Since this is our website’s Constitutional Studies section, let me first make clear that the Denver Post’s firing of Independence Institute President Jon Caldara was NOT a First Amendment violation. The Post is a private entity, not a governmental agency. Its editors are entitled to mismanage their paper however they wish.
No, the firing was not unconstitutional. It was merely irresponsible, gutless, and stupid.
In view of recent history and the Post’s refusal to discuss the reasons for the decision, we are entitled to assume that it was the influence of the usual toxic cocktail of Twitter-mob pressure and left-wing ideology. It certainly had nothing to do with merit: While I occasionally disagreed with Jon’s op-eds (some of his views are too libertarian for this conservative) they were far more lucid and interesting than the numbing prose of most other Post columnists.
And the firing decision certainly had nothing to do with bad taste—not for a general-circulation newspaper whose front page regularly blasts out headlines on drag queens and other sexual oddities.
It certainly had nothing to do with offensiveness. At least one other Post column consists of insulting rant week after week, much of it pellucid campaigning against Senator Corey Gardner. Moreover, if you want see something REALLY offensive, check out the Post’s front page headline not long ago branding 53 percent of the state’s 1992 electorate as motivated by “hate.”
Nor could the firing decision have been driven by profit, because (it is widely conceded) Caldara was the Post’s most-read columnist—a sparkle on otherwise dull and gloomy pages.
By any objective standards the Post is no longer a newspaper. It’s an AP/WashPost reprint sheet with a bad lefty attitude, a few local stories, and a sports section largely replicating stuff you can get faster on the Internet. It’s only remaining justification for existence was that its opinion pages purported to be an honest clearing house for local commentary. For years we’ve suspected even that really wasn’t true, and spiking Caldara proved it.
The Post says it’s looking for a conservative columnist to replace Caldara (although it would be more appropriate to replace a libertarian with a libertarian). But as Jon points out, an occupational qualification for a conservative in an organ like the Post is to speak only in language approved by the Left.
Newsflash for woke “journalists:” Conservatives and libertarians, like others, are entitled speak in their own voices. Not in yours or anyone else’s. Just as importantly, in a real newspaper they are entitled to employ good English instead of whatever Newspeak you fabricated last month. And they are entitled to recognize facts of human genetics.
Will it be interesting to see which lapdog the Post ends up hiring?
About the author: Long before he became a law professor, Rob Natelson worked as as journalist. He was, successively, a “stringer” for a local newspaper, news editor and editor-in-chief of his college newspaper, the real estate law columnist for the Rocky Mountain News, and an op-ed writer. He is currently an essayist for an international newspaper. He is the author of several books, and his contributions have appeared in The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the Daily Caller, and numerous other outlets—including, in a lost but happier era, the Denver Post.
Disclosure: The author contracts with the Independence Institute. However, no one requested, reviewed, or approved this column; it represents his opinions only, not those of the Institute or of any other person or entity.