Conservative radio talk show host credited with inventing the concept of the call-in show in which the host's supporters compliment and the host's opponents debate the host.
Grant has been dismissed on more occasion for what he describes "errors in judgment" including one that wished for the death of President Bill Clinton's Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown.
My hunch is Brown is the one survivor. I just have that hunch. Maybe it's because at heart I'm a pessimist.
- Radio personality Bob Grant upon hearing reports that there may have been a survivor when Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's plane crashed in Bosnia in 1996. Brown was the first black man to hold the Cabinet position.
Mr. Grant said this, on the air, on the radio. Mr. Grant defended his morbid stab at humor as a "lapse in taste." He was fired by his employer at the time, WABC in New York, the next day. Brown did not survive the crash. He found work at his old haunting grounds WOR and was eventually re-hired by WABC.
The Gory Details
Grant is now syndicated nationally and almost beating radio-TV rightist Sean Hannity in the ratings game today; but that wasn't always the case. Mr. Grant started his career in 1940, working in sports, talk, voice-overs (commercials), and made a few stops along the way until being hired by WMCA radio in New York in 1970. Grant's, er, "aggressive" style on the radio was like none other. He's been credited for inventing the concept of "talk radio;" wherein callers actually go on the air and go head-to-head with the air personality. Grant occasionally would tell people to "get off my phone." The brilliance in this concept of actually going out of his way to verbally abuse those with opinions contrary to his is simple: it delights the many listeners who indeed agree with Mr. Grant's point of view on everything from politics to what flavor of chewing gum tastes best (I'm serious about the gum part).
Grant's politics over the years have ranged from far right to libertarian and in-between. No person in public office would be safe from his verbal tirades; that's the thing. Grant likes to believe that he "speaks for the people." Well, some of them. We can say that his on-air antics vary between out-and-out hate speech and giving the First Amendment a really hard test.
Some of you may know from where I speak when I mention the kinda morning you show up for work and get a phone call and your boss wants to see you. The boss closes the door and has a "heart to heart" talk regarding some transgression you recently perpetrated on the company and that your boss, while sparing you the axe, would not like to see happen again. Suffice it to say that I'd hazard a guess that Mr. Grant's employers have had arguably hundreds of these conversations with him in his sixty-eight years on the radio.
A website called www.fair.org conveniently lists some of Mr. Grant's more, er, controversial on-air errors in judgment, which they claim are barbs aimed at his "disproportionately non-white" enemies. On October 1, 1992 he prayed that basketball star Magic Johnson "would go into full-blown AIDS. He started the Holiday season off with a bang in the same year, this time on December 9th, by commenting that a black victim who was killed by a white mob in Howard Beach, Brooklyn "got what was coming to him." Now, I in no way condone such speech, but one must travel through Howard Beach, Brooklyn, daytime and night (well, at night if you dare) to get an idea where Grant was coming from.
If that's not enough to make you wonder if this is fiction or not (it's not), Mr. Grant routinely inserts racist innuendo in his show; but his earlier shows were far more outspoken. He's on the record for calling blacks "savages:" On July 15, 1993: black fraternity members who left a mess after a party on a New Jersey Beach, and members of three churches on April 30, 1993 (responding to the riots in the wake of the controversial Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles, California). The New York Daily News featured black mayor of New York in a white dinner jacket on their "Page Six" society/gossip section. The day after the photo appeared Grant mentioned that the former mayor had gotten a job as the men's room attendant at New York's exclusive feeding-trough for movers and shakers — '21' — famous for its vast collection of multi-colored lawn jockeys adorning an upstairs porch and the staircase.
A Kinder, Gentler Grant
These days Grant's been cleaning up his act, and atoning for his sins. He tried to rationalize his constant use of the word "savage" in 1996 on the television with Larry King by claiming it wasn't his broad-brush substitute for the "N" word. He claims that he was talking about people and their conduct, not people and their race. Funny that he never used the word "savages" for participants in New York's 1994 Gay Pride March. No. "Initially, it would have been nice to have a few phalanxes of policemen with machine guns and mow them down."
Now, it may surprise you that Grant's peers gave him him into the National Radio Association First Amendment Award 2007. Radio Industry magazine Talkers gave Grant the number 16 ranking in the category "greatest radio talk show host of all time."
