National Media Condemns Rhetoric Promoting Violence Against Oil And Gas Workers
A Boulder Daily Camera letter to the editor published two weeks ago that called for violence toward oil and natural gas workers continues to draw sharp criticism from local residents, elected officials from both sides of the aisle, Denver media outlets, and industry representatives in the state. Reporters from national news outlets this week joined the discussion and condemned the violent rhetoric.
“For a newspaper to publish an outright call to violence, no matter what the issue, is just plain irresponsible and crosses a very bright line,” Fox News’ media critic Howard Kurtz said. “And the journalistic felony is compounded if the same paper then changes a quote in an effort to soften it.”
“As long as both sides [of the debate on fracking] restrict themselves to arguing, that’s fine,” Fox News Executive Vice President and Executive Editor John Moody wrote in a column. “Calling for violence, though, is fracking wrong.”
Andrew J. O’Connor of Lafayette, Colo., asked in his April 19 letter to the editor: “If the oil and gas industry puts fracking wells in our neighborhoods, threatening our lives and our children’s lives, then don’t we have a moral responsibility to blow up wells and eliminate fracking and workers?”
An edited version of the letter retained claims that “fracking equals murder” and argued using violence against the oil and gas industry would be the “intelligent” move for Colorado residents. O’Connor later told a media outlet, “I wouldn’t have a problem with a sniper shooting one of the workers” at a well site.
“On college campuses, and now here in Colorado, so-called resistance protesters think that having a different opinion [is akin] to an actual act of violence,” Kathleen Sgamma, the president of Western Energy Alliance, told Fox News. “They say it is unsafe for you to voice an opinion that is different from mine. Yet those who are claiming that your opinion is violence have actually engaged in violence or are claiming that violence is justified against someone who disagrees with them.” The Alliance is a supporter of Western Wire.
Colorado-based radio host Michael Brown, former Homeland Security under secretary and administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President George W. Bush, discussed the letter on his show last week and said that O’Connor sought to speak on the program – a request that Brown denied.
“I said there’s absolutely no way that’s going to happen,” Brown said.
“Anyone who advocates for the murder, the blowing up and destruction of private property, or the actual murder of people simply conducting their jobs, doing their jobs, in an industry that is not immoral or amoral or anything else – it’s actually a very good industry that’s been very good to America, and we should be thankful to the oil and gas industry [– is not welcome on my show],” Brown said.