"Clearing the Haze," a new four-part series by the Colorado Springs Gazette, is hardly an even-handed look at marijuana in the state a year-plus after the legalization of limited recreational pot sales.
Rather, it's a beautifully presented but woefully one-sided anti-weed screed typified by a headline on a March 24 article: "Teen: Colorado voters were duped into legalizing recreational marijuana."
The latter piece features numerous quotes and even a video appearance from Dr. Christian Thurstone, one of the area's most prominent physicians against greater access to cannabis by young people.
And his participation is hardly coincidental. The co-author of "Clearing the Haze," along with editorial board members Pula Davis and Wayne Laugesen, is Thurstone's wife, Christine Tatum.
The article acknowledges Tatum's connection to Thurstone, but it fails to point out that she's a longtime opponent of marijuana legalization who's stirred controversy by suggesting pot links to events such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the killings at Columbine High School.
An introduction to the series describes Tatum as a "local reporter," and she certainly has an impressive background as a journalist. As we've noted, she has written for the Chicago Tribune and the Denver Post, and even served as the Society of Professional Journalist's national president in 2006-2007.
Here's how she describes herself on her Twitter page:
The "entrepreneurial news organization" Tatum refers to above is MediaSalad.com. Its Twitter account characterizes the project like so: "Veteran business journalists producing sharp research, writing and graphic design helping organizations win multimillion-dollar deals and manage communication."
In other words, it's a media-relations firm that advocates on behalf of clients — and Tatum has plenty of experience with advocacy when it comes to the topic of marijuana.
Every post on her DrThurstone.com author page is relentlessly negative toward cannabis, as indicated by headlines such as "Colorado High School Getting Higher," ""Gallup Pot Support Plummets in 2014" and "Troubling Pot Trends Continue."
And then there are some of Tatum's comments on social media, including a couple featured by marijuana activist Russ Belville in 2013.
Here's one about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bomber, who's currently on trial for the crime....
....and another item that makes marijuana-centric references to Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes and more.
Given how eagerly Tatum demonizes marijuana (and connects it to homicide), why did the Gazette hand an assignment like "Clearing the Haze" to her? We reached out to co-author Laugesen, who referred questions to Dan Steever, the paper's publisher. Steever has not responded to our inquiries at this writing.
We've also sent interview requests to Tatum. She hasn't gotten back to us thus far, either.
Tatum does admit to a certain lack of objectivity, though — at least when it comes to one aspect of the series. On a Facebook post in which she shares the following video, she writes, "OK, so NOW you can call me biased. I happen to think Dr. Chris Thurstone, the physician featured in this video, is devastatingly handsome."
Here's the clip.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.