John & Ken Crossed the Line
John & Ken didn’t show up to work yesterday. They were unceremoniously suspended by KFI 640 for a week, undoubtedly to the applause of all those they’ve offended in Southern California since 1992. John Korbylt and Ken Chiampou crossed the line.
The line is ill-defined and ambiguous line, but they crossed it.
Roughly 1.1 million listeners will have to suffer through their unscheduled vacation.
John had twice referred to Whitney Houston as a “crack ho.”
The station stood by the duo as they called Governor Gray Davis “Gumby” and a whore. They refer to the “SEIU union thugs” and Democratic legislative leaders as “whores for their union bosses.” They call undocumented immigrants “illegal aliens,” and utter homophobic comments. They rail against The Dream Act. Their political attacks are non-partisan. They are wont to excoriate Republicans, often as “traitors.” Subtlety is not their forte.
Their major efforts are against tax increases, public employee unions, and amnesty in any form. They also highlight local issues, such as public corruption in Bell and alleged police brutality in Fullerton. They represent an alternative, articulate voice, which resonates with their audience, in public debates.
They are the highly entertaining shock jocks of talk radio. Their attacks can often be strident, and that may be the problem. They have become increasingly caustic and vitriolic in recent years, perhaps emboldened by success.
Advertisers, such as GM, AT&T, and Verizon, have dropped them in response to complaints from Hispanic organizations, but Clear Channel has stood by them. Their stature at KFI is not because of the First Amendment. They succeed where it matters, with the largest listening audience of any local talk show in the country. They are a gold mine for Clear Channel.
I listen to them while driving. I don’t always agree, but they are entertaining.
Calling the late Whitney Houston a “crack ho” finally crossed the line. KFI issued a statement “KFI AM 640 does not condone, support or tolerate statements of this kind.”
Attacking politicians and celebrities is fair game; that’s the price of being in the public limelight. Highlighting the tragedy of the Hollywood drug culture is fair game. Pointing out that Whitney Houston had a long term drug dependency problem is fair game. Perhaps even calling her a crack head would be fair game.
However, labeling her a prostitute, absent evidence of it, is beyond the pale. It is one of the worst epithets you can call a woman. It was totally uncalled for. The word “whore,” when used in the context of politicians, is understood to mean they are owned by some organization; they have their votes and power to powerful supporters. You could even say that John & Ken are whores to the ratings.
The word “ho” though only applies to prostitution in the traditional sense.
Whitney’s death could be part of the public debate over the drug culture in America, or part of the public discussion of improving the rehabilitation efforts in America in response to the problems of addiction.
“Ho” is totally irrelevant to this discussion.