Gibson, acknowledging he mocked Ledger's death, said: "There's no point in passing up a good joke"

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER, ANNE SMITH & TREVOR ZIMMER

John Gibson responded to criticism of his comments the previous day mocking the death of actor Heath Ledger, and said "Did I mock him?" After Gibson's producer pointed out that Gibson had in fact mocked Ledger's death, Gibson replied, laughing, "Oh, that. Well," later adding, "There's no point in passing up a good joke."

On the January 23 broadcast of his nationally syndicated Fox News Radio show, John Gibson responded to a post on the blog Think Progress about his comments the previous day mocking the death of actor Heath Ledger, and said, "Did I mock him?" After Gibson's producer, known on-air as "Angry Rich," pointed out that Gibson had in fact mocked Ledger's death, Gibson replied, laughing, "Oh, that. Well," later adding, "There's no point in passing up a good joke." When Angry Rich noted that a commenter on Think Progress asserted that "Gibson will be whining tomorrow that his words were taken out of context," Gibson replied: "No. I meant them, whatever they were. I don't remember what they were, but whatever they were, I meant them."

Still later in the broadcast, Gibson returned to the controversy and said: "ThinkProgress.org, the George Soros organization, is attacking me for calling Heath Ledger a weirdo in discussing his death yesterday. At first, I thought, oh, they're lying, I couldn't have said that. And then I listened to the tape, and I realized I did say that."

During the January 23 broadcast, Gibson baselessly asserted that Ledger was "snorting heroin," telling his listeners: "Here I am, in trouble for mocking the death of Heath Ledger, snorting heroin, as he was, along with the Xanax and the Ambien." A caller later said to Gibson, "I'm just curious where you actually got your information on any white powder and-or the fact that it was heroin, 'cause there's nothing out there yet that states that." Gibson replied, "Well, yeah, there is, you just gotta read a little more." He then cited "CBS News in New York" and claimed that "the Daily Mail in London, which keeps up on these things, says that a source told them that he had a heroin problem." Later in the broadcast, while discussing Ledger's death with guest Michael Hungen of the gossip website TMZ.com, Gibson stated that "there have been reports from other media outlets that there was some sort of powdery residue on that $20 bill." When Hungen noted that a New York Police Department report indicated that no illegal drugs were found in Ledger's apartment, Gibson persisted, asking : "Why would anybody be rolling up $20 bills if not to snort powdered drugs?" During the closing segment of the broadcast, however, Gibson announced, "That rolled up $20 dollar bill in Heath Ledger's house, clean. No drug residue. Just want to be on the record here, all the facts, keeping you quite up to date on this burgeoning controversy surrounding yours truly." Gibson never apologized for or retracted his previous assertion. As CNN.com reported on January 24, "Tests on a $20 bill found at the Lower Manhattan apartment where 'Brokeback Mountain' actor Heath Ledger died yielded no drug residue, New York Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said." The CNN.com report further noted that there were no illegal drugs found in Ledger's apartment.

In referring to "this burgeoning controversy surrounding yours truly," Gibson was acknowledging the response to comments he made, first noted by Think Progress, on the January 22 broadcast of his radio show. On that broadcast, Gibson began a segment of his show by airing a series of quotes from the film Brokeback Mountain, in which Ledger starred, while funeral music played in the background. In the audio clip, Jack Twist, played by actor Jake Gyllenhaal, says to his lover, Ennis Del Mar, played by Ledger, "I wish I knew how to quit you." Gibson then broke in and said: "Well, he found out how to quit you," and went on to announce, "Actor Heath Ledger found dead today in his New York City apartment." Gibson later said: "You're 28 years old, and you're thinking about death? Give me a break." He later added: "Maybe he [Ledger] was a weirdo." Gibson then aired another clip from the film, in which Ledger's character says: "We're dead." Gibson, adopting a cowboy accent, repeated: "We're dead." Gibson then asserted: "Nah, it's a terrible thing. ... [I]t is terrible. I don't know why a 28-year-old guy is thinking about death. He should be thinking about all the great things that he's going to do in the 50, 60 years he's got left." Later in the broadcast, Gibson again discussed Ledger's death, saying: "You know, there is new news coming out right now that apparently Heath Ledger was suicidal, and his friends saw it coming. I think he watched the Clinton-Obama debate last night. I think he was an Edwards guy, 'cause he saw his Edwards guy was just completely irrelevant -- good looking, wears a suit well -- but should just leave the stage."

