Right-wing media spent 2015 defending, praising, and peddling several of GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's debunked falsehoods, which PolitiFact rounded up as one big "lie of the year."
In the aftermath of the Charleston, SC shooting, iHeartMedia is planning a concert to "kick off A+E Networks' campaign to confront issues of race, and promote unity and progress on racial equity." However, a large part of iHeartMedia's brand is built on its syndication of several right-wing radio hosts -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and Michael Berry -- who consistently take racially inflammatory positions on their shows and denigrate civil rights advocacy.
Right-wing media sharply criticized the resignation of University of Missouri President Timothy M. Wolfe after a wave of protests over racial tensions erupted on the university's flagship campus. Several conservative media figures attacked the protesters, calling them "thugs" and a "mob," and claimed that Wolfe was "forced to resign" for the "crime of being a white male."
During the November 9 episode of The Michael Berry Show, Texas-based radio host Michael Berry commented on the University of Missouri president's resignation after students claimed the administration was not doing enough to address racial tension on campus. Berry said that by resigning the president was"pandering" to "thugs" who should be grateful for their opportunity and should "shut their mouth and play football."
Berry claimed the football players' participation in the call for more to be done about racist symbols and comments on campus were a distraction from the team's lackluster on-field performance. Berry criticized both the university president and the football players, saying that the university president resigned because, "The old white man didn't want to be attacked by the young black football players" and claimed the players should be more grateful for the "opportunity to try out for the NFL wearing the University of Missouri uniform."
Berry continued saying Missouri has "a problem of culture, a problem of priorities, and you got a problem of pandering." Berry also warned that Missouri's reaction to the protests were like "Neville Chamberlain [who] became the illustration of what is wrong when you pander to a bully" -- citing the British Prime Minister often criticized for unsuccessfully appeasing Hitler in the lead up to World War II.
MICHAEL BERRY: So now the president of the university has resigned. Now, think of the message this sends. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. The football players at the University of Missouri? The football players decide who the president will be? An institution of higher learning -- you're doing research on molecular biology that may lead to a cure for cancer. You're doing aeronautical research, you're doing chemical research, molecular biology research. You're educating how many thousand people? And you're letting a few thugs decide who your president will be?
Good, you do have a problem. But it's far bigger than the creative shaping of poop by somebody on your campus. You got a major problem with your priorities. If you can't rein in a few football players to shut their mouth and play football, else they lose their scholarship? You've got a real problem on your hands. You've got a problem of culture. You've got a problem of priorities, and you've got a problem of pandering.
And let me tell you something. As Neville Chamberlain became the illustration of what is wrong when you pander to a bully, there will be no peace in your time at the University of Missouri. This will not be the last time this group of thugs flexes their muscles. You can rest assured on that. When you pander to a bully you empower that bully, you feed that bully. He will grow bigger and stronger. And bullies are only effective when they have power to exercise. There will come another day and you will face off against that bully in a bigger battlefield. You've just made a huge mistake. The country continues to make a huge mistake on university campuses, workplaces, schools, the military. This is a country built on merit and accomplishments and if you don't want to play by those rules, you don't get to be on the team. Shut up about race already.
Berry has criticized civil rights protests by mocking the Black Lives Matter movement in a weekly segment satirizing shooting victims in Chicago in his attempt to prove his claim that "black lives matter, just not to black people." In addition, he has previously attacked African-American UCLA students who called for improved diversity on campus, calling them "pack animals" and saying they need to "get the F over themselves."
During the October 12 episode of The Michael Berry Show, Houston based radio host Michael Berry continued his recurring segment mocking gun violence in Chicago.
Referring to Chicago as "Thuglandia," Berry said one of the victims, who was 15, was found shot behind his home "bleeding his life away into the dirt." Berry described another victim who was shot in a car as having "bled out all over the upholstery...like that scene in Pulp Fiction."
Berry said the "one thing you should learn from all of this is that black lives matter, just not to black people."
Berry's reoccurring segment on Chicago violence, which he refers to as the "butcher bill," often mocks innocent victims of gun violence as well as gang related shooting victims. The Chicago segment and other race based segments represent a small portion of the inflammatory rhetoric appearing on the Michael Berry Show, which also includes appearances from a black face comedian, as well as homophobic and islamaphobic commentary.
