Smerconish defends himself: "I say stupid things every day"

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One day after Media Matters for America documented several inflammatory comments by Philadelphia-based radio host Michael Smerconish, who is reportedly working on a pilot television program for CNN, Smerconish responded on the January 17 edition of his WPHT radio show, claiming that he was "guilty across the board" and said, "[M]y comment, to the extent that these folks are still monitoring me today is: Can't you come up with something better than that? 'Cause, holy smokes, I sure could." Smerconish's producer, T.C. Scornavacchi, read the bulk of the Media Matters item aloud on the air, and Smerconish responded in each instance that he was "guilty as charged," adding, "I say stupid things every day." The following are his responses:

  • After Scornavacchi read from the item that Smerconish trivialized reports of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq as "naked pyramid pictures" and at the Pentagon detention facility at Guantánamo Bay as "play[ing] Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud," Smerconish said: "So, OK, so what? This is an example of me saying something inflammatory?"
  • As Scornavacchi prepared to read the next comment, Smerconish said, "It's unbelievable how they have the date they saw me," and Scornavacchi responded, "No, Michael, they have the video and audio clips posted on this website." After Scornavacchi read that on the April 10, 2006, edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Smerconish suggested that "maybe law enforcement ought to step in" at pro-immigration demonstrations and consider "gathering ... up" illegal immigrants, and that he suggested that law enforcement officials are being hypocritical by refusing to "gather[] ... up" illegal immigrants because they would "step in and do something about" a rally of "pot smokers," who "wanted decriminalization" of marijuana, or "scofflaws" with unpaid parking tickets, Smerconish said: "Is that the end of the charge?"
  • When Scornavacchi read a quote from Smerconish in which he claimed that political correctness has made the United States "a nation of sissies," and that "sissification" and "limp-wristedness" are "compromising our ability to win the war on terror," Smerconish responded: "Yeah, I often use the word 'sissification' or 'sissies.' What I'd really like to use is the 'P' word, but I'm not permitted to." He then added: "T.C., give me something. ... I say stupid things every day."
  • Finally, after hearing that, as a guest host on the November 23, 2005, edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, he had called public prayer by Muslim men at a sporting event "wrong," and added that they were playing "a game" to remind the audience of terrorist attacks, Smerconish said: "That's what I said, and I continue to believe it." In response to a separate comment on the same broadcast in which he asserted that educating women means "they're not going to be around to instill these lessons in their kids," Smerconish said: "Can't you come up with something better than that? 'Cause, holy smokes, I sure could."

From the January 17 edition of WPHT's Michael Smerconish Morning Show:

SMERCONISH: I've been very forthcoming about this idea that I have for a TV show that CNN has some interest in. It had not been my intention to fully discuss it and then Michael Klein wrote about it in the Sunday Inquirer and then I said to myself, you know, in the past, when there's been the prospect -- and it's only the prospect, less probably than 50-percent shot -- of having a TV gig, I've always said, "Oh, I'm not going to talk about it on my radio show cause I don't want to jinx it." Well, apparently not talking about it jinxed it. So my whole new attitude this time around is, I've got something going on. It probably won't pan out, but I just feel like, you know, we're compatriots here, and I'd love to tell you about it because it's interesting.

I'm into my book club, meaning right here at the Big Talker 1210 book club will continue, and CNN has an interest in my book club for television purposes. So I'm spending time in New York this week to shoot a pilot. And a pilot means it's a prospective TV show that they're going to vote yea or nay on and it probably never sees the light of day. But to that end, because Michael Klein wrote about it in the Inquirer, he has awakened the interest of a website that tracks pundits. It's called Media Matters. You can go there, you can look at what -- what I -- what Greg mentioned before the break, that yeah, I'm totally willing to discuss.

So, this outfit -- I don't know how they do it -- I guess they assign a person or people to me, but they've been tracking over a period of years, statements that I make -- statements that I make on the Big Talker 1210, statements that I've made guest-hosting on MSNBC, statements that I've made guest-hosting for Bill O'Reilly. And they think they've got me dead to rights, you know, that hate speech has come out of my mouth.

And my attitude is, I'm responsible for 17 and a half hours of content a week. Holy smokes! There are plenty of days where I walk out of here and I say, "Ah, I wish I'd said that differently." But I am, I am not embarrassed or regretful because of something that I've said that was hateful about anything I've ever said. There is not a single statement that I've made -- oh, I say stupid things, I've been wrong about plenty of subjects -- but I've never crossed that line. And you know why? It's not the FCC and it's not the Big Talker, it's because I've -- you know, it's my personal barometer. I've never violated it. So, do you want to know what they think they've got on me? I don't have it in front of me, but T.C. does. Do you have that list, T.C.?

