Today, Boston-area radio host Jay Severin was fired for making outrageous on-air comments that were really stupid. But, realistically, that's hardly uncommon for a medium that rewards the unhinged. So, in our quest to figure out just what constitutes a fireable offense in talk radio these days, we put together a handful of inflammatory utterances broadcasted over the air waves, including Severin's latest remarks. Can you guess which ones got people fired?
1. "Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"
2. On April 22, 1999, one day after the Columbine High School shooting, this radio host said: "There were some really good-looking girls running with their hands over their heads. Did those kids try to have sex with any of those good-looking girls? They didn't even do that? At least if you're going to kill yourself and kill the kids, why wouldn't you have some sex? If I was going to kill some people, I'd take them out with sex."
3. "I don't wanna hear anymore about Islam. I don't wanna hear one more word about Islam. Take your religion and shove it up your behind. I'm sick of you... Don't tell me I need reeducation. They need deportation... You can take your due process and shove it."
4. "Damn right Dick Cheney's heart is a political football. We oughta rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him."
5. "So, I watched the basketball game last night between... Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final... Some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos... some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know."
6. "Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult's taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards...There's going to be a retard summit at the White House."
7. "The closest I came to making love to a black woman was I masturbated to a picture of Aunt Jemima on a pancake box."
8. “When scoop up some of the world’s lowest of primitives in poor Mexico and drop it down in the middle of the United States. Poor, without skills, without language, not share our culture, not share our hygiene. … It’s millions of leeches from a primitive country. … Now they are exporting a rather more active form of disease which is the swine flu.”
9. This radio host described Condoleezza Rice's attributes for the job of NFL commissioner as such: "She's been chancellor of Stanford. She's got the patent resume of somebody that has serious skill. She loves football. She's African-American, which would kind of be a big coon. A big coon. Oh my God. I am totally, totally, totally, totally, totally sorry for that... I didn't mean that. It was just a slip of the tongue. She's definitely got all the attributes to be commissioner. I'm really sorry about that."
10. "F****** goddamn Joe the goddamn mother-f****** Plumber! I want mother-f****** Joe the Plumber dead!"
11. "Those girls that got to sleep with me got to know their boss better, they got to go on trips, they got to travel in some cases to various parts of the world, to see things and meet people that they never would have seen or done...We'd have drinks together at the end of the day and we'd spend the night together. I should feel badly about that?"
Not fireable: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8.
Fireable offenses: 5, 9, 10, 11
1. and 6. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh whose only demerits have come in the court of public opinion.
2. and 7. Neither quotes cost Howard Stern his job, though the Aunt Jemima crack earned him a $600,000 FCC fine (he was terrestrial at the time) and the Columbine remark led the Colorado State Legislature to officially censure him. Over the years, enough haggling from the FCC did spur his move to satellite radio.
3. The crack about Islam comes from conservative shock jock Michael Savage who escaped punishment (however, he was banned in the UK).
4. Ed Schultz received no punishment for talking about Cheney's heart.
5. Maybe too easy? The infamous "nappy... hos" resulted in the firing of Don Imus, though he has since returned to radio.
8. That's Jay Severin, but back in 2009 during the swine flu panic. He was suspended after the quote provoked outrage, but his employers wouldn't say that he was specifically being punished for the racist remarks, and he was soon back on the air.
9. Dave Lenihan was fired from a St. Louis radio station for the racist comments about Condoleezza Rice.
10. Charles Karel Bouley lost his job with a San Francisco radio station for his profane tirade on "Joe the Plumber."
11. And that's the quote that cost Jay Severin his job. He was talking about his interns.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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