Beyond the echelon of widely known conservative radio hosts with national audiences lies a vast network of lesser-known syndicated and regional radio hosts who have become key components of an echo chamber for conservative talking points and falsehoods. Like their better-known counterparts, these syndicated and regional radio hosts have played active roles this election season in promoting falsehoods and smears in an all-out effort to foment hate and distrust among their listeners for President-elect Barack Obama. While the hosts vary in the degree of vitriol they spew and in their ratio of rebuttable falsehoods to unbridled smears, Media Matters for America and Colorado Media Matters have identified common themes that many, if not all, have promoted over the past year.
While there has been much discussion about the role that nationally syndicated radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have played in perpetuating smears and falsehoods about progressive candidates and ideals, little has been said about the vast network of lesser-known syndicated and regional radio hosts who have served as an echo chamber for conservative talking points and falsehoods. This year, Media Matters for America has greatly expanded its monitoring of regional radio and has produced numerous items documenting falsehoods, smears, and baseless attacks on progressives in that time. While the hosts vary in the degree of vitriol they spew and in their ratio of rebuttable falsehoods to unbridled smears, Media Matters and Colorado Media Matters have identified common themes that many, if not all, promote.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism recently released a report, which garnered considerable media attention, concluding that Sen. John McCain received much more “negative” coverage than President-elect Barack Obama during the campaign. But in purporting to compare the media's coverage of the two candidates, PEJ did not consider talk radio, saying: “Talk radio stories ... were not included in this campaign study of tone.” But, beyond arguable flaws in PEJ's methodology, no study of the “tone” in the media's coverage of this presidential campaign is complete without inclusion of conservative talk radio. Several of the radio hosts monitored by Media Matters (their shows are described in detail below), as well as their guests, engaged in an all-out effort to foment hate and suspicion of Obama among their listeners, promoting the most baseless and farfetched of smears and advancing falsehoods -- including about Obama's religion and background -- that have taken hold among a substantial percentage of the electorate.
Media Matters has compiled some of the more noteworthy examples of conservative radio hosts' and their guests' attacks on Obama and, more generally, attacks against others in the context of the 2008 election.
General themes in 2008 election
Throughout the general election cycle, conservative talk radio hosts have repeatedly attempted to exploit ignorance about and distrust of Obama rooted in his heritage and upbringing, and have engaged in a relentless campaign to depict Obama as an untrustworthy outsider. In doing so, radio hosts have compared Obama to the Antichrist, as well as to Hitler and Mao and have suggested that his loyalties lie outside of the United States, including in the case of some radio hosts, with Kenya and Kenyan political figures. The first-ever nomination by a major party of an African-American has also inspired extensive, racially tinged commentary on conservative radio, with direct attacks on Obama, his qualifications for office, and the motivations of his supporters.
This election-related commentary was not limited to Obama. Sen. Hillary Clinton's and Gov. Sarah Palin's candidacies prompted many talk radio hosts to engage in unabashed sexist commentary, often focused on the candidate's physical appearances. Attacks were also waged against those seen as supporters or beneficiaries of progressive candidates. For instance, several talk radio hosts and their guests suggested that demographic groups such as the poor or women should be denied the right to vote.
- Chris Baker
On his October 27 radio show, Minneapolis radio host Chris Baker distorted Obama's 2001 remarks by claiming that Obama said “we gotta have economic justice and the Supreme Court ought to weigh in on redistributing wealth.” Baker added: “Yeah, it's too bad you kind of stuck with the Constitution as it was. It's a tragedy that redistribution of wealth was not pursued by the Supreme Court. Can you believe that?” In fact, Obama did not say, “It's a tragedy that redistribution of wealth was not pursued by the Supreme Court,” or indicate, as Baker later claimed, that Obama “wants to use the Supreme Court to reinterpret the Constitution in order to force the redistribution of wealth.” Rather, as Media Matters has noted, the “tragedy” Obama identified during the interview was that the civil rights movement “became so court-focused” in trying to bring about political and economic justice.
- Dan Caplis
On the February 25 broadcast of his radio show, Dan Caplis questioned Obama's having worn the traditional attire of a tribal elder during an August 2006 visit to Kenya. Referring to Osama bin Laden, Caplis questioned why Obama would “put on similar clothing to the outfit worn by the man who personally ordered thousands of Americans, including women and kids, to be burned to death,” later stating that “it would be as if John Kennedy had gone out and thrown on the fatigues and the funny baseball hat that Castro wore.”
- Bill Cunningham
During the October 30 broadcast of his Cincinnati-based radio show, Bill Cunningham asked “Randy Furman,” a fictional Jewish character voiced by fellow WLW-AM host Scott Sloan: “Did you hear about this [Columbia University professor of Middle East studies Rashid] Khalidi tape where Obama is toasting a guy who wants to gas and fry Jews? ... This Obama guy loves the PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organization]. Can't you figure that out?” Cunningham later added, “Jews for McCain because Obama wants to gas the Jews, like the PLO wants to gas the Jews, like the Nazis gassed the Jews.
On the October 28 edition of Clear Channel's The Big Show, referring to McCain, Cunningham asserted: “Maybe it's his age, or maybe it's his lack of eloquence. Whatever it is, the guy just doesn't have the same verbal skills of someone like a Barack Hussein Obama. Of course, Adolf Hitler had great verbal skills, too, and he led the country of his country to disaster.”
