John & Ken Radio Show Plagued by Anti-Latino Hate Speech, UCLA Study Says
A UCLA study of broadcast hate speech, including a look at L.A.'s controversial John & Ken Show (KFI AM 640) found that two thirds of hateful statements analyzed targeted undocumented immigrants "and Latinos."
The study (PDF) looked at single segments of John & Ken, the radio version of the Lou Dobbs Show and The Savage Nation on San Diego's 760 KFMB.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition, which has successfully targeted John & Ken advertisers over what it says is anti-immigrant hate, trumpeted the research at a press conference today.
The study by UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center professors Chon Noriega and Francisco Javier Iribarren is titled "Quantifying Hate Speech on Commercial Talk Radio."
It looks at single segments of the programs from 2008 and tries to identify patterns of hate speech or key words identified in a National Telecommunications and Information Administration report to Congress.
While the conservative, angry white-man-baiting John & Ken often came in third place here in terms of the ferociousness of the speech analyzed, the show doesn't always come off smelling like roses. The report:
Latinos (both citizen and undocumented) represented 91 percent (43 of 47, including those in public office) of the targeted vulnerable groups on The Lou Dobbs Show, 43 percent (15 of 35) on The Savage Nation, and 43 percent (15 of 35) on The John & Ken Show. The figure for The John & Ken Show is actually higher, since 34 percent (12 of 35) of the targeted statements in this broadcast segment focused on the residents of "South L.A." (South Central Los Angeles), an area that is roughly 55 percent Latino and 41 percent African American.
The report published this excerpt from the John & Ken Show, with John Kobylt said to be at the mike:
You know, you could offer them a veggie panini sandwich, and they're going to look at you like you dropped from Mars. They don't care. You know, what are they eating? There's a lot of chicken joints down there, there's a lot of burger joints, there's a lot of taco joints. I mean, especially - I don't know how much of these areas are now taken over by the Mexicans, but, you know, good luck changing the Mexican diet.
The Mexican diet is what's shot up the obesity rates in Los Angeles. And that's
The researchers found that the hosts of the John & Ken show (identified as John Chester Kobylt, Kenneth Robertson Chiampou, Terri-Rae Elmer and guest Jim Gilchrist of the anti-illegal-immigrant Minuteman Project) ...
... Portray economically disadvantaged blacks and Latinos as inherently violent and undeserving of the public's support.
The study also says that the show was only 55 percent accurate in its claims about immigrants, the undocumented, Latinos and/or folks accused of supporting them.
... Vulnerable groups are targeted and identified as a social problem or threat, but the call for action is directed against advocacy groups, public figures (and political administrations), or legal enforcement.
NHMC chief Alex Nogales hailed the research:
Having instances of hate speech in the media studied at the university level is an important part of the democratic process to inform the public and ensure the public trust is respected by broadcasters. Latinos and other people of color need to have positive representations of themselves in the mainstream media. Hate speech is no longer acceptable.
The organization shifted its criticism of John & Ken into high gear over summer after the show broadcast the phone number of an immigrants' rights activist and he received a flurry of hateful calls.
Its "Take John & Ken Off The Air" campaign is now targeting advertisers. Today it announced that the following companies said they'll stay away from the show:
Aquarium of the Pacific
3 Local small business
The following advertisers are said to be sticking with John & Ken:
Cars for Causes
The NHMC notes that the L.A. market is about one-half Latino and argues that broadcasters need to aim their content accordingly.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.
- Labor Day DUI Crackdown Peaks This Weekend
Sat., Sep. 5, 8:00pm
Sun., Sep. 6, 12:35pm
Sun., Sep. 6, 1:00pm
Sun., Sep. 6, 7:00pm
- Moving Company Will Help You Leave an Abusive Partner for Free
- Wildlife Freeway Overpass Is Awesome, but Don't Hold Your Breath