Thursday, April 28, 2005


The Air America talk radio network has apologized for joking about shooting President Bush, as part of a segment that called the president a “spoiled child” for proposing Social Security reform.

Broadcast in the opening minutes of “The Randi Rhodes Show” on Monday, the segment featured a spokesman for the fictional “American Association of Armed Retired People” saying: “A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn’t safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here’s your answer, you ungrateful whelp,” followed by the sound of four gunshots.

The network apologized yesterday.

“We regret that a produced comedy bit that was in bad taste slipped through our normal vetting process,” said Jon Sinton, president of programming for the 53-station network, which began broadcasting in March 2004 as a liberal alternative to conservative talk radio.

Mr. Sinton blamed “an internal error” for the segment and said “internal discipline will be enforced.” Miss Rhodes also apologized on air for what she called “a lame attempt at humor.” She said, “It was bad. I apologize a thousand times.”

Internet news gatherer Matt Drudge had reported previously on his Web site ( that federal officials were investigating the Air America segment. He quoted an anonymous government official as saying, “Even joking about shooting the president is a crime.”

Air America denied that report. “We are not under investigation from the Secret Service,” Mr. Sinton said.

At yesterday’s White House press briefing, Bush spokesman Scott McClellan was asked about the broadcast.

“I haven’t heard anything about it until you just mentioned it, but it sounds very inappropriate and over the line to me from the way you described it,” Mr. McClellan said.

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