Colorado Republicans continue to share fake news and photoshopped images. This installment focuses not on candidates or elected officials, but rather other well-known party luminaries whose support can make or break those hoping to represent the party in November.
Tom Tancredo remains the most prominent distributor of fake news. His latest post, which he made on July 23 to both Twitter and Facebook, falsely labeled a 2009 photo of Afghani students protesting American presence in their country as taking place in Dearborn, Michigan. The Detroit suburb has the largest Muslim population in the United States, making it a popular target for anti-Muslim fake news.
Just as happened back in April, Tancredo was immediately called out on Twitter by 9News anchor Kyle Clark, who noted that a simple Google search would have proved the meme to be fake. Clark then reported on a follow-up conversation with Tancredo who told the journalist “what difference does it make where the photo was taken?”
Comments on the post, which was shared over 800 times on Facebook, included dozens of racist and bigoted statements. Many advocated killing Muslim-Americans as well as anyone of the Islamic faith on the planet.
Tancredo may no longer be running for office himself, but he is still the biggest-name conservative to endorse Republican Walker Stapleton in his campaign for Governor. His nomination of Stapleton at the GOP assembly in April was considered crucial to winning over the grassroots conservative participants who are largely skeptical of establishment candidates, but whom Stapleton needed to secure his place on the ballot. In the days leading up to the convention, the Stapleton-aligned super PAC Better Colorado Now ran digital ads promoting Tancredo’s endorsement.
The campaign is no longer promoting Tancredo as much. The anti-immigrant party stalwart’s racist overtones are problematic for moderate voters. However, recent New York Times coverage of Stapleton’s challenges addressing his great-grandfather’s KKK membership, prompted in part by Colorado Times Recorder reporting, is forcing the issue back into local pundits’ pages.
Tancredo isn’t the only Republican party kingmaker to push fake anti-Muslim propaganda. Former Pueblo GOP chair and one-time candidate for county commissioner Tom Ready also shared a demonstrably false Dearborn-related meme. It claimed that in April 2018, the city’s “the last remaining Christian church closed its doors forever.” Ready shared the post July 25, the day it first appeared online and the same day Snopes debunked it. As with the Tancredo post, a Google search for “Christian church Dearborn” would have sufficed to show its inaccuracy.
Also like Tancredo, Ready isn’t a candidate anymore, buthis support carries considerable weight with Southern Colorado Republicans. His annual political action committee fundraiser, the “Let’s Win Unity Steak Fry” is a regular stop for local and state candidates alike. The Facebook event for this year’s event, coming up late next month, promises that “All state wide Republican candidates will be there.”
Apparently sharing their former chairman’s affinity for fake news, Pueblo County Republicans shared another widely debunked meme. This one attributed made-up quotes about the Supreme Court to Democratic senators.
Created by the satirical Christian news site The Babylon Bee, all three statements insisted that Trump’s new nominee to the nation’s highest court should “not be unduly influenced by the U.S. Constitution.”