Aaron Podolefsky, anti-semitism, Darla Jaye, Greg Hassler, KMBZ, KOKO, missouri, University of Central Missouri
This is the forty-sixth post in an ongoing series as we file Missouri Sunshine Law (RSMo 610) requests and investigate the non-renewal of the contract of University of Central Missouri President Aaron Podolefsky. Links to previous coverage are below the fold. BG and MB
On Monday night, February 1st Darla Jaye on KMBZ radio in Kansas City devoted air time to the story. Later in the week Greg Hassler heaped effusive praise on the content, stating that KOKO radio would rebroadcast the show:
…It, it was a great show, uh, we are going to replay that show here on fourteen-fifty KOKO, it’s from an outsider, a third party that knows nothing about the University of Central Missouri, knows nothing about how Aaron Podolefsky did not get his contract renewed by the Board of Governors. Doesn’t know anything about me, doesn’t know anything about Wesly, and her thoughts and her comments on what she read in the newspaper and callers in the Kansas City area. It’s probably gonna be tomorrow once we get that whole show put together. Her producer has e-mailed it, uh, to us…
Of course, we commented:
…Because people who don’t know anything or any of the facts always have the best insights on the issues of the day…
The show was rebroadcast on KOKO radio, we received audio of that rebroadcast, and we weren’t disappointed in the Olympic scope of the show’s fact challenged presentation.
Darla Jaye started the show apparently reading the Kansas City Star version of the story. Unfortunately for anyone interested in actual, you know, facts, the Star’s version is the least coherent. The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle and the Muleskinner have much more comprehensive and understandable coverage.
[7:03] Darla Jaye: …And maybe he’s blaming it on this because, look, people do feel bad that there are no longer Christmas trees. If the president of the university, and they’re, they say that diversity is very, very important there, doesn’t want to have a Christmas tree in his front yard because he’s Jewish, so be it. But isn’t that somebody’s right to say, boy, I wish the Christmas tree was still there? It’s been there for years, now it’s gone, he did that. How is that anti-Semitic? [crosstalk] He didn’t say, uh, you know, this Jew, or this or that, he didn’t say that at all. It seems to me that he was looking for an excuse to pull his money and, of course, he has that right. But to blame it on this radio host, I kind of feel sorry for this guy. He didn’t say anything that wrong. Did he? Or do you see something racist or anti-Semitic in a remarks about taking down the Christmas tree?…[8:05]
[note times are approximate and indicate the point in the approximately 30 minute KOKO radio rebroadcast]
Darla Jaye did not quote a more substantial portion of the transcript of Greg Hassler’s remarks. Hasslers’s remarks from the October 2009 KOKO broadcast:
Greg Hassler: …The University of Central Missouri. End of an era.
Marion Woods: Uh, huh.
Greg Hassler: Aaron Podolefsky. Out. We’ve talked about it for a long time….
….The, the thing that really upset me, that kind of got [garbled] going originally was, for years there was a Christmas tree lit at Selmo Park. Remember that?
Marion Woods: Yep.
Greg Hassler: Drive by. He stopped that. I mean I think every religion should be able to celebrate, uh, in their own way, but, I mean we do live in Warrensburg, Missouri. This is America. You know. Let’s bring that back. How ’bout that?
Marion Woods: Wasn’t that the Christmas tree at the quadrangle?
Greg Hassler: No, there was also one at Selmo Park.
Marion Woods: Oh, okay.
Gregg Hassler: In the, in the yard, area there, so. I mean, I don’t know, it’s jus… It, it was a bad fit from the get go. It’s, it’s over…
[15:53] Darla Jaye:…a, a Danish entrepreneur, a Dutch entrepreneur funded scholarships at the University of Central Missouri. A radio host who does play by play for University of Central Missouri sports mentioned that the Christmas tree was gone at the president of University of Central Missouri’s, uh, residence, and he said he stopped that, I think every religion should be able to celebrate in their own way, but we do live in Warrensburg, Missouri, this is America, you know. Let’s bring that back. Let’s bring the Christmas tree back. What’s wrong with that? Why is that anti-Semitic?… [16:35]
[16:43] Darla Jaye:…Talkin’ about this story about, um, Radio Host Remarks Cost University of Central Missouri a Big Benefactor. Um, I just find it difficult to believe that this guy pulled all of his money after giving money to the University of Central Missouri for however, twen, twenty some years because a host said I wish the Christmas tree was back on the, the president’s property on, the University of Central Missouri. And saying that’s anti-Semitic. It just doesn’t make sense to me… [17:14]
There’s the matter of that one pesky fact:
…The Podolefskys say that after Hassler’s comments became a cause celebre, they checked and found that there had been a cedar tree in the front yard that was decorated with lights in years past at Christmas time, but that it was removed five years before they arrived…
It appears that like Greg Hassler, Darla Jaye didn’t bother to do any basic research. Apparently reading from a single newspaper article will suffice.