Stating that 666,000 new voters have registered in Ohio, Cunningham said on October 10: “Six-six-six. The mark of the beast. The great majority, of course, are registered by ACORN. ... Who conducted ACORN seminars to tell ACORN employees and others how to cheat the system? Barack Hussein Obama. I may declare him to be the beast. Six-six-six. It could be the end of all days.” On the October 13 edition of Cunningham's show, a caller said of Obama, “He may be the Antichrist.”
- Mark Levin
On the October 29 edition of ABC Radio Networks' The Mark Levin Show, Levin asserted that Obama is “really into these big German-like events that he creates in this country, isn't he? Have you noticed that?” Curtis Sliwa, WABC radio host and CEO and founder of the community activist organization Guardian Angels, responded: “I am telling you, and he comes out and it's almost as if the crowd stands in unison, and I'm saying to myself, 'Oh my God, the Olympic Stadium, Berlin, 1938,' ” to which Levin replied: “Yeah, we've seen this. It's scary.” Sliwa then asserted: “And the only thing missing is he's not standing up in an open car.”
During the October 27 broadcast of his radio show, Levin falsely asserted that “what the [Supreme] Court should have done from Obama's point of view was impose socialism from the bench.” He also claimed that Obama and [Harvard Law School professor] Cass Sunstein are “promoting” an interpretation of the 14th Amendment that it should “be used ... to compel, as a matter of constitutional law, the socialist agenda. In other words, constitutionalize redistribution of wealth.” Levin then called Obama's position on the Constitution “a radical point of view” and “a foreign approach to the rule of law.”
On the June 4 broadcast of his radio show, Levin falsely asserted that Obama “lied to” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee when he “told them today that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards should be designated a terrorist group after voting against a bill designating them a terrorist group a year ago.” In fact, Obama has consistently supported designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, having co-sponsored a bill in 2007 to do that.
- “Gunny” Bob Newman
On the July 10 broadcast of his radio show, responding to a caller's statement that “we better start learning Arabic” if Obama is elected president, Newsradio 850 KOA's “Gunny” Bob Newman stated that “there will be an invasion of Muslim terrorists” if Obama is elected. Further, after stating that he didn't know whether Obama has “ever held a real job,” Newman falsely claimed that Obama has accomplished "[n]othing" in the U.S. Senate.
On May 19, Newman labeled Obama a “clown” and stated, “Son, you are not some sort of macho tough guy, trust me.” Directly addressing Obama, Newman asked, “What are you gonna do, Obama, come to Denver and try, key word try, to whip my white ass?” Continuing, Newman said, “Son, you are not some sort of macho tough guy, trust me. You are just another blowhard, make-believe thug who wants to be the most powerful man on Earth. You're a far-left, terrorist-hugging politician, not the bad-boy gangsta you want people to believe you are.”
On his April 30 program, Newman responded to a caller's complaint about people who say of Obama “that he doesn't have a good heart when you don't even know the guy and are relying on mass media to paint a picture of him,” by stating, “Well, you know, I didn't know Hitler. I didn't know Stalin.” Newman added, “Not that Obama is Stalinesque, not that Obama is Hitleresque, but we didn't know those two either.”
- Quinn & Rose
On the October 27 broadcast of The War Room, co-host Jim Quinn said, "[H]ere's what was wrong with the civil rights movement, according to Barack Obama: The Supreme Court never got into the area of redistribution of the wealth." He added, “Do you want to have a judge tell you how much you can make, and how much of your productivity goes to another man who may have done nothing? You want the court to decide that? And I'm telling you, this guy is gonna make one, two, three -- maybe -- appointments to the Supreme Court, and they're gonna be exactly those kinds of judges. Hold onto your wallet, kids.” Quinn also said, " He just got done telling you that the Constitution's only half-done. He needs to write the other half -- you know, the other half where we decide how much we take from you and give to that guy down the street."
In a phone call to The War Room during the show's October 7 broadcast, Jerome Corsi stated that he and his staff were “being detained by the immigration of Kenya 'cause they lost our entry papers.” Corsi repeatedly suggested Obama was responsible for his detention, stating at one point: "[J]ust don't write anything bad about Senator Obama, because, otherwise, this is what happens to you." Corsi also said, "[C]all Barack's office and ask him why I'm being detained." Also during the interview, Corsi said, "[W]e had meetings with top government officials here in Nairobi. Everybody knew we were here. But we try to do a press conference, and then, you know, then you get detained. So, there's free speech in Kenya for ya," to which Quinn replied: “And soon to be free speech here, by the way.”
- Rodgers & Sussman
On the October 27 broadcast of San Francisco radio station KSFO's The Lee Rodgers Show, host Brian Sussman described Obama's comments as "[t]alking about using the courts for redistributional change." Sussman then played a clip of the portion of the January 18, 2001, WBEZ interview in which Obama referred to “theoretical justifications” for “bringing about economic change through the courts.” Sussman then commented: “Did you hear that? Bringing about economic change through the courts? That's judicial activism on steroids.” But Sussman did not air what Obama said just prior to referencing the “theoretical justifications” -- “it's very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard” -- or what he said just afterward: “I think that, as a practical matter, our institutions just are poorly equipped to do it.”
On the October 9 broadcast of The Lee Rodgers Show, Corsi asserted regarding his detention and departure from Kenya: “I think the story here is really the suppression of the press. ... I hate to think of what the First Amendment is going to mean. If you write a negative book or criticize Obama, I think you're now going to have to risk being thrown in jail or killed.” Rodgers said, “I'll tell you what's scary about this, to make the connection here. These are friends of Barack Obama in Kenya, who are trying to intimidate a journalist. ... I'm telling you, this is scary. I have heard from Obama supporters telling me: one way or another, boy, when we're in office, we're going to shut you down.”
