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Radio News: Some hosts fired for their speech, others left on air

Apr 06, 2022 11:30 pm

Free speech seems like an endangered concept these days. The right wants to stop teachers from talking about many subjects with students, and ban books they do not agree with. The left is trying to quash a growing trend of racist political speech. Neither side is happy, and radio hosts, who talk for a living, are being fired for what they say. There are two recent radio firings in the news. Last week a radio host in Kazakhstan was fired after she wrote on Facebook, "we will call in Uncle Vova if you talk too much." Uncle Vova is Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who has ordered an invasion of Ukraine complete with mounting cases of war crimes with horrific attacks against civilians. Kazakhstan shares a large border with Russia, and partners with the country on many economic issues. The Europa Plus Kazakhstan radio station fired host Lyubov Panova after the comment. With a large Russian population, and rumors that Russia could invade Kazakhstan, any talk about Putin there is bound to be controversial, and it is understandable why a host supporting Putin might cause a radio station to let them go. In the United States, that's not the case, as Tucker Carlson almost nightly says things in support of Putin on Fox News. But WMAL, near Washington D.C., fired a host last week for posting a photo of Vice-President Kamala Harris wearing the color brown in a Tweet that read, "Kamala looks like a UPS employee — what can brown do for you? Nothing good, apparently.” Right-wing commentators have decried the decision as against the First Amendment, which is silly, since the government did not fire the host, and businesses can fire people in this country for what they post on social media. Amber Athey, the host, said owners of the station Cumulus Media, told her the Tweet was racist when they let her go. But she might have been fired for more than just one Tweet. The New York Post reports that after the UPS Tweet Athey “spoke critically of protests in favor of ‘trans kids’ at the University of North Texas” — and, as she wrote, “a group of maniacal left-wing activists who want to chemically castrate children in the name of ‘gender affirmation’ came after me.” Cumulus Media officials have yet to talk about the issue in the media.