From the January 22 broadcast of Fox News Radio's The John Gibson Show:

[begin audio clip -- from Brokeback Mountain]

JACK TWIST (by Jake Gyllenhaal): Well, since we're going to be working together, I reckon it's time we start drinking together.

ALMA BEERS DEL MAR (by Michelle Williams): If you don't go out there and finish her.

ENNIS DEL MAR (by Heath Ledger): You don't know nothing about her.

JOE AGUIRRE (by Randy Quaid): You boys sure found a way to make the time pass up there.

DEL MAR: We was fishing buddies.

TWIST: I wish I knew how to quit you.

[end audio clip]

GIBSON: Well, he found out how to quit you. Christine, don't be upset. Hi everybody, it's John Gibson.

CHRISTINE: I am very upset.

[begin audio clip]

DEL MAR: Woo wie!

TWIST: Yeah!

[end audio clip]

GIBSON: Actor Heath Ledger found dead today in his New York City apartment, face down in the bedroom, surrounded by prescription drugs. A confidant telling TMZ -- and TMZ is right about everything about 90 percent of the time -- that he had a serious drug abuse problem. So it appears to be an accidental overdose, could be a suicide. Listen, November '07, he was talking about -- and this is a 28-year-old guy -- saying, "Well, you know, it's a whole -- give me a whole different thought about death." What? You're 28 years old, and you're thinking about death? Give me a break.

CHRISTINE: Maybe he was a deep thinker.

GIBSON: Maybe he was a weirdo.

ANGRY RICH: I'm thinking about it right now.

GIBSON: OK, anyway, Heath Ledger died, and I'm sure people will be upset. All you Brokeback Mountain fans, you want to give Christine a call, she'll be happy to talk to you.

DEL MAR [audio clip from film]: We're dead.

GIBSON: "We're dead."

DEL MAR [audio clip from film]: We're dead.

GIBSON: Nah, it's a terrible thing. I mean, you know, it's -- it is terrible. I don't know why a 28-year-old guy is thinking about death. He should be thinking about all the great things that he's going to do in the 50, 60 years he's got left. The conservative civil war rages on today.

[...]

GIBSON: Let's talk about what happened today with yo' money. There was a not-so-black Tuesday, as the U.S. stock market, Wall Street, closed down a bit, sort of in the correction zone, after yesterday's absolute bloodbath around the world. My guest is Tom Sullivan, host of The Tom Sullivan Show here on the Fox News Talk Network, and who also anchors the Fox Business Network each day between 10 a.m. and noon. Tom, so --

SULLIVAN: I thought I was coming in to talk about "Keith Bledger."

GIBSON: Yeah, well --

SULLIVAN: I'm a "Keith Bledger expert."

GIBSON: Well --

SULLIVAN: Did I get that --

GIBSON: Maybe he had a serious position in the market.

SULLIVAN: Yeah, possibly, and today, he looked at the window --

GIBSON: And said, "Oh my god."

SULLIVAN: His name's not "Keith Bledger." Is that right?

GIBSON: No. I mean, he was depressed about yesterday's downturn in the world stock market.

[laughter]

[...]

GIBSON: Bob in Ohio. Bob.

BOB: Hey, John. John, how you doing buddy? I hope your old cough gets a little bit better.

GIBSON: Thank you very much. I am going to keep it from you, because my colleagues here say it's so disgusting.

BOB: Well, you know, I work in a hospital; we can give you something for that. Listen, John, the --

GIBSON: I don't want a Heath Ledger situation going on here.

BOB: Yeah, well, I don't think you're going to sleep yet --

GIBSON: OK.

BOB: -- but we'll work on that. But anyway, John, this three-quarter drop is nice.

[...]

GIBSON: Well, it is John Gibson. You know, there is new news coming out right now that apparently Heath Ledger was suicidal, and his friends saw it coming. I think he watched the Clinton-Obama debate last night. I think he was an Edwards guy, 'cause he saw his Edwards guy was just completely irrelevant -- good looking, wears a suit well -- but should just leave the stage.

From the January 23 broadcast of Fox News Radio's The John Gibson Show:

GIBSON: There is a war on Gibson, and even though Gibson's always right, there is a war.

[...]

GIBSON: Just to give you a heads-up about it, I did this -- an hour yesterday on Heath Ledger on my TV show 'cause he, like, was still warm. I got an email, Angry Rich, just moments ago from somebody who said that I was just a horrible, low-life, awful person for mocking the death. [unintelligible] News!