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
Well, as of yesterday, another radio industry magazine, R&R or originally Radio and Records, this one "required reading" if you're on the air or in the business, blasted across the front page of their print edition and included photo and glowing caption on their website (www.radioandrecords.com/RRwebSite/) an announcement that Bob Grant had been selected to be presented with the 2008 News/Talk/Sports Lifetime Industry Achievement Award.
Today, Grant's picture had disappeared from R&R's website. All that remained (and it took them until 4:00 p.m. today to get it on their site) was a small piece entitled "Award Withdrawn." Read on:
Upon further review and consideration of Bob Grant's complete body of work, Radio & Records has withdrawn its decision to present the 2008 News/Talk/Sports Lifetime Industry Achievement Award to Mr. Grant. R&R is sensitive to the diversity of our community and does not want the presentation of an award to Mr. Grant to imply our endorsement of past comments by him that contradict our values and the respect we have for all members of our community.
Mr. Grant's presentation of the award was to have taken place at the 2008 R&R Talk Radio Seminar, to be conducted in Washington, D.C. March 13th to 15th. R&R states that they're "excited to announce" that the Rev. Al Sharpton has been invited to join a debate among radio personalities which will be moderated by George Stephanopoulous. The intention is to put radio personalities who criticize some politicians' every moves under the same pressure - debate style.
Rev. Sharpton hosts a daily radio show for Syndication One. It's carried nationwide on Syndication One's affiliates.
Now, let me preface this with that sage advice "two wrongs don't make a right." But I must admit I can't resist offering the great American tradition of equal time to one's opponents. Here're some pearls of wisdom from the right Reverend Sharpton:
Kean College, 1994: "White folks was in caves while we was building empires "empires" sometimes quoted as "pyramids" dependent on the source ... We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it."
NY Senate Race 1992: Described the rest of the field, including incumbent Daniel Patrick Moynihan, as "recycled white trash."
NY City Mayoral Race 1997: (Referring to Mayor David Dinkins:) "that nigger whore turning tricks in City hall."
1991 "Crown Heights" Incident: a car driven by an Hasidic Jew who lost control of the vehicle killed a black child. Blacks rioted, and another Hassidic Jew, Yankel Rosenbaum, (a rabbinical student) was lynched. A coda to a public statement made by Sharpton that included stereotyping Jews as diamond dealers who 'deal with South Africa' (alluding to apartheid):
“If the Jews want to get it on,” he said, “tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.”
Now, in Mr. Grant's favor, he never used the word "nigger," "kike," "faggot" or the like. But given the context of his verbal vomitus, he might as well have used those words. His hate speech was just as potentially distressful to some listeners as it was a call to incite others to violence. Rev. Jackson, however, holds the dubious distinction of inciting more violence than anyone (in current context) beside, perhaps, Louis Farrakhan.
The bottom line here is that with little explanation and not so much as an apology, Mr. Grant was getting ready to accept a well-deserved award from his peers in the radio industry, and then all of a sudden, "Ah, we didn't review his entire record." Emails from friends of Rev. Sharpton made their way to the oh-so-politically correct folks at R&R and now they're reconsidering their choice After only one day's deliberation. I am certain that many who read this find both Mr. Grant and Rev. Sharpton as vulgarly peculiar, perhaps even harmful in the long run. But I think R&R's decision is wrong and it's a real disgrace. It so obviously confirms the concept of "the liberal media" tossed up by so many beleaguered conservatives, don't they realize this?. The First Amendment has gone out the window.
Oh for Heaven's sake invite 'em both and at the very least that would make a video Jerry Springer would be proud of!
Mr. Grant is not a convicted criminal who has spent time in jail; nor has he, unlike Rev. Sharpton, suffered a substantial civil money award with regard to his involvement in the notorious case of Tawana Brawley. Sharpton's been investigated by the Attorney General's Office of the State of New York, the F.B.I. and is now in hot water over a recent slur against Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's religion.
Ain't it a funny coincidence that within a month of Tawana Brawley's mother coming out and demanding a re-opening of that case, that hoax; Rev. Sharpton re-emerges in the spotlight not unlike a particularly annoying pimple on one's nose which comes back over and over despite the best efforts of one's dermatologist.