The blame game continues over whether Jared Lee Loughner’s shooting rampage in Tuscon was motivated by talk radio politics. This time several dozen people showed up in front of Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ Radio’s studios in Fresno on Tuesday (1/12) night to protest “anti-government” rhetoric by some of the station’s Conservative talkers. If you remember, that idea was spawned by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik who claimed talk radio was responsible.
Some carried candles, and some carried signs with the names of the shooting victims in Arizona last weekend. Many said they do not like KMJ’s programming.
“I object to the level of acrimony that is spewed out on a daily basis by many of the talk-show hosts,” said one woman.
The vigil and protest was organized by Fresno County Democratic Party officials. Linda Traynor, an official with the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee, said much of KMJ’s conservative talk-show programming is full of “vitriolic rhetoric” and “violent imagery” directed against government and government officials. “This can affect the behavior of people with mental problems or prone toward hate and violence,” Traynor said.
Several in the crowd said KMJ’s programming goes over the top, with anti-government messages that can sway some people toward violence.
About a dozen counter-protesters showed up to defend KMJ. In fact, Peak President of Operations Bill Figenshu tells RBR-TVBR there were more supporters of KMJ present than protesters.
“There’s no place to place blame,” one man said. “You’ve got woman insane individual who committed an insane crime.
KMJ GM Patty Hixson said that any claim characterizing station program as filled with vitriolic rhetoric “is irresponsible, inaccurate and an insult to our staff and the listeners we serve throughout Central California 24 hours a day.”
She prepared a statement:
“The staff of 580/KMJ-AM and KMJ-FM 105.9 join all of America in denouncing the violence that occurred last Saturday in Tucson resulting in the killing and injuring of 14 innocent Americans who were merely exercising their right of free speech and assembly.
We also join with those here today whose purpose is to memorialize the victims of this horrible tragedy. As a mother, I can only imagine the pain that has become the daily routine of the parents of 9 year old Christine Taylor.
We all hope that the person responsible for this heinous act will receive the full measure of justice, that we Americans have come to cherish as part of our foundation of fair trial and swift punishment when found guilty in a court of law.
We cannot however, allow the Fresno Democratic Party, or anyone else, to blame, connect, or characterize KMJ radio for the act of a deranged individual, who has no connection to any political party, the Central Valley, or KMJ.
The irresponsible actions of the Fresno Democratic Party’s attempt to characterize KMJ’s programming as “full of vitriolic rhetoric” and violent imagery directed against government and government officials” is irresponsible, inaccurate, and an insult to our staff and the listeners we serve throughout central California 24 hours a day.
There are almost 100 people that come to work each day with one mission, and one goal, to serve the people of Fresno and central California with fair and accurate award winning local news, sports, traffic, weather, and farm reporting that is second to none. We provide a balanced and diverse schedule of programming designed to reflect the community we serve. We do not come to work to spew hate, or hate language, and I resent anyone that suggests we do.
We have nothing but respect for our listeners, and the community we have for over 85 years, and I am proud of the people I work with, who are nothing but professional, compassionate, and fair, in the making of the programming is broadcast on KMJ.
I invite the Fresno Democratic Party, and anyone else who would unfairly characterize KMJ without offering a single shred of evidence to their position, to join the more than 100,000 weekly listeners throughout the Valley who depend on KMJ every day to fairly tackle the issues that affect all of us. KMJ is a true reflection of the community we serve. To suggest we are the instigators of hate is to suggest our listeners are too! Obviously, we reject this unfair, simplistic assumption as nothing more than irresponsible rhetoric.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Freedom of Speech is Freedom of Speech. As talk radio hosts are allowed to voice their opinions, so are listeners—both in defense of what show hosts have to say and against what they have to say. While some may say this whole topic is indicative of the divisive climate we’ve been in for years now in the US, the bottom line is it shows people care and are involved in their local communities. The fact that KMJ became a focal point in Fresno on the issue shows how important talk radio is in America.