City Council Seeks To Curb Derogatory Remarks, Promote Diversity
The motion called to attention what critics of KFI’s John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou have called “inflammatory remarks” made against minorities by the controversial co-hosts. The resolution also cites radio host Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments about Sandra Fluke.
“It is easy to become desensitized to what other groups find intolerable which ultimately fosters an environment where negative comments can go unchecked and corporate guidelines and policies are no longer being enforced,” the resolution suggests.
The “John and Ken Show” has been under fire for offending members of the Korean community by referring to “Korean painter scam guys” and suggesting “certain cultures…become involved in certain lines of work.”
When Whitney Houston died, the hosts dismissed the award-winning singer as a “crack ho” and were suspended for their statements.
But those remarks are not the first time the hosts have been criticized for their commentary. KFI and Clear Channel also faced scrutiny when Kobylt and Chiampou gave out a personal phone number for the director of communications at the Coalition for Humane Rights of Los Angeles, which resulted in hundreds of hateful and racist voicemails and calls.
Members of the Korean American Bar Association, National Hispanic Media Association, Los Angeles Urban League and Black Media Alliance made the case for the resolution, arguing that such incendiary rhetoric was intolerable and irresponsible.
“I’m a listener of KFI,” said Jasmyne Cannick of the Black Media Alliance. “They need to leave the race baiting alone. Referring to African-American women as ‘fat, black and lazy’ is unacceptable on the air here in Los Angeles.”
Opponents of the motion argued that barring such comments would be a volation of the freedom of speech, but supporters who were present argued that putting an end to such offensive remarks is a matter of responsibility and maintaining certain values as a forward-thinking city, not a matter of free speech.
“We’re not about pulling people off the air,” said Dominique DiPrima, host of radio talk show “The Front Page” on KJLH. “We are about representation and standards. What we’re talking about is not censorship, but corporate responsibility and being a good citizen.”
The resolution, which passed by a 13-2 vote, also called for an end to derogatory language on public airwaves and more diversity in the KFI work force.
“On KFI they have 15 hosts, and of those 15 one is a woman…13 are Caucasian males,” said Kevin Ross, of “America’s Court with Judge Ross.” “What we are seeing is an economic apartheid as it relates to Los Angeles and these stations are setting the tone for what happens in cities across the country.”
Councilwoman Jan Perry wrote the motion March 7, and it was seconded by the other two African-American councilmembers: Bernard Parks and the council’s president, Herb Wesson, Jr. Parks and Perry recently attributed the improper use of race as a main factor in creating new city council redistricting. They were the only dissenters on March 16 in the 13-2 vote for the remapping, with Parks calling the remapping "racially motivated."
The resolution could bring LA one step closer to being the first city to regulate certain kinds of speech on public airwaves.