SCORNAVACCHI: I do have the list.

SMERCONISH: All right, so -- so, run down the items of, you know, where they got me. And let me -- and you're catching me cold, but I'm sure I remember -- 'cause I've read the file before, and I'll know what they are and I'll explain.

SCORNAVACCHI: OK. Great. here we go, on the first one. On June 20, 2006, the edition of Scarborough Country, Smerconish trivialized reports of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq as, quote, "naked pyramid pictures."

SMERCONISH: OK. Can I stop you there?

SCORNAVACCHI: Absolutely, there's just one more little bit. Go ahead.

SMERCONISH: Go ahead, say it.

SCORNAVACCHI: And at the Pentagon detention facility at Guantánamo Bay as, quote, "playing Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud."

SMERCONISH: So, OK, so this is an example of what? Me saying something inflammatory?

SCORNAVACCHI: Yes, inflammatory comments, Michael. Your response, please.

SMERCONISH: OK, my response is that I equated the behavior at Abu Ghraib, the naked pyramid pictures --

SCORNAVACCHI: Right.

SMERCONISH: Of something that I remember seeing at my fraternity at Zeta Psi.

SCORNAVACCHI: I actually remember you saying that.

SMERCONISH: Yeah, and I think I also said that I find it remarkable that there's this outrage about torture at Guantánamo, and when you read the actual interrogation log, as I have done, you find out that one of the elements of quote-unquote "torture" is playing Christina Aguilera music at full decibel range. I mean, we're talking about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. We're talking about Mohammed Al-Qitani, who wanted to be hijacker number 20 and cut throats on Flight 93. And what, I'm supposed to get worked up into a lather because, as an interrogation method, we're playing Christina Aguilera music loud?

By the way, people are probably driving to work right now thinking I'm joking. I'm not joking. That's one of the elements of quote-unquote "torture." So, guilty as charged. What's the next item that they've assembled about me?

SCORNAVACCHI: "On April 10, 2006" --

SMERCONISH: It's unbelievable how they have, like, the date, they've got this -- they saw me, I was --

SCORNAVACCHI: Michael, they have the video and audio clips posted on this website.

SMERCONISH: So, I could actually listen to this?

SCORNAVACCHI: Yes.

SMERCONISH: Oh, this is good, because I've been looking to boost my archives.

SCORNAVACCHI: Good.

SMERCONISH: So, go ahead, what did I do on that day?

SCORNAVACCHI: On that day, you suggested that, maybe, law -- quote, "maybe law enforcement ought to step in," end quote, at pro-immigration demonstrations and consider, quote, "gathering up illegal immigrants." "Smerconish wondered why there was zero discussion of, quote, 'gathering them up at the demonstrations,' and when, quote, 'all I keep hearing is how would we ever find them?' He then suggested that law enforcement officials are being hypocritical by refusing to gather up illegal immigrants because they would step in and do something about a rally of pot smokers, who wanted decriminalization of marijuana, or scofflaws with unpaid parking tickets.'

SMERCONISH: Is that the end of the charge?

SCORNAVACCHI: That is the end of the charge, sir. What do you say?

SMERCONISH: OK, I did say all that. And I think what I said was: Can you imagine if you had -- if you had offenders of the law, say, pot smokers, who get together for a rally to decriminalize marijuana, and they're all smoking bones out in the open. The police would round them up and put them in prison because they would be involved in illegal conduct. Here you have illegal immigrants brazenly marching in cities across the country with their Mexican flags, and, you know, there's a presumption that they are here illegally, but law enforcement, because of political correctness, would never step in and say, "Hey, you know, you're here illegally, time to send you home." Guilty as charged. What's next?

SCORNAVACCHI: So far, I think they're put together a really good show for you.

SMERCONISH: Yeah.

[...]

SCORNAVACCHI: "On the April 4, 2006, broadcast of the Factor, Smerconish claimed that political correctness" -- here we go - "has made the United States, quote, 'a nation of sissies,' and that 'sissification' and 'limp-wristedness' are, quote, 'compromising our ability to win the war on terror.' He later blamed the sissification of America for the sentencing of Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to life in prison instead of death for his role in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

SMERCONISH: Is that the extent of the charge?

SCORNAVACCHI: That would be No. 3 sir. Three out of four charges.

SMERCONISH: I am guilty of that as well.

SCORNAVACCHI: And proud.

SMERCONISH: Yeah, I often use the word "sissification" or "sissies." What I'd really like to use is the "P" word, but I'm not permitted to.

