If talk-radio executives know one thing, they know this: racism sells. It’s titillating, it’s naughty, it gives some middle-aged white guys a thrill as they’re driving to work in the morning to hear jokes they’d never dare tell at the office being blasted out at 50,000 watts.
How else can we explain the decision by WRKO (AM 680) to audition fired Imus producer Bernard McGuirk alongside the substantive but ratings-challenged morning host, former Massachusetts House speaker Tom Finneran? (The Globe reports on the story here, along with a quote from yours truly; the Herald’s “Inside Track” weighs in here.)
Let’s be clear. McGuirk, at least in terms of his on-air persona, is worse than Imus. The standard shtick on the late, unlamented “Imus in the Morning” show was for McGuirk to come out with something so offensive that Imus would stop him, professing to be horrified. Indeed, it was McGuirk’s reference to “hardcore hos” that started the infamous exchange that led to Imus’ putting a torch to his own career.
And lest we forget, Imus told “60 Minutes” back in 1998 that he’d hired McGuirk to tell “[N-word] jokes.”
Media Matters has gathered a few of McGuirk’s greatest hits:
- While portraying a stereotyped Irish cardinal, McGuirk referred to Barack Obama as a “young colored fellah.”
- Claiming that Hillary Clinton was “trying to sound black in front of a black audience,” McGuirk exclaimed that Clinton “will have cornrows and gold teeth before this fight with Obama is over.”
- During an appearance on “Imus in the Morning” by Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson, McGuirk was heard saying in the background, in Spanish, “Kiss my ass, fat one.” Richardson’s mother is Mexican.
Finneran’s show is not off to a good start. His ratings are worse than those of Scott Allen Miller, the host he replaced. Having a local morning program helmed by a smart host who really knows the Boston area is a good idea, and I want to like it. But it’s pretty dull.
But attempting to save it by pairing Finneran with an out-of-towner who made his reputation telling racist, sexist and homophobic jokes is reprehensible.