On August 22, nativist and bigot William Gheen took to the airwaves to talk about what he calls the Obama administration's "backdoor amnesty policy" towards illegal immigrants. He was a guest on Christian radio host Janet Mefferd's show. During the show, he advocated "illegal and violent" action to "take down" the Obama administration, and said he thought there should be a military coup.
Christian Dem in NC diaried about it here. Right Wing Watch covered it also, as did the SPLC.
Of course, Gheen walked his statements back and claimed anyone who took umbrage at his statements was a lefty commie troublemaker.
I dropped an email to Salem Radio Networks about it, and got a response from a senior SRN official, Charles Mefferd, Janet's husband. More about that below the squiggle.
(Update: Wow, I come back from preparing for tomorrow night's hurricane and find this on the rec list. Thanks, all! Got another email from Charles Mefferd, also, very polite but seems to think that his wife's statement was perfect.)
Charles Mefferd comes across as a decent guy in his emails, and I have to admit, I was a bit surprised that he bothered to respond at all. He sent four in all as of this writing, and was polite and courteous in all of them, though he couldn't resist saying that he doubted the Daily Kos would cover his wife's response. He freely acknowledged that Gheen went "off the deep end" on his wife's show, and said that she would have a "statement and clarification" on today's show.
And she did.
I didn't write out a transcript, but here's the gist of her statement. First, she talked about freedom of speech and the ability for radio hosts and their guests to talk freely and openly without being edited. She noted that Gheen had been on her show several times before to talk about illegal immigration. She gave a quick summary of what Gheen had said on her show. She then said that people from "far left" blogs and organizations were the ones who were critical of his statements, and that SRN had gotten a number of emails protesting Gheen's comments. (I guess only "far left" folks are outraged by calls for violent, seditious armed insurrection that some might characterize as treasonous.) Then she notes the following:
* she doesn't share his opinion that Obama is a dictator
* she doesn't advocate "illegal and violent" tactics against government, and notes that Gheen now claims he never made any such calls, either (um, yes, he did)
* she doesn't advocate military coups and says those with grievances against the government should handle them through the ballot box
* she let Gheen say what he wanted to without objection or rebuttal; in hindsight, she says she should have "engaged him" about "what he was really trying to say"--his comments "slipped past me" at the time. "Is that really what you intended to say?" she says she should have asked
No apology, no indication that Gheen will not be welcome on the show in the future, just a note that she doesn't agree with Gheen's statements and that she should have handled it a bit differently.
I can only imagine the reaction from Mefferd, her fellow SRN hosts, and the entire right-wing noise machine had something analogous to this been said by someone on the left -- say advocating that an armed contingent of Marines storm the House of Representatives and haul Boehner, Cantor, Ryan, and the rest of those "dictators" out by their ears, presumably to be jailed or hung or whatever seems best. I doubt it would have been nearly as restrained or as fraught with caveats.
I guess it could have been worse. She could have been as combative and defensive as Gheen, who denied saying anything of the sort even after having his own words played back to him. But I would expect a better response from anyone, left or right or whatever, who had a guest advocate the armed overthrow of the legitimately elected government of the greatest democracy in existence.