The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

28 May 2008

Pittsburgh ESPN Host Sacked For Tough Ted Kennedy Talk


PA Sports Talker Canned Over Ted K 'Hope'

After a particularly outrageous comment by a Pittsburgh- based sports talker, the new media taboo against criticizing Ted Kennedy has claimed its first victim.

Despite high ratings and a strong local following, local ESPN host Mark Madden was removed from the airwaves almost immediately after saying he'd long hoped Kennedy would be "assassinated" rather than die from cancer, according to KDKA-TV:

Pittsburgh ESPN Radio Host Taken Off The Air

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ― Highly-rated, but highly controversial sports talk show host Mark Madden is off the air at Pittsburgh's ESPN Radio - possibly for good.

The Post-Gazette is reporting that Madden has been permanently removed from the air. A spokesman for ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, will only tell KDKA that Madden has been taken off the air.

What got him in trouble was a statement about Sen. Ted Kennedy's cancerous brain tumor.

Madden told listeners last Wednesday that, "I'm very disappointed to hear that Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is near death because of a brain tumor. I always hoped Sen. Kennedy would life long enough to be assassinated."

Madden has been in trouble with listeners and station management in the past. He was fired from a sports talk show on WTAE-TV for his language and over-the-top remarks about the Steelers.

He was also fired as a commentator for World Championship Wrestling.

For the Media Matters/ Huffington Post crowd, there must be a great sense of disappointment that the first host to be fired over Kennedy's cancer is a sports presenter. Could this incident open the door for conservative political talkers to be sacked as well, however?

Already, we've seen the left- wing blogosphere gang up on Michael Savage over his choice of bumper music, but other conservative hosts are carefully avoiding any mention of Ted K.

While your Radio Equalizer certainly isn't going to condone Madden's remarks, we've seen this sad situation play out many times before. Why hire a shock jock and then panic when he does exactly what you brought him aboard to do?

That's why ESPN is the real villain here: they knew all about Madden's history, none of it was a secret when they chose to employ him.

Meanwhile, on the other extreme is the shameless mainstream media, where Kennedy history is being rewritten in order to make him a saint. Now, according to the AP and Boston Globe, he's actually spent the last 40 years crusading against cancer, rather than driving young women into the water:

WASHINGTON—Sen. Edward Kennedy's battle with a malignant brain tumor is likely to put a dramatic personal stamp on a health care cause he first championed nearly 40 years ago: The nation's war on cancer.

Kennedy had already begun work on an overhaul of the 1971 National Cancer Act when his tumor was diagnosed, and advocates hope the fact that Kennedy has fallen victim to this disease will generate public support and lend new urgency to the need to update the bill.

"People think of Ted Kennedy as a fighter and as someone who has always been there for everyone," said Daniel E. Smith, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Cancer Society's advocacy arm. "The fact that he now is fighting this disease is a jolt. It's a wake-up call to everyone."

"With that diagnosis, the irony for us is Senator Kennedy has been one of our great champions," Smith said.

The 76-year-old Kennedy has been a prominent and passionate advocate of cancer research and other health care issues throughout his long tenure in the Senate.

His name has become virtually synonymous with the push for universal health care coverage. He was a leader in enacting several landmark bills, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the State Children's Health Insurance Program and the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill protecting workers from losing health insurance when they switch jobs, or from being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

For shamelessly whitewashing Kennedy's past, is the mainstream media any better than Madden and his over- the- top commentary?

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  • I wrote about this too on my own broadcasting blog. I say,.. good riddance. Mark was a very frustrated individual and ESPN was looking for a way out with him after a long contract dispute. Mark's catch phrases here and broadcasting style was often stolen from all of his pro wrestling buddies. I am glad to see that there is a time slot opened up for a more deserving broadcaster (like me).

    By Blogger HockeyKnight, at 28 May, 2008 13:35  

  • You're reporting this way with a straight face? Exposing your own hypocrisy on the same page as the other story?

    this guy gets fired for saying something extremely distasteful, and you assert it as wielding his first amendment right of free speech.

    nolan protested, quietly, bill oreilly's award presentation with FACT as opposed to hyperbole, and you more or less described his firing as him getting what was coming to him.

    free speech applies to both or neither, brian.

    and it's typical of you to champion in such a partisan way.

    i'm not at all surprised that you can be so disingenuous.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 28 May, 2008 15:24  

  • "he's actually spent the last 40 years crusading against cancer, rather than driving young women into the water"

    actually, yes. pretty sure he's spent more time on the former than the latter.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 28 May, 2008 16:41  

  • Mark Madden deserved to be bounced off the air on his own demerits. That said, there does seem to be a double standard at ESPN.

    Madden lost his job for his outrageousness yet Dana Jacobsen was able to keep her job after her "F*** Notre Dame," "F*** Touchdown Jesus" and "F*** Jesus" tirade.

    ESPN would come off as more credible if it could only stick to a consistent standard.

    By Blogger Everett W., at 28 May, 2008 17:26  

  • I think I missed some news updates somewhere. You're saying Ted Kennedy has spent the last 40 years driving young women into the water? Why haven't I heard this before?

    Actually, the Madden story just seems to be a sad indication of what the right-wing thinks is funny these days. Let's see... It would be amusing if someone poisoned a few Supreme Court justices (Ann Coulter). A gun pointed at Barack Obama is a really funny idea (Mike Huckabee). Wouldn't it be cool if all three Kennedy brothers in politics were assassinated?

    To me, the Rev. Wright story doesn't come anywhere near this shameful, disgusting mindset.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 28 May, 2008 19:45  

  • To top it off these mental patients make fun of people protesting important things.. such as the war, or the enviornment and one of their own Michelle "mental patient" Malkin... protests a Jihadist scarf !!!

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 29 May, 2008 10:03  

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