You might have thought Tom Tancredo would never be dethroned as Colorado’s king of political media spectacles, but he’s been surpassed by Lauren Boebert.
Her list of greatest media stunts doesn’t stop growing, from her made-for-media-attention Shooters Grill with the gun-carrying waitresses, to her “hell no” confrontation with Beto O’Rourke, which wowed Fox News fans everywhere, to whatever-she’s-tweeting-as-I-write-this-article-and-will-do-tomorrow.
With all this, Boebert easily takes the crown from Tancredo.
And Tancredo is no media slouch. Like Boebert and Trump, he promotes conspiracy theories, extremism, and nationalism that responsible media can’t not cover.
His presidential run in 2008 was orchestrated not to win but for the single purpose of attracting cameras.
And it worked: Tancredo made a mess of the U.S. immigration debate to this day, and he became a national political and media figure, building on a profile he’d cultivated in Congress.
His three failed runs for governor in Colorado were also media zoos.
Imagine how much attention Tanc would have gotten if he could have better leveraged social media during his heyday. His threat to bomb Mecca. His bashing of Miami.
With more social-media power behind him, Tancredo could have become Trump with a lighter touch and a smile. Who knows how far he could have gone.
Like Boebert, Tancredo crosses the line of decency with confrontational attacks seen by traditionalists as outrageous.
Other political figures in Colorado have used some of the same media tactics–without gaining as much national profile.
I’m thinking of former state Rep. Gordon Klingenshmitt (R-Colorado Springs), who does things like performing an exorcism on a lesbian soldier, and a steady stream of other antics–with reporters (including this one) lapping it up.
In a different but related world, you have Colorado’s right-wing shock jocks, like Peter Boyles, Michael Heck-of-a-Job Brown, Jon Caldara, and Dan Caplis, who’ve latched on to some of the same issues (immigration, abortion, Islam, guns), and conspiracies (JonBenet Ramsey, birtherism) to attract cameras and boost ratings over the years.
The theme that emerges from these folks is, they sacrifice their integrity to get attention.
In other words, Colorado’s top media magnets in the political sphere exploit fear, conspiracy, and lunacy to become political stars of sorts.
They build their profile at the expense of the poor and the powerless, undocumented immigrants, scapegoated minorities, women… . And the people who get killed at King Soopers because America can’t pass basic gun control laws.