ASPEN, COLO–Just before Christmas popular Aspen Times conservative columnist Glenn Beaton was notified by email that the newspaper would no longer be running his column. The firing triggered an avalanche of support for Beaton from readers in the Roaring Fork Valley as well as across the country thanks to a story published by Powerline.com on December 26.
Beaton, 64, a native of Colorado Springs, started out as an aerospace engineer working for Boeing and later received a law degree and worked for a large multinational law firm as a patent lawyer before retiring about 10 years ago and moving to Aspen.
“I’m not a journalist by trade,” Beaton told Complete Colorado in an interview Friday. “An opportunity presented to write a newspaper column. I started by filling in for a friend who was writing a column. They liked my stuff and asked me to become a regular contributor. That was seven years ago.”
In those seven years Beaton became perhaps the most popular columnist at the Aspen Times.
“My column was incredibly popular. I was generating more clicks than the other columnists combined. My column was often on top of the trending list, so it was generating more clicks than the front-page news sometimes,” said Beaton.
Beaton’s work has been picked up by both state and national publications in the past, including Complete Colorado.
Beaton was informed of his termination by a brusk email sent by Aspen Times Managing Editor David Krause saying the paper’s values no longer corresponded with his work.
Colorado Mountain News Media General Manager Samantha Johnston told Complete Colorado Friday there was “No one specific incident, just a change in the perspective we’re going to have” that led to Beaton’s firing.
“This wouldn’t be news to Glenn,” said Johnston. “Certainly, something that our editors communicated to him is that we are really looking to have a very local political take on the issues. A lot of Glenn’s focus has been on the more national issues.”
Beaton says in his seven-year relationship with the Aspen Times the paper has been essentially silent on his focus and style.
“Over seven years I’d usually get a little feedback from them. In some 200 columns there was just one column they rejected,” said Beaton. “They published all of the others.”
“This started probably sometime in November,” said Beaton. “I have no idea whether this was a coordinated effort or what, but there were a number of published letters to the editor saying, ‘you should get rid of Beaton.’”
“There was one column that got quite a bit of attention. It was entitled, ‘two reasons that the left hates America.’ There was a correlation in time between that column and also one other column,” Beaton said. “My last column was a Christmas column titled, ‘I know this, Jesus is not our mom.’ Those columns generated quite a bit of attention.”
“It’s not like there was discussion with me,” said Beaton. “I didn’t hear a single word, not a word from them. They didn’t call me, they didn’t say, ‘hey we need to talk.’ I got an email out of the blue. It’s hard not to feel insulted under that circumstance.”
Beaton says he has suspicions about what led to his termination.
“I am puzzled, and I wonder if there is some sort of backstory I haven’t heard,” Beaton continued. “I’m purely speculating at this point but maybe one of the big advertisers put their foot down. Maybe people were at a cocktail party and the editors got buttonholed by the liberal elite in Aspen.”
“Obviously we live in a very liberal part of the state,” said Johnston. “However, I think we’ve worked very hard to always have an alternate opinion. We run George Will, we have others, we actually have another columnist that I think people will view as a more conservative voice for sure.”
“Glenn’s written for us for seven years,” said Johnston. “We’ve really valued what he did over that time. He has an important voice. He has a big following.”
In an email obtained by Complete Colorado Johnston also apologized to Beaton saying the termination “could have been handled better.”
Beaton is very optimistic and despite the way he was fired, sees the incident as a net positive thanks to the publicity it’s generated.
“This has been just a wonderful Christmas because there has been this outpouring from hundreds and hundreds of readers,” said Beaton. “And then literally tens of thousands of clicks directed to my site from Powerline. It really has warmed my heart. I think that this is going to spur me on to something on a more national level.”
Interested persons can email Beaton at TheAspenBeat@Gmail.com.