Radio host Michael Berry said "black people don't know how to exist without white people to blame their problems on" and "most white people would like to get as far from black people as they possibly could and never have to see another black person" during a call-in segment on his radio show, which he also used to promote October as "White History Month."
During the October 1 broadcast of his show, Berry asked listeners to call in and list stereotypical things white people like. When one caller said white people "like to talk about black people," Berry responded by describing how blacks and whites talk about one another. "Most white people would like to get as far from black people as they possibly could," said Berry, continuing, "Black people are obsessed with white people... black people don't know how to exist without white people around to blame their problems on."
(CALLER) FELTON: Michael Berry.
BERRY: Go ahead sir.
FELTON: White people like to talk about black people.
BERRY: [laughs] You know I'm going to tell you something, Felton. I don't say this to hurt your feelings, I really don't. But this is the God's honest truth and nobody's ever going to admit this to you. The fact is, most white people -- not all white people - most white people would like to get as far from black people as they possibly could and never have to see another black person, and never have to deal with black-people issues, never need to talk about black people. I'm telling you, Felton - and you don't have to believe this - I'm telling you that if white people are not around black people, they literally never talk about them. I've spent time with both groups and I'll tell you that black people are obsessed with white people and white people simply want to get away. White people go on snow skiing trips to Utah and Colorado and they never see a black person and they don't stand around going, "Boy, I tell you what! Them black people lazy! They lazy and they violent and they try'n a get our womens!" They don't do it. The only time white people talk about black people is because black people cannot let them go. They can't. Black people don't know how to exist without white people around to blame their problems on.
FELTON: That's not true, Michael Berry.
BERRY: Felton, you can't just say, "Nah uh."
FELTON: I don't blame white people for my problems.
BERRY: Well you -- Felton, please don't personalize it. I'm speaking generally in a sagacious way about social tendencies.
BERRY: So don't take it the wrong way. It isn't that white people don't like you or other black people. It's just, white people have other things they're worried about. You know, how to get their, you know, next latte or smoothie or, you know, stuff like that. You know that's really what white people are -- that's what they really, really care about.
FELTON: Hey, I like lattes and smoothies.
Berry kicked off the show by talking about "White History Month," which he said non-white people should celebrate by wishing white people "Happy White History Month." He then extolled all the things white people have done for society and compared the month to a "Jewish holiday":
BERRY: Every year at this time, I will be approached in person, on email, by folks who are not white. And they will say, 'What do I say to you people? Should I, you know, should I recognize it or is this just something ya'll do internally? I want to participate, I want ya'll to know that I, you know, I'm proud for ya'll, that ya'll too have a history that you can be proud of and that ya'll have done some things too.'
And I always say, do what comes naturally. White people are naturally excited about "White History Month," but they're probably not going to mention it publicly, unfortunately, because they don't know who all knows and they don't want to seem self-centered or too absorbed, narcissistic. So the proper thing to do is, for those of you who are not white but you say, you know what I want -- you want to encourage multiculturalism and include the white people in what you're doing, and let them celebrate, you know, their unique special identity and some of the contributions their people, the white people, have made to society. The right thing to do is simply to approach them and say, 'Happy White History Month.'
People often ask, 'What is the proper greeting for White History Month?' And it's simple, it's just -- it's like Easter. Just, 'Happy White History Month.' You can add anything you'd like to that. A nice line for a lot of white people, if you're not white, is to say, 'Happy White History Month. You know I was doing some reading on the Michael Berry Show website and I didn't realize white people had done so much. I was, I was really impressed, I mean, you should be proud.'
And you will notice their countenance will change and they will smile and it's like, you know, it's like it used to be for somebody who came to this country from Vietnam. You know, they didn't, you didn't know much about it and then everybody started saying 'pho' and so they could feel proud of what they grew up eating, and were ashamed of it, and now they realized they could be proud of that.
