Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Update On Michael Graham: What Did CAIR Accomplish?

The following is the complete article ,with emphases added by this blog author, from the September 20, 2005 edition of the Washington Post:
If Ex-WMAL Host Is Sorry, It's Not For Bashing Islam

By Marc Fisher
Tuesday, September 20, 2005; B01

Being sacked for arguing on the radio that Islam is a "terrorist organization" may not be the best thing that ever happened to Michael Graham's career, but it's pretty close.

After WMAL (630 AM) fired the midmorning talk show host for refusing to apologize for his remarks about Islam, Graham became the flavor of the month on TV shoutfests and talk stations across the country. Even now, after his 15 days of fame, Graham is busy fielding job offers, working as a substitute host on stations in Los Angeles and other big markets, and conducting a daily Internet-based talk show, happily reiterating his comments about Islam.

But all Graham ever wanted to be was the host of a local talk show in Washington, and ABC Radio, which owns WMAL, has now denied him that platform, which leaves Graham, who lives near Falls Church with his wife and four children, a frustrated soul.

"The whole idea of talk radio is to be a lot of fun, a little edgy, a place where crazy ideas are entertained," he says. "They may be mocked and dismissed, but they help focus the conversation. For me to be sacked for saying what I believe -- it is heartbreaking for me to leave WMAL. I just don't get it: I got your station more publicity than you'd had in five years, and you fire me? What did I miss?" (I sought comment from WMAL President Chris Berry, but he did not respond.)

Graham's journey to the limits of acceptable speech began after this summer's terrorist attack in London. The talk host, a former stand-up comedian who was inspired by listening to Rush Limbaugh six years ago to try radio as a performance medium, argued that because polls showed a large minority of Muslims were unwilling to turn in extremists in their midst, support for fundamentalist terrorism must be intertwined with the faith's teachings.

"If your theology feeds the killers and if millions of your members support the killers, even though they're a minority, you have, in my opinion, a terrorist organization," Graham said.

Graham, whose bombastic style and disdain for nuance made him a rising star in talk radio, had made similar comments many times before. But this time, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington lobby promoting the civil liberties of American Muslims, was listening. Its spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, called me and other reporters to encourage stories about Graham's remarks. CAIR rallied its followers to urge WMAL's advertisers to pull commercials from Graham's show.

WMAL executives told Graham to apologize. He refused. "If I'd said something racist, I would have apologized. But I am concerned about this paradigm that the most oversensitive people get to fire you. I love that CAIR protested what I said. I had them on my show. Yes, protest, argue. If you have the argument, you don't need to have anybody fired."

Graham's firing sent shock waves through a world of sharp-tongued performers who are paid to be provocative. Over a beer at the pub across from the Heritage Foundation, where Graham uses a radio studio, the lanky funnyman marvels that he's considered a wild man in Washington.
"I'm in the middle of the pack in talk radio. But here, I'm crazy loon Michael Graham on the edge. Doug Duncan and Gerry Connolly wouldn't come on my show," he said, referring to the Montgomery county executive and the chairman of the Fairfax County supervisors. "They're scared of me. I'm a graduate of freaking Oral Roberts University -- and I'm scary?"

Talk radio in Washington is among the tamest in the nation. Talk hosts marvel at the high ratings won here by the low-key "Diane Rehm Show" on public radio's WAMU.

But Graham believes Washington audiences are eager for talk with more bite. "Washingtonians are not tight prudes," he said. "Real-life people want me to climb up on my pony with my lance and go after those in power. Real-life people who know nothing about Islam look at the newspaper and say, 'Holy crap, why are they trying to kill us?' "

Graham hopes to have the last laugh. ABC is seeking bids for its radio stations, including WMAL, and the overwhelming response Graham has had from other radio companies makes him optimistic that a new owner might put him back on the air here.