- Michael Savage
On the October 27 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage also misrepresented Obama's comments, falsely claiming that in the interview, Obama “says that one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement was that the courts did not move for redistributive change.”
During the October 10 broadcast of his radio show, Savage baselessly accused Obama of running a “corrupt campaign,” suggested that white liberals “hate white people,” repeated the discredited charge that Obama “won't produce his birth certificate,” and asserted “Kenya is going to move to America” if Obama wins the election.
Savage stated of Obama on the March 13 broadcast of his radio show: “I think he was hand-picked by some very powerful forces both within and outside the United State of America to drag this country into a hell that it has not seen since the Civil War of the middle of the 19th century.”
On the February 1 broadcast of his radio show, while referring to Sen. Clinton and Obama, Savage stated: “We have a woman and a multi-ethnic man running for office on the Democrat side. Is this not akin to a -- an affirmative action election? Isn't that why the libs are hysterical, tripping over themselves to say amen and yes to this affirmative election vote?” He later added, “America's not ready for an affirmative action presidency.”
Misinformation about Obama's religion
A key component of the dangerous-outsider depiction of Obama on conservative talk radio has been promotion of the false claim that Obama was not being truthful about his religious beliefs. Despite numerous instances of falsehoods about Obama's religion rebutted by media outlets and nonpartisan fact-checkers, conservative radio hosts repeatedly and consistently advanced the false claim that Obama was a Muslim, not a Christian, and that he has concealed his true religion.
- Neal Boortz
On the August 21 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, host Neal Boortz falsely suggested that Obama is a Muslim. While discussing McCain's inability to answer the Politico's question about how many homes he and his wife own, Boortz said: “Let's ask Obama how many prayer rugs he has.”
- G. Gordon Liddy
On his September 10 radio show, Liddy hosted self-described former terrorist Walid Shoebat to advance the false claim that Obama, who Shoebat said would be “extremely dangerous” as president, is a Muslim. Liddy also did not challenge Shoebat's false claim that Hamas supports Obama.
On the September 8 broadcast of his syndicated radio show, Liddy aired an audio clip of Middle Eastern-sounding music and said, "[Y]ou're listening to our secret taping of a Obama family meeting, and we're -- just kidding."
- “Gunny” Bob Newman
In July, Newman posted a variety of doctored photos and other images on his page on the station's website, depicting Obama as meeting with bin Laden and dressed as “Che Obama.” The page also included actual photos of Obama accompanied by false “quotes,” purportedly by the candidate, threatening Newman in profane terms.
- Michael Savage
On the April 3 broadcast of his radio show, Savage falsely asserted that Obama was a Muslim and attended a madrassa, stating: “Now we have an unknown stealth candidate who went to a madrassas in Indonesia and, in fact, was a Muslim.”
Savage falsely asserted during the February 21 broadcast of his radio show that Obama is a Muslim, claiming that "[w]e have a right to know if he's a so-called friendly Muslim or one who aspires to more radical teachings." The Obama campaign website states that Obama “has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ.”
On the January 10 edition of his radio show, Savage referred falsely to Obama as “Senator Barack Madrassas Obama.” Savage made the comment while discussing a December 10 Associated Press article headlined, “Presidential hopefuls and first cars” that “asked candidates to name their first cars” and also “look[ed] at some of their personal vehicles now.” Savage said of Obama: “Illinois Senator Barack Madrassas Obama. His first car was his grandfather's Ford Granada. Now he owns a Chrysler 300C.”
- Rodgers & Sussman
On the October 22 broadcast of his radio show, Rodgers falsely claimed Obama “admits in one of his own books” that “in case of a confrontation between the Western world and the Islamic world, he will stand with the Muslims.” Rodgers' assertion recalls a similar allegation in a chain email that has been previously debunked. As FactCheck.org documented, while discussing “my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans” in The Audacity of Hope, Obama wrote: "[T]hey need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.
On the September 10 broadcast of The Lee Rodgers Show, a caller suggested that Obama's remark that “you can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig” was directed at Palin and said: "[I]t's a little indicative of a Muslim attitude towards women that's creeping up, you know, and he just can't help but say it, how he feels." Sussman responded: “Well, there's no question that Muslims, at least the religious ones, look at women as second-class citizens. That was just a low blow. He should not have made the remark. I don't know if it was his father's genetic DNA welling up inside of him or not, but I'll tell you something: It was stupid. The question is, did he know what he was saying?”
On the July 30 broadcast of The Lee Rodgers Show, Sussman questioned Obama's Christianity: “Now I'm going to get into something that is probably equally as offensive to some, especially those listening in on KSFO.com from around the world. If Barack Obama were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence for a jury of his peers to pronounce him guilty? I doubt it. I think Obama would walk.”
Obama's birth certificate
In yet another attempt to define Obama as un-American and foreign, numerous conservative talk radio hosts and their guests have advanced the discredited claim that Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore not eligible for the presidency.
- Chris Baker
On the October 9 broadcast of his radio show, Baker discussed a lawsuit filed in August by Philip J. Berg, who baselessly charged that Obama was born in Kenya. Baker stated that “when you really start looking into this, there apparently has never been a real birth certificate presented. There's been a certificate, but it's not a birth certificate. ... Just get the damn birth certificate presented and let's move on with our lives.”
