Media misleadingly labeled KOA statement on "Gunny" Bob Newman's anti-Muslim remarks as "apology"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In reporting on the controversy over anti-Muslim comments "Gunny" Bob Newman made on his May 8 Newsradio 850 KOA show, some Colorado media outlets misleadingly stated that the station has apologized. In fact, KOA's online statement regarding Newman's bigoted remarks merely acknowledged that some listeners "may have been offended" and explained that "[t]hat was not the intention."

Colorado media reports on May 17 and 18 misleadingly referred to Newsradio 850 KOA's online statement acknowledging that some listeners "may have been offended" by bigoted, anti-Muslim remarks made by talk show host "Gunny" Bob Newman as an "apology." In contrast, 5280.com's Elevated Voices political weblog on May 17 identified KOA's statement, which asserted that Newman had not intended to offend anyone, as "the classic non-apology apology."

As Colorado Media Matters has noted, Newman was discussing the breakup of an alleged terrorist plot to attack U.S. soldiers at New Jersey's Fort Dix on his May 8 show when he stated that "every Muslim immigrant to America who holds a green card, a visa, or who is a naturalized citizen [should] be required by law to wear a GPS tracking bracelet at all times," and that the government should "bug their places of work and their residences" and monitor "[a]ll mosques and community centers." Newman added, "If they don't like the idea, or if they refuse, throw their asses out of this country."

After Colorado Media Matters reported Newman's remarks on May 9, several organizations -- including the American Friends Service Committee, the Mountain States chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, and the Colorado chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union -- issued statements criticizing Newman for his remarks. The progressive organization ProgressNow launched a public action campaign to raise awareness of Newman's remarks among advertisers and by May 18, three advertisers had asked to have their ads removed from Newman's show.

Late on May 16, KOA posted a notice on Newman's Web page stating that the station "understands that some of you may have been offended" by his remarks calling for a law that would eliminate some basic civil rights for Muslim immigrants. KOA, which is owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc., continued: "That was not the intention. 850 KOA believes in being fair and respectful while encouraging discussion and debate of complex issues."

A May 18 article in the Rocky Mountain News reported that "KOA posted this apology on its Web site" in response: "Newsradio 850 KOA understands that some of you may have been offended by remarks Gunny Bob made regarding Muslim immigrants to the United States. That was not the intention. 850 KOA believes in being fair and respectful while encouraging discussion and debate of complex issues."

A segment about Newman's comments on the May 17 broadcast of KDVR Fox 31's News at Nine O'Clock reported that "the only comment coming from the station is on the KOA Web site. It apologized if anyone was offended by 'Gunny' Bob's remarks."

In contrast, the Elevated Voices blog noted that "KOA realizes you might have been offended, but since that wasn't their intention, they don't care":

In response to the growing controversy, KOA channeled another Newman: "Alfred E." Their reaction to the outcry against "Gunny" has been little more than "What, Me Worry?"

The station posted a note on the home page of the Web site for the "Gunny" show, which was the classic non-apology apology[.]

[...]

In other words, KOA realizes you might have been offended, but since that wasn't their intention, they don't care. That's sort of like punching your spouse in the face and then saying, "I didn't mean to make you bleed."

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