(Posted 5:00 a.m. EST Thursday, November 19, 2009)
By SKEETER SANDERS
Nationally syndicated radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has long been the bete noir of liberals and of Democrats; of feminists and of gays; and in recent months has become anathema to nonwhites.
But a local right-wing radio talk-show host in New Hampshire did something to a local politician last week that even Limbaugh would not have dared to do to Representative Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) — certainly not while his microphone was still turned on:
Hurl an F-bomb at him.
No, not the four-letter F-bomb — the X-rated version that no radio or television personality can legally say on the air. Rather, it was the six-letter F-bomb — the homophobic version that is as highly derogatory to gays as the six-letter N-bomb is to African-Americans.
But that’s exactly what a Laconia, New Hampshire talk-show host did. But while his radio microphone was turned off, an in-studio camera with its own mic was still on — and beaming live pictures and sound onto the Internet.
His tirade not only cost the host his show — the radio station promptly fired him — but he also lost his weekly newspaper column.
A TIRADE OF HOMOPHOBIC INSULTS AT N.H. DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN
Doug Lambert, a conservative activist, had just finished his weekly Saturday-morning radio program, "Meet the New Press," on station WEMJ in Laconia with his co-host, David "Skip" Murphy. Although Lambert was off the WEMJ airwaves, a live Internet simulcast of his show was still streaming to his Web site, GraniteGrok.com.
Told by Murphy that the Web stream was about to be shut down, Lambert looked into the in-studio camera and let fly with a blistering tirade of anti-gay invectives against Raymond Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
Buckley, who is gay, was being feted by the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights organization, for his role in the passage of New Hampshire’s same-gender marriage law, which takes effect on New Year’s Day.
It was also Buckley’s 50th birthday.
"Speaking of gays, Happy Birthday, Ray Buckley," Lambert began, before performing a stereotypically effeminate dance that gay men are alleged to be known for. Afterward, Lambert turned back to the camera and — directly addressing Buckley — said, "Yeah, you faggot! That’s right, I said it and I meant it! You’re a reprobate!"
Lambert continued, "How the people, the Democrats — I think of some of the gray-haired ladies and older people from the old party — would stand behind you is beyond me! You’re a disgrace to yourself, to humanity, to mankind and to your party! Other than that, Happy Birthday, Ray and many more — Not!"
TIRADE DRAWS SWIFT — AND BIPARTISAN — CONDEMNATION
James Pindell, a New Hampshire blogger, watched a video of Lambert’s tirade — which was subsequently pulled from GraniteGrok.com — and posted a transcript on his own Web site, NHPoliticalReport.com. From there, news of Lambert’s remarks spread like wildfire — and drew swift condemnation from across the political spectrum.
Mo Baxley, executive director of the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, blasted Lambert and called on former Governor John Sununu, the state’s Republican Party chairman, to "denounce his despicable comments, pledge never to go on the show, and vow never again to use the issue of equal rights as a weapon to gain political advantage."
For his part, Sununu issued a statement that branded Lambert’s rant "disgusting, inappropriate, and offensive." He went on to note that the state GOP, through its communications director, Ryan Williams, denounced the talk-show host’s tirade as "completely inappropriate, offensive and hurtful.
"We strongly condemn the use of such vulgar language and outrageous personal attacks,” Williams said in a statement.
U.S. Representative Paul Hodes (D-New Hampshire) issued his own condemnation of Lambert’s remarks, saying they were "hateful" and "have no place in our public dialogue . . . This isn’t a matter of ‘political correctness.’ This is hate speech and it can incite violence."
Interestingly, the target of Lambert’s attack has maintained a steadfast public silence. As this editon of The ‘Skeeter Bites Report went to post on Thursday morning, Buckley had made no public comment about Lambert’s remarks.
LAMBERT DUMPED BY WEMJ, LACONIA DAILY SUN, QUITS OWN BLOG
Just hours after making his anti-gay rant agaisnt Buckley, Lambert posted a statement on GraniteGrok.com in which he apologized to the state Democratic Party chairman. "To be blunt, what I said is something that never should have been said in any kind of a public setting, or, quite frankly, in a private one either," Lambert wrote. "Being human, and an honest person that is used to freely speaking my mind, my passion got the best of me . . . There is no excuse for the tone or language I used to characterize Ray or anyone for that matter."
But Lambert’s apology could not save his radio show — or his newspaper column. On Monday, WEMJ announced that it was immediately canceling Lambert’s program. In a statement posted on its Web site, WEMJ, owned by Nassau Broadcasting, "terminated the show based on highly offensive and unacceptable comments made by Mr. Lambert . . .