- Peter Boyles
For the third time in three weeks, Boyles hosted Berg during the October 29 edition of his radio show and allowed him to repeat the discredited falsehood that Obama has not released a valid birth certificate establishing he was born in the United States and therefore could be ineligible to run for president.
On the October 22 broadcast of The Troubleshooter and the October 23 broadcast of The Peter Boyles Show, Boyles and Tom Martino, respectively, uncritically allowed Berg to repeat the discredited smear that Obama has not released a valid birth certificate establishing he was born in the United States and therefore could be ineligible to run for president. Berg further claimed on both broadcasts that the copy of Obama's certification of live birth posted on his campaign website is a “forgery.”
On his October 9 broadcast, Boyles hosted discredited author Jerome Corsi and Berg, both of whom repeated the debunked falsehood that Obama has not released an authentic birth certificate establishing that he was born in the United States and therefore could be ineligible to run for president.
- G. Gordon Liddy
On the September 17 broadcast of his radio show, Liddy and Corsi each repeated the discredited claim that Sen. Barack Obama has not produced a birth certificate establishing his U.S. citizenship. In fact, FactCheck.org reported that the Obama campaign provided its staff with Obama's original birth certificate and concluded that it “meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship,” and even WorldNetDaily.com, the right-wing website for which Corsi works as a staff reporter, has reported that a “WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic.”
- “Gunny” Bob Newman
On his August 11 radio show, Newman asserted that Obama has produced a “fake” birth certificate, a week after claiming that Obama “will not produce his birth certificate” to prove his United States citizenship. In fact, the Hawaii Department of Health has confirmed that the document posted on Obama's campaign website is “a valid Hawaii state birth certificate” and has labeled speculation about his citizenship “ridiculous.”
- Quinn & Rose
On the October 3 broadcast of The War Room, Quinn and Tennent hosted Berg to discuss Berg's lawsuit, which baselessly alleges that Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen; during the interview, Quinn, Tennent, and Berg each repeated the discredited charge that Obama has not produced an authentic U.S. birth certificate. In fact, in addition to posting a copy of Obama's birth certificate on the campaign website, the Obama campaign reportedly provided the original document to FactCheck.org, whose staff reported that it “meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship.”
- Michael Savage
On the October 8 and 9 broadcasts of The Savage Nation, Savage and guest host Rick Roberts repeatedly questioned Obama's citizenship. For instance, Savage falsely claimed that Obama's birth certificate “does not exist, they can't find it in the Hawaii government. It's never been produced. The one that was produced is a forgery.” Roberts stated, "[Y]ou're running for the president of the United States, OK? Show them the birth certificate and say, 'OK, here's my birth certificate, get out of my face.' Why hasn't it been produced? Why?" On the October 10 broadcast, Savage against stated that Obama “doesn't have a birth cerfiticate.”
Additionally, while baselessly stating that Obama has not proven his U.S. citizenship, Savage revived other falsehoods about Obama. He falsely suggested that Obama is a Muslim, stating: “How could he not be Muslim if he has a Muslim name? How could he not be Muslim if his father and grandfather were Muslims? How is that possible, when he has no known birth certificate?”
On the October 22 broadcast of his show, Savage stated that "[t]here are people arguing that Obama is headed back to Hawaii not so much to visit an ailing relative, but to fudge the birth certificate in question" and said moments later, “There is intense national interest on the Internet about his citizenship, and the question is being asked, could this be the real reason he is headed to Hawaii?” Savage subsequently became more definitive, claiming that "[t]here's some other reason that he's leaving the mainland of the United States in the midst of this toe-to-toe struggle right now, and it's got to do with his birth certificate."
During the November 3 broadcast of his show, Savage again revived discredited “rumors” about Obama's “birth certificate not being valid” -- this time while discussing the recent death of Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. Savage stated: “And, oh yes, our condolences to his grandmother who raised him, who he so bravely visited last week -- shockingly, out of nowhere, in the, in the last days of a campaign -- while the rumors of his birth certificate not being valid were circulating throughout the Internet. Shockingly, Obama goes to Hawaii, and again, not one of the empty skirts in the media asks him about his birth -- his birth certificate, the Kenyan relatives. Not one of the empty skirts in the media raises the question. And today she dies, poor lady dies, poor lady dies today; the woman who raised him -- the white grandmother who raised him.”
Obama and race
Conservative radio hosts used Obama's status as the first African-American major party nominee for president to launch extensive, racially tinged commentary on Obama, his qualifications for office, and the motivations of his supporters.
- Chris Baker
On October 7, on both his radio show and website, Baker promoted an Internet video in which the Rev. James David Manning of ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem says: “The difference between Obama's mama and Bristol Palin is that Obama's mama was trash. I mean, she was dirt. She was a bag of trash sitting on the sidewalk waiting there in Honolulu on one of those streets for the garbage truck to come by and pick her up and take her to the dump.”
- Bill Cunningham
On the October 28 broadcast of his show, Cunningham stated of Obama's childhood: "[I]magine at the age of 1 or 2 seeing your father for the last time. See, his father was a typical black father who, right after the birth, left the baby. That's what black fathers do. They simply leave."
On the October 20 edition of Clear Channel's The Big Show, guest Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson said of former Secretary of State Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama: "[H]e's clearly for the color of the man and not the character." Cunningham replied, “Great comments, and if Obama was white as chalk, do you think that Powell would be endorsing the Democrat? He didn't endorse [Al] Gore, he didn't endorse [Sen. John] Kerry. I think color trumps everything in his mind.” Peterson responded: “That's right, because if it was about what Barack Obama stood for, then he would have endorsed Gore and all those guys, but he did not. You know, it's so sad, my friend, that most black people today are racist. Not all, not all -- but most of them are racist.”
