×

Primary Source: Radio host who holds N.H. GOP post condemned for tweet

  • John P. Gregg. Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Conservative radio talk-show host Keith Hanson, who also serves as chairman of Sullivan County Republicans, issued a tweet this week that many regarded as anti-Semitic.

Hanson, a Grantham resident and ardent supporter of gun rights, was criticizing New Hampshire state Rep. Debra Altschiller, D-Stratham, the prime sponsor of the so-called “red-flag” gun bill that would allow police or family members to seek a court order to keep firearms away from people who pose an immediate risk to themselves or to public safety.

“If Altshitler tells you the time, better double-check your watch,” Hanson wrote in a tweet on Tuesday. “If her lips are loving or her fingers flying, she’s spreading lies and hypocrisy.”

Altschiller reported Hanson, who hosts shows on New London-based WNTK and Lebanon-based WUVR, to Twitter officials and posted her own tweet that read, “When a local internet troll twists your Jewish family’s Austrian name into a anti-Semitic slur, because he’s mad, it’s time to report.”

In a phone interview Wednesday, Altschiller said Hanson had been criticizing her for about a year, but that his tweet went too far.

“When you cross over into the world of hate speech, I’m done,” she said. “It’s meant to be an anti-Semitic slur. I can’t read it any other way.”

State Rep. Lucy Weber, D-Walpole, also found the tweet offensive, calling it an “appalling attack,” and saying she was raising attention to it only to ask whether other New Hampshire Republicans found it acceptable, given Hanson’s party position.

Asked for comment, New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Steve Stepanek alluded to a Concord Monitor cartoon from 2012 that depicted then-House Speaker Bill O’Brien, a Republican, with a Hitler-like mustache, and also questioned whether New Hampshire Democrats would condemn U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., for remarks critical of Israel policy that many in her party have said are anti-Semitic.

“It was wrong then and it is wrong now for anyone to compare someone to Hitler. We stand firm against anti-Semitism in many forms, and we are still waiting for New Hampshire’s Federal delegation to come out strong regarding Congresswoman Omar’s extremely anti-Semitic comments and beliefs. Anti-Semitism has no place in our politics and we condemn it in all of its forms,” Stepanek said through a spokesman.

For his part, Hanson, who ran for party chair and lost to Stepanek in January on a 300-81 vote, was unapologetic, asserting that Altschiller regularly criticizes conservative female legislators and activists.

“Debra Altschiller can blow her ‘anti-Semitic’ accusation out her a--,” Hanson said. “You can quote me on that.”

He also maintained that he was not invoking Adolf Hitler in his tweet, saying, “It’s Altshitler,” pronouncing the “sh.”

“This is ridiculous; you’ve got my statement,” Hanson said before hanging up.

N.H. polls to ponder

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center has been releasing poll numbers of interest to first-in-the-nation primary voters. A poll last week found U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., led among likely Democratic primary voters, with 26 percent support, followed by 22 percent for former Vice President Joe Biden; 10 percent for U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; 7 percent for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; and the other announced or putative candidates at 5 percent or under.

“Among Democratic candidates, primary voters believe Biden is most likable, has the right experience, and has the best chance to win the general election, while Sanders is seen as the most progressive,” the Survey Center said in a news release with the results.

And, yes, no doubt name recognition comes into play, too.

On the Republican side, President Donald Trump had robust support from 68 percent of likely GOP primary voters, to 17 percent for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and 3 percent for former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.

Another UNH poll released this week found that 68 percent of Granite State voters support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, a dramatic increase since 2013.

Briefly noted

■At least 15 Vermont towns passed a climate change resolution at Town Meeting this week calling for the state to move to 100 percent renewable energy and to halt any new pipelines, including Bradford, Norwich, Woodstock and Reading. That brings to 54 the number of Vermont towns who have passed the measure in the past two years.

■Former state Rep. David Deen, the longtime Upper Valley river steward for the Connecticut River Watershed Council, has won some recognition for his work. Deen, who recently retired from the Vermont House, won a national Sierra Club Distinguished Service Award and also last month was given a lifetime achievement award from the Vermont League of Conservation Voters. Deen, who was also recognized at Westminster, Vt., Town Meeting on Saturday, was the longtime chairman of the House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources.

Dartmouth College trustees over the weekend approved a $1.08 billion operating budget and also signed off on a 3.9 percent increase in tuition, room and board, and other fees. That will run $73,578 for the 2019-20 school year.

Dartmouth also said it is budgeting $111.3 million in financial aid, its highest amount yet and a 5.1 percent boost from this year.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com.