iHeartRadio's "Talk Personality Of The Year" Is Conservative Radio Host Who Mocks Chicago Gun Violence Victims
Research ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS
Nationally syndicated conservative radio host Michael Berry ridicules Chicago gun violence victims in a weekly “Butcher Bill” segment, including playing “bingo” with victims’ gunshot injuries. This Sunday, iHeartRadio will name him “talk personality of the year.”
Berry Is Listed As No. 16 In Talkers Magazine's "Heavy Hundred" Talk Radio Hosts. Michael Berry is a Houston, TX-based radio show host listed as No. 16 in the talk-radio trade publication Talkers' "Heavy Hundred." The Michael Berry Show relies heavily on conservative political commentary and racially charged rhetoric, including gimmicks such as sketch comedy performed by blackface-wearing comedian Chuck Knupp. Berry often comments on black crime in disparaging ways and mocks civil rights advocacy with his catch phrase “Black lives matter, just not to black people.” [Talkers, accessed 2/28/17; Media Matters, 6/11/15; Media Matters, 2/16/16]
Berry To Receive iHeartRadio’s Award For “Best News/Talk Personality.” In a February 27 press release, Talkers announced that Michael Berry has been named “news/talk personality of the year” by iHeartRadio. This is the first year iHeartRadio has given out the award, and it will be presented to Berry on March 5 in Los Angeles at the iHeartRadio Music Awards:
iHeartRadio Names Michael Berry News/Talk Personality of the Year. This award for best news/talk personality is a first and the competition was open only to talk hosts who work for iHeartMedia stations. KTRH, Houston-based, independently syndicated talk personality Michael Berry is named the iHeartRadio News/Talk Personality of the Year. Berry says, “We’re on live for five hours a day, so our approach is not to be the loudest screamer in the political market. Our listeners seem to enjoy talking about parenting, food, culture, with a mix of politics as well. It’s entertainment, and hopefully it’s engaging. That’s the goal, rather than getting pigeonholed into ‘political talk.’” Speaking about his show’s success, Berry says, “First, we draw back the curtain and let the listener join us in our lives. We open up, we share our medical ailments, we brag on our kids, we discuss our fears and worries, we are usually the butt of our own jokes. Relatability is key. They can identify with what we’re going through, because it’s what they are going through. The second factor is that we are a team, rather than just one guy talking. We draw material and parodies from our board ops, show producers, and even a few listeners, to look more like the ‘SNL’ writing team than an AM talk show. It makes for a show that dares to be funny, which makes for better entertainment.” The award will be given in Los Angeles on March 5 at the iHeartRadio Music Awards. [Talkers, 2/27/17]
Award Event Will Be Broadcast By TBS, TNT, And TruTV. [iHeartRadio.com, accessed 2/28/17]
Berry: Chicago Residents Ignored The Spring Weather “And Celebrated The Old-Fashioned Way, By Shooting Their Neighbors.” During the February 20 edition of Michael Berry’s weekend crime report, which he has dubbed his “Butcher Bill,” Berry said residents of Chicago’s “south and west” side “ignored the mini taste of spring” during an unusually warm Presidents Day weekend and instead “celebrated the old fashioned way, by shooting their neighbors,” leaving four dead and 26 wounded. [The Michael Berry Show, 2/20/17]
Berry: Victim Shot In Leg “Will Never Be A Professional Field Goal Kicker.” During his February 20 broadcast, Berry reported on an argument between two men that resulted in one man shooting the other in the right leg. Berry sarcastically noted that the victim would “never be a professional field goal kicker.” [The Michael Berry Show, 2/20/17]
Berry: Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre Is Just “An Average Weekend In Chicago, Except Those Guys Were All White.” During the February 13 broadcast, Berry noted that the previous weekend was the anniversary of the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre where seven people were lined up and shot on orders from notorious mobster Al Capone, which Berry called “an average weekend in Chicago, except those guys were all white.” He then said, “Not to be outdone, the thugs of Chicago kept reminding everyone why Chicago cannot have nice things” before launching into the weekend crime report. [The Michael Berry Show, 2/13/17]