During the October 10 broadcast of The Big Show, Cunningham stated: “I think there will be 100 cities burning if Barack loses. Yeah, that's what the black intelligentsia says.” Cunningham also asserted that “Flavor Flav, 50 Cent, and Diddy” are “really in charge of the [Obama] Inaugural [Ball].”
- G. Gordon Liddy
On the October 7 edition of his program, Liddy discussed the detention of Corsi in Kenya and aired a sketch in which he said: “We've used the satellite connection to Kenya, and we are now focusing in on the trial of Dr. Jerome Corsi. ... [H]e's being accused of impersonating a human being. My Zulu's not -- not as good as Obama's, but -- yeah, they're really upset with him. You can probably tell.” Liddy then aired a clip apparently from the 1950 movie King Solomon's Mines, which featured characters speaking in Kinyarwanda (not Zulu), one of the official languages of Rwanda, and playing music on drums.
- Quinn & Rose
On the October 20 broadcast of The War Room, Tennent asserted that Powell endorsed Obama “because he doesn't want to be known as an Uncle Tom anymore. He wants to be black again.” Quinn later said of Powell, “He's tired of being called an Oreo.”
- Michael Savage
During the October 27 broadcast of his show, Savage said: “Obama and I are on the opposite sides of the political spectrum, as you can well imagine. While he benefited from affirmative action, stepping over more qualified white men, I actually lost as a result of affirmative action, many times in my life. Although I'd get near 100s on certain exams, they put me at the back of the bus because they said -- the ACLU said -- certain people will have to put their futures on hold in order to let others advance, and take a look at where we are today -- we have America's first affirmative action candidate about to become president.”
Right-wing talk radio hosts have also repeatedly made sexist comments or attacked feminists, often while highlighting a woman's physical characteristics. For example, with McCain's pick of Palin as his running mate, talk radio hosts have often focused on Palin's appearance and have also referred to progressive women as “ugly.” Some hosts and guests have questioned women's abilities as political leaders, and even suggested that the country would be better off if women were denied the right to vote.
- Chris Baker
While discussing Palin's assertion that Obama was “palling around with terrorists” on the October 6 broadcast of his radio show, Baker called Obama a “little bitch” who “won't even stand up to a smoking-hot chick from Alaska.” Baker did not note that The New York Times article Palin cited for her claim about Obama's association with William Ayers reported that “the two men do not appear to have been close,” or that the Obama campaign did indeed respond to Palin's claim.
On the October 3 broadcast of The Chris Baker Show, Baker said Palin “shoulda had a little cleavage going” during the vice-presidential debate, and that he “noticed a panty line on her.”
On the October 2 broadcast of his radio show, Baker said, “I don't think homeless people should vote. Frankly. In fact, I have to be very honest. I'm not that excited about women voting, to be honest.” Baker later said: “But that's just me. I'm a pig, and that's fine. All right?”
During the September 5 broadcast his show, Baker stated of McCain's speech at the Republican National Convention, “I'll tell you, though, in the speech -- the best part of the speech was when those Code Pink nuts -- another bunch that ought to have all their tubes tied. All right? I can't stand these Code Pink broads.”
- Mark Belling
Milwaukee radio host Mark Belling declared on his September 11 radio show, “What's the process that determines which potholes get patched the fastest [in Milwaukee]? I'll tell you what it is. No, they don't go and judge it on severity. ... It's who -- can I use this word? When you think of [Sen.] Hillary Clinton what do you think -- what word comes to mind? Yes, can I use that word here? All right, it's who bitches the most.”
During the September 4 broadcast of The Mark Belling Late Afternoon Show, Belling called Gloria Steinem a “grizzled old bag,” “old witch,” and “embittered old has-been” and also stated that the “previous generation” of feminists “were so ugly you couldn't stand to look at them.” Belling made these remarks while discussing Steinem's September 4 Los Angeles Times op-ed, in which she criticized McCain's choice of Palin as his vice-presidential running mate.
- Jon Caldara
Appearing as a guest on the June 16 broadcast of Jon Caldara's Newsradio 850 KOA program, Ann Coulter asserted that women aren't “concerned with how capital is generated and created,” and claimed that women's suffrage “explains the destruction of America.” Her remarks echoed those in a 2007 blog posting that quoted her as saying, “If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president.”
Discussing the January 21 CNN Democratic presidential candidates' debate, Caldara during his broadcast that evening asked Coulter whether it was “fair to say” that Clinton “got bitch-slapped tonight.”
- Bill Cunningham
On the October 29 broadcast of his show, Cunningham stated: “Traditionally, we think of women as Democratic voters because a lot of women who are single are vulnerable; they need like a daddy government to keep an eye on them.”
- Mark Levin
Addressing his September 4 comments on Sean Hannity's radio show, in which he called the National Organization for Women, the “National Organization of Ugly Women,” Levin said on his September 8 radio show: “I just wanted to underscore that maybe I shouldn't have called them the National Organization of Ugly Women. For now on, it's the National Organization of Really Ugly Women.” Levin first made his remarks while discussing with Hannity NOW's opposition to Palin.
