Hoiles: Roiling in his grave
Hoiles: Roiling in his grave

New OC Register Owners Sell Off Colorado Springs Gazette, Further Shredding the Company's Libertarian Legacy

Yesterday, the Orange County Register announced that their newish owner, Aaron Kushner, had decided to sell off the Colorado Springs Gazette, which for years was the second-largest paper owned Freedom Communications, the former parent company of the Reg founded by libertarian crank R.C. Hoiles. Since there's no institutional knowledge left at the paper, the accompanying story didn't mention at all the importance of the Gazette to the history of the Register, and to the history of the modern-day libertarian movement of which Hoiles and his rag were so influential for so long--but no longer.
Old Man Hoiles bought the then-Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph in 1946 as part of his expansion plans, but he quickly made the Gazette into a laboratory of libertarian thinking, thinking he'd then export to SanTana, Orange County, and the rest of the United States. He began by hiring Robert LeFevre to pen editorials for his Colorado Springs fishwrap. LeFevre's free-market, free-thinking rants quickly earned him a following, and he used the notoriety to create the Freedom School in 1956 to teach the world the philosophy of Freedom Communications. The school (and its subsequent spinoff, Rampart College) were founded in part by donations from R.C. and his son (and Gazette publisher) Harry Hoiles, and RC would eventually force all of his papers' editors and more than a few writers to undergo indoctrination at the Freedom School.

"Freedom School...served as a philosophical training ground for the Freedom Newspaper editorial staff, allowing the staff writers to better understand freedom philosophy," reads a 1986 remembrance of Hoiles. "They were all working for the same goals: increasing their circulation and an expansion of freedom thinking."

It was from this school that the Reg's notorious policy of referring to public education as "taxpayer-supported" emanated.

The Freedom School stayed in Colorado Springs until 1973, but the Gazette continued to play a large role in the Register's philosophy as late as the 1990s, when it served as the training ground for N. Christian Anderson III, the editor credited for remaking the Register into a somewhat readable paper during the 1980s; in his time at the Gazette, from 1994 until 1999, he served as publisher, a role he assumed at the end of last century on Grand Street.

I'm sure Register editors and reporters are relieved that that part of the paper's past is long gone (don't worry Colorado Springs residents: another conservative lunatic, Phil Anschutz, is now your owner), but perhaps this whole-scale destruction of Hoiles' baby might roust the man from his grave. One can only hope...


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