It gets even better:
[17:56] Darla Jaye: …Well, it is, and, and, you know what, I mean I think that Christmas trees have been pulled off lots of campuses. I mean, this is a, is a bigger issue. They’ve been pulled off lots of campuses and haven’t been on campuses for years because somebody, one person is offended. Uh, it, it’s just a tree. I mean, it’s something pretty to look at, and you’re right, it is a retail representation of, of Christmas, but, it’s something that means a lot to a lot of people. So, I just don’t understand what the big deal is and I, I feel for this radio guy because, you know, he said, he said something on the air and now he’s getting blamed for losing millions of dollars for the university. Come on… [18:36]
And why would a Christmas tree not be appropriate on the grounds of a campus of a state university in Missouri?:
Prohibition of public aid for religious purposes and institutions.
Section 8. Neither the general assembly, nor any county, city, town, township, school district or other municipal corporation, shall ever make an appropriation or pay from any public fund whatever, anything in aid of any religious creed, church or sectarian purpose, or to help to support or sustain any private or public school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other institution of learning controlled by any religious creed, church or sectarian denomination whatever; nor shall any grant or donation of personal property or real estate ever be made by the state, or any county, city, town, or other municipal corporation, for any religious creed, church, or sectarian purpose whatever.
Facts are really pesky things, especially when you’re a right wingnut radio talk show host.
[19:39] Darla Jaye: …So, we’re talking about the Radio Host Remarks Cost University of Central Missouri a Big Benefactor. I just have a hard time believing that this man, whose brother died in the holocaust, who lives in, uh, if you’re Dutch you live in Denmark, right? I think. Yeah. Okay. [laugh] How stupid was that? I know. [laughter] I know, I was tryin’ to figure that out, too….[20:03]
Apparently, Greg Hassler has studied under the master.
As we pointed out:
…1. Dutch people are from The Netherlands. The city of Maastricht (you know, the tower thingy on campus, next to the football stadium) is in the Netherlands. Benoit Wesly is from the Netherlands. Benoit Wesly is Dutch.
2. Denmark is a different country than The Netherlands. They don’t even share a border. People who didn’t sleep through all of their classes tend to know that….
[23:24] Darla Jaye: …the guy, the Dutch entrepreneur is, uh, from Holland. Holland is Dutch, sorry about that… [23:28]
Okay, she caught it and sort of corrected it within three minutes.
What’s really funny is that Greg Hassler stated that he listened to the show, thought it was great, and yet continued to exhibit his ignorance, this after one of Darla Jaye’s callers reiterated “The Netherlands” on her show.
[26:43] Darla Jaye: …Well, the guy is entitled to his opinion, and entitled to say, boy I sure miss that Christmas tree that’s been up there for fifty years and now it’s gone. The new president took it down… [26:53]
No, as we pointed out, the new president didn’t take it down. It wasn’t called a Christmas tree. And the tree in question was cut down five years before the Podolefsky’s came to Warrensburg. I believe in actual journalistic circles that kind of error would call for a correction. I don’t think anyone is gonna hold their breath while they wait.
On Darla Jaye’s show a caller pointed out that it was the president’s private residence and he’s Jewish:
“Private Residence” – the sign at the entrance to Selmo Park.
[28:38] Darla Jaye: …Uh, it’s the university residence, it’s not his personal residence. If you’re the president then you, uh, get provided a residence. So, uh, is he just the president for the Jewish students, or is he the president for all the students? Perhaps he could have put the menorah in his window and left the Christmas tree in the front yard. And then he would show that the university is, is dis, diverse, as everybody always says it is. I mean, if we care about diversity, shouldn’t we care about all diversity? Or, because the majority of people that live in the country are Christians, they don’t matter? Only the minority matter. Right? Let me get that right because I, I guess I, I just didn’t realize that….[29:23]
Ah, the right wingnut cult of the oppressed majority because they can’t impose their religious beliefs through the state on everyone else. That pesky Constitution establishment clause, let’s get rid of it. How ’bout that?
Darla Jaye spent some time on her show feeling sorry for Greg Hassler. Let’s take a look at the evolution of Greg Hassler’s statements on this issue over time.
“…First of all let me say that I am not anti-Semitic, I love all people of all religions. I have never stated anything about anyone’s religion on or off the air. People have taken a comment out of context and have spun it for their purpose…”
…Greg Hassler: …But there’s another blogger out there that has taken some things that I have said, eh, out of context and has spun them around and at, attacked me on blogs, calling me a racist, a bigot, which I’m not. They’ve also called me anti-Semitic, which I’m not. I love all people of all religions, I do. I’m not anti-Semitic.
other voice: I would agree with that.
Greg Hassler: You know what I am?
other voice: What are you?
Greg Hassler: I’m a big Mules and Jennies basketball fan, [laughter] that’s what I am….
…Hassler told The Kansas City Star that his remark “was spun out of context” and he apologized on the air in December.