- Quinn & Rose
On the October 6 broadcast of The War Room, Quinn claimed that Steinem opposes Palin because Palin “refused the sacrificial right of passage, better known as the Eucharist of the feminist church: abortion. That's right. She declined to slaughter her own unborn child, Trig, to the goddess of feminism, even after doctors told her that he was one of those Down syndrome 'throw-aways.' ”
On the September 15 broadcast of The War Room, Quinn stated: “If you don't agree with the feminist scolds, then you're not a real woman -- even if you are a very feminine working mom. But even if you're an actual man, never mind a childless feminist who looks like a Bulgarian weightlifter in drag, you're a real woman solely because you nod your head like a windup clapping monkey every time you read the latest editorial from Ms. Magazine.” Quinn made these remarks while discussing, among other things, prominent feminists' opposition to Palin.
On the August 27 edition of the syndicated radio program The War Room, Quinn introduced a segment on Clinton by saying, "By the way, that brings us to our Hillary Heads-Up," and then playing audio of the Elton John song “The Bitch Is Back.” Quinn then said, “I was going to play 'Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.' But you know what, I -- you never know with the Clintons.”
- Lee Rodgers
On the October 17 broadcast of The Lee Rodgers Show, Rodgers said: "[Y]ou look at many -- perhaps most -- but many of the women who are professed leaders of the feminist movement in this country, and they're a bunch of hags." He added: “They couldn't get laid in a men's prison, let's be honest about it.” Rodgers made these remarks while discussing, among other things, feminists' disapproval of Palin.
Returning to a previous claim he has made, Rodgers asserted on September 23: “I believe that the reason a bunch of puckered-butt Democrat women hate Sarah Palin is because her idea of choice was choosing not to have an abortion.” Guest Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute responded in part by saying: "[T]here is that very vocal segment of feminist opinion that celebrates abortion as a positive good in the same way that, you know, Southern slaveholders 150 years ago celebrated slavery as a positive good."
On the September 17 broadcast of his radio show, Rodgers said that “the female leadership of the Democratic Party” is made up of “ugly skanks.” He also stated: “Sarah Palin's good-looking and they hate that.” He also declared: “I think we have to ask: Would you like Sarah Palin better if she got pregnant again and did have an abortion, because it's obvious, with a lot of liberal women, killing babies is the main priority they have.”
On the August 27 broadcast of his radio show, Rodgers said of Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention, “With that screechy, fingernails-on-the-blackboard voice of hers, it is impossible for Hillary Clinton to deliver a great speech.” Rodgers later said that Bill and Hillary Clinton are hoping Obama “falls flat on his face so the Hilldebeest can have another run in four years, and Billy Bentpecker can hide behind the curtain in the Oval Office telling Hillary what he wants her to do as president of the United States.”
On the June 11 broadcast of The Lee Rodgers Program, Rodgers said: "[T]he historical voting records show that Democrats have, historically, enjoyed a huge advantage in women voters. Why is that?" Rodgers continued: “Well, some women may be offended by this, but here's another dose of reality. We have a lot of women in this country who get knocked up and they don't have a husband. In effect, the government becomes Daddy in terms of paying the bills. And that accounts -- that's not all of it, but that accounts for a large part of that vote.”
Smears against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered Americans are routine among conservative talk radio hosts, and the 2008 election has provided them with specific issues to address. Michael Savage, for example, has focused on Proposition 8 to amend the California constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
- Michael Savage
On the October 29 broadcast of his radio show, Savage said of a California ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, "[T]here's a ballot initiative on homosexual marriage that is more important than you could imagine. It's called Proposition 8, and you must vote 'yes' if you're sane. If you're insane, hate the family, hate man and woman, hate your mother and father, hate the Bible, hate the church, and hate the synagogue, of course you're in favor of 'no' on Proposition 8." The next day on his program, Savage stated: "[T]he people who don't have families don't understand that, as difficult as family life is, life is impossible without it. They don't understand that. They don't understand what the family unit is. It's the strongest bond on Earth, which is why homosexual marriage is such a threat to civilization itself."
On the October 1 broadcast of his show, Savage said: "[Y]ou may say, 'Why should we care about homosexuals trying to destroy families through the mock marriage that they perform in order to mock God, the church, the family, children, the fetus, the DNA of the human species? Why should we care about it while we have a financial meltdown?' Because the spiritual side of the downturn on Wall Street is directly related to the moral downturn in the United States of America." Savage later said of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom: “Today it's the gays, tomorrow it'll be a man marrying a horse.”
Attacks on the poor
Several talk radio hosts have attacked low-income Americans over the past year, including several who have expressed support for the idea that certain groups of lower-income Americans should not have the right to vote.
- Chris Baker
On the October 2 broadcast of show, Baker said: “I don't think homeless people should vote. Frankly. In fact, I have to be very honest. I'm not that excited about women voting, to be honest.” Baker subsequently added: “But that's just me. I'm a pig, and that's fine. All right? And we'll see that, I'm sure, on a lame-ass website very soon. But I don't think hobos ought to vote at all. They're nuts. And I think that there needs to be a little more care in who votes.”
- G. Gordon Liddy
On his October 30 program, Liddy said of Obama's electoral prospects in Pennsylvania: “Pennsylvania has been described as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with Alabama in the middle. Obama is counting on the urban elites and the welfare class to win the state for him. But he's putting on a show for the rest of Pennsylvania.”
- Jim Quinn & Rose Tennent
On the October 30 broadcast of The War Room, Tennent said of the families featured in Obama's 30-minute ad: “Well, OK. They were sad stories, but I'm looking at the background. I'm not looking at the person talking in their home, I'm looking at what they have in their home. They have color television sets; they have everything that I have in my house. I'll bet you they have an iPod, I bet you they have, you know -- I'll bet they have a lot of luxuries in that home. They are not poor.” Tennent later said: “So don't put -- don't put that jive out there in front of me, devil, and tell me that these people are hurting when they are not hurting. All they need to do is make some cuts and figure out a way to do this.”
