Ari Armstrong, Exclusives, Media, Politics, Uncategorized

Armstrong: Coverage of Marx-spouting legislator shows media bias

Imagine if a Republican, just appointed to the legislature through a vacancy committee, had called for “forceful cultural revolution” and praised such fascists as Enrico Corradini and Benito Mussolini.

Now imagine that most media accounts of the legislative appointment declined to mention those facts, emphasizing instead the Republican’s youth, former occupation as a teacher, and success as a “community organizer.” What would you think of the journalists writing such articles?

What I describe took place in Colorado, except the person appointed to the legislature is a Democrat, Tim Hernández, and he praised such Communists as Marx and Lenin. Marx-inspired Communist regimes slaughtered scores of millions of people.

True, Hernández said that the doctrines of Marx and Lenin are insufficient for revolution. He said, “We like to compete who knows Marx better, who knows these things better, who’s a Leninist. Listen, all right, I’ll give you a real take on this s––t. Kids don’t care.”

He continued, “Yes, it’s important to know theory. But you have to do some practices, you have to get out into the streets. You have to get into your workplace. You have to go to your families. If we are just sitting, talking in an ideological circle, our kids are still going to schools that are underfunded where they are investing more in their failure than in their success. Your theory will not save you. The revolution . . . will happen in the hood. It will not be led by who understand Lenin best, it will not be led by the deepest Marxists. The revolution will be led by the people.”

Perhaps some Colorado journalists, in ignoring Hernández’s statements, take comfort in shirking their responsibilities because, after all, it was Fox News that originally reported the relevant facts.

We last met Hernández when he endorsed a resolution passed by the Colorado Education Association—the major teachers’ union in the state—condemning capitalism. Another teacher, Bryan Lindstrom, currently running for legislature in House District 36, carried this resolution.

Incidentally, the CEA offered Hernández its hearty congratulations. That is hardly surprising, given that, on his campaign web site, Hernández promises to “resist efforts to expand the influence of charter schools, innovation networks, and other forms of non-public education” and “stand in solidarity with CEA priority bills relating to teacher contracts and pay [and] bargaining agreements.” And never mind that charter schools are a type of parent-chosen, tax-funded public education, albeit with somewhat looser political reins.

Journalists embarrass themselves

Of the nine local media stories that I originally reviewed about Hernández’s off-season run for the legislature, exactly zero mentioned his sympathy for Marxist-Leninist views. (I’ll discuss a tenth story in a bit.)

Here is the headline for the story from Gabrielle Franklin of KDVR, the local Fox affiliate: “Meet the first Gen Z member of Colorado’s legislature.” Franklin describes Hernández as a “community activist and teacher.”

Stephanie Rivera’s story for Denverite, a subsidiary of Colorado Public Radio, mentions that Hernández is a Chicano and a Northsider. Rivera quotes one political operative who praises Hernández’s “inclusivity.” For example, Hernández has made such “inclusive” remarks, as reported elsewhere, that “white women” often “interrupt other people” and that white teachers “choose to promote” oppression. Hernández publicly thanked Denverite for its “love and care” in covering his campaign. I guess that’s one way to describe a sycophantic puff piece.

Brandon Richard’s piece for Denver7 also emphasizes Hernández’s youth and skills at community organizing. Richard joins other journalists in reporting one aspect of the controversy surrounding the newly minted legislator: “Hernández made headlines last year after his contract wasn’t renewed by Denver Public Schools, causing many students to walk out in protest.”

Over at the occasionally edgy Westword, Michael Roberts says that Hernández “is a teacher best known for fighting on behalf of diversity, equity and inclusion related to both students and educators.” Isn’t it weird how Hernández is “best known” precisely for those facts and characterizations that Colorado’s media outlets choose to convey? You can practically smell the wet boot leather with Roberts’s closing quote: “My life’s work is in the classroom. But what shows up in my classroom oftentimes are the consequences of political decisions. And that’s why I want someone who loves this community to represent it.” Understandably, Hernández offered Westword a “huge thank you” for the piece.

