Former talk radio show host Andy Barnett pleaded his case on national cable television Wednesday after being fired last week from a St. Cloud radio station.
Barnett, who told the Times on Wednesday that KNSI-AM Station Manager John Sowada terminated him within two hours of a now-controversial interview with St. Cloud City Council candidates, appeared on a five-minute segment of the Glenn Beck Show on CNN Headline News Wednesday evening.
Barnett interviewed Ward 3 City Council candidates Karen Langsjoen and John Libert on his “Hot Talk” show Friday morning, asking them for their views on abortion, gay marriage and illegal immigration, among other topics.
Langsjoen declined to answer the abortion question, saying it was not relevant to the election. Following the interview, Barnett’s show was brought to an early end and the radio station went to its satellite feed to finish the hour.
Beck, a conservative radio and talk show host whose Wednesday topics included Iranian nuclear weapons, rising oil prices, Chinese economic power and Mexican drug cartels, portrayed Barnett’s firing as an example of “political correctness” stifling freedom of speech on the airwaves.
Barnett seconded that view.
“It seems like anybody who has an opinion that differs with the prevailing progressive thought is silenced,” he told Beck. “I wasn’t even stating my opinion. I was asking a question.”
Barnett told the Times that Sowada fired him “because I brought up a nationally divisive issue in a local debate where it had no place.”
He said he believes he was fired unfairly and told Beck he has hired an attorney.
“There was nothing in my personnel file, I was never reprimanded,” he said. “I had no reason to believe anything was going wrong.”
Sowada declined to comment for this story.
Langsjoen also declined to comment for this story, but previously told the Times that she did not complain to KNSI management about Barnett or the interview.
The comment thread is already active.
Secular Progressive from St. Augusta
Comment Posted: 11/7/2007 9:43:33 PM
If Andy loved Free Speech so much he probably shouldn't have banned comments to his blog this evening!
Ryan S from Sartell
Comment Posted: 11/7/2007 9:48:46 PM
Off topic: I am sure that Andy will be glad to know that ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) has passed the US House.
Unfortunately for Andy, This legislation does not prevent a media company from firing somone for what Andy has done. Radio stations can fire personalities for their content. I am sure Andy will be eligible for unemployment compensation. But this is in no way an unlawful firing--MN is an at-will state, meaning that an employee can be fired for almost any reason.
From MN Department of Labor & Industries' website:
My employer fired me for reasons that I think are unfair and may be a wrongful termination. What can I do? Minnesota is an employment "at will" state. The employer can fire any employee for any reason as long as that reason is not illegal. If you feel that you were terminated because of discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or marital status; contact the Minnesota Human Rights Department at (651) 296-5663 or 1-800-657-3704.
John Ellenbecker from St. Cloud
Comment Posted: 11/7/2007 11:25:49 PM
It seems like anybody who has an opinion that differs with the prevailing progressive thought is silenced,”
The evil liberal progressives didn't silence you - the very same people who put Michael Savage on their station silenced you. Take it up with your conservative friends - they are the ones who canned you.