So, over the course of the coming month, we will assist those of you who are not white in how best to celebrate. It's like a Jewish holiday. It's happening all around you but you're really not sure why, you don't quite know the history and 'what is this Seder stuff and Passover and what does all this mean?' We're here to help you and to celebrate. And to all of -- some of you out there are white, to all of you we offer you our heartfelt greetings, "Happy White History Month." And we will have various forms of celebration over the coming month. But of course we know you'll be having your own private celebrations and this is a time of mirth and merriment amongst the white people in this country and their community. An opportunity to really celebrate and educate young white people that their people have also made contributions to world society and entrepreneurism and sport and culture and language and science and mathematics and engineering and technology. White people have actually been involved in some of these things, too. And so it's a great opportunity for us every year to learn a little bit about white people and to kind of take a moment from the greater whole and just set aside a moment to celebrate our history as white people.
Berry has a long history of making racially-charged comments and currently has a recurring segment on his show devoted to mocking minority victims of gun violence. Berry has said he is "proud" of the segment in comments on social media, praising its "awesomess" (sic).
In addition to mocking black victims of violence and making inflammatory race-based statements, Berry also likes to talk politics on his show. He recently hosted presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a friend "for over 10 years," according to Berry, who introduced Cruz to the crowd at his 2012 Senate primary campaign victory party.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent referenced Nazi Germany's propaganda operation to claim that the worldwide outrage sparked by the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe is a "lie." He made the remarks during a media tour which saw him repeatedly defended the lion's killing by a hunter who paid guides to help him shoot big game.
Nugent has been one of the very few defenders of the paid hunt that killed Cecil -- a beloved, 13-year-old lion who was a major tourist attraction at Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. Critics have expressed outrage about several aspects of the hunt, including its questionable legality, the fact that the hunters used bait to lure Cecil out of the preserve where he was protected, that Cecil was wounded by an arrow and suffered for two days before hunters tracked and killed him with a gun, that the hunters reportedly attempted to destroy Cecil's GPS collar signifying his participation in a scientific study, and that the hunters only took Cecil's head, leaving his body to rot.
During an Aug. 4 appearance on conservative Michael Berry's radio show, Nugent said, "Every word uttered by the 'Propaganda Ministry' about this lion kill is a lie. Every word is a lie, and I can take it lick-for-lick. Lured for a game preserve? Hello, that's why they have game preserves."
The "Propaganda Ministry" (Propagandaministerium) is one name used to describe propaganda efforts in Nazi Germany run by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Nugent frequently invokes Goebbels in his inflammatory attacks.
Later during Berry's show, Nugent compared the killing of Cecil to the phrase, "Black Lives Matter." Nugent said, "The entire episode is such a lie. It's like 'Black Lives Matter' ... I suppose those who claim 'Black Lives Matter' don't believe that that the black lives in Chicago matter or Baltimore or Detroit or New Orleans or Washington, D.C., because as black lives are slaughtered by the hour, not a peep. Same with lions. Thousands and thousands of lions were killed in the exact same legal manner, and not a peep for one reason and one reason only, because they didn't have names."
Nugent's appearance on Berry's show was just one of a series of interviews he has recently given in which he defended the killing of Cecil. During an Aug. 3 appearance on The Frank Beckmann Show, Nugent even unfavorably compared modern-day Zimbabwe to its former incarnation as Dutch-ruled Rhodesia to help rationalize the lion's killing.
Without mentioning that Rhodesia, the territorial predecessor to Zimbabwe, was ruled by a white minority that subjugated the black African population, Nugent complained about Zimbabwe game officials who have launched an investigation into Cecil's killing.
He said, "Do you know that Zimbabwe, right after it came from Rhodesia -- they changed because [President Robert] Mugabe's gangsters took over all the Dutch African farms? It was the bread basket of Africa, the entire continent. It was the most agriculture, productive country in Africa and then when Mugabe and his Crips and Bloods moved in, it's become nothing but a cesspool of violence and murder and rape and they don't produce squat. Somebody choose a system. If you are on Mugabe's side you're weird."
Image via Flickr user Vince O'Sullivan under a Creative Commons license.
Fox News personalities and right-wing radio hosts are crediting Donald Trump with focusing national media attention on sanctuary cities and immigration with his incendiary comments that characterized immigrants as criminals and "rapists" -- leading Trump to brag about Fox's laudatory coverage of his racist remarks.
Radio host Michael Berry criticized the decision to remove the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina's Statehouse grounds by positing that if the gunman were Muslim, no one would be calling to "outlaw the Koran" or mosques in response.