“I said that is not what I meant,” Hassler said. “I have nothing against anybody at all. I am not anti-Semitic.
“Did I actually say I was sorry? No, but I think that could be considered an apology. The whole thing is just silly…”
“…I am not an anti-Semite,” Hassler said. “Actually what I did was misspeak. I meant the tree on the quadrangle. I didn’t say it was because he was Jewish. I should have phrased it better….”
He meant the quadrangle? As we pointed out:
…You’d think a quick thinking media professional wouldn’t misspeak twice. And there’s that ‘religion’ thing…
Right, Darla Jaye?
The Darla Jaye show ended with:
[31:44] Darla Jaye:…Okay, my belief on this story is that the Dutch entrepreneur who funded the scholarships for twenty years, who doesn’t even live here, heard about the comments from, um, Greg Hassler, the part owner of KOKO AM from the Jewish president of the school. And, um, so when he heard those comments, the Jewish president of the school is losing his job by the way, so, who’s to say that, that mis, uh, Aaron Podolefsky, who’s losing his job as president of the University of Central Missouri, didn’t want to really jab it to the university? So he called his good friend Benoit Wesly in, um, Holland, right? Okay. In Holland, and he said, hey, guess what, this radio host said this and you should pull all your money, because they’re, they’re firing me. And, and, look, this guy wants to pull his money, that’s his prerogative, of course, but, I find it hard to believe that a man who went through the holocaust, the most horrible thing that has happened in this world, one of the most horrific times in our history, is so sensitive that a radio host in Warrensburg, Missouri, could upset him so much that he would end a twenty year friendship with this college because some guy on a radio said I wish they’d bring the Christmas tree back…. [33:23]
Yeah, “those people” stick together. It’s called the Internets, Darla Jaye, you should try it some time. I hear teh Google is really easy to use.
Our previous coverage of the issue:
Three steps behind, and to the right (January 25, 2008)
Three steps behind, and to the right, part 2 – a microcosm of our universe (September 21, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”? (October 15, 2009) (transcript of a portion of the live radio broadcast)
It wasn’t just about a tree (October 21, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: I heard it on the radio (October 21, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: let’s not get cut out of the will (October 22, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: $87.75 will get you one sheet of paper (October 23, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: They’re not playing hardball, they’re playing cat and mouse (October 23, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: a cola and some scoreboards (October 24, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: a few more pieces of the puzzle? (October 28, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: your silence means consent (October 29, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: let’s not get cut out of the will, part 2 (October 30, 2009)
Old media irony impairment (October 30, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement?”: I heard it on the radio, part 2 (October 31, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: where everybody knows your name (October 31, 2009)
Methinks that someone is paying attention! (November 2, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Bond, Stadium Bond (November 4, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: where everybody knows your name, part 2 (November 4, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: I heard it on the radio, part 3 (November 5, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: nothing succeeds like success (November 6, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: your Friday news dump (November 6, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: nothing exceeds like excess (November 7, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a grade for Accounting 101 (November 7, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there ought to be a law (November 8, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there’s gotta be a contract around here somewhere (November 9, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: there ought to be a law, part 2 (November 10, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Garbo speaks! (November 12, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle (November 13, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”? Follow the money and it reveals the timeline (November 14, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: the new president search consulting contract (November 18, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a march on a cold and rainy day (November 18, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: raise their voices (November 19, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: great moments in radio reporting (November 21, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: Oh, my! (December 3, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: It’s simple, really… (December 5, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: I do truly care about the success of our students (December 6, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: “…a wonderful relationship there we’re really proud of…” (December 7, 2009)
Oh brother, it’s time to convene another panel on blogger ethics… (December 8, 2009)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a lesson on how not to attempt damage control (January 26, 2010)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a lesson on how not to attempt damage control, part 2 (January 28, 2010)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: welcome to the party… (February 1, 2010)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: welcome to the party, four months late, part 2 (February 2, 2010)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: those people from Denmark, you know, the Dutch (February 3, 2010)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a conversation with the Muleskinner (February 6, 2010)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a simple question (February 8, 2010)
Find the Non-Employee Game! (February 8, 2010)(NYCMule)
“A Gentleman’s Agreement”?: a different choice of phrase would have made it all better (February 11, 2010)
Michael Bersin said:
It took to February 11, 2010 to start walking back his original comment, however slightly. I wonder what happened in the intervening period?
Oh, right, increased old media scrutiny.
Perhaps the late Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) could have helped Ms. Jaye understand why we must always steel ourselves against the dangers of apathy.
When this blog first made me aware of Ms. Jaye's existence, I promptly sought out and found a website in support of her radio program. Front and center on that page (though cunningly disguised as a non-link) is an actual link that seems to indicate that it will lead one to a page called, "Show Notes." Silly me – I expected to find references to the topics she discusses on her programs; you know, like facts and figures and citations.
So I followed that link and…
This is what I found.