“Although the comments by Mr. Lambert were not aired [directly] on our station, we find the comments by him to be completely out of line and unacceptable and we will not allow Mr. Lambert the opportunity to continue to air his show on our radio station” said Rob Fulmer, Nassau Broadcasting’s New Hampshire regional manager.
In quick succession, the Laconia Daily Sun, where Lambert wrote a weekly column on Thursdays, announced that it would no longer publish it. Ed Engler, the newspaper’s editor and publisher, said he told Lambert on Monday that he was halting the column, which had been running for more than six years.
By Tuesday, Lambert had given up even on his own blog, announcing on GraniteGrok.com that he was quitting to devote his time "in prayer and reflection, looking inward to the unhealthy malice in my heart, for which I will ultimately have to face my Maker, begging for His undeserved mercy."
Lambert asked his readers "for peace and privacy in this matter."
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THE WASHINGTON BLADE, NATION’S OLDEST GAY NEWSPAPER, SUDDENLY FOLDS AFTER 40 YEARS OF PUBLICATION
For 40 years, The Washington Blade was the newspaper of record if you wanted to know the latest news of the gay and lesbian community in the nation’s capital and around the world.
With its straightforward, no-nonsense, in-depth style of reporting, the Blade built a reputation as "The New York Times of the gay media" — the one gay newspaper that the mainstream media — and much of Washington’s heterosexual society — took seriously.
On Monday, without warning and just weeks after it celebrated its 40th anniversary in October, the Blade abruptly ceased publication — the latest casualty in the worsening economic malaise gripping newspapers, large and small, daily and weekly, all across the nation.
The suddenness of the paper’s demise came as a shock to its nearly two-dozen employees. As they arrived at the Blade’s offices in the National Press Building in downtown Washington Monday morning, they were stunned to be told by an executive of parent company Window Media that the company had filed for liquidation under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Act and was shutting down all of its publications — and that staffers had until 3 p.m. to clear out their desks.
NEWSPAPER ITSELF WAS FINANCIALLY HEALTHY, BUT ITS PARENT COMPANY WAS MIRED IN DEBT
Window Media, based in Atlanta, was also closing the Southern Voice of Atlanta, the Houston Voice, the South Florida Blade of Miami and several magazines.
The Blade’s Web site, washingtonblade.com, was also shutting down.
A Window Media spokesman did not disclose a reason for the sudden shutdown, but it had been known for months that the company was saddled with major debts. Ironically, the Blade itself was financially healthy, with a weekly circulation reported at about 25,000 and its average 80- to 100-page issues thick with advertising. Its Web site was even more successful, drawing about a million visitors a month.
"It’s a shock. I’m almost speechless, really," Lou Chibbaro Jr., a veteran Blade reporter who had worked for the newspaper for more than 30 years, told The Washington Post as he cleared out his desk.
In the course of his long career, Chibbaro covered everything from the early days of what was originally known as the gay liberation movement, to the first gay rights march on Washington in 1979, to the onset of the AIDS crisis, to the current battles over gays in the military and same-gender marriage.
In a reflection of the Blade’s status as a news organization in the nation’s capital, Chibbaro earlier this year became the first reporter for a gay-oriented publication to be given a front-row seat at a White House news conference when President Obama met with reporters on health-care reform.
Founded in October 1969, just four months after the Stonewall Riots in New York’s Greenwich Village that is credited as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, the Blade — originally named The Gay Blade — first rolled off a mimeograph machine as a four-page newsletter.
BLADE EDITOR VOWS TO LAUNCH NEW PAPER WITH BLADE’S STAFF
After 31 years as an independent, locally-owned newspaper, the Blade was purchased by Window Media in 2001. Although the Blade, like many other newspapers across the country, has seen advertising revenues decline in the current recession, it remained profitable, according to publisher Lynn Brown, in an interview that was published in the paper’s 40th anniversary issue in October.
The Blade’s sudden demise came just weeks after The Advocate, the nation’s oldest and largest national gay newsmagazine, also ceased publication. Founded in 1967, the Los Angeles-based magazine was the last surviving publication of its kind that predated the Stonewall Riots.
The Blade’s executive editor, Kevin Naff, said Monday that he hopes to keep its staff together and launch a new weekly newspaper under a different name. "It will be employee-owned," Naff told the Post, just as the Blade was for most of its history before its purchase by Window Media.
"We’re not going away."
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Copyright 2009, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.