What's up with this week's very bizarre paddling that The Gazette publicly laid on one of its columnists, Rich Tosches?
Last week, Tosches, the paper's "humor" columnist, wrote a series of pieces that included some pointed barbs at The Broadmoor hotel.
His editors apparently loved it. They prominently placed the first column on page one, above the fold in the Sunday, Aug. 25 issue. In it, Tosches compared how the city-owned utilities department treats the posh, five-star hotel and the rest of us.
Tosches reported that this summer, because of a deal cut between The Broadmoor and the Utilities, the hotel was able to receive plenty of potable -- meaning drinkable -- water to sprinkle onto its golf course. Meanwhile, the city's parks are in such bad shape because of the drought that youth football and soccer might have to be cancelled for 3,500 kids.
In a subsequent column, Tosches poked more fun at The Broadmoor, pointing out that current per-night hotel rates range from $310 to $450 a night, and that its golf courses look like a "rain forest." Meanwhile, the men's soccer coach at CU-Springs had informed him that his players were suffering a string of bloody injuries trying to play on a field with no grass, just rocks and dirt.
Tosches alluded to the power of The Broadmoor and the quiet deals that happen all the time around here. "It's a funny village," he wrote.
By the following Sunday, Sept. 1, the powers that be at The Gazette had had enough. In an unprecedented two-part editorial series, the daily attacked its own columnist for "needlessly tap[ping a] wellspring of resentment and envy," and for "creating false divisions in the community."
In the 900-word, unsigned editorials that ran Sunday and Monday, The Gazette pooh-poohed a special deal between the City and The Broadmoor that allowed the hotel additional water for its golf courses.
The newspaper gushed on and on about what a wonderful asset their advertiser, er, The Broadmoor, is to the community. "The whole episode has been blown out of proportion ... the facts, when examined dispassionately, are far less inflammatory than Tosches' original column suggests," one editorial read.
Tosches was variously attacked, smacked and pummeled by the company that he works for. He was accused of everything from scapegoating The Broadmoor to being "misleading" to stirring up feelings of "resentment and envy," "making Broadmoor-bashing a popular sport," being "overblown," "unjustified, counterproductive and needlessly divisive" and conspiring to "bring the issue to an unnecessary boil."
Tosches did not return telephone calls seeking comment, nor did the newspaper's editor Sharon Peters.
But we know one thing: With an employer like this, who needs enemies?
Colorado College is gearing up for protesters, counteprotesters and the media circus kicking off its post9-11 symposium next Thursday, Sept. 12.
The three-day symposium is designed to explore the major political, philosophical and social issues facing the U.S. postSept. 11 -- and not to be a commemoration of the tragedy of last year.
One of two keynote speakers is Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian moderate who will speak on "Global Realities and the Prospects for Peace."
Her appearance has raised some criticism, which the Indy first detailed in this space on Aug. 15 (the original column can be read at http://www.csindy.com/csindy/2002-08-15/publiceye.html).
Since then, onlookers and news organizations from around the globe have bombarded the college with questions, said college spokesman Todd Wilson. One woman, Wilson said, called to chew him out about the lack of "balance," specifically any Christian balance, that the college planned to provide.
"I was a little bit floored," Wilson said. "As a matter of fact, one of our panels is titled 'Can liberal democracy accommodate religious fundamentalism,' " which will be led by Milner Ball, a constitutional law professor at the University of Georgia and an ordained Presbyterian minister.
And yes, Wilson also reminded the woman, Ashrawi is a Christian.
None of the approximately 1,000 e-mailers, he said, have asked about the rest of the symposium, which includes a dynamic lineup of panelists and topics.
Atlantic Monthly correspondent Robert Kaplan, for example, is scheduled to speak, along with several others on the topic "Poverty and the Causes of War." (Read more about him on page 37.) Thom Shanker, the Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times (and CC grad, class of '78), will be part of a panel discussing "Evaluating U.S. Responses to Terrorism."
For more about the symposium, see our Special Events section of Listings on page 42. A complete schedule can be reviewed at
"It's kind of a shame that Ashrawi has gotten all this publicity, but a lot of these people don't know what the other topics are," Wilson said.