Berry: “File This Under Don’t Piss Off Mama.” During the January 30 broadcast, Berry reported on a woman who shot her 21-year-old son in the neck during a family gathering and told listeners to “file” that one “under don’t piss off mama.” Berry continued, “So next year when they send out the invites, they’ll say, ‘Angeline not gonna shot boo boo again, is she?’” Berry ended the report by claiming the family would like her to still come, but “last year she shot boo boo.” [The Michael Berry Show, 1/30/17]
Berry: “Man You Know You’re Broke When You Gotta Murder Somebody … Up Close With A Knife.” During the January 23 broadcast, Berry reported on a 26-year-old man who was “stabbed … several times in the gut” in the hallway of his apartment building. Berry went on to mock the murder, saying, “You know you’re broke when you gotta murder someone in 2017 up close with a knife.” [The Michael Berry Show, 1/23/17]
Berry Mocked Chicago Residents’ Fears. At the end of his weekend crime report during a January 23 broadcast, Berry claimed that if a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old were shot where he lives or where he grew up, “the entire neighborhood would come together,” and “the police would be brought in.” Berry said residents of Chicago aren’t concerned about “hoodrats … shooting people up,” calling that the “least of their worries.” Berry concluded by mocking Chicago residents’ fear, saying, “They’re afraid, they’re scared. Of Donald Trump? Of white police officers? Please.” [The Michael Berry Show, 1/23/17]
Berry: “That Old Man Is, He’s a Player. Sixty Years Old And Still Gang Banging With The Kids.” During the January 16 broadcast of his weekend crime report, Berry mockingly praised a 60-year-old man who was shot on his front porch, saying, “You go, pops. I mean, seriously, hats off to you. He ain’t hanging it up. … Sixty years old and still gang banging with the kids.” [The Michael Berry Show, 1/16/17]
Berry On Three Men Shot In Chicago: "That's A Hat Trick!" In a January 2016 broadcast during Berry's weekly Chicago weekend crime report, he joked about three young men who were shot in front of a gas station. "A 20-year-old man, a 22-year-old man, and a 26-year-old man, all hanging out at a gas station when someone drove by and fired shots. The 20-year-old was shot in the back, the 22-year-old was shot in the arm, and the 26-year-old was shot in the leg. That's pretty good -- that's a three for three right there! That's a hat trick." [The Michael Berry Show, 1/4/16]
Berry On 14-Year-Old Victim: "J'Quantae, Whose Name Was Spelled Out On The Sidewalk With Candles -- I Hope They Put The Apostrophe -- May Have Had Gang Ties." Berry mocked the vigil for 14-year-old J'Quantae Riles, saying that "the po-po believe that J'Quantae, whose name was spelled out on the sidewalk with candles -- I hope they put the apostrophe -- may have had gang ties." [The Michael Berry Show, 11/9/15]
Berry Compared Child's Shooting To A Scene From The Movie Pulp Fiction. During an October 2015 broadcast, Berry brought up the murder of a 17-year-old boy who was shot in his face and neck while sitting in the passenger seat of a car. Berry responded to the incident by saying, "a 17-year-old male sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car when another man came up and shot him in the face and neck. He bled out all over the upholstery. Oh that's like that scene from Pulp Fiction." [The Michael Berry Show, 10/12/15]
Berry On A 14-Year-Old Victim Just Days After He Was Killed: "He Won't Have To Live With That Name Anymore." During a September 2015 broadcast, Berry brought up the murder of Tyjuan Poindexter, a 14-year-old bystander who was shot and killed. Berry mocked the child's name, saying, "Tyjuan Poindexter. Ha ha. Tyjuan Poindexter was standing outside with some friends when some people drove by and opened fire. Young Mr. Poindexter was shot in the head and died at the scene. He won't have to live with that name anymore." Berry continued to mock gun violence victims, saying of another fatal shooting: "Most people dove under cars. Not the fat ones. But Mr. Lewis was left exposed to fire and took several bullets in the chest. He died about two hours later at the hospital." According to a Chicago Tribune report on the shooting, Poindexter was killed while walking to play basketball with friends. He was unaffiliated with any gangs, and he enjoyed wrestling and drawing custom shoes. [The Michael Berry Show; 9/21/15, Chicago Tribune, 9/21/15]
