The new owners asked that the newspaper staff refrain from commenting on the pending litigation while settlement talks were ongoing. That’s standard and prudent in legal proceedings. You don’t want employees saying things that might become evidence at trial or disrupt the settlement negotiations.

The staff refused to follow instructions. For that, one was fired. Another quit, saying he had literally cried about being denied the “right” to say whatever he wanted to say in the newspaper, whenever he wanted to say it, regardless of the impact on the newspaper’s pending lawsuit and settlement negotiations.

OK, that’s how these things sort out. Bosses boss, children are childish, and crybabies cry. Life goes on.

But now it’s getting serious. A group of the Aspen progressive establishment – the leftist elite who control the town – recently sent a letter to the new owners demanding they reinstate the fired staff, publish the content (of dubious veracity) that was withheld while the litigation was pending, and promise that in the future they will follow the publishing diktats of the letter-signers. The letter to the newspaper and the newspaper’s reply are HERE.

The letter-signers include all five county commissioners, the mayor and a former mayor, numerous city councilmen from Aspen, Snowmass and nearby Basalt, and the challenger to the Republican representative for the Congressional District that includes Aspen. Every single one is a Democrat, as are over 70% of Aspen residents.

The letter-signers gave the newspaper owners two weeks to comply with their demands. If they don’t, then the letter-signers threaten “reactions.”

To make sure the newspaper owners get the message, the letter details the threatened “reactions.” They include:

“Directing our individual organizations to pull advertisements and notices from the paper; encouraging local businesses to do the same; refusing interviews with reporters at the Aspen Times; or calling for a boycott of the paper.”

This is astounding. Government officials explicitly referencing their government organizations are threatening to put a newspaper out of business as punishment for its editorial decisions about what to publish and when.

If these letter-signers as private citizens simply wanted to express their objections to the newspaper’s editorial decisions, fine. That’s what letters to the editor are for – to persuade or sometimes just to rant.

But they chose coordinated actions in their capacity as government officials to overtly threaten the existence of the newspaper.

Read the whole thing.