U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, right, in a 2016 interview with Joy Behar
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, right, in a 2016 interview with Joy Behar

Congresswomen Call for Firing of L.A. Radio Host Who Called a U.S. Rep. "Whore"

The campaign to censure a Los Angeles radio host who called a congresswoman "whore" on-air continued to gain momentum this week as two of her fellow United States representatives joined in.

Speaking on KJLH-FM with Dominique DiPrima, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of southern Los Angeles County said over the weekend that she has brought KFI AM 640 host Bill Handel's denigration of a fellow African-American congresswoman to the attention of the Congressional Black Caucus.

"We think this name-calling is undermining and disparaging of black women," she said. The politician added that remarks like this have been "escalated under the leadership of this president."

On Oct. 20, Handel called U.S. Rep. Frederica S. Wilson "a cheap sleazy Democrat whore." While those remarks were scrubbed from a podcast version of the show, Handel later clarified that he should have said "media whore." All the comments were recorded by Los Angeles political commentator and journalist Jasmyne Cannick.

"More people than just me were offended by Handel’s repeated reference to Congresswoman Wilson as a 'whore,'" Cannick says. "The people have every right to demand that [KFI owner] iHeartMedia fire Bill Handel for calling a woman a ‘whore’ on the radio."

We reached out to iHeartMedia as well as to KFI program director Robin Bertolucci multiple times but have not received a response.

Handel was speaking about the row between Wilson and President Trump. Wilson says she heard a call, put on speakerphone, that the president made to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger earlier this month. Trump said the sergeant "knew what he signed up for." Trump called Wilson a liar, and his chief of staff, John Kelly, tried unsuccessfully to smear her, but Myeshia Johnson ultimately backed the Florida congresswoman's account of the call.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, who represents parts of the Westside and South L.A., joined the chorus of those calling on Handel to be fired. “Bill Handel’s racially motivated remarks about my colleague Congresswoman Frederica Wilson were degrading and repulsive," she said in a statement.

"Handel deserves to lose his job as well as any planned accolades for his reporting," she added. "I’m proud of the grassroots efforts that continue to publicize this derogatory display of on-air racism and call upon Mr. Handel to step down before he is forced to."

Those efforts include an online petition calling for Handel's termination. It was started over the weekend by the group Color of Change, which hastened the demise of Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly after the network paid tens of millions of dollars to women who claimed he had sexually harassed them.

On Saturday, the California Democratic Party Women's Caucus published a resolution calling on Handel to be fired for "hateful, outrageous and unacceptable comments."

Handel was scheduled to be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame Nov. 2. The class of inductees also includes Trump supporter and reported confidant Sean Hannity. We reached out to the organization but did not receive a response.

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >