OFF LIMITS

The cat in the hat: Local viewers might have had some trouble recognizing the self-proclaimed "Black Avenger" as he appeared on Eye to Eye with Connie Chung last Thursday night. Gone were the black leather chaps, the stylin' beret--and much of the attitude. Ken Hamblin looked--and sounded--like he'd just left Brooks Brothers, with a brief stop by the optician's for some professorial wire-rims. And the CBS interviewer seemed downright worshipful as he followed Hamblin--aka "the black Rush Limbaugh"--from the KNUS studio in Lakewood to his Summit County home (where he raised the American flag) to the mean streets of Denver, where Hamblin just happened to run into a former gang member who's hardly a fan.

In between, we got to hear from Hamblin fan and editor Chuck Green (who said the Denver Post gets more response to Hamblin than any other feature), as well as Hamblin opponent Chet Whye--whom CBS failed to identify as yet another black Post columnist (although it did include Whye's labels of Hamblin as a "marquee Uncle Tom" and "short, ugly black man.")

For that matter, CBS neglected to mention that last month's protest by a national black legislators' group was what got this whole publicity ball rolling (with an assist from the New York Times Rocky Mountain bureau chief, whose profile of Hamblin hit the paper January 2), or that one of those lawmakers--Diane Watson of California--renewed her call for a boycott of the Hamblin-harboring Colorado the day before the show aired.

But then, CBS also forgot to report that Hamblin faces a harassment charge involving a female radio colleague.

Why? Here's the excuse offered by a CBS publicist, who had the misfortune to call Westword to hype the show two days before its January 20 air date: The January 1 complaint against Hamblin had been filed too late to include in the show, she explained, conveniently overlooking the fact that the lead segment of Eye to Eye that evening was an up-to-the-second account of the Tonya Harding case. Still, accuracy seemed a small price to pay for the brilliant exchange that followed the Hamblin piece.

Asked Chung of her reporter, "Is this guy for real?" Oh, yes, he said, noting that someday people may be calling Rush Limbaugh "the white Ken Hamblin."

And someday chauvinist pigs may fly.

Sheet, man: Ken Hamblin to the contrary, all is not rosy for minorities in colorful Colorado. On Sunday racists did the white thing at the National Western Stock Show, papering the windshields of cars in nearby parking lots with recruiting fliers. "I want you for the Ku Klux Klan," read the motto under the white-sheeted, finger-pointing figure.

Those interested were directed to a Highlands Ranch address and phone number, where a recorded message begins with a cheery "Racial greetings" and ends--after an offer for a complete Arapahoe County KKK Kit--with the urge to "Have a nice day for white America.

 
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