SCORNAVACCHI: Right.

SMERCONISH: And I think that what this website is probably thinking is that somehow there's a homophobic element to this. I mean, what's the problem with using the word "sissy"? I -- they can only be surmising that when I say "sissy," I'm referring to homosexuality. I don't know, I'm wondering aloud. I mean, the word "sissy" to me is a word that we used growing up. "Hey don't be a sissy. Come on, play with us."

SCORNAVACCHI: Right.

SMERCONISH: And I love that word, and I'd like to lead it's resurgence into vocabularies all across the United States. And I don't think that every sissy is a homosexual and I don't think every homosexual is a sissy. They're plenty of homosexuals out there who could kick your ass.

SCORNAVACCHI: There you go. OK.

SMERCONISH: So -- T.C., give me --

SCORNAVACCHI: Wait, there's one more.

SMERCONISH: T.C., T.C., give me something. Anything.

SCORNAVACCHI: This is the best they've got.

SMERCONISH: Come on, I say stupid things every day. What's the best they've got?

SCORNAVACCHI: This is it.

SMERCONISH: All right.

SCORNAVACCHI: "On November 23, 2005" --

SMERCONISH: You must be joking -- "November 23, 2005."

SCORNAVACCHI: Yes, this is what they're pulling out. "On the broadcast of the Factor, Smerconish called public prayer by Muslim men at a sporting event, quote, 'wrong,' adding that they were playing a 'game' to remind the audience of terrorist attacks. He also asserted that 'educating women means,' quote -- love this -- 'they're not going to be around to instill these lessons in their kids.' "

SMERCONISH: Oh, my God! Well, guilty and guilty, and that's actually two separate charges.

SCORNAVACCHI: It is, but they put them together.

SMERCONISH: All right, now, I remember them both. Let me -- let me -- No. 1, the Muslim men at a sporting event?

SCORNAVACCHI: Yes.

SMERCONISH: Doing this strictly from memory, folks, so if I'm off a hair in the facts, cut me some slack. There was a New York Giants game. [Former President George H.W.] Bush 41 was going to be in the house. A group of Muslim men, in close proximity to an air vent, start holding a prayer session, with the president in the house, and with 80,000 people in the house, and if memory serves correct, it was also a Hurricane Katrina fundraiser.

And my words, on this radio station, and I guess on the Factor, as well, I said, at a minimum, they were involved in a game of "mind blank," because for Muslim guys to get together in front of 80,000 people, in an event of that magnitude, and hold their daily prayer, they were screwing with the emotions of the American football fans.

That's what I said, and I continue to believe it. In similar fashion, to the imams who recently got on an airplane and started to behave in a very unusual manner, and, you know, shouting out, "Allah Akbar" -- at a minimum, they're screwing around with the minds of people who are fearful of terrorism and fearful for all the right reasons. So guilty on that charge.

And the final issue -- say it again. What about women?

SCORNAVACCHI: To me, this one is the most outrageous maybe.

SMERCONISH: Yeah, go ahead.

SCORNAVACCHI: Quote, "If you educate women, it means they're not going to be around to instill these lessons in their kids."

SMERCONISH: This is unbelievable.

SMERCONISH: For a book club event --

SCORNAVACCHI: Yes.

SMERCONISH: -- we had Soo Kim Abboud and her sister, Jane Kim.

SCORNAVACCHI: Jane Kim.

SMERCONISH: Jane Kim, right. So here are these two, very bright, very attractive, just stellar people -- these two Asian sisters -- who write a book about Asian parenting, and, you know, they give up all the secrets of the household. And they say, you know, "Here's the way our parents raised us, and we think that it was very valuable, and this is what perhaps other people should do in parenting their kids, if you want to turn out some real successful young folks." And in questioning them, I said: "It occurs to me that if everyone follows your prescription, then we will have successful, young girls growing up, getting good educations, and therefore entering the workforce, and consequently, they might not be at home, like your parents were at home, to raise you. More specifically, like your mother was to raise you."

SCORNAVACCHI: Exactly, and that was the whole point, is that the mother --

SMERCONISH: Which I think was a heck of a point, and when I said it, I remember the sisters saying, "Yeah, you're right." You know, if you're going to turn out a Type A personality from an Ivy League school, they're not going to -- they're probably going to get a great job offer, and not be at home to give all the hands-on attention that our parents gave to us -- our mothers gave to us. So, guilty as charged.

Yeah, I am guilty across the board, and my comment, to the extent that these folks are still monitoring me today is: Can't you come up with something better than that? 'Cause, holy smokes, I sure could.

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Michael Smerconish
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