"The only people who are happy about this," Graham said, "are CAIR and the corporate weasels at ABC who go to bed every night terrified that someone will call them insensitive."
Graham makes a good point when he speaks of making an argument. CAIR's actions took measures to get him removed from the air waves instead of putting forth an argument to prove that Islam's teachings do not pose a threat.

Talk radio would have been a good forum for moderate Muslims to have reasoned with us infidels and to have explained how Islam can be compatible with Western ideals. Or is discussion between Westerners and Muslims impossible because the guiding ideologies are themselves incompatible?

Note: Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch has also commented today on CAIR. Read it here.


At 9/20/2005 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9/20/2005 1:23 PM, Blogger G_in_AL said...

AOW, I found a blog post you've got to see, and then pass on to some friends.... its about our friends, CAIR.


Let me know

At 9/20/2005 2:41 PM, Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Glad to see the circle of information, blog-style, is becoming complete.

Good site and keep up the fine work. You have friends in the blogosphere.

At 9/20/2005 2:44 PM, Blogger Bassizzzt said...

..and regarding Michael Graham, he is just another good guy out there, speaking the truth. I have talked with Michael via email and supposedly he got a new job out in LA.

Of course, we wish him well.

At 9/20/2005 3:21 PM, Blogger Gindy said...

What I want to know is when is the Washington Post going to an unbiased article on CAIR? I have been waiting for any of the major papers to write something up.

At 9/20/2005 5:17 PM, Blogger G_in_AL said...

someone, quick! Gindy needs CPR....

Dont hold your breath that long again....

At 9/20/2005 6:34 PM, Blogger Esther said...

I love your last bolded section. He's absolutely right.

LOL g. I laugh, but i cry...

At 9/20/2005 7:36 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I will be exploring all the articles at the site to which you referred me. Thanks!

At 9/20/2005 8:03 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I posted a comment to the blog article over at Bassizzzt's.




What CAIR did with that hijab is absurd! Is the sight of any woman not wearing a hijab offensive to CAIR? Doesn't sound moderate to me.

At 9/20/2005 8:08 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Are you okay? Holding your breath for an unbiased article might result in respiratory failure.

I couldn't believe my eyes that the Washington Post had published this one. I got a few calls today to alert me to the article, but I'd already found it. I had to rush off to work, so just slammed up the entire piece, instead of doing my usual analysis.

At 9/20/2005 8:12 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I had planned to lay off so much blogging--and along came this article about Michael Graham. I rushed to get it up and was almost late for work. Got in done, though.

At 9/21/2005 10:06 PM, Blogger LASunsett said...

Thanks for keeping us all posted on this, I for one, do not get much news about local Washington news, so keep us up to snuff on this.

Whatever happens to Mr. Graham, I am sure he will be fine and will land on his feet. It's just a damned sad cafe, all the way around. Now that a precedent has been set, look for CAIR to step up their pressure on others.

Wherever he goes, they will be there to silence him by using the same tactics. I hope that anyone that decides to hire him understands that they will be a target and will need to have a little guts, for the fight that will most certainly ensue.

At 9/22/2005 9:03 AM, Blogger G_in_AL said...

if you want to hear WMAL, it is webcasted... I know cause I listened to it the other day at work when my local one was down.

At 9/22/2005 10:50 AM, Blogger David Schantz said...

I find it very sad to think I live in a free country where a person can lose their job for telling the truth.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic

At 9/22/2005 11:36 AM, Blogger Gindy said...

"I couldn't believe my eyes that the Washington Post had published this one. "

That is true. This alone was kind of suprising.

At 9/22/2005 5:22 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Wherever he [Michael Graham] goes, they will be there to silence him by using the same tactics.

And what does the above portend for our much-valued freedom of speech and freedom of press?

One group is always getting offended by what someone else says. Pointing out the flaws in an ideology is not necessarily the equivalent of promoting a hate crime.

At 9/22/2005 5:29 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Why did the Post again address the story of Michael Graham so long afterwards?

Does the Post detect a dormant danger in CAIR's actions?


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