Berry Mocked Bystander Shooting Victim, Saying, "We Went From Billy The Kid To Donnell The Dealer." During a July 2015 broadcast, Berry reported on the shooting death of 17-year-old Donnell Morrison and said, "We have gone from Billy the Kid to Donnell the Dealer. Now, we don't know that Donnell was a dealer, but we don't know that Billy was a kid either." Berry also found it funny that victims in a car were hit by gunfire from the sidewalk, saying, "Interesting twist on a drive-by. This time the victims were the ones driving.” He laughed, then continued: “We got hit by a drive-by, or maybe you could call that a 'walk-by.' Both men were shot multiple times and were pronounced dead at the scene." [The Michael Berry Show, 7/27/15]
Berry: "Our Sponsor For This Week's Chicago Weekend Crime Update Is ... Black Lives Matter." During an August 2015 broadcast, Berry mocked a 19-year-old shooting victim, saying he "lingered 20 more hours before shuffling off his mortal coil" and re-enacting what he imagined the victim's last moments were like before he was shot. Berry ended the segment by saying it was sponsored by the Black Lives Matter movement. [The Michael Berry Show, 8/17/15]
Berry: A 47-Year-Old Gun Violence Victim "Was Shot In Her Big Ol' Buttocks." During a September 2015 broadcast, Berry also joked about a man and a woman who were shot in the early morning hours, stating, "They must have got up early to go to work," and, "I bet they had to miss work that day." [The Michael Berry Show, 9/28/15]
Berry Tells Listeners, “You Don’t Have Bingo. That’s Only The Second One We’ve Called Out.” During the February 20 broadcast of Berry’s “Butcher Bill” segment, he read out the injuries of two gun violence victims, adding on bingo squares for each injury. After calling out “A7” for a man shot in his right hand, Berry reminded his viewers that “you don’t have bingo. That’s only the second one we’ve called out. Just hang on.” From the February 20 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Michael Berry Show:
MICHAEL BERRY (HOST): Saturday, 4:25 a.m., po-po responding to a call of shots fired, found 36-year-old John Gonzalez with a gunshot wound to, to his head. To his head, everybody. B4, his head. His friends shoved Mr. Gonzalez into a car and drove him to a nearby ER, where he later died. A 32-year-old man was taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds to both legs, and a 26-year-old man was admitted for a gunshot wound to his, A7, right hand. A7. Right -- [unintelligible] you don’t have bingo. That’s only the second one we’ve called out. Just hang on. [The Michael Berry Show, 2/20/17]
Berry: “The Way To Score These At Home, … Right Thigh Is A Point And A Half.” During the February 13 broadcast of the “Butcher Bill” segment, Berry reported that a 54-year-old victim had been taken to the hospital for a gunshot wound to his right thigh. Berry informed his listeners that “the way to score these at home, … right thigh is a point-and-a-half”:
MICHAEL BERRY (HOST): Sunday, 1:45 PM, 45-year-old man and 55 -- 54-year-old man, like it matters, were standing outside talking when someone walked up to the pair and shot them. The older man was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to his right thigh. Right thigh. The way to score these at home, by the way, if thigh is the correct answer, right thigh is a point and a half. The younger man was shot in the face and the neck. And died at the ER. [The Michael Berry Show, 2/13/17]
Berry: “I Don’t Know If We Have A Bingo Box For Both Hands.” After reporting on a man who had been shot in both hands, Berry told his listeners he may not “have a bingo box for both hands,” and went on to say that injury would “have to be the hand.” [1/9/17]
Berry Encouraged Listeners To Guess Where Victims Were Shot, Saying, "I Hope You're Playing Along At Home." During one episode of Berry's weekly crime report, he made a game for listeners to guess where victims of violence were shot, saying, "What's crazy is none of these things seem to get the media attention as when one of these people runs at a cop, tries to kill him, and ends up dead. It's almost as if we're ignoring all of these murders. But if most of these were black, don't all black lives matter?" Berry said of one victim, "24-year-old man outside when he heard shots and felt pain, he was shot in the upper left chest. Critical condition. He had no heart." [The Michael Berry Show, 7/20/15]
Berry Often Mockingly Suggests The Solution When You “Hear Shots And Feel Pain” Is To Wear “Earmuffs”
Berry Suggests Man Who Was Shot Wear “Earmuffs.” During the February 20 “Butcher Bill” broadcast, Berry suggest “earmuffs” were the solution to a 23-year-old man who was “walking when he heard shots and felt pain.” Berry added, “He was shot in the -- left foot is the correct answer, the left foot.” [The Michael Berry Show, 2/20/17]