On his June 23 show, Berry, who is an outspoken proponent of the Confederate battle flag, criticized the calls to remove the flag from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds in response to the fatal shootings of nine black church members on June 17. Dylann Storm Roof, who has been charged with the attack, told law enforcement officials he was influenced by white supremacists, who see the Confederate flag as a symbol of their beliefs. Berry said taking down the flag made no sense because when a Muslim commits a terrorist attack -- something he falsely claimed is more likely than an attack by a non-Muslim -- there aren't any calls to "outlaw the Koran" or to "outlaw mosques."
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, attacks on Muslims after 9/11 "skyrocketed some 1,600%," and as recently as 2010, some 160 anti-Muslim hate crimes were committed. North Carolina and Florida have passed "anti-sharia" laws, and as The New York Times reported, towns in Tennessee, California, and Wisconsin have tried to stop the construction or expansion of mosques.
After South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) announced that she supported the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol, right-wing media figures responded by attacking the flag's possible removal as "cultural cleansing" and asking whether the American flag would be next.
Texas-based radio host Michael Berry criticized a Twitter user who, in the wake of the June 17 killing of nine black worshippers at an historic black church in Charlestown, South Carolina, tweeted that the state's governor had defended the Confederate "Stars and Bars" flag over the state capitol last October. Berry claimed the flag merely represents "the heritage of the state" and accused critics of wanting to "revise the history."
Berry spent a large portion of his June 18 morning show downplaying the racist motivations behind Dylann Storm Roof's attack on a prayer group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. While condemning those he said have rushed to judgement about the white shooter's motivations, Berry responded to a tweet by a former official at the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development that pointed out that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) had defended flying the Confederate flag outside the statehouse in October 2014. Berry said it was silly to blame the capitol's display of the "Stars and Bars" flag of the former Confederate States for encouraging the attack because it merely "represents the heritage of the state." He added that opponents want to "revise the history and take the flag away." Listen:
Berry, who called black teens at a pool party in McKinney, Texas "jungle animals" and told black UCLA students who were trying to improve diversity on campus to "get the F over themselves," has caused more than a few controversies with his racially insensitive remarks. His defense of the Confederate flag epitomizes what Philip Klein, managing editor of the conservative Washington Examiner, criticized in a recent column that said, "Conservatives who try to defend the flag (or who are afraid to criticize it) are only reinforcing the perception that supporters of limited government don't really care about the historical or modern day struggles of black Americans." But considering the fact that Berry's promotional material for his show features a picture of him wearing a Confederate flag hat, (see above), it seems unlikely he cares.
From the June 11 edition of iHeartRadio's The Michael Berry Show:
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From the June 8 edition of iHeartRadio's Michael Berry Show:
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Cheered on by Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media, conservative activists spent the past year engaged in an anti-Muslim campaign that included efforts to block the planned Islamic center in lower Manhattan and demonize the imam spearheading the project. The bigotry has culminated in a Florida pastor's now-"suspended" plans to burn Qurans on September 11 -- plans that the pastor has explicitly linked to the controversy over the Islamic center.
Who says conservative media personalities don't traffic in violent rhetoric?
While discussing the recently announced plans of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and Cordoba Initiative "to build a community center two blocks away from Ground Zero in New York City that would include 'a mosque, performance art center, gym, swimming pool and other public spaces,'" right-wing Houston radio host Michael Berry said, "I'll tell you this: If you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up."
ThinkProgress.org's Amanda Terkel writes:
On Wednesday, a man named "Tony" called into the KTRH-AM (Houston, TX) radio show of right-wing radio host Michael Berry in support of the Muslim center. First, Berry asked the caller whether "Tony" was his real name, because with his accent, he didn't "sound like a 'Tony.'" He repeatedly tried to link to the mosque to terrorists, eventually saying that if the mosque is built, he hopes someone blows it up:
BERRY: No, Tony, you can't build a mosque at the site of 9/11.
TONY: Why not? Why not?
BERRY: No, you can't. And I'll tell you this: If you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up. … I hope the mosque isn't built, and if it is, I hope it's blown up. And I mean that. … It's right-wing radicals like me that are going to keep this country safe for you and everyone else from the people who are flying the planes from the country you fled from. If you want to identify with those people, go live with them.
You can contact KTRH AM 740's program director Bryan Erickson with your thoughts about Berry's comments by clicking here.