ANGRY RICH: John, the start of yesterday's show is now prominently featured on Think Progress, the George Soros operation. Yes. It says, "John Gibson mocks 'weirdo' Heath Ledger's death."

GIBSON: Did I mock him?

ANGRY RICH: He found out how to "quit you," quote-unquote.

GIBSON: Oh that [laughter]. Well --

ANGRY RICH: A little satire.

GIBSON: Yeah, it was little Brokeback Mountain joke.

ANGRY RICH: You feel bad about it. C'mon.

GIBSON: No. I mean, I feel bad about his death, but that's --

ANGRY RICH: It's horrible.

AUDIO CLIP (from Brokeback Mountain): I wish I knew how to quit you.

GIBSON: There's no point in passing up a good joke. I mean, how many months did we live off that line, Brokeback Mountain?

AUDIO CLIP (from Brokeback Mountain): I wish I knew how to quit you.

ANGRY RICH: Several.

GIBSON: I mean, it went on for months and months and months. I'm not giving that up.

ANGRY RICH: The comments are unfortunate.

GIBSON: Oh are they? Are they going after me over it?

ANGRY RICH: Oh, yeah.

GIBSON: OK. Well it's the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, but --

ANGRY RICH: You're a closet homosexual. That's the first --

GIBSON: I am?

ANGRY RICH: Apparently.

GIBSON: Well, I'm still breathing. There's a difference right there.

ANGRY RICH: I guess.

GIBSON: Christine, it took you so long to get that? I mean, I was, like, counting the seconds there.

ANGRY RICH: "Gibson will be whining tomorrow that his words were taken out of context."

GIBSON: No. I meant them, whatever they were. I don't remember what they were, but whatever they were, I meant them.

More on that a little bit later.

[...]

GIBSON: Jerry, Missouri. What, Jerry?

JERRY: Well, I'm sorry to hear that you have a head cold. You know, when I tuned in just a few minutes ago on XM and I heard you talking, you know, I thought it was Hillary giving one of her Southern speeches.

GIBSON: Y'all fixing to drive on down the road there, Jerry? And sidle up to a plate of beans and a few [unintelligible]?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY) [audio clip]: I don't feel no ways tired. I've come too far from where I started from.

GIBSON: You are cruel, cruel, Jerry. Here I am, in trouble for mocking the death of Heath Ledger, snorting heroin, as he was, along with the Xanax and the Ambien, and you mock me.

[...]

GIBSON: Well, it is John Gibson. Be sure to stay tuned for the next hour, 'cause we're going to go into this thing of me getting attacked. I'm just reading this -- just by way of piquing your interest. It says here on the Think Progress deal that I called Heath Ledger a weirdo. Hm. I don't -- I don't remember saying that. I might have. I suppose he was a little weird to keep to himself. Although, I keep to myself.

ANGRY RICH: So do I.

GIBSON: I suppose he was a little weird to be so in love with his drugs that it caused his -- the mother of his child to kick him out of his house. Still wondering about that rolled-up $20 bill with the white powdery substance on it, but you know. I guess it's sort of normal and probably what Think Progress thinks is normal, is if you're somewhere between 20 and 35, you probably do heroin once in a while. You know, just sniff a little for the heck of it. I might think that's weird. Eric in Los Angeles.

CALLER: Hey, John.

GIBSON: How are 'ya?

CALLER: Pretty good. Hey, I'm just curious where you actually got your information on any white powder and-or the fact that it was heroin, 'cause there's nothing out there yet that states that.

GIBSON: Well, yeah, there is, you just gotta read a little more.

CALLER: OK, where is it?

GIBSON: Well, CBS News in New York reported cops --

CALLER: There's no toxicology reports that have come back from that yet.

GIBSON: We're not talking about toxicology reports, Eric. Wait, look, the Daily Mail in London, which keeps up on these things, says that a source told them that he'd had a heroin problem. And that -- listen -- and that he had been in rehab recently. In addition, two stations here reporting that there had was a mysterious, or traces of a mysterious powder that they're testing. Let's hope it's not true, let's hope that he needed to take his Ambien by rolling up a $20 bill and snorting it.

CALLER: You know, I just think it shows really bad taste on your part, you know, which, you know, he wasn't even, he wasn't even, he was still warm when you started, you know, ripping on him yesterday.

