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Clear Channel Issues Clarification Following Iowa Radio Host's Defamatory Remarks

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By GLAAD |
August 26, 2010

Last week Iowa Radio host Jan Mickelson of Clear Channel owned, WHO-AM in De Moines, made defamatory remarks about the LGBT community.

While discussing recent reports about two anti-gay statewide office seekers and denouncing the Iowa Republican Party's decision to admonish one of the candidate's anti-gay statements, Mickelson used his media platform to denigrate LGBT people and perpetuate false information about HIV/AIDS. According to the Iowa Independent:

Mickelson was responding to reports that a Republican candidate for the state legislature was rebuked by the state GOP chairman for statements on his Facebook page claiming AIDS was a punishment from God for homosexuality. Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn denounced the statements as “inappropriate” and said they “in no way represent the beliefs” of the party. Mickelson said Strawn is a victim of propaganda.

You can listen to Mickelson's comments here. The remarks can be found at 51:25.

During the broadcast Mickelson made a multitude of offensive anti-gay comments, and put forth a host of inaccurate claims about HIV/AIDS. The Independent excerpted a portion of those remarks:

For the chairman of the Republican Party to say, ‘AIDS doesn’t discriminate,’ well of course it does,” Mickelson said. “It discriminates against people who engage in stupid behavior.”

“Lung disease doesn’t discriminate, but it’s probably a good idea to stop smoking,” he said. “Cirrhosis of the liver doesn’t discriminate, but you should probably dry out and stop drinking like you’ve been doing. Heart disease and diabetes doesn’t discriminate, but you should probably take that weight off, lard butt. Of course lifestyle oriented diseases tend to reward those lifestyle afflictions disproportionately to the behavior of those doing them. This isn’t rocket science.”

Mickelson said it all comes down to God’s law, or natural law, which “also applies to sexual disorders.”

“So, does God punish homosexuality? Does he punish sodomy? Well, no, he doesn’t get off his throne and say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna get that guy.’ Well not directly,” he said. “Most of God’s laws, which another way of saying God’s law would be natural law, that is, law that is consistent with the nature of the universe because it was built in such a way, most of God’s laws are self enforcing. God doesn’t have to do anything. So if you skydive without a parachute, does God punish people who do that? No, but one of his inventions does. Gravity. If you skydive without a parachute, you’re going to die. Should you blame God for that?”

When a caller brought up that it’s promiscuity that increases the risk for AIDS, and therefore Mickelson should support legalized same-sex marriage because it would lower promiscuity in the gay community, the host scoffed, saying promiscuity “defines the lifestyle.”

“Homosexuality is intrinsically promiscuous, because it violates the design of our bodies,” he said. “There is no safe way to do that.”

After hearing from our community partners at One Iowa, the state's largest LGBT advocacy organization, GLAAD contacted Clear Channel to voice our concerns and the concerns of One Iowa. Clear Channel representatives told GLAAD they were very troubled by the comments and this morning, before the start of Mickelson's program, the company's market manager in Des Moines, Joel McCrea, read this on air statement:

WhoRadio Apology

Jan Mickelson, an acknowledged conservative commentator with strong
political views, is entitled to his opinions on a wide range of current
topics.  However, his comments on August 19 regarding HIV/AIDS and
public awareness campaigns regarding this disease confused strong
opinion with medical fact, and contained factual errors regarding
HIV/AIDS, its spread, and current efforts to inform the public about
this disease. Mr. Mickelson's comments do not reflect the opinions of
Clear Channel - nor do they reflect the ongoing support Clear Channel
provides to public service campaigns such as "Greater than AIDS" that
work to convey the message that, indeed, "AIDS does not discriminate."
We regret any confusion about HIV/AIDS that may have resulted from Mr. Mickelson's remarks.

We thank Clear Channel for addressing this issue in an on air clarification, to ensure that WHO-AM's millions of listeners will have the facts about HIV/AIDS, and dismiss the highly offensive, anti-gay and misinformed statements made my Jan Mickelson last week. We'll continue to pay close attention to future broadcasts, and Mickelson's defamation will not go unchallenged.

One Iowa Executive Director Carolyn Jenison also responded to Clear Channel, saying:

Jan Mickelson’s comments on HIV/AIDS are reprehensible. Stigma and discrimination surrounding the discussion of this epidemic are barriers to prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Clear Channel did the appropriate thing in responding to and correcting this misinformation.