MICHAEL GRAHAM FIRED
DC Talk Host Was Target Of Islamist Campaign
Confirmation of WMAL/Washington talk host Michael Graham's removal from the ABC station has been made with his just-released statement.
Graham had been suspended for making comments local fringe Islamists from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found offensive, now we've learned he won't be returning to WMAL.
CAIR has been linked to terrorist group Hamas.
Official ABC reason: insubordination, for apparently not doing enough "outreach" after an incident where Graham called Islam itself a "terror organization".
In a Jewish World Review column, Graham further ticked off Mickey's suits with this (via Michelle Malkin):
I take no pleasure in saying it. It pains me to think it. I could very well lose my job in talk radio over admitting it.
But it is the plain truth: Islam is a terror organization.
For years, I've been trying to give the world's Muslim community the benefit of the doubt, along with the benefit of my typical-American's complete disinterest in their faith. Before 9/11, I knew nothing about Islam except the greeting "asalaam alaikum," taught to me by a Pakistani friend in Chicago.
Immediately after 9/11, I nodded in ignorant agreement as President Bush assured me that "Islam is a religion of peace."
But nearly four years later, nobody can defend that statement. And I mean "nobody." Certainly not the group of "moderate" Muslim clerics and imams who gathered in London last week to issue a statement on terrorism and their faith.
When asked the question "Are suicide bombings always a violation of Islam," they could not answer "Yes. Always." Instead, these "moderate British Muslims" had to answer "It depends."
Previous Radio Equalizer coverage on the issue is found here. Michelle Malkin's recent piece can be found here.
At this moment, he's still listed as a host on the WMAL site. Ads specific to Graham's show are still shown.
Because WMAL is an American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) shop, Graham has a number of potential grievance options. Usually, terminations for cause can be the trickiest for broadcasters, because they are easier for the union to fight than if he were let go for performance (ratings, revenue) reasons.
Also stunning: WMAL Program Director Randall Bloomquist, a longtime industry veteran, hasn't been seen at the ABC building in a week and isn't returning messages or emails.
Has he also been fired? He wasn't scheduled to be away for the week. Speculation is running high tonight that Bloomquist, Graham's direct supervisor, is the second casualty of the CAIR campaign.
The Radio Equalizer is waiting for a response from ABC.
So far, ABC has never told listeners why Graham has not been heard on the air, forcing them to rely on newspaper accounts and blogs for the latest.
Here's Graham's statement:
Contact: Michael Graham
CAIR WINS, FREE SPEECH LOSES AT ABC RADIO
Radio Station Gives In To CAIR Demands, Fires Host For Comments Regarding Islam
The following is a statement from Michael Graham, former mid-morning host at ABC Radio's 630 WMAL in Washington, DC:
The First Amendment and I have been evicted from ABC Radio in Washington, DC.
On July 25th, the Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded that I be "punished" for my on-air statements regarding Islam and its tragic connections to terrorism.
Three days later, 630 WMAL and ABC Radio suspended me without pay for comments deemed "hate radio" by CAIR.
CAIR immediately announced that my punishment was insufficient and demanded I be fired. ABC Radio and 630 WMAL have now complied. I have now been fired for making the specific comments CAIR deemed "offensive," and for refusing to retract those statements in a management-mandated, on-air apology.
ABC Radio further demanded that I agree to perform what they described as "additional outreach efforts" to those people or groups who felt offended.
I refused. And for that refusal, I have been fired.
It appears that ABC Radio has caved to an organization that condemns talk radio hosts like me, but has never condemned Hamas, Hezbollah, and one that wouldn't specifically condemn Al Qaeda for three months after 9/11.
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. As a conservative talk host whose job is to have an open, honest conversation each day with my listeners, I believe caving to this pressure is a disaster.
I for one cannnot apologize for the truth and I cannot agree to some community-service style "outreach effort" to appease the opponents of free speech.
If I had made a racist or bigoted comment -- which my regular listeners know goes against everything I believe in -- I would apologize immediately, and without coercion. When I have made inadvertent fact errors in the past, I apologized promptly and without hesitation.
But we have now gone far beyond that, with demands that I apologize for the ideas my listeners and I believe in. It is not a coincidence that, after my suspension on July 28th, WMAL received more than 15,000 phone calls and emails protesting my removal from the airwaves.
Why such a huge response? It wasn't about me; The listeners I spoke to said they felt betrayed by my suspension because the vast majority of them agree with me on the subject of Islam. By labeling my statements as unacceptable, these listeners felt that WMAL management was insulting them, too.
I cannot speak for anyone else, but I care about the listeners of 630 WMAL. I respect them and I appreciate the amazing support they have given me.
I could not dishonor their principled support for free speech by giving into these demands. I cannot join ABC Radio in bowing to CAIR's wishes. And I will not apologize for my opinions or retract the truth.
The whole point of the Michael Graham Show is what my listeners and I call the "natural truth," those obvious facts about modern life that the p.c. police and mainstream media believe should never be discussed. That includes the tragic, but undeniable relationship between terrorism and Islam as it is constituted today.
The conversations my listeners and I had on this subject were not offensive or bigoted in the least. In fact, Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR (who has appeared on my show several times) credited "criticism from talk radio" in part for the recent fatwa against terrorism issued by a group of US Muslim scholars. Ironically, it was issued the day before I was suspended.
That's the real tragedy here. The people who most need free speech and open dialogue on the issues facing Islam today are America's moderate Muslims. These are people of good will who have the difficult job ahead of reforming and rescuing their religion. They need all the help they can get.
The decision to give CAIR what it wants-a group with well-publicized ties to terrorists and terror-related organizations--will make it harder for the reformers to successfully face Islam's challenges. Still worse, silencing people like me will make it easier for Islamist extremists to dismiss all sincere calls for reform as mere "bigotry."
When CAIR is able to quell dissent and label every critic a "bigot," the chilling effect is felt far beyond ABC Radio and 630 WMAL. If anyone is owed an apology, it is the moderate, Muslim community who have been failed once again by the mainstream media.
Update: coverage from LGF here, Backcountry Conservative here.
Update: LaShawn Barber has her version here. She doesn't believe it's a First Amendment issue.
Update: from new WorldNetDaily story:
Graham's suspension stems come from characterizing Islam a "terrorist organization." Graham explained that when a significant minority of a group conducts terrorism and the general population of that group does not denounce it, it is safe to conclude that the group promotes it. He drew an analogy between Islam and the Boy Scouts.
"If the Boy Scouts of America had 1,000 scout troops, and 10 of them practiced suicide bombings, then the BSA would be considered a terrorist organization," he said.
"If the BSA refused to kick out those 10 troops, that would make the case even stronger. If people defending terror repeatedly turned to the Boy Scout handbook and found language that justified and defended murder – and the scoutmasters in charge simply said 'Could be' – the Boy Scouts would have driven out of America long ago."
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