GIBSON: No, he wasn't still warm but his body was still there. I'm not ripping on him. I mean, look, here's an interesting thing. Did you notice over the weekend that the AP had prepared a obituary on Britney Spears? And that right now in London the newspapers are making the obituaries of Amy Winehouse? And, you know, nobody knew about Heath Ledger. He was smart enough to keep his life private. He wasn't out in the clubs, stagging around, falling over. I mean, I feel bad for him. He shouldn't have been doing this stuff. Somebody should have warned him. A whole bunch of Ambien, a whole bunch of Xanax, and a whole bunch of whatever it was, and if he was involved in snorting heroin, it was going to depress his central nervous system and he was going to stop breathing. Now, you tell me, why is it millionaire 28-year-olds don't know that? And you tell me, why is it one of the great singers right now -- Amy Winehouse, she is a great singer -- she's lighting up a crack pipe on the air, on video, right in front of people --

[...]

GIBSON: It is John Gibson. I am -- I'm under constant attack these days, because -- partially because of the sound of my voice, has really crapped out because of a cold. ThinkProgress.org, the George Soros organization, is attacking me for calling Heath Ledger a weirdo in discussing his death yesterday. At first, I thought, oh they're lying, I couldn't have said that. And then I listened to the tape, and I realized I did say that. And here's the context. There was a interview that Heath Ledger did where a reporter asked him, just recently, about his daughter -- he's got a 2-year-old daughter, Matilda, that he apparently loved very much -- and which he said this:

[begin audio clip]

LEDGER: [inaudible] changed my life. Well, I don't know. I mean, God, where do you start? I mean --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did it change the way you work, you think?

LEDGER: No, I guess you're forced into kind of respecting yourself more. You learn more about yourself through your child, I guess. And I think you also look at death differently. Like -- it's like a Catch-22. Like, I feel good about dying now, because I feel like I'm alive in her, you know, but at the same time, you don't want to die because you want to be around for the rest of her life. It's kind of like --

[end audio clip]

GIBSON: Now, I reacted to the fact that he said, you know, having a child changed my attitude about death. And I thought, changed your attitude about death? I'm sure it changed your attitude about life, but who at his age and his success and all of that is thinking about death? And I said:

[begin audio clip]

GIBSON: Listen, November '07, he was talking about, and this is a 28-year-old guy, saying, "Well, you know, it's given me a whole different thought about death." What? You're 28 years old, and you're thinking about death? Give me a break.

CHRISTINE: Maybe he was a deep thinker.

GIBSON: Maybe he was a weirdo.

[end audio clip]

GIBSON: [clears throat] Christine?

CHRISTINE: Yeah?

GIBSON: Well, upon reflection, should I be attacked for that remark?

CHRISTINE: You called him a weirdo.

GIBSON: Well, I think it is weird that this guy -- look, evidently, and I don't know whether it's because he has to think about death playing things like the Joker. And apparently, this new movie in which he plays the Joker, he's just fabulous.

LEDGER (audio clip as the Joker from The Dark Knight): You can change things. Forever. There's no going back. See, to them, you're just a freak. Like me.

GIBSON: Like me. Like me! And I must tell you, the fact that I said what I said yesterday on this radio program, was not the strangest bit of reporting that went on on Heath Ledger's death yesterday. This was on MSNBC:

COURTNEY HAZLETT [MSNBC gossip reporter, audio clip]: Chris, I have to say, in a lot of ways, this reminds me we've almost had a dress rehearsal for this almost with Owen Wilson and --

GIBSON: Wow!

HAZLETT [audio clip]: -- thankfully, that turned out a lot differently. But it's hard to look at this --

GIBSON: Whoa.

HAZLETT [audio clip]: -- and not feel reminded --

GIBSON: Whoa.

HAZLETT [audio clip]: -- of that from earlier.

GIBSON: Whoa. OK. Now, why is Truth -- ThinkProgress.org not attacking the MSNBC lady for saying, well, Owen Wilson's suicide, that was a dress rehearsal for what we saw with Heath.

ANGRY RICH: Bathtub Boy [Keith Olbermann] uses their site for his show every night.

GIBSON: Oh, right. He draws his script from that site.

ANGRY RICH: Right.

GIBSON: And from Media Matters, the other George Soros-funded operation.

ANGRY RICH: That's right.

GIBSON: Well, all right, then if you weren't going to attack MSNBC, you could attack Larry King.

[begin audio clip]

KING: His parents were divorced, Pat. Are they living?

GIBSON [talking over audio clip]: Are they living?

PAT O'BRIEN (host of The Insider): I don't know the answer to that, Larry. I'm just going to have to tell you I don't know the answer to that.

