Michael Graham, who hosted a midday political talk show on WMAL-AM in Washington D.C., was let go this week. A couple of weeks ago, he called Islam a ‘terrorist organization’. He was suspended, and when he did not agree to apologize on air for his remarks, he was let go.
While I agree that comments were wrong headed, that is not what brought me to post. Instead, these comments made by Graham after the firing got me going:
As a fan of talk radio, I find it absolutely outrageous that pressure from a
special interest group like CAIR can result in the abandonment of free speech
and open discourse on a talk radio show (emphasis mine)
Ah, the old ‘free speech’ crutch. Used my many broadcasters when their comments get them in trouble. I looked up the text of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, orNo where in that text does it say a member of the media has to keep their job when they say something that offends people.
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of
the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the
Government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment protects Graham’s ability to say Islam is a terrorist organization without being arrested. He could stand in front of the Capital building in D.C. and sing it to the tune of ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ and not get sanctioned by the government.
Graham didn’t get fired because he broke the law, or because the Federal Communications Commission was breathing down WMAL’s neck. He got fired because WMAL decided Graham was bad for business. He got fired because the Council on American-Islam Relations, ‘special interest group’, was threatening to go after WMAL’s advertisers, i.e. cut off WMAL’s money. And since WMAL is a business, it took steps to protect the money. And if a midday radio host has to get the boot to protect that cash, so be it.
Here is a tip for Mr. Graham, Larry Krueger, and the next media member to wrap him or herself in the Constitution when they say something stupid and pay a price; when someone is paying you to say something, the speech isn’t free.