A Clear Disagreement at Clear Channel

(Update below) Yakkers at Clear Channel-Denver stations regularly voice their displeasure in respect to topics or issues that make their blood boil. It's mighty rare, though, for them to rip on each other -- and that's precisely what happened on the morning of May 11, when AM 760's Jay Marvin figuratively read the riot act to KOA evening-show host Bob Newman over Newman's May 8 suggestion that many U.S. Muslims be forced to wear GPS tracking bracelets simply because of their faith.

These statements were recorded by Colorado Media Matters, which posted a piece headlined "Call Me Kooky" on May 9. Here's the transcript of Newman's remarks, made after the arrest of would-be terrorists suspected of planning an attack against soldiers stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey:

NEWMAN: I want -- tell me if I'm wrong or tell me if I'm right. I want every Muslim immigrant to America who holds a green card, a visa, or who is a naturalized citizen to be required by law to wear a GPS tracking bracelet at all times. And the FBI and the NSA should monitor their phones and their emails, all communications -- electronic -- at all times, as well as bug their places of work and their residences. If they don't like the idea, or if they refuse, throw their asses out of this country. All mosques and community centers as well as Muslim organizations must be monitored. We know with the arrests today that the Muslim terrorists are absolutely, positively here -- and we invited them to our country! And I think maybe it's time that we should stop doing that. Call me kooky, but I think maybe it's time for a little moratorium on Muslim visas, period. Hey, I'm sorry, guys -- I know that a lot of you are great people. I know you just like to do business here or become a U.S. citizens and be a peaceful person. I know that. But you know what? You better get control of your own people. Once you get control of them, then come see us again and we'll think about -- however many decades down the road it is -- we'll think about maybe opening our doors to you again. But you are doing absolutely freaking nothing to help, to, to help this nation. And that's that.

A day after the Colorado Media Matters offering went live, the Denver office of the Anti-Defamation League sent out a press release formally condemning Newman. It reads:

In response to comments by “Gunny” Bob Newman on his KOA radio show regarding Muslim immigrants, the Anti-Defamation League’s Mountain States Regional Director Bruce H. DeBoskey issued the following statement:

“‘Gunny’ Bob Newman’s comments recommending that the FBI and NSA monitor all Muslim immigrants are outrageous and divisive.

“By stereotyping all Muslims as potential terrorists, Newman creates a climate of fear and bigotry, not unlike the hysteria surrounding the treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

“Extremists come in all faiths, and do not reflect the values and beliefs of the vast majority of the members of the religious groups to which they belong.

“Newman questions the loyalty of law-abiding Muslims living in America,and suggests that they be treated as though they were dangerous terrorists. ADL condemns Newman’s use of these hateful stereotypes.”

No doubt Marvin agrees with these sentiments. He's ideologically left of center, as befits the public face of AM 760, Clear Channel-Denver's experiment in politically progressive talk-radio; for more on the outlet, see this March 2007 Message column. Yet it was still quite a surprise to hear him fulminate against Newman's proposition, as he did for much of his four-hour show on the 11th. At one point, he noted that any radio personality who aimed such a diatribe against Catholics or Jews would be out of a job in record time -- but because the target was Muslims, Newman was given a pass.

At this point, there's nothing on Newman's section of KOA's website to suggest that he's backed away from his controversial statements. To the contrary, a blurb under the heading "Gunny's Email" essentially ridicules anyone who dares to criticize his views about Muslims:

"'Gunny' Bob Newman is a coward, an opportunist, and a ridiculous loudmouth, and both KOA and Clear Channel took take [sic] immediate steps to terminate his presence on the airwaves . . . race-baiting is bad for business." [Here the "doctor" claims Islam is a race.]

--Dr. Smith

Newman's unlikely to back down on his own. So it'll be interesting to see if his superiors at Clear Channel make him -- or if, instead, Marvin gets a hand-slapping for denigrating a member of his own broadcasting family. -- Michael Roberts

Update: Just got a call from a radio insider, who notes that the Newman sound clip received national attention today when Laura Ingraham played it on her nationally syndicated program (heard in these parts on KNUS/710 AM). Predictably, Ingraham, who's politically a little to the right of Genghis Khan, didn't bash Gunny Bob for his sentiments; rather, says the aforementioned listener, she cheered him. In the world of conservative talk radio, there's seldom such thing as being too extreme... -- MR

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts