If journos are going to take CO secession seriously, they should report Gardner’s position on it

In college, I led a petition drive to put an question on the student-council election ballot asking students if they wanted the university to stock suicide pills for optional use by students in the event of nuclear war.

The media had to take this seriously, because kids were actually voting on it, and it had its own internal logic, given the Cold War nuclear craziness around us at the time. But what college would stock suicide pills? Obviously, our core goal, even if we were also serious, was to promote our anti-nuclear agenda.

Same with the secession “movement.” At it’s heart, given the impossible odds of it happening, it’s, duh, a media stunt, offering right-wing conservatives the chance to bash moderate Democratic legislation.

But, it’s true that 11 counties will be voting to secede from Colorado, and so you can’t blame reporters for feeling as though they have to take the stunt sort of seriously, without overdoing it like The Denver Post has done.

But taking it seriously means finding out if serious conservatives actually support it. This week, the New York Times covered the secessionists, quoting county-level GOP organizers and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper as saying he takes it seriously. But, really, what else can the Democratic governor say?

More interesting is what serious Republicans like Rep. Cory Gardner would do on election day. As a resident of secessionist-hotbed Yuma County, he’ll be voting on it next month. And if you take secession seriously, Gardner would eventually be voting on it in Congress, too, if it’s gong to pass. Plus Gardner has long-standing ties to secession-organizer Sean Conway.

Will Gardner vote yes? (So far he’s been vague.) What about the GOP gubernatorial candidates? Where do they stand?

When something smells like a crazy media stunt, and reporters still have to take it seriously, they should at least give readers enough opinions on the matter so they can try to understand what’s really going on. In this case, getting the specific positions of Republicans, whose audiences goes beyond the way-right crowd in the secessionist counties, is key to offering a fair and accurate picture.

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