Yesterday’s jaw-dropping story of remarks by now-former 710 KNUS conservative talk radio host Chuck Bonniwell on Tuesday afternoon, suggesting that “a nice school shooting” would be a welcome distraction from the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, has exploded in only 24 hours from the local progressive news site Colorado Times Recorder to more or less every mainstream news outlet in America. The Washington Post reports:
“Given the history of school violence that has plagued our community, 710 KNUS confirms that an inappropriate comment was made on the ‘Chuck & Julie’ show by co-host Chuck Bonniwell,” the station said in a statement Wednesday evening. “A programming decision was made to end the program immediately.”
…The radio station said the “Chuck & Julie” show would be replaced by former White House aide Sebastian Gorka’s “America First” program starting Thursday.
The conservative married couple’s afternoon talk show on KNUS in Denver had been going for a half-hour on Tuesday when the husband made a remark that alarmed his wife, stunned their listeners — and soon cost them their jobs…
Mr. Bonniwell then tried to soften his remark by adding, “In which no one would be hurt,” and the couple turned to the phone lines.
But the damage was done. The comment quickly attracted a storm of outrage in Denver, and on Wednesday, the radio station canceled the couple’s show, which ran from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. A statement released by KNUS cited “the history of school violence that has plagued our community.”
According to CNN affiliate KDVR, Bonniwell initially issued a statement saying the comment was meant as a joke. “I’m sorry it was not received in that light,” he added.
In another statement posted to their Facebook page Thursday morning, Hayden and Bonniwell said he would “un-say” the inappropriate comment if he could. As parents of a child in elementary school, they worry about school shootings and his safety, they said.
“Violence causes too much hurt for victims and their families and we truly did not intend to add to that pain,” the statement said.
The nationwide condemnation of Bonniwell’s extremely objectionable remarks about a “nice school shooting” serving as a distraction from the impeachment of Trump is on the one hand very simple, being such an objectively outrageous and infuriating statement to anyone affected or even a little worried about gun violence in schools that it’s straightforwardly amazing it was said on the air by any human being. But it’s not just that: by even jokingly suggesting that a school shooting would be a preferable distraction to news of Trump’s impeachment, Bonniwell betrays the fanatical, denial-ridden mental state of Trump’s most loyal supporters today.
And it is a fearful sight to behold.
Hold that thought while we revisit the Washington Post’s story:
KNUS is no stranger to controversy brought on by its programs. Another host denied allegations last week that he had posted white-supremacist memes online after he made comments on-air that mirrored an anti-Semitic post by someone using his name on a Russian social media platform frequented by extremists. [Pols emphasis] That host told 9News the post was part of an elaborate plot by a local anti-fascist group to defame him. The station defended him.
The relatively swift demise of the Chuck and Julie Show on KNUS takes place against the backdrop of a growing body of evidence that suggests KNUS radio producer and host of the eponymous Keep America Great With Kirk Widlund podcast on the station maintained a not-so-secret alternate social media profile under his own name, chock full of unapologetic neo-Nazi content, and numerous instances since established by local media of real-life Kirk Widlund and online neo-Nazi Kirk Widlund saying the same things at the same time and discussing contemporaneous local news events with known local racists.
KNUS management made the decision after an alleged “internal investigation” to keep Widlund on the job, and KNUS afternoon host Steffan Tubbs has brusquely defended Widlund even as the corroborating evidence has piled up. We’re not sure what happens next with this separate yet very much related storyline, but despite the national bad press raining down over Bonniwell–or more likely because of it–we’re confident it’s not over.
The lights are on, and the roaches are scurrying.