KING: Ben, do you know?

BEN WIDDICOMBE (New York Daily News columnist): Honestly, I don't know. I do know that his family has released a statement insisting that he has not committed suicide, that that is not in his nature. The exact family members that issued that statement, I am not clear on.

KING: Do you know, A.J.?

A.J. HAMMER (host of Showbiz Tonight): I don't have that exact information, Larry.

KING: Do you know, Howard?

HOWARD BRAGMAN (publicist): I don't know. I think his parents are living, though.

KING: Does he have brothers and sisters?

BRAGMAN: I think he had a sister who helped get him into acting when his parents got divorced when he was about 10 years old. Supposedly his sister tried to put him into acting so he could really have a cathartic moment.

KING: Was his fiancée an actress?

BRAGMAN: Oh, yes. She was also in Brokeback Mountain. That's where they met, on the set. Michelle --

KING: Oh, she played his wife.

BRAGMAN: Exactly.

KING: Thank you all very much.

[end audio clip]

GIBSON: Talk about a moron. Larry, ask me, is his -- are his parents living? Yeah, Larry, in fact, they spoke.

KIM LEGDER (father) [audio clip]: We, Heath's family, confirm the very tragic, untimely, and accidental passing of our dearly loved son, brother, and doting father of Matilda. He was found peacefully asleep in his New York apartment by his housekeeper at 3:30 U.S. time.

GIBSON: Larry, that's his father. He's very much living. Who does produce Larry King's show now?

ANGRY RICH: That tape was out there well before that show aired.

GIBSON: I could see him asking one person. You know, but by then, the producer's supposed to open the mic, you know, the [inaudible], talk in his ear and say, "Larry, don't go there." He asks five more people.

All right, let me go now to Michael Hungen of TMZ.com. He's been doing a lot of work on this. So Michael, I've gotten a lot -- attacked on this radio program over the last 24 hours, for suggesting there might have been some other drug than a legal prescription drug involved in Heath Ledger's death. Now, there was a rolled-up $20 bill found in his apartment. It was confirmed by New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. And there have been reports from other media outlets that there was some sort of powdery residue on that $20 bill. Know anything about that?

HUNGEN: Yeah, John, they just -- actually, this news just broke, literally. They are saying the $20 was clean. So, no, you know, no illegal substance, I guess, coming out of that. CBS is reporting today that there were packets of drugs found in the apartment, which, I'm assuming now that that can't be true, if, you know, this -- obviously there was nothing on the $20 bill. So that's the latest coming out of the NYPD.

GIBSON: Why would anybody be rolling up $20 bills if not to snort powdered drugs?

HUNGEN: Your guess is a good as mine. Maybe he was looking to get some money rolls? I'm not really sure. They're saying, though, that it's clean. I don't know if they're going to keep testing or look at other things and also, you know, confirm what CBS reported, but I'm assuming that that also is not true.

GIBSON: Michael, the other thing is that that's not the only report on which we based this notion. There was a Daily Mail, which is a newspaper in Britain, talking about a source of theirs, a friend of Ledger's said he did have a heroin problem at one point and had gone into rehab. Do we know anything beyond the state of rumor about drug use involving drugs that are not legal?

HUNGEN: Yeah, I mean, we talked to sources close to him yesterday who confirm with us that he was struggling for a long time with a drug abuse problem, and he -- they told us he did not go to rehab. They also told us that he had been clean for a year, you know, and it could have been part of the reason that he and Michelle Williams got separated last year, you know, that she was his fiancé. But what we were told from his sources close to him that he had been clean for a long time. Now, again, we won't know until the toxicology reports come back if that's completely true anymore. But that'll going to be an interesting turn to this whole story.

GIBSON: Well, the whole deal with Michelle Williams, that's his actress girlfriend, mother of his child, young Matilda, was that they were very happily ensconced, they bought a townhouse in Brooklyn in one of those neighborhoods that's, you know, being gentrified, and suddenly there's problems and he's out of the house, and the story so far has been that she could not take his continued dalliances with drugs.

[...]

GIBSON: News bulletin as we go off the air. That rolled up $20 bill in Heath Ledger's house, clean. No drug residue. Just want to be on the record here, all the facts, keeping you quite up to date on this burgeoning controversy surrounding yours truly. Tune in tomorrow, I may have more voice and I may be in more trouble if things go right.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, LGBT
Network/Outlet
Fox News Radio
Person
John Gibson
Show/Publication
The John Gibson Show
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.