Rush Limbaugh’s continuing battle with his critics over his attack on a Georgetown law student as a “slut” and a “prostitute” has focused largely on several dozen advertisers reported to have pulled away from his radio show.
There has been no serious talk at Premiere Radio Networks — the company that syndicates Limbaugh’s show to more than 600 stations — about suspending or otherwise disciplining America’s most popular talk radio host. That's what Premiere management has said.
But that might seem like an unlikely position for the outfit to stake out so unequivocally, since Premiere is a subsidiary of Clear Channel and Clear Channel just last month suspended KFI-AM (640) radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou for calling the late Whitney Houston a “crack ho.” KFI carries both Limbaugh and John & Ken.
The acerbic duo missed seven programs in late February when the Los Angeles station called them out for what management called “insensitive and inappropriate comments.” Kobylt and Chiampou apologized to their listeners and to Houston's family both before and after their suspension.
Clear Channel-owned KFI also made a series of other pledges to increase sensitivity to minorities at the station, which activists complain features only white hosts. Kobylt and Chiampou agreed to take part in “cultural sensitivity training," the station said, "furthering their awareness of the cultural melting pot that is Southern California.”
When rumors circulated that Limbaugh might also be suspended, a Premiere spokeswoman quickly knocked that idea down. Bottom line: Kobylt and Chiampou got seven shows off for their “crack ho” comment. Limbaugh got zero time away from the mike for “slut” and “prostitute.”
A coalition of African American media professionals in Los Angeles called this week for Limbaugh’s suspension. It also demanded that Clear Channel develop a set of policies to restrain its hosts from insensitive comments.
A source familiar with the company's thinking on the two episodes said Premiere executives felt that Limbaugh’s remarks had political intent, even if his words were misguided, whereas the Clear Channel bosses overseeing the Los Angeles duo felt their words were entirely gratuitous. The source declined to be quoted by name while sharing the confidential thinking of insiders at Clear Channel and its subsidiary.
In case anyone thought the Limbaugh furor had run out of steam by week's end, feminist attorney Gloria Allred called on Friday for prosecutors in Florida to charge the radio host with criminal defamation. Officials in Florida had no immediate comment.
— James Rainey
Photo: Conservative talk radio duo Ken Chiampou, left, and John Kobylt. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times