On the October 21 broadcast of The War Room, while reading from an opinion column by conservative blogger Scott Johnson that discussed the history of taxation and property rights in the United States, Quinn declared: “Originally, if you didn't own land, you didn't vote, and there was a good reason for it: because those without property will always vote away the property of other people unto themselves, and that's the beginning of the end.” Quinn added: “But, oh no, that was -- that was just too mean-spirited.” Moments earlier, Quinn said, “Now -- I mean, I can hear the appeal to the masses: 'It's not fair, it's not the American way that you don't get to vote,' but let me ask you a question: If I don't own anything, what kind of a problem do I have with voting for a measure -- a tax, a law -- that takes somebody else's property and gives it to me? I have no stake in personal property ownership 'cause I don't have any. Now, back in the day, when this was the law of the land, anybody who wanted to vote needed to step up to the plate, achieve, get a stake in America, and then vote.”
- Michael Savage
On his October 22 show, Savage asked: “Do you think a person on welfare has the right to vote? I don't. Why should a person who is on public assistance maintain the right to vote? Tell me why. Where is it written that they should have the right to vote?” He added: “I support them, and they should have the same vote I do? That would be like saying an infant has the right to vote or an insane person has the right to vote. Why should a welfare recipient have the right to vote? They're only gonna vote themselves a raise.”
The Chris Baker Show is a Minneapolis-based talk-radio show that airs weekdays from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. CT on KTLK-FM. Baker previously hosted two different Houston-based radio programs before reportedly being dismissed in November 2007. Baker joined KTLK in February and was nominated to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in June. Since moving to KTLK, Baker discussed with a co-host being “convinced that Magic [Johnson] faked AIDS”; claimed that “it's very rare to find a woman worthy of serving in political office”; said that Gov. Sarah Palin “shoulda had a little cleavage going” during the vice-presidential debate; and declared “I don't think homeless people should vote.”
The Mark Belling Late Afternoon Show is carried on News/Talk 1130 WISN-AM in Milwaukee, which is owned by Clear Channel Communications. Talkers Magazine includes Belling in its "Heavy Hundred," which it describes as “the 100 most important radio talk show hosts in America.” According to 1130 WISN-AM, The Mark Belling Late Afternoon Show “is regularly rated number one in its time slot in the Milwaukee radio market and is the highest rated afternoon drive talk show host in the country.” In 2001, Belling was awarded National Association of Broadcasters' Marconi Radio Award for medium-market “Personality of the Year.” Belling has said "[w]hen you think of Hillary Clinton" the word “bitches” comes to mind; has called Gloria Steinem a “grizzled old bag,” an “old witch,” and an “embittered old has-been”; and has smeared teachers who have talked about global warming as “idiot union teacher[s],” “liberal unionized hack[s],” “greedy, overpaid unionized schoolteacher[s],” and “fruitcake[s].”
The Neal Boortz Show is an Atlanta-based program that airs weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. The program is nationally syndicated by Cox Radio Syndication, which says that it “partners with the Jones Radio Network to service more than 200 affiliate stations with programming listened to by several million people each week.” According to Talkers Magazine, the show is the seventh-rated talk-radio program and averages at least 4.25 million listeners a week. Boortz has repeatedly referred to Hurricane Katrina victims as “parasites”; commented that he would “make a lousy Mexican” because of his inability to use a floor buffer; and described “single mothers receiving public assistance” as “welfare broodmares.”
The Peter Boyles Show airs weekday mornings from 5 to 9 a.m. MT on Denver's 630 KHOW-AM. According to his KHOW biography, “Boyles has received numerous awards including 'Best Investigative Radio Talkshow Host' in The Denver Post, Westword, 5280 Magazine, and at the 1999 Denver A.I.R. awards. He is also considered one of the most influential media people in Colorado.” Boyles was a 2006 finalist for the National Association of Broadcasters' Marconi Radio Award for large-market “Personality of the Year.” Boyles has repeatedly hosted guests who spread the discredited claim that Obama does not have a valid U.S. birth certificate.
The Jon Caldara Show airs on Denver's 850 KOA-AM on weeknights from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. MT. Caldara is president of the “free market” Independence Institute and has had a public role in numerous anti-tax and anti-government spending campaigns. Caldara also hosts a “current affairs” television program, Independent Thinking, on Denver's KBDI-TV. Caldara has asked a guest if it was “fair to say” that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) “got bitch-slapped” during a primary debate; and he described Colorado Media Matters as a “hate group” for highlighting his remarks.
The Caplis & Silverman Show airs weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. MT on Denver's 630 KHOW-AM. Co-host Dan Caplis, an attorney who in 2007 publicly discussed running for U.S. Senate as a Republican, has also made occasional appearances on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor. Caplis has asserted that gay “conduct is not natural” and is “immoral.” While discussing a photograph of Obama wearing Somali clothing, Caplis questioned why Obama would “put on similar clothing to the outfit worn by the man [Osama bin Laden] who personally ordered thousands of Americans, including women and kids, to be burned to death.”
