Radio Host Apologizes for Calling Congresswoman "Whore"

A Los Angeles conservative talk show host apologized nearly two weeks after he called a congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, "whore" live on-air.

Hours before he was scheduled to be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, KFI AM 640's Bill Handel apologized in a prerecorded message that aired recently on the station. Journalist and political commentator Janmyne Cannick, who's been pressuring the station and its owner over the remark, archived the clip.

In a prerecorded segment aired on KFI, Handel said, "I made an inappropriate and offensive remark. It's a term that should not be used by KFI in any context. I would like to apologize to Representative Wilson for using that word."

On Oct. 20, Handel was discussing the Florida congresswoman on his KFI show when he called her a "cheap, sleazy Democrat whore." Two days later he said on-air that he meant to call her a "media whore." The host was discussing the row between Wilson and President Trump.

Wilson said she overheard a speakerphone call between Trump and Myeshia Johnson, whose husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, was killed in action in Niger on Oct. 4. She quoted Trump as saying that Sgt. Johnson "knew what he signed up for." Trump accused Wilson of lying but Myeshia Johnson backed her account. Trump's chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, then accused Wilson of taking credit for the opening of a Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in Miami in 2015. Video of the grand opening Kelly referred to, however, contradicted the general's claim.

Wilson quickly raised the matter of race, saying that the administration was full of white supremacists and suggesting this wouldn't be a controversy if she and the Johnsons were white.

Commentator Cannick was not impressed with the apology. And it doesn't appear to have halted any of the calls for Handel's job. She notes that the longtime KFI hosts known as John and Ken were suspended in 2012 after calling Whitney Houston a "crack ho."

"If KFI can suspend afternoon drive hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou (John and Ken) for one week following their calling Whitney Houston a ‘crack ho,’ then Bill Handel — KFI’s prized morning drive host who called a sitting member of Congress a 'cheap, sleazy, Democrat whore' on live air — should get nothing less," Cannick says. "A prerecorded apology two weeks after the fact and played while Handel is on his way across country to be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame is seen for what it is — the least that Handel, KFI and iHeartMedia was willing to do. This is 2017 — rehab, sensitivity training and carefully written apologies way after the fact simply don’t cut it today."

Handel's original remarks drew rebukes from fellow U.S. Reps. Maxine Waters and Karen Bass, the latter of whom said in a statement, "Handel deserves to lose his job."  The  California Democratic Party Women's Caucus published a resolution calling for Handel to be fired. And the group Color of Change, which was instrumental in the downfall of Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly, started an online petition calling for Handel's termination.

The corporate ownership of KFI, iHeartMedia and KFI program director Robin Bertolucci have not responded to multiple requests from L.A. Weekly for comment.

Handel was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame on Nov. 2. During his canned on-air apology, he said he didn't want to be like President Trump: "He never admits when he's wrong. I don't want to be that guy."

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