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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Was "Culture Warrior" KNSI-AM Host Andy Barnett Fired for Abortion Question?

Lawrence Schumacher reports in the Saint Cloud Times:

Abortion question ends interview

A live radio interview of two St. Cloud City Council candidates brought a local talk show to a halt Friday morning and left the employment status of its host uncertain.

The KNSI-AM "Hot Talk" radio show was replaced Friday by the nationally syndicated Laura Ingraham show before its normal 9 a.m. completion time. The change came after a dispute during an interview that host Andy Barnett conducted with Ward 3 Council candidates Karen Langsjoen and John Libert.

Langsjoen declined to answer a question from Barnett about abortion. The question came during a series of "social issues" queries that included candidates' views on gay marriage and immigration, she said.

"This is not an issue that impacts the City Council," Langsjoen said Friday afternoon. "I thought the whole interview was insulting. St. Cloud has a lot of pressing issues to deal with. I have never been asked that question during the campaign."

Libert answered the question and the interview reached its completion, but a similar segment featuring at-large City Council candidates Sonja Hayden Berg and John C. Pederson scheduled to follow it was canceled and the show ended early, said Pederson, who was waiting in the lobby for his turn.

Repeated calls placed Friday to John Sowada, general manager of KNSI parent Leighton Broadcasting, were not returned.

Barnett declined to comment Friday afternoon on the incident or his employment status.
Libert said Barnett prefaced the questions by saying that City Council members could conceivably be required to act on items such as employee insurance coverage or law enforcement policy where the issues would come into play.

Libert said he did not personally believe such questions were relevant.

"You hate to get questions like that because they aren't really related to city politics, but you do get that question asked when you're out knocking on people's doors," he said.
Pederson said he also did not believe the questions were relevant.

...Schumacher notes that Barnett is still on the website and that Barnett's blog is still up as well...

On his blog, Barnett describes himself as a "culture warrior" and says he is "proud of his conservative values of faith, family and country."

Langsjoen said she would like to see talk radio interviews conducted "in a more respectful way, so listeners can make their own minds up."

"This kind of talk radio is really harming our democracy," she said.

Langsjoen responded in the comments:

Karen Langsjoen from St. Cloud

Comment Posted: 11/3/2007 7:41:46 AM

For the Record:

I did NOT go to anyone at KNSI or Leighton Broadcasting after the interview.  I went directly home.  I did not call them to complain. I did NOT get anyone fired!  And no where in the article did it say I did these things.

I have never posted here before because I believe if someone has something to say, they should be willing to sign their name.  And I seldom read them, but have started to do so since I began this campaign.

I have gone door to door for two months, talking to people, asking them if they have concerns or questions.  I have never been asked any of the "social issue" questions that were asked during the KNSI interview.   People care about neighborhood safety, they care about taxes, they care about cars speeding past their homes, endangering their children.  These are issues the city council can and should address.

The headline in the Times was misleading.  The abortion question came very early in the interview.  It did NOT end it.  We were asked several more questions, most of which were irrelevant.  The interview was not cut short, and we were given 2 minutes each to wrap up.  I left immediately and had no idea what happened after that. 

One last thought.  This is why I dislike anonymous  postings.  People can make accusations and say whatever they like, regardless of the truth.  I didn't bother to read all the postings, and I will not respond again.  I will be busy going door to door all weekend, talking to voters about issues that REALLY matter.

 Please vote on Nov. 6.
 Karen Langsjoen

Let's see what the opinion is in the local blogosphere...

Leo Pusateri at Psycmeister:

If you can't beat them, silence them.

Andy Barnett, of KNSI-AM 1450's morning show, Hot Talk, has been fired.

I listened this morning to Barnett's interviews of two St. Cloud City Council Ward 3 candidates, John Libert, and Karen J. Langsjoen.

Langsjoen displayed her mean spiritedness right off the bat when Barnett mispronounced her name (well, who the hell wouldn't?). Langsjoen, whom one could tell is as liberal as the year is long, took great umbrage with Barnett's quizzing both her and Libert on their stances regarding the sanctity of life.

To put it mildly, Langsjoen had a cow, saying that Barnett had no call to question city council candidates on their stance toward abortion.

Barnett countered that it was indeed relevant on a number of levels; including the notion that many of KNSI's conservative listeners (yes, KNSI is a station heavily geared toward conservatives) would assess the pro-life stance of candidates as a barometer of the candidate's character; additionally, Barnett brought up the fact that the Council may have to choose city employees' health plans, and voters may be interested as to whether Langsjoen would approve a plan that paid for abortions, and/or domestic partnerships (read: Gay civil unions).

Langsjoen would have none of it, and refused to answer the questions. Barnett continued to be respectful toward Langsjoen throughout the interview, and never raised his voice toward her; however Langsjoen continued to be very short and terse with Barnett, avoiding and evading questions in a manner that would make Hillary Clinton appear to be a "straight shooter." Immediately following the interview, Langsjoen apparently stormed into the offices and threw what could be described as a whiny hissy fit to Leighton Broadcasting 's general manager John Sawada, who, after reportedly apologizing to Langsjoen up and down, fired Barnett.

... Leo adds this:

As for you, Ms. Karen J. Langsjoen--you whiny, joyless, hateful fishwife-- as a result of your adolescent whining, I hope you don't get vote one from Ward 3 voters.

Political Muse at Liberal in the Land of Conservative:

Andy Barnett and I have had our disagreements over a wide variety of issues but I would never wish ill will upon anyone nor would I ever want to be the cause of someone being fired. I heard the interview in question on the way into work this morning and I was disappointed to hear Andy use this line of questioning but do not believe it rises to the level of a fireable offense.

Andy, if you are out there, I wish you the best of luck! You were a worthy nemesis and perhaps we can even keep in touch.

After searching and reading a few of Political Muse's posts about Barnett, it seems to me that the self-described "culture warrior" may have been too much of loose cannon for the station... who knows?

I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this.

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