The Big Show with Bill Cunningham is a weekday Cincinnati-based radio program that airs from 12:25 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET on Ohio's WLW-AM. The program is also simulcast on XM Radio Channel 173. Cunningham, a former Ohio assistant attorney general, also hosts a nationally syndicated Sunday-night talk program titled Live on Sunday Night, It's Bill Cunningham, which is broadcast live on 325 affiliates, according to its syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks. In 2001, Cunningham received the National Association of Broadcasters' Marconi Radio Award for large-market “Personality of the Year.” Cunningham has alleged that “Obama wants to gas the Jews;” compared Obama to Hitler; has repeatedly suggested that if Obama lost the election “there will be 100 cities burning;” has invoked “six-six-six” and “the beast” while discussing Obama; has asserted that “a typical black father... simply leave”; has repeatedly claimed that poor people “lack values”; and has claimed that “the so-called noble poor” don't use birth control so that “the mom can get more checks in the mail from the government.”
The Mark Levin Show is a nationally syndicated program hosted by Landmark Legal Foundation president Mark Levin. Based in New York City, The Mark Levin Show broadcasts from WABC-AM Monday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET and is syndicated by ABC Radio Networks. According to Talkers Magazine, The Mark Levin Show reaches a weekly average audience of at least 5.5 million listeners and is tied for the ranking of fifth among talk-radio programs nationwide. Levin has compared Obama to Hitler; has referred to the National Organization for Women as the “National Organization of Ugly Women” and “the National Organization of Really Ugly Women”; and while discussing Comedy Central host Jon Stewart complained of “phony intellectuals” who are “arrogantly looking down their sizable noses at our armed forces.”
The G. Gordon Liddy Show is hosted by convicted Watergate felon G. Gordon Liddy, who often refers to himself as “the G-Man,” and is nationally syndicated through Radio America. Talkers Magazine lists Liddy in its "Heavy Hundred 2008." Liddy has advanced claims that Obama was not a U.S. citizen; has said that undocumented Mexican immigrants “want to speak Spanish, you know, and other varieties of illegal alien” and “want to reconquer America, they say”; and claimed that Obama was relying, in part, on “the welfare class to win” Pennsylvania. In the 1990s, Liddy reportedly advised his radio audience on multiple occasions on how to shoot Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents.
The Gunny Bob Show, hosted by “Gunny” Bob Newman, airs weeknights on Denver's 850 KOA-AM from 7 to 10 p.m. MT. Newman is the author of Minefields to Microphones: Global Asymmetric Warfare, the Radical Left, and Winning the War on Terror (Paladin Press, September 2006), which, according to its publisher, “exposes the treason and treachery of America's maniacal liberal machine while laying out a roadmap to victory in the war on terror that will stun the enemy and infuriate America's wild-eyed left.” Newman has described Obama as “just another blowhard, make-believe thug” and “a far-left, terrorist-hugging politician”; has asserted that “there will be an invasion of Muslim terrorists” if Obama is elected; posted doctored photos of Obama on his website depicting Obama as meeting with Osama bin Laden and dressed as “Che Obama”; has suggested that legalizing gay marriage could “lead to legal human-animal marriage”; and declared that “every Muslim immigrant to America” should be “required by law to wear a GPS tracking bracelet at all times.”
The War Room with Quinn & Rose is a syndicated radio program based in Pittsburgh on Clear Channel's 104.7 WPGB-FM. Talkers Magazine lists Quinn & Rose on its "Heavy Hundred." According to the show's website, it airs on 18 radio stations and XM Satellite Radio Channel 158. Jim Quinn, who co-hosts the show with Rose Tennent, has repeatedly described the National Organization for Women as the “National Organization for Whores”; told columnist Fatimah Ali to “get an American name”; has said that, in the past, “if you didn't own land, you didn't vote, and there was a good reason for it”; and often introduces segments on Hillary Clinton by playing audio of the Elton John song "The Bitch Is Back."
The Lee Rodgers Show is the morning drive-time talk program for San Francisco's 560 KSFO-AM and airs Monday through Friday from 5 to 9 a.m. PT and from 5 to 7 a.m. PT on Saturdays. The show features co-hosts Lee Rodgers and Tom Benner, known on-air as “Officer Vic,” and is listed as one of Talkers Magazine's "Heavy Hundred." The program is sometimes guest-hosted by KSFO's Brian Sussman. Rodgers has described many “professed leaders of the feminist movement in this country” as “a bunch of hags,” who “couldn't get laid in a men's prison”; has said that “the female leadership of the Democratic Party” is made up of “ugly skanks”; and has referred to Hillary Clinton as “the Hilldebeest” who has a “screechy, fingernails-on-the-blackboard voice.”
The Savage Nation is a top-rated nationally syndicated radio program hosted by Michael Savage. The program, which airs from 4 to 7 p.m. PT, is based in San Francisco and is syndicated through Talk Radio Network. Talk Radio Network claims that Savage is heard on more than 350 radio stations, and, according to Talkers Magazine, The Savage Nation reaches at least 8.25 million listeners each week, making it one of the most listened-to talk shows in the nation, behind only The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Sean Hannity Show. Savage has attacked everyone from politicians to children with autism. He has insisted that Obama was a Muslim; has described Obama as an “unknown stealth candidate who went to a madrassas in Indonesia and, in fact, was a Muslim”; has referred to Obama as an “affirmative action” candidate and complained that “affirmative action” stole his “birthright”; has claimed that “illegal aliens” have “raped and disheveled” the Statue of Liberty; has linked “homosexuals trying to destroy families through the mock marriage” to “the downturn on Wall Street”; has claimed that "[t]he children's minds are being raped by the homosexual mafia"; has asserted that “welfare recipient[s]” should not “have the right to vote;” and has described autism as a “fraud, a racket,” and said, “In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out.”