Fox News host John Gibson's comments on the January 22 and 23 editions of his Fox News Radio show regarding the late actor Heath Ledger and his role in Ang Lee's award-winning film Brokeback Mountain (Focus Features, December 2005) are only the latest in a long list of offensive, inflammatory, and simply mean comments by Gibson. For instance, on the December 9, 2006, edition of his Fox News show, The Big Story, Gibson asked: “Which is harder to watch, the pulling out the fingernails of Syriana (Warner Bros., December 2005) or Heath and Jake [Gyllenhaal] enamorada in this?" On the January 2, 2007, edition of The Big Story, purporting to respond to criticism he said he received over the remark, Gibson said:
GIBSON: Hollywood may, in fact, want to give every Oscar it can find to the first gay cowboy movie. But I think most people do not want to go into a darkened room with a tub of popcorn and munch away watching two guys get it on. I just don't.
GIBSON: I had one prominent writer say he wouldn't come on my radio show because I made hate-encouraging speech when I said I couldn't figure out which was going to be harder to watch, the guys smooching in Brokeback or [former CIA operative] Bob Baer getting his fingernails ripped out in Syriana.
I said, hey, I know people who are gay. I have nothing against them, but I don't want to see this movie.
On other topics, Gibson has claimed that he knew an Ohio school shooter was white because "[b]lack shooters don't" kill themselves, “they shoot and move on” ; asserted that the demonstrators who gathered in Jena, Louisiana, “wanna fight the white devil” ; mocked Comedy Central host Jon Stewart for emotional remarks he made shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; and claimed that Iraqis are “knuckle-dragging savages from the 10th century,” among other remarks:
- On the October 10, 2007, broadcast of his radio show, while discussing 14-year-old Asa H. Coon, who, earlier that day, had shot four people at his Cleveland high school before killing himself, Gibson asserted that “because the school is very heavily African-American, I did leap to a conclusion” that “the shooter might have been African-American.” Gibson went on to say that he “knew this was not a classic hip-hop shooting” once he learned Coon killed himself. Gibson continued: “Hip-hoppers do not kill themselves. They walk away. Now, I didn't need to hear the kid was white with blond hair. Once he'd shot himself in the head, no hip-hopper,” later stating, “I know the shooter was white. I knew it as soon as he shot himself. Hip-hoppers don't do that. They shoot and move on to shoot again.” After a commercial break, Gibson repeated his assertion: “All right, it turns out, though, the kid in Cleveland who did the shooting today -- three teachers, three students -- white.” Gibson added: “And I could tell right away 'cause he killed himself. Black shooters don't do that; they shoot and move on.”
- On the September 21, 2007, broadcast of his radio show, while discussing recent events surrounding the so-called Jena Six with the show's executive producer, known on air as “Angry Rich,” Gibson asserted that the demonstrators who gathered in Jena, Louisiana, only “wanna fight the white devil.” Gibson aired news coverage of the Jena Six protests and challenged protesters' claims that the incidents in Jena are representative of ongoing racism in this country, stating: "[W]hat they're worried about is a mirage of 1950s-style American segregation, racism from the South. They wanna fight the white devil. ... [T]here's no -- can't go fight the black devil. Black devils stalking their streets every night gunning down their own people -- can't go fight that. That would be snitchin'."
- On the August 10, 2007, broadcast of his radio show, Gibson and Angry Rich mocked Stewart for emotional remarks he made shortly after the 9-11 attacks. While airing a clip of Stewart's remarks from the September 20, 2001, edition of The Daily Show, Gibson mimicked Stewart and sarcastically interjected, “Oh, God, Jon. Just tell me it's not true,” and, “Oh! That's great. I'm -- God, I'm touched.” Before playing the clip, Angry Rich asked, “Do you remember what the media was like shortly after 9-11?” Gibson answered, “Oh, Jon Stewart sobbing.” After the clip concluded, Angry Rich called Stewart a “phony.”
- On the August 3, 2007, edition of Gibson's radio program, Angry Rich claimed Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards “whored his wife's cancer as a fundraising gimmick.” He also went on to call him “a fraud” and “a pansy.” During the segment, Gibson referred to Edwards as “the Breck Girl,” “Silky,” and “the biggest fraud running for president.” Angry Rich later acknowledged having made “a poor choice of words,” but went on to say of Edwards: “That doesn't mean he's not duplicitous, which he is.”
- On the May 31, 2007, edition of The Big Story, Gibson said he was “mesmerized” by what he called "[t]he TB Man story" -- the news that American attorney Andrew Speaker traveled by airline while infected with antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis. Gibson stated: “It seems every time a story pops up about somebody who has suddenly contracted some strange or incurable disease, it's somebody who is either from the third world, or was traveling through some godforsaken hellhole, and somehow managed to contract ooga booga fever.”
- On the April 23, 2007, broadcast of his radio show, Gibson agreed with a caller that the Coalition Provisional Authority's 2003 decision to purge the civil service in Iraq of all former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and disband the Iraqi army “was a mistake.” Gibson then stated: "[B]ut who is doing this killing? Give me a break. These are Iraqis killing each other. So what did we do? If you're saying it's our fault that we unmasked them as knuckle-dragging savages from the 10th century -- fine! I'll take credit."
- On the June 29, 2006, edition of The Big Story, Gibson asserted that “victory dances on the left are veering into hyperventilation” in the wake of the Supreme Court decision issued that morning that prohibited the use of military commissions as then constituted for the trials of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. Citing reader comments posted to the Daily Kos weblog, Gibson further claimed that “lefties” would think “it's a victory and a cause for celebration that several hundred terrorists walk free” and are “cheering terrorist victories” and “pulling for the wrong side.” Gibson also claimed that progressives would “wave ... the terrorists off to another building” if a hijacked plane approached the headquarters of The New York Times, but otherwise maintain that “we deserve it. So, come on, jihadis. Work your magic.”
- On the May 11, 2006, edition of The Big Story, Gibson advised viewers during the “My Word” segment to "[d]o your duty. Make more babies." He then cited a May 10, 2006, article, which reported that nearly half of all children under the age of 5 in the United States are minorities. Gibson added: “By far, the greatest number [of children under five] are Hispanic. You know what that means? Twenty-five years and the majority of the population is Hispanic.” Then, referring to Russia's projected decline in population, Gibson said, “To put it bluntly, we need more babies,” and later added: “So far, we are doing our part here in America but Hispanics can't carry the whole load. The rest of you, get busy. Make babies, or put another way -- a slogan for our times: 'procreation not recreation.' ”
During his May 16, 2006, “My Word” segment on The Big Story, Gibson claimed there are "[s]ome misunderstandings" regarding his May 11 comments, adding that he's “been accused of being a racist.” Gibson explained: “My concern was simply that I didn't want America to become Europe, where the birth rate is so low the continent is fast being populated by immigrants, mainly from Muslim countries, whose birth rate is very high,” adding, “I said ... it was also a good idea if people other than Hispanics also got busy and have more babies. Those people would include both blacks and whites. I suppose Asians, too.”
During his May 18, 2006, “My Word” segment on The Big Story, attacking “self-appointed media watchdogs,” Gibson reiterated his May 16 defense that he had urged viewers to make more babies because the United States should avoid the trend in Europe, which, according to Gibson, will eventually be overrun with a Muslim immigrant population because of the low birth rate among native Europeans. Gibson asserted: “I did say Hispanics have a higher birth rate than others in this country, but what I also said was that the others shouldn't make Hispanics carry the whole load of population replenishment.”