More Messages: Somebody Noticed

How seriously is Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo's bid for the presidency being taken in his home state? As judged by a recent Tancredo controversy that appears to have been widely overlooked by mainstream media types in Colorado, not very.

During a February 23 appearance on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, Tancredo denied ever suggesting that if the America was bombed by Muslim extremists, U.S. officials should consider taking out Mecca in order to send a message to terrorists. In fact, Tancredo said something very much like that, according to an Associated Press article from 2005 that's still lingering on the Fox News website. Here's the key portion of that report:

Talk show host Pat Campbell asked the Littleton Republican how the country should respond if terrorists struck several U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.

"Well, what if you said something like — if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," Tancredo answered.

"You're talking about bombing Mecca," Campbell said.

"Yeah," Tancredo responded.

In the February 23 CNN transcript, Tancredo takes umbrage at a reference to these remarks by Edina Lekovic of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. This is an excerpt from that exchange:

LEKOVIC: Well, that's just a part of the picture: 7,000 is a very paltry number. And we can't forget the fact here that there are people involved. There are people whose lives have been devastated. We have promised that we would save -- we would rescue them from malnutrition, from mayhem, from murder.

And that is precisely what they are facing every day and why they are leaving the country in large droves.

Congressman Tancredo is the same man who a few years ago said that we should consider taking out Mecca in order to send a message to the terrorists. So...

TANCREDO: Whoa -- that is absolutely...

LEKOVIC: ... this gentleman is not the man to be...

TANCREDO: You have no respect, ma'am, because you would say a thing like that.

LEKOVIC: ... discussing this type of problem to preserve all human life.

TANCREDO: Well, that is absolutely untrue that I said we should take out Mecca in order to send a message.

LEKOVIC: Sir, you said we should consider it.

TANCREDO: It was never to, quote, "send a message." And that is an entirely inaccurate way...

LEKOVIC: Sir, did you say that we should consider taking out Mecca?

TANCREDO: What I said was, well, do you want to fight that battle again? I'm happy to. But what I'm telling you is what you just said is not only inaccurate, but I think it's disingenuous.

Following this back-and-forth, Cooper weighed in. "Well, as always, we care about the facts on 360," he said -- and then he quoted from the Tancredo-Pat Campbell interview above.

That kind of smackdown from a national media star like Cooper would seem to rate some kind of note, and it received one via a piece at -- and a number of other liberal-leaning Internet addresses have weighed in as well. Moreover, there's a prominent blog defending Tancredo that's linked on the Huffington Post site. However, the Denver newspapers and TV stations have apparently given the matter a pass.

If local journos gave Tancredo even the slightest chance of making a splash in the 2008 presidential race, this would be a very different story. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts