By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The natural truth about Michael Graham

It was a few minutes before noon today, as I was driving in to Boston, when I heard Michael Graham briefly make fun of me on his talk show on WTKK Radio (96.9 FM). The subject: my alleged support of a bill filed by state Rep. Byron Rushing that would outlaw discrimination against obese and unusually short people. (For a PDF of the bill, click here and enter “1844” next to “House, No.”)

To say the least, I was surprised. You see, Graham had invited me to appear with him this morning, then rescinded his invitation when I told him I didn’t consider myself a strong proponent of the legislation. I wish I had recorded precisely what Graham said about me on the air, and what he might have said earlier in the broadcast when I wasn’t listening. But there was no doubt that he was characterizing me as a bleeding-heart liberal supporter of the measure, even though I had clearly told him that was not the case.

In fact, here are the exact words I e-mailed to him after receiving his invitation:

Michael —

My home phone’s xxx-xxx-xxxx, and I’m around. I might step out for a few minutes — my cell is xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Just in case you’re laboring under any misconceptions, I think it’s an intriguing idea, but I don’t consider myself a strong proponent. But you probably got that from reading the MetroWest article.


The article I’m referring to was published in the MetroWest Daily News yesterday. It was written by Dan Loeterman, who quoted me on the subject as follows:

“We might as well add colorblind, left-handed, allergic-to-cashews and get it over with,” Todd Domke, a Republican analyst, told the Associated Press….

But Dan Kennedy, a visiting assistant journalism professor at Northeastern University, rejects Domke’s suggestions. Kennedy, whose daughter is a dwarf, is the author of “Little People: Learning to See the World Through My Daughter’s Eyes.”

“By God, if we pass this, we’re going to have to be nice to everybody. It seems that the slippery slope is treating everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve, and I’m not particularly troubled by that,” said Kennedy.

What Kennedy is troubled by, however, is how the bill might play out in the real world.

“Is Fenway Park going to be sued because the seats aren’t wide enough? In some ways, this doesn’t bother me, but in other ways, I’m asking myself, is this mainly going to be about lawsuits?”

Now, does that sound like I’m a full-throated supporter of the Rushing bill? Obviously not, and I made sure Graham knew it. But that didn’t stop him from painting me exactly as he pleased. (For good measure, he also called Rushing “limp-wristed.”)

By the way, after I sent my response to Graham, he e-mailed me again and wrote:

Thanks for getting back to me, Dan. If you’re not a strong proponent, then let’s wait for another issue where you’re more enthusiastic in your support.

Thanks again.

Michael Graham

I’m sorry to be so self-referential here. So Michael Graham made fun of me — who cares? But I think it says something pretty revealing about the way he operates. And as Lily Tomlin once said, “No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.”

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  1. Don (no longer) Fluffy

    If you’ve been made fun of, you know you’ve arrived. Being ignored is the greatest insult.

  2. Anonymous

    Like school on Saturday, no class.

  3. Boston Venerable Bede

    Michael who?

  4. Anonymous

    Hubert Humphrey didn’t originate the saying, but he used it a lot: “Never get into a pissing contest with a skunk.”

  5. Anonymous

    By the way, WTKKK’s longtime Program Director Paula O’Connor has been FIRED. Wonder how much longer Mr. Graham will last…

  6. Anonymous

    i find it hard to believe that a man as honorable and intellectually honest as michael graham would misrepresent you, dan.

  7. raccoonradio

    Yes Radio and Records has hinted changes are in the offing; a change in direction. Liberal talk? Moresports-related (Jimmy Myers, EddieA. on weekdays?)Who knows…Barnicle, Graham,or others on the way out..?

  8. Ben

    Legislating treating people with dignity and respect is analogous to legislating patriotism (mandatory pledge of allegiance; no flag burning, et al.). It dilutes the behavior when it is done because it is just plain right.Legislating access for people with physical hardships is a distinct issue. It is right but its also a slippery slope as the Republican noted, albeit a little too flip.

  9. Anonymous

    I’m not sure how I feel about the legislation either, but you’re surprised by your treatment by Michael Graham?? You know who he is, right?

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 8:54: Well, yes, of course. But in all honesty, I hadn’t pictured him just making stuff up and lying about people. I thought he just didn’t know any better, but obviously with me he did.

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