Talk Radio Host Puts 'Anti-Free-Speech Fiasco' Behind Him

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - Radio talk show host Michael Graham, forced out of his job in the Washington, D.C., market for offending a Muslim group, has a new job in Boston, Mass.

Graham is filling the afternoon drive-time slot at WTKK-FM. He called it a "new day" for his family and his career -- and an important day for talk radio and free speech as well.

"It's been three months since the Council of American-Islamic Relations demanded my removal from the airwaves and ABC Radio capitulated to their demands," Graham said on Monday, his first day on the new job.

"In those three months, many things could have happened: If ABC had had their way, I would have been falsely labeled a bigot. Even worse, I could have given into their pressure and issued a false apology, abandoning my principles for the sake of a job (a very tempting idea whenever the rent payment came due).

"I could have been banished from the talk radio industry, deemed 'unhireable' by the industry--which is what several radio muckity-mucks assured me would happen.

Instead, Graham added, the talk radio industry rallied, with KFI in Los Angeles putting him on the air the same week he was fired. Since then, Graham said, he's had more than half a dozen job offers from radio stations across the nation.

"Not one station -- not one -- demonstrated any reluctance at all to work with me due to fear of pressure from CAIR or because of ABC's decision to fire me."

The final score in the "anti-free-speech fiasco," Graham said, is "Free Speech 1; Angry Islamic Radicals and the Radio Management Weasels Who Cater To Them, 0."

Graham was suspended from his job at ABC-owned WMAL in Washington on July 29, for remarks that offended some Muslims.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the group that pressed for Graham's removal, said it received complaints Muslim listeners who heard Graham say, "Islam is a terrorist organization," "Islam is at war with America," "The problem is not extremism. The problem is Islam," and "We are at war with a terrorist organization named Islam."

CAIR demanded that Graham be punished for practicing "hate radio," and when he refused a management demand to apologize on air, he was fired.

Graham stood firm on the First Amendment: "It appears that ABC Radio has caved to an organization that condemns talk radio hosts like me but has never condemned Hamas or Hezbollah, and one that wouldn't specifically condemn al Qaeda for three months after 9/11," Graham said after his firing.

"When CAIR is able to quell dissent and label every critic a 'bigot,' the chilling effect is felt far beyond ABC Radio and 630 WMAL," Graham said at the time. "If anyone is owed an apology, it is the moderate, Muslim community that has been failed once again by the mainstream media."

In recent weeks, Graham has been filling in as a guest host on WTKK, and according to Greater Media, Inc., the listener response has been "enthusiastic."

"Michael is a compelling communicator with a keen intellect who has his finger on the pulse of the local and national political scene. I believe he will be a welcome addition to the Boston community," said Greater Media President and CEO Peter Smyth.

Greater Media/Boston Vice President and General Manager Matt Mills added that "Michael has an edge to him that is going to captivate the Boston community like no one else."

See Earlier Stories:
CAIR Hails Firing of Michael Graham (22 Aug. 2005)
Talk Show Host Under Fire for Comments About Islam (26 July 2005)

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