Reefer Madness at Colorado Springs Gazette

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)


Colorado Springs is the conservative capital of our dear state. The Gazette, having been revitalized by tons of conservative cash, has been the public spokeswrap and parttime watchdog of the long list of conservatives who made their base here and took their, ummm, special kind of conservatism to Denver and DC. And, as long as I’ve been here, the Gazette has had a SuperConservative Wacko Bird in the Op-Ed Editor position. 

Most notable was Sean Paige, a much smarter conservative than Doug Lamborn, and a much more dangerous conservative than Jon Caldara. He’s slightly less self-promoting than P.T. Barnum, but don’t ask him about that. 

The current Op-Ed Editor at the Gazette is Wayne Laugesen, a former editor of “Guns and Ammo”.

Yes, you read that right.

He does his job and, as with Paige, you can usually write the “I’m agin’ it!” editorial from the headline before reading. It’s doubtful Anschutz has to order his guys to do stuff as Dean Singleton has surely done with the Post. 

But now it looks as if Laugesen has done a really stupid thing as the Gazette goes all “Reefer Madness” on the citizens of Colorado and their perfectly logical desire that marijuana be legalized.

Well, this is embarrassing. It looks like the Gazette accidentally published a bloated anti-marijuana opinion column as news.

To its credit, “Clearing the Haze” does have a vaguely menacing presentation — and, ooh, parallax — but if the organization had any sense of journalistic ethics, the four-day series would never have hit the page.

Let’s start with the way news is supposed to work. The Society of Professional Journalists says reporters should “avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.” …

It’s probably not fair to hold the Gazette to such a standard, because it publicly espouses no such intention, but let’s just do it anyway. Let’s clear the haze.

The four-day series was written by three people: Wayne Laugesen, Pula Davis and Christie Tatum.

None of these people work for the news division of a newspaper. Laugesen and Davis are members of the Gazette’s editorial board, which has written so many diatribes against cannabis, all compositions led by Laugesen, ownership is practically screaming in the woods.

The CS Indy asked some good questions. And got no answers.

Tatum refused to answer how she became involved with the project. We emailed Laugesen and editor Joanna Bean asking why no news staff are bylined on the story, and if it went through the traditional news process. We also asked about the conflicts of interest. Bean said she forwarded our email to publisher Dan Steever, and then ignored a follow-up. Laugesen never responded.

This made news at Romenesko, a site that covers media, publishing and all that weird stuff, who noted that Gazette employees were told to shut up about the 4-part news/opinion piece about the Evuls of Marijuana!

I’m told: “Gazette employees have been strongly discouraged from commenting on or sharing opinions about the series. Privately editors have mentioned that public criticism could jeopardize reporters’ jobs.” ( |Christine Tatum, the “lead reporter” on the series, is married to a doctor who treats so-called marijuana “addicts.” (

Good job, Gazette! They’ve just shown that elected Republicans in Denver and El Paso County won’t be allowed to hold the monopoly on crazy and that they’ll all somehow work in conjunction at keeping Colorado in the news as only slightly less stupid than Florida

About Zappatero

Just a guy with a keyboard trying to get CO's Dems to support key Democratic and Progressive policies.

12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ElliotFladen says:

    Another problem with the Gazette’s “Up in Smoke” series on the horrors of Colorado’s experiment with marijuana: It repeatedly cites Ben Cort, who is “director of professional relations for the Center for Addiction Recovery and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Hospital [apparently properly called the Center for Dependency, Addiction, and Rehabilitation, i.e. “CeDAR” ]” for a series of sensationalist quotes. One example of such a quote is “But the ugly truth is that Colorado was suckered.” Another is a purported statistic (without anything that goes into how an “addiction” is determined by the organization) states “Local addiction treatment centers are reporting more admissions for marijuana addiction. Among them is the CU adult-treatment hospital, which is continuing to track numbers”

    Sounds really authoritative right? However, Ben Cort’s LinkedIN profile fails to reveal ANY medical or statistical training. Instead, Ben Cort is a Human Resources/Public Relations guy who received his education at “AIRS Academy”, a “recruiter academy” apparently owned by Automatic Data Processing, Inc. 

    There, Ben Cort claims he learned such skills as (in his words): “Fearless Cold-Calling”, “Googling for Candidates”, and “Diversity Recruiting”.  His “medical” training at AIRS Academy is supplemented by real-world job experience to include (a) “coordinating adventure based trips”; (b) working as a professional/executive “recruiter”; (c) then having enough experience from that stuff to be an officer of a non-profit drug “recovery” organization (Phoenix Multisport); (d) transitioning from there into another public relations/staffing gig with Cort Consulting; (e) going from there to yet another drug recovery gig, this time with CeDAR.

