016 that could not support Donald Trump for President — “I cannot and will not support someone who brags about degrading and assaulting women” — yet two years later became the first Republican Senator to publicly support President Trump’s re-election campaign. His unequivocal support for Trump in the face of impeachment cemented Gardner as a politician who is really only interested in what he thinks is good for Cory Gardner.
Gardner typically ducks reporters in Colorado and Washington D.C., then emerges to spew red meat gibberish on right-wing radio shows and national conservative outlets like “Fox & Friends.” But that conduct has morphed from evasion to flat-out hostility toward reporters who are just trying to ask obvious and relevant questions. Late last week, Gardner granted an “exclusive” interview to Joe St. George of Fox 31 News in the aftermath of his impeachment vote…then started putting words in the mouth of the reporter so that he could deflect a question with manufactured outrage.
CORPORON: Are you back in town?
GARDNER: I am. I was all over the Front Range of Colorado yesterday, and the day before, and today I’ll be out and about again. We were in Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. So it’s good to be back home.
CORPORON: Well, not according to Joe St. George of Fox News. You don’t really get out in Colorado very much…
GARDNER: [Laughing] Well, only if I go where Joe St. George wants me to go is he happy. Apparently the people in Morgan County aren’t important enough to hold town hall meetings with…[Pols emphasis]
Corporon plays a clip of St. George’s interview with Gardner, and then then discussion continues:
CORPORON: You must get so tired of the bias that you get, that’s built-in and inherent in so many of these questions.
GARDNER: It is incredible. You know, I get told by certain media personalities that I should just go back to Yuma and sell tractors. You hear from somebody like that [St. George] who says, ‘Well, you haven’t done a real town hall.’ A real town hall is apparently only in the cities. [Pols emphasis]
And you see CNN — I don’t know if you saw this. It was in — It was astonishing! A Don Lemon episode where somebody went on and started making fun of people for not being able to read or write or spell because they supported Donald Trump. I mean, and they wonder why parts of the state wanted to secede years ago. This is — it — it’s — it’s embarrassing to think this country has reached a point where certain segments –half the people — look down on the other half of people because of where they live and who they support politically.
Well, guess what? St. George didn’t actually denigrate Fort Morgan. It was Gardner who picked the fight to make it look that way:
TV Exclusive: Senator Cory Gardner sat down with me today however many Coloradoans want to ask Gardner questions themselves in person during a public town hall. I ask Gardner if he will hold a town hall soon? #copolitics #cosen #coleg pic.twitter.com/GOGfPixadJ
— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) February 5, 2020
We’d encourage you to watch the clip yourself; it’s pretty unambiguous. Here’s the transcript:
GEORGE: Sir, here in Colorado, many Coloradans want to ask you questions in person about impeachment. You have not held a town hall – public town hall – in this state for two years…
GARDNER: Well, that’s not true, Joe. Just out in Fort Morgan this summer we did a town hall. I know that may not count in terms of the Front Range.
ST. GEORGE: But not…well, exactly. Front Range. People in Denver…
GARDNER: Oh, so the people in Fort Morgan don’t count.
ST. GEORGE: No, people in Fort Morgan count…
GARDNER: That’s where we did a town hall, Joe, and if you’re going to tell people of Colorado that they don’t matter, [Pols emphasis] and I think that’s what’s frustrating with so many people across the state. [Gardner keeps talking over St. George attempts to clarify and then complains about CNN]…
ST. GEORGE: So why no town halls in Denver?
GARDNER: We have continued to do outreaches…to meetings and local businesses, town halls at local businesses…
ST. GEORGE: Not public town halls, though.
GARDNER: We continue to reach out. Joe, there are many ways that we reach out to people. We reach out to people via tele-town halls, their places of work, in individual meetings. We do countless meetings. In fact, I’ll be doing more tomorrow reaching out to Coloradans. We’ve received thousands of pieces of mail, and I’m excited about that. I know the left really wants to push on this, and I’m just not going to take that talking point while we continue to do what’s right by the people of Colorado.
First off, you need to understand that Sen. Gardner has literally not held a town hall meeting in Colorado in more than two years. This is inarguable. The “Fort Morgan” event that Gardner is referring to was a speaking engagement with the Morgan County Republican Central Committee, which is, of course, absolutely NOT a town hall. This nonsense claim from Gardner and his staff has been debunked repeatedly by news outlets.
But the bigger point here is that Gardner is accusing a local television reporter of bias and putting words in his mouth in an effort to make it appear that he denigrated the people of Fort Morgan. Gardner did this last week, and then he went on Corporon’s radio show to weave a bullshit story about media bias that NEVER HAPPENED. Joe St. George didn’t say that people in Fort Morgan “don’t matter.” This is inexcusable conduct from a United States Senator, and we have little doubt that other media outlets in the state will be taking note of Gardner’s actions.
Gardner is mimicking Trump in how he deals with the media. It was bad enough that Gardner was refusing to even return the calls of journalists, but this is something else entirely. Gardner is intentionally creating conflict and putting words in the mouths of other reporters so that he can appear to be some sort of cultural warrior for the right wing.
It’s wrong. It’s disgusting. And it might only be the beginning for an increasingly-belligerent and cornered Republican Senator in deep trouble in 2020.