Berry: “If You’re In Chicago, Cover Your Ears. You Don’t Want To Hear Shots And Feel Pain.” In his February 6 “Butcher Bill” segment, Berry reported on a 19-year-old man who “heard shots and felt pain” when he was shot in the right hand. Berry then advised his listeners to “cover your ears” when in Chicago, because “you don’t want to hear shots and feel pain.” [The Michael Berry Show, 2/6/17]
Berry: “Remember Folks, If You’re Driving Through Chicago, Get You Some Ear Protection.” During the January 30 of Berry’s “Butcher Bill” segment, he mentioned a 47-year-old man who “heard shots and felt pain” while driving and had been shot in the left arm. Berry reminded his listeners to “get you some ear protection” when driving through Chicago. [The Michael Berry Show, 1/30/17]
Berry Has A History Of Using Inflammatory Rhetoric, Including Calling For A Proposed Mosque To Be Blown Up
Berry: “Black Folk Don’t Need To Hear No Economics.” During a February 2016 broadcast of The Michael Berry Show, Berry criticized CNN’s Marc Lamont Hill for advising then-Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to talk to “black voters” about economics. Berry claimed this really meant “what are you going to do for me? How much I’m going to get paid?” He went on to say, “We talking about black folk here! Black folk don't need to hear no economics!”:
MICHAEL BERRY: Bernie Sanders' meeting with Al Sharpton yesterday. None of these people are speaking out on the basis of economic policy, foreign policy. None of these things affect whether life in this country will be wonderful because of opportunity. All of this is related to what are you going to do for blacks? What are you going to do for us? Those are the words that come out. But what they really mean is what are you going to do for me? How much I'm going to get paid? What I'm going to get out this deal?
CNN's Marc Lamont Hill says, quote, "Bernie Sanders has to put himself in a position where black voters see him as the conscious choice, see him as the one who reflects their sensibilities. He has not done that purely by talking economics."
You can't talk economics. We talking about black folk here! Black folk don't need to hear no economics! Next line.
'"He has to talk to our racial pain, our racial realities." In other words, he has to talk down to us.
Headline yesterday: Over 40 percent of babies born in American in 2015 were to fatherless woman, fatherless homes. Over 40 percent. If you look at just blacks -- want to talk about the black experience today? Last time I checked, I think it was three-quarters. Might have been two-thirds but I think it was three-quarters of babies born in America. Listen, I got news for you. When you attack a cop, you can blame him for shooting back. When you break the laws, even if they're stupid, you knew what the law was, and you get caught, you're going to jail. You can blame the system. But what you can't blame the system for is when a black man makes a baby with a black woman, with no intention of taking care of it. That ain't whitey's fault. And that's the biggest problem because every little baby that's plopped out is gonna grow into a man or a woman, and many times without any direction. [Media Matters, 2/11/16]
Berry: “Guns Don’t Kill People; Muslims Do.” During a December 2015 broadcast, Berry criticized President Barack Obama for tying gun safety measures to terrorism, claiming that “guns don’t kill people; Muslims do”:
BERRY: After spending the last several days talking about gun control, we knew Obama was going to tie ISIS to it. And he didn't disappoint saying, quote, "To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun." Well, guess what? Boston bombers, Nadal Hasan -- a U.S. army major -- and these two, were not on a no-fly list. So what is the point of your no-fly list? Which, by the way, is unconstitutional.
Then he goes on, "What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security. We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernadino." That is not a powerful assault weapon! Can we stop with that already? He goes on, "I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures, but the fact is that our intelligence and our law enforcement agencies -- no matter how effective they are -- cannot identify every would-be mass shooter. Whether that individual is motivated by ISIL," stop saying ISIL, it's ISIS, "or some other hateful ideology, what we can do and must do is make it harder for them to kill." Neither, none of these folks have been on no-fly lists. And by the way, they were living in the state with the strongest gun control in the country. The tightest, the strictest. So how well did that work?