    And as for CeDAR, it does not appear to actually be part of the University of Colorado Health System. Instead it appears to merely just have an alliance with them. And, where is it physically located? Well, their webpage tells you: “a private, seven-acre tract of land on the ANSCHUTZ Medical Campus.” (emphasis added)

    So let’s get this straight now: one of the major quote sources in the Gazette series has no apparent medical training, has an education where his major skills learned included “fearless cold-calling”, has real-world job experience that basically consists of being an HR guy and yet the Gazette holds him out implicitly as an addiction expert? Are you fucking kidding me? Even worse, his own gig right now with CeDAR seems to have some connection (its at the ANSCHUTZ Medical Campus) with the owner of the same Gazette that has put up a series on marijuana that has both been roundly criticized and has allegations that Gazette reporters who are critical of it may be in jeopardy of losing their jobs.

    It is crap like this why I don’t take anti-marijuana people seriously. Too many fudged statistics and quotes from hacks, people with a moral grudge on the issue, or people whose livelihood depends on maintaining prohibition.

    • taterheaptom says:

      What have you done with Elliot Fladen?

      • Duke Cox says:

        I know…right?

        • taterheaptom says:

          Maybe he got into someone’s gummi bears.  

          • BlueCat says:

            Fladen world is entirely Fladencentric. He’s a reliable apologist for everything rightie except where his personal situation sets him apart. Doesn’t join them in anti-immigrant xenophobic bigotry, for example, because he has an immigrant wife. Does support almost all of their other wacky ideas and almost all of their wackiest pols, including, somewhat inexplicably, the most bigoted and xenophobic. Of course, if he didn’t he wouldn’t be able to vote for anyone who won a GOTP primary and got to run for anything. He deals with this mainly by denying there is a trace of bigotry or racism in these clown’s hearts. Right. Enthusiastically endorses IOKIYAR and If Obama does/says it, it must be wrong (even if a rightie think tank put it out in the first place) 99.9% of the time. From this post, one can probably assume he likes a little weed or is close to some who do. That’s our Fladen. 

            • ElliotFladen says:

              I have smoked pot four times in my life, last one being in about 2002 or so.  I don’t even drink alcohol except generally for rare family occasions (also haven’t been intoxicated since 2002).  I was pro-immigrant before I met my wife.  I am also pro legal gambling (although I don’t gamble), pro-decriminalization of prostitution (although I don’t use prostitutes), pro-gay marriage (although I am not gay), pro-low tax rates for high income earners (although I am not one), pro-free speech rights for Nazis (think skokie case) although I am not a Nazi, and pro freedom of religion and rights of religious conscience (although I am not religious). But hey – keep making crappy assumptions. 

              • BlueCat says:

                Then it makes no sense that you support the candidates you do. But then neither your thought process nor your incoherent defense of almost all Republican candidates in almost all situations has never made sense to me either.  Regardless of mu my assumptions you can b be counted on to support candidates whose policies are horrendously damaging to the economy, civil rights, to the majority of American families and individuals so I’ll just stick with that one. It’s really the only one that matters. I mean what good does your personally not being a bigot, for instance , do if you only vote for  candidates who pander to bigots?

            • BlueCat says:

              should be…. ever made sense…

      • mamajama55 says:

        Elliot had this on his Facebook since yesterday. Like most of us, he is not a one-dimensional person. He is socially liberal on some things, conservative to libertarian on most.

        We’re all “evolving”, or in some cases, “devolving”.

        On the substance (pun intended) of the cannabis issue, the science is strong that the benefits of the herb, with or without THC, far outweigh the harms. Public policy is catching up to the science, and for some reasons, this scares the crap out of some conservatives still fighting the 1970s culture wars. The reasons probably have to do with the profitability of alcohol as the American drug of choice, If alcohol loses market share to legal marijuana, some people’s bottom lines will suffer.

        In order to claim more harm than help, these “journalists” had to fake most of their numbers, and as Elliot said, deserve scorn and not respect for their “reporting”.

        • BlueCat says:

          All well and good about not being one dimensional but he’s been pretty one dimensional in his support of truly awful GOTP candidates and that’s where the rubber meets the road. Not to make a comparison in degree and in flagrant violation of the Nazi comparison rule but see Germans voting for Hitler because they liked his economic plans and Italians supporting Mussolini because he was going to make the trains run on time. It was then and is now nice normal every day people choosing to ignore the reprehensible who were and are responsible for whatever results. Just sayin’. It’s gonna take a lot more than supporting legalization of pot to make me see Elliot and his permanent IOKIYAR apology tour (seems like it’s been playing longer than Cats) in a kinder light.

    • DaftPunk says:

      Good work, counselor.

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.