The editorial board of the Denver Post is frequently accused of being a "left-leaning" opinionmaker in the state. And it's true that on many issues, they do generally live up to that billing. From health care reform to gun control, Republicans have plenty of reasons to gripe about the Post's editorial leanings. Likewise, liberal Democrats frequently agree with the Post's editorials.
That is, until the Post brings up anything even remotely concerning organized labor.
It's a phemomenon we first called out in 2007, after the Post went drastically overboard following then-Gov. Bill Ritter's executive order allowing state workers (as it turned out) very limited ability to negotiate on certain employment matters. Despite the fact that in hindsight this has proven to be a restrained and beneficial relationship, at the time the Post decried Ritter in a rare front-page editorial as "a toady for labor bosses" and "a bag man for labor unions." By all accounts, this editorial was heavily influenced by Post publisher Dean Singleton–as the story is sometimes told, Singleton is the sole reason it was so bombastically and sophomorically written.
"When Coloradans elected Bill Ritter as governor," intoned the Post, "they thought they were getting a modern-day version of Roy Romer, a pro-business Democrat. Instead, they got Jimmy Hoffa."
Now, in hindsight, we should all be able to agree that the doom the Post confidently predicted would ensue from Ritter's 2007 order did not materialize, and the oddly slanted non-editorial news coverage after that editorial predicting this would cause businesses to flee the state was a bit shortsighted. But the episode was a valuable lesson in modern-day Citizen Kane-style manipulation by an overzealous newspaper publisher.
This past weekend, the Post again veered from its usual political leanings–and commitment to quality prose–in an editorial shrilly demanding that Gov. John Hickenlooper veto Senate Bill 13-025, a firefighter unionization bill sponsored by Sen. Lois Tochtrop and Rep. Angela Williams. In an ironic twist, the Post defends Gov. Bill "Jimmy Hoffa" Ritter's 2008 veto of a similar bill–while warning that to dare allow those greedy bastard firefighters to unionize would be "ill-conceived," "onerous," "deplorable," a "disaster," and "fundamental nonsense."
Now folks, is it just us, or is that rhetoric a little overboard? Like maybe calling Bill Ritter a "toady" for Jimmy Hoffa?
Bottom line: if Singleton wants his newspaper to echo his personal opposition to a bill in the legislature, that's fine. If he wants his newspaper's editorial board to reflexively oppose organized labor at every step, that's his prerogative as the boss. If he wants his newspaper to incongruously lash out against unions while tracking progressive on just about every other issue, well, he signs the checks.
It would be more effective, though, if the writing didn't go to hell in a telltale manner every time they do.