Guns don't kill people; Muslims do. [Media Matters, 12/7/15]
Berry Called Black Teens Detained By Police In McKinney, TX, "Jungle Animals." On his June 8, 2015, radio show, Berry called the teenagers who were detained by police at a pool party in McKinney, TX, "jungle animals" and mocked how they spoke. [The Michael Berry Show, 6/8/15, via Media Matters]
Berry: Black UCLA Students Are "Pack Animals" Who Need To "Get The F Over Themselves." On his February 27, 2014, show, Berry mentioned that African-American students at UCLA had called on the school to improve diversity on campus and then proceeded to call them "pack animals" who should "get the F over themselves." [Media Matters, 2/27/14]
Berry Was Criticized For Posting Racially Charged Tweets During A Speech By Michelle Obama. During first lady Michelle Obama's speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, violence broke out in a separate part of the city. Berry reacted by tweeting about how "several black people were shot by other black people in Chicago while Michelle was speaking" and using the phrase "#knuckadeads" - a hashtag many people interpreted as a racial slur and criticized him for using. [Media Matters, 6/11/15; Twitter.com, 9/4/12]
Berry On Proposed New Mosque In New York: "I Hope Somebody Blows It Up." According to ThinkProgress, during a discussion concerning a proposed plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, Berry said, "I hope somebody blows it up." [Think Progress, 5/28/10]
Berry Posted A Mock Re-enactment Of Michael Brown's Shooting. Berry posted a video to his show's YouTube page titled, "Michael Brown: The Musical," which mocks the protests that followed the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, MO. The words, "Hands up, don't shoot" are heard before the sound of a gunshot, followed by the sound of a body collapsing. [YouTube, 10/6/14]
Berry Defended KKK-Sponsored Billboard: "As Long As 1 Group Can Promote Their Race, EVERY Group Can. ... The NAACP Is The Black KKK." On January 2, 2015, Berry defended a billboard paid for by "a group formerly known as the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan." On Twitter, Berry wrote of the billboard promoting a racist radio program, "As long as 1 group can promote their race, EVERY group can. Nothing wrong with it. The NAACP is the black KKK":
As long as 1 group can promote their race, EVERY group can. Nothing wrong with it. The NAACP is the black KKK. http://t.co/UG5PAMOzsh
— Michael Berry (@MichaelBerrySho) January 3, 2015
NYTimes: The City Of Chicago “Has Been Reeling From … Gun Violence.” In a February 15 article, The New York Times highlighted “three children fatally shot in four days” to demonstrate the amount of gun violence Chicago has seen in 2017. According to the article, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with the U.S. attorney general “to seek more federal aid to help curb the violence.” According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the city’s violence claimed over “750 lives in over 3,5000 shootings” in 2016:
Three children fatally shot in four days: That is the latest grim toll in Chicago, which has been reeling from a wave of gun violence.
The latest spasms of gunfire came as Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with the United States attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in Washington on Monday to seek more federal aid to help curb the violence. The Department of Justice said in a statement that they had discussed what could be done to “bring back proactive community policing.”
And this month, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it planned to send more agents to the city, where violence claimed more than 750 lives in over 3,500 shootings last year. [New York Times, 2/15/17]
Chicago Tribune: “Last Year Was the Most Violent In Chicago In Decades.” In a January 31 article, the Chicago Tribune reported that over “300 people have been shot” in Chicago this January, including in 50 homicides. Based on the Chicago Police Department’s numbers, this January will be just as violent as January 2016, which was part of the “most violent” year Chicago has seen “in decades, with at least 4,367 people shot”:
More than 300 people have been shot in the city this month, more than all of last January, according to data kept by the Tribune. There have been at least 53 homicides, four short of the 57 counted by the Tribune in January last year.
Chicago Police Department statistics are lower because they do not include shootings on expressways, police-involved shootings, homicides in which a person was killed in self-defense, or pending death investigations.
But even by the department's count, this January is going down as just as violent as last January. As of Tuesday morning, the department had counted 50 homicides, the same number it recorded for all of last January.
The department did not provide statistics on the number of people shot so far this year, but instead released figures on the number of "shooting incidents." Those incidents could include more than one person shot.
There have been 229 shooting incidents this month compared with 231 this time last January, the department said.
Last year was the most violent in Chicago in decades, with at least 4,367 people shot. There were at least 784 homicides. [Chicago Tribune, 1/31/17]
Conservative Media Often Hype Gun Violence In Chicago To Criticize Its Strong Gun Laws, Even Though Several Big Cities Have Weaker Gun Laws And More Violence. While high levels of gun violence in Chicago are often used to attack calls for stronger gun laws, the five cities with the top gun murder rates (New Orleans, LA; Memphis, TN, Detroit, MI; Birmingham, AL; and St. Louis, MO) all have weaker gun laws. [Parents Against Gun Violence, accessed 9/30/15]
To read more about conservative media claims about gun violence and Chicago, click here