Monday, September 15, 2008

Censorship In Anchorage, Alaska: KBYR Conservative Shock Jock Eddie Burke Suspended For A Week Without Pay For Broadcasting Activists' Phone Numbers

Once again, just like in the Woody and Wilcox case, the ugly spectre of censorship has raised its fearful visage over the talk radio community in Anchorage, Alaska. Justin McDonald, the station manager of KBYR-AM 700, announced on Septmeber 15th, 2008 that he is suspending popular conservative shock jock Eddie Burke without pay for a week for broadcasting the personal phone numbers of activists involved with Alaska Women Reject Palin, an ad hoc "spin-off" of WomenAgainstPalin. Full story published by the Anchorage Daily News; story will also be posted later by KTUU Channel 2.

As a result of Burke broadcasting the phone numbers, the anti-Palin activists reported receiving "threatening" phone calls. As a result, McDonald decided that Burke had violated station policy, explaining his reasoning in a public statement. Although McDonald attempts to balance everyone's First Amendment rights, he cannot condone inciting violence or harm. Even though he acknowledges that Burke did not intend to cause harm, his broadcasting the phone numbers led to harm. So he considered it necessary to suspend Burke for violating the station's policy, which apparently calls for not broadcasting the phone numbers of private parties without their consent.

However, if the activists didn't want their phone numbers publicized, they shouldn't have put them on the press release they published. They should have used "disposable" cell phone numbers, or restricted communication to e-mail only. To publish your phone number publicly, and then bitch when people contact you is somewhat hypocritical. It's too bad they got threatening phone calls, but unfortunately they set themselves up for it. Eddie Burke shouldn't be paying the price for their thoughtlessness.

Burke did try to make amends. Not only did he express regrets over calling the group a bunch of "socialist baby-killing maggots", but he showed up at the anti-Palin rally and reached out to the protestors. Realistically, Alaska Women Against Palin aren't a bunch of "socialist maggots"; most of them have valid concerns. However, there's a small core of Obama supporters who are extremist pro-choice feminists, and that's primarily to whom Burke was directing his criticism.

Ironically, both Eddie Burke and KFQD's Dan Fagan, both conservative, are on opposite ends of the scale on the Palin question. While Burke is a Palinbot, Fagan is a Palinphobe. Burke will be back on the air effective Monday September 22nd. His program airs on KBYR Monday through Friday from 2 P.M. to 5 P.M. Those who want to take issue with Justin McDonald's decision can e-mail the station at


  1. you seem to know a lot about these women...were you there in drag?

  2. Gary from Boston9/17/2008 6:23 AM

    Putting contact information on a press release is a standard and necessary practice. Suggesting that the organizers could have left them off or used some temporary number is ridiculous. Eddie Burke abused his position by releasing that information to the public. I wouldn't be surprised if a civil law suite follows.

  3. Burke did try to make amends. Not only did he express regrets over calling the group a bunch of "socialist baby-killing maggots", but he showed up at the anti-Palin rally and reached out to the protestors.

    This is funny. Burke called for a counter-rally at the same time/place. He didn't show up to "reach-out" he showed up to "speak-out." Except it didn't go over very well, Burke's rally only pulled in 90 people compared to the nearly 1500 anti-Palin rally! I suspect the election will have similar results!

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  5. Donna,
    the reason for the lower turn out with Burke's crowd would be the fact the majority of us have to work and have know the kind with kids.

  6. Thank you for writing about this story. I did not break any station rules or policy. Unfortunately, Justin just felt that he needed to do something. I thought it was a poor decision.

    Those numbers are "Public." A Press Release is Public. I have had a lot of support on this and I am thankful for that.

    Another reason anti-Sarah crowd was bigger: Sarah was having her Rally at the Convention Center where 2000 people were at.
    Be back on the air Monday 2pm

    Thanks again!


  7. Burke encouraged his listeners to contact the organizers and "share their viewpoints" with them. The women posted their numbers only for those who were interested in attending the event, not for the general public, and certainly not for thugs to harrass them.

    If I post a 'Lost Dog' sign with my home number on it, does that mean that telemarketers selling pet food have the right to call me?

    The First Amendment does not protect incendiary speech or language that otherwise incites violence or threat of violence. Burke can't hide behind the Constitution here; he knew exactly what he was doing. Calling the station's suspension 'censorship' and trying to turn Burke into some kind of martyr just won't fly with this reader.

  8. Hey JB, just a thought to share. If the "women posted their numbers only for those who were interested in attending the event" and we can assume that they wanted as big a crowd as possible, which would necessitate advertising the event to the general public, they should expect that the information sent in a public announcement in the form of a press release would be released to the general public to get the word out. If they didn't want to be contacted directly, they should have put that in their press release. It is immature to expect people to read minds and just "know" what how they wanted things to be handled. And lack of knowledge is not a good defense since these were grown up women putting on a grown up event and should have the grown up ability to ask questions and think to the end of their plans.

  9. Jenny, I suppose you have a point here, although "immature" isn't the word I'd use.

    Perhaps these women were a bit naive, thinking that members of the media who opposed their views wouldn't broadcast their phone numbers over the air. (Strange how Eddie Burke was the only one who thought of this).

    Or perhaps they were naive in believing they could express their views in a public forum without expecting to be verbally abused or threatened with violence for doing so.

    Then again, the organizers did circulate fliers to rally attendees, asking them not to use abusive language, to respect alternative viewpoints, and not to engage in personal attacks against Gov. Palin. Obviously, we can't say the same thing about some of Burke's listeners.

    In the end, I think we all know which people were acting like "grown ups" and which people weren't, don't we?

  10. If anyone says that Eddie Burke did not anticipate, let alone hope for, the type of calls and threats that were probably made they are either very naive or lying. This tactic, used by both right and left wing operatives, always gets the same results. Let's be honest, the issuers of phone numbers in situations like this knowingly invite their listeners who do not mind assaulting and threatening their adversaries to do so.

    When we have politicians who do not lie or allow their campaign surrogates to lie and we engage in discourse instead of the type of tactics that we encourage our politicians to engage in, when we insist on honesty from both our adversaries and our candidate, we will be true to the phrase "County First". Not till then.

  11. You call that "Smart Radio"? Eddie Burke should be fired for giving out the personal information of those ladies who are proper US citizens exercising their right to dislike Sarah Palin.

    Eddie Burke, you are PURE WHITE TRASH just like Sarah Palin. You people are so dumb it is SCARY. You Inbred Rednecks need to stay out of politics and stay in your back woods doing whatever it is you do there.

  12. Lee, well put. I can't stand how these bible clutching inbred a-holes tout around the most bigoted bullsh*t as all-american. It makes me sick. When did tearing down fellow citizens for being different and inciting hatred upon those who disagree become american values? It sure makes me want to give up being patriotic if that's what it entails. It's always the hillbilly with the bible and gun in their clutches and the American flag emblazoned wife beater who is kicking the gays and blacks while they're down, yelling "God bless America!" Makes Canada look better and better each day.