There was never any question that Sara Wilson’s article for the left-leaning Colorado Newsline would offer any serious criticism. CBS Colorado’s “staff” article was basically a warmed-over media release.

What about the Denver Post, Colorado’s “serious” newspaper? Seth Klamann starts off by telling us that Hernández is “a teacher who inspired student protests at Denver Public Schools last spring.” Klamann says Hernández “joins a progressive bloc of Denver legislators.” I guess “progressive” is one way to describe Marxist-Leninism; I can think of others.

Surely the Colorado Sun, which prides itself on being the more respectable, “public benefit” alternative to the Post, can do better, right? No. Elliott Wenzler does helpfully mention that only 68 people participated in the vacancy committee. (Hernández won with only 39 votes. This is “democracy”?) Other than that, Wenzler’s piece reads almost like a carbon copy of the other reports.

Okay, no doubt Colorado Politics, often maligned by the left because it is owned by Philip Anschutz, can put together something other than gushing praise. Nope. Hannah Metzger adds the detail that “Hernández was . . . endorsed by nine sitting state legislators,” but other than that her article is the same ol’. (The sister publication Denver Gazette did publish a critical editorial as well as a critical opinion column by Jimmy Sengenberger.)

Colorado’s news journalists often act upset when accused of being in the tank for Democrats. But when they won’t even mention that a Democrat appointed to the legislature voiced support for Marxist-Leninist views, it’s hard to feel too sympathetic.

Clark kind of asks the tough questions

On August 30, later than the other media reports discussed, 9News’s Next released Kyle Clark’s interview with Hernández (in short and full versions). Although Clark long has been conservatives’ favorite whipping boy for biased journalism, generally he does a good job, and in this case he does not disappoint.

Clark mentioned the Fox News story, then asked Hernández bluntly, “Are you a Marxist?” Hernández, of course, denied that he is. Clark did not ask him to square that stance with his comments quoted by Fox, in which Hernández clearly sympathizes with Marxist-Leninist ideology. Perhaps Hernández has turned over a new leaf, or perhaps something else explains the discrepancy.

Hernández said, “I’m not a Marxist; I’m against oppression.” As examples of oppression, Hernández listed poor kids not going to “fully funded schools” and people not having housing. He’s smart to stick to popular issues.

What about Hernández’s comments about forceful revolution? Hernández told Clark that “some folks in their politics align to” physical force. He added, “I don’t see my role as a physical forcer. . . . I’m a teacher. I don’t believe in physically forcing anybody to do anything.”

Clark pushed, asking Hernández if he thinks that violence ever is “necessary or acceptable.” Hernández answered, “I’m not here to police protest. You know, I think that folks who choose to relegate towards violence is a personal political decision for themselves.” He added, “Hopefully we can prevent any form of forceful cultural violence.” So he pointedly does not condemn violence in the streets; he’s just saying he’s not personally prepared to commit it.

Hernández told Clark that white supremacy itself is perpetuated through force. I think he’s right about that in some ways. As examples, the drug war and various zoning codes obviously were racist in origin and in effect. In other ways, I think that what Hernández calls “force” is other people declining to pay as much of their money as he wants to his favored government projects.

Hernández also eloquently discussed various policies that he endorses, particularly around education, housing, and guns. Undoubtedly we’ll be talking much more about those issues through the year and into the next legislative session.

Clark’s tough questions provoked some thoughtful and passionate replies from Hernández. I see why the handful of Democrats on the vacancy committee liked him. In closing, Hernández flashed a grin and said, “I appreciate y’all.”

Later on, though, Hernández was not too happy about the critical coverage. But then again, if politicians are happy with the journalists covering them, the journalists probably are not doing their jobs.

Ari Armstrong writes regularly for Complete Colorado and is the author of books about Ayn Rand, Harry Potter, and classical liberalism. He can be reached at ari at ariarmstrong dot com.


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