The Chicago Tribune reported that conservative radio host Michael Berry apologized for, and promised to end, his segment mocking Chicago gun violence victims after receiving widespread backlash in response to his iHeartRadio Music award for “best news/talk personality" of the year.
The event aired on March 5, though it is unclear whether Berry actually received the award, and iHeartRadio did not respond to questions. The former Chicago weekend crime report segment, which Berry dubbed the weekend’s “Butcher Bill,” routinely ridiculed gun violence victims and played “bingo” with victims’ injuries. During the March 10 edition of The Michael Berry Show’s evening broadcast, Berry apologized for the segment, saying he had received “valid criticism” and “thoughtful comments,” which “deserve an apology.”
The March 14 Tribune article detailed Berry’s apology, during which he insisted that while it was important to highlight “the problems of crime” in Chicago, he has to “make better decisions with the words” he uses. The Tribune also acknowledged that no one from iHeartRadio has responded to requests for comments “after … Media Matters first shined a spotlight on Berry’s history of insensitive and racially charged comments”:
A nationally syndicated talk radio star who regularly mocked Chicago homicide victims on air is yanking the segment and has apologized, saying, “I have to make better decisions with the words I use.”
Michael Berry — earlier this month named the nation's “top talk personality” by radio giant iHeartRadio — offended many Chicagoans when they learned that he encouraged listeners to play a bingo game in which they guessed where in the body victims were shot.
Neither Berry nor iHeartMedia, which owns iHeartRadio and broadcasts his show across the nation, had commented on the outrage that emerged after the liberal-leaning media monitoring organization Media Matters first shined a spotlight on Berry's history of insensitive and racially charged comments.
But on Friday afternoon Berry said during his show that he was “bothered” by the “valid criticism” he had received and that he had gone too far in his search for laughs.
“I read some comments that people had posted, that I was mocking crime victims,” he said on the air. “And my immediate reaction is, 'You're stupid, you're dumb, you're criticizing me — I'm not going to listen to you.' But I sat down with my wife and we read through them, and I realized I could see where somebody would say that. I would come off, 'You're right. That is a valid criticism,' and I have thought over that a lot in the last week.”
“It bothered me a lot,” he told listeners. “And we decided that we would discontinue that segment, as much as we think it's important to highlight the problems of crime. And I also wanted to apologize because some people took the time to post to me that that bothered them and why — in very thoughtful comments — and they deserve an apology. And I have to make better decisions with the words I use.”
Berry and an iHeartMedia spokeswoman did not respond to questions Monday about whether Berry, 46, had been pushed by his bosses to make the apology, which did not name any of the specific victims that Berry had mocked.