The Anschutz Gazette Has Finally Gone Too Far

Gazette editorial board chair Wayne Laugesen, Gazette owner Phil Anschutz.

For many years under the leadership of far-right editorial board chief Wayne Laugesen, who was present at the January 6th, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the Colorado Springs Gazette–which has now metastasized into the Denver Gazette–has taken some of the most outrageous positions possible, frequently as a way of legitimizing the Republican Party’s lurch rightward over the past decade. From carrying out personal political vendettas to claiming that Democrats support abortions for “unwanted, fully birthed children,” the Gazette’s editorial board strayed even farther out of the mainstream in the past year–and with a history that includes comparing Gov. Jared Polis to the Ku Klux Klan, that’s no small feat. And that’s not all: in 2016, the Gazette faced questions about Laugesen’s conflicts of interest for backing Darryl Glenn while Laugesen’s wife was working for Glenn’s campaign.

But this week, the Gazette took the fringe rhetoric to a new level with an editorial defending Republican State Board of Education member Steve “Prince of Darkness” Durham’s attempt to remove the acronym “Nazi” from state academic standards and replace it with the full “National Socialist German Workers Party”–Durham’s intent being to highlight the word “socialist” in the Nazi Party’s name. This semantic game is now firmly a part of the conservative messaging canon about 20th Century world history, even though it’s by every competent historical analysis a gross distortion meant only to slander those who identify as “socialist” todaty. Chalkbeat Colorado reported on the controversy over Durham’s attempted changes to the state standards earlier this month:

Durham agreed to include the word Nazi after Jewish community members lobbied the State Board of Education — so long as the full name with the word socialist remained.

“People don’t know and have a right to know that this party was and is a socialist party,” Durham said at an August State Board meeting. “That is largely lost on the American people and on a number of history teachers as well. I oppose dumbing down the standards.”

Historians say Durham is wrong about the Holocaust and wrong about the roots of genocide. The idea that Nazis were socialists is “a lie,” according to David Ciarlo, a University of Colorado history professor who studies German politics. “It’s completely wrong.”

It’s not just wrong. Historical revision to liken the Nazis to any other political movement, contemporary or historical, demeans the millions of victims of Nazi persecution before and during World War II. Today, the Anti-Defamation League condemned the Gazette’s crass misappropriation of one of the darkest moments in human history:

This isn’t just about getting an answer wrong on a history test. By falsely comparing what the Nazis did to anything in American politics today correctly or wrongly referred to as “socialist,” Laugesen and the Gazette grossly devalued the actual suffering and genocide committed by the Nazis. Even the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021 by supporters of Donald Trump seeking to overturn the 2020 election, which Laugesen was present for, doesn’t compare to the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis.

For many years now the Gazette’s editorial board has followed and even helped lead Colorado Republicans away from the political mainstream. When the Gazette falsely claimed that Democrats wanted children to be aborted after birth (a.k.a. murder), it was an incredibly irresponsible escalation of rhetoric after the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic mass shooting in 2015 inspired by similarly false and unhinged rumors.

Owned by billionaire Phil Anschutz and thus apparently unconcerned with the reaction of the free market to these ongoing outrages, we wonder if even the condemnation of the Anti-Defamation League will be enough. All we can say is this is not, or should not be, the legacy that someone of Anschutz’s standing in the community should want to leave behind. It detracts from, perhaps even negates entirely, all of his philanthropic achievements.

5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnNorthofDenver says:

    I believe this to be a reactionary response to Ye's antisemitic remarks. Jimmy Sengenberger in for George Brauchler spoke with a rabbi regarding the issue. Republicans link this through Ye recently being interviewed by Tucker Carlson. Absent from the discussion is that Ye is buying Parler from Candace Owens husband. 

    Rather the conservative rabbi expressed astonishment and dismay that Ye and Owens had a relationship (didn't even connect the pending sale). Moreover he often attemped to claim the left is against Jews more. 

    Deep down they know that "globalist" is code for Jew.

  2. Meiner49er says:

    If January 6th wasn't a putsch, I don't know what would qualify. And yes, it was full of anti-semitic dog whistles.

    That said, the more disturbing trend is right-wing billionaires acquiring the media platforms to spew this hatred. Anschutz has his local rag, and Ye as noted above is securing a platform as well. Add in Musk on Twitter, Bezos with the Washington Post, Murdoch the Wall St. Journal, etc, and we're being outgunned. 

    We need Democratic billionaires to get in the game!

    • JohnNorthofDenver says:

      This is a natural reaction to realizing that you have actual anti-semites as allies but to paint your opponent as the TRUE secret nazis. 

      In regards to Ye buying a disaster of an app: This is different from Bezos and Murdoch or even Musk. I also kinda feel that Rebekah Mercer, George Farmer, and Candace Owens are running a grift on Ye.  

  3. 2Jung2Die says:

    Saying the Gazette has metastasized is unfair to cancer.

  4. ElliotFladen says:

    If you are going to complain that it is unfair to call Hitler a socialist, then you better not get caught calling him right wing.  Just sayin’

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