While Mr. Hooper has “apologized” for his behavior on Feb. 19 and claims to embrace the Aspen Daily News’ slogan of “If you don’t want it printed, don’t let it happen,” his behavior after the Feb. 19 incident, presumably while sober, of threatening to sue The Aspen Times and The Associated Press if they reported the story, speaks volumes.
As a reporter and the editor of a newspaper, Mr. Hooper should embrace the right of the freedom of the press, and should not be creating his own “chilling effect” on their exercise of their First Amendment rights as a means to further his personal agenda. Despite the claim in his apology, Mr. Hooper’s own motto seems to be, “If you don’t want it printed, then bury the story at your own newspaper and then threaten to sue any other news source that tries to cover it.”
Mr. Hooper should be apologizing to our community for this conduct, too. While Mr. Hooper might be able to use the always-popular “I was drunk” excuse for the Feb. 19 transgressions, the subsequent conduct apparently happened while he was sober and from his official Aspen Daily News e-mail account.
I applaud the Aspen Daily News for finally covering this story and living up to the commitment that they have made to our community in their slogan. Mr. Danforth’s candor in the article is refreshing. I, like many others, hope that the Aspen Daily News will put appropriate oversight in place to ensure that the news coverage in our community cannot be distorted by the personal agenda of any single employee.
The Aspen Police Department did not do Mr. Hooper any favors by taking him home without charging him with a DUI. Mr. Hooper’s “get out of jail free” card has cost him his credibility as a journalist. A DUI would have had a much smaller cost. Mr. Hooper is a talented writer and I truly hope that he can find his way and restore the trust that has been lost. But in the meantime, I personally think that Mr. Hooper should be covering sports and the local social scene rather than local police and court matters.
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The state transportation department’s $2.6 million plan to rebuild the roundabout west of Aspen next summer and fall appears to be moving along on schedule based on two votes in the Upper Roaring Fork Valley last week.