Ex-Bear Keith Van Horne has sacked the former bosses of "shock jock" Mancow Muller for $1.6 million as a result of unflattering comments he made on the air in 1994.
Attorneys for Muller's former radio station, WRCX, and its former owner, Evergreen Media Corp., handed over a check for that amount Wednesday--the same day a trial was set to begin in Cook County Circuit Court on Van Horne's lawsuit.
Although the settlement does not include an admission of guilt or an apology by Muller, Van Horne declared victory.
"I feel vindicated as a result of the settlement," Van Horne said. "I hope that station management will now exercise better judgment in managing Muller's on-air conduct. Muller calls his show `The Free Speech Radio Network,' but, although I believe in free speech, it is not a license to lie."
Muller, who now hosts mornings on WKQX-FM (101.1), said: "I have defended my right to free speech for over half a decade in this case--and I will not abandon that most precious constitutional right."
The case stemmed from a broadcast of "Mancow's Morning Madhouse" on Nov. 11, 1994.
Van Horne, a former offensive lineman for the Bears, had just finished co-hosting his overnight talk show on WLUP-FM (97.9) when he encountered Muller, who was arriving to host his show on WRCX. At the time, the two stations shared ownership and studios in the John Hancock Center.
After the two men argued, Muller went on the air and accused Van Horne of stalking, chasing and threatening to kill him in their hallway confrontation.
Calling Van Horne "psychotic," "nuts," "extremely violent," "over the edge" and "a Charles Manson who works out," Muller said: "He is trained in killing people. This man should be put behind bars. He is dangerous. . . . If they find my body in a sewer in the next 24 hours, somebody say it could be Van Horne."
Van Horne denied Muller's allegations and filed a multimillion-dollar defamation suit against him and Evergreen Media (which later became Chancellor Media and then AMFM Inc.).
Van Horne subsequently lost his job on the Loop.
The case drew nationwide attention not only because both parties are celebrities but because Van Horne's lawyers claimed that the station owners were negligent for hiring Muller since they knew of his reputation for outrageous behavior on the air.
Last October, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the "negligent hiring" part of Van Horne's suit, setting the stage for a trial that was to have begun Wednesday on the defamation claim.
Paul Levy, one of Van Horne's lawyers, said what mattered most to his client was making the $1.6 million figure public.
"In our view, the number speaks to the vindication," Levy said. "Without the number, the degree of fault wouldn't have been underscored to the extent that it is."
Although neither Muller nor his current employer is out one cent (since the $1.6 million was covered by his former employer), the resolution can be seen as bad news only for them.
Potential affiliates of Muller's syndicated morning show may be reluctant to sign him out of fear of future lawsuits, while the size of the payout could make him a lightning rod for other claims.
"Mancow has always maintained that this litigation was without merit and that he would have prevailed had the case proceeded to trial," said Muller's agent, Robert Eatman.
Despite the settlement, Muller's legal problems are far from over. He still faces a $100 millon defamation lawsuit filed last year by Janet Dahl, wife of rival radio personality Steve Dahl.
The Dahl suit claims Muller "repeatedly and falsely referred to [her] as engaging in adultery, fornication and sexual promiscuity in the vilest of terms" on his Q-101 morning show.
Representing Janet Dahl is Deutsch, Levy & Engel, the same Chicago law firm that represented Van Horne.
VAN HORNE'S LAWSUIT
AGAINST MULLER ENDS IN
$1.6 MILLION SETTLEMENT AVERTS DEFAMATION TRIAL
By Jim Kirk
Tribune Media Columnist
March 16, 2000
With the prospect of a former Chicago Bear squaring off with a syndicated radio shock jock, the scheduled trial in Keith Van Horne's defamation suit against Erich "Mancow" Muller had the makings of a raucous courtroom drama.
But it ended quietly, before it had a chance to start.
Ex-Bear Van Horne agreed to a $1.6 million settlement Wednesday in his suit against Muller, his former radio station--WRCX-FM 103.5, now WUBT--and its former owner, Evergreen Media Corp.
Experts said it is believed to be one of the largest settlements in a defamation suit against a radio personality.
The case was scheduled to go to trial Wednesday. It would have been closely watched for any potential impact on the freewheeling nature of shock jocks' speech, as well as for its high-profile litigants.
After the settlement was reached, both sides felt vindicated.
The case, filed five years ago, stemmed from on-air comments Muller made about Van Horne in November 1994, after the two had a confrontation outside the station's studios in the John Hancock Center.
At the time, Van Horne was working overnights at WLUP-FM 97.9. Like WRCX, it was owned by Evergreen Media Corp., which is now part of AMFM Inc.
According to the suit, Muller said on the air that Van Horne had stalked, chased and threatened to kill him, and he referred to Van Horne as "psychotic" and as "Charles Manson who works out."
Both Muller and his former sidekick, Irma Blanco, who was also named in the original lawsuit, had recounted the story of the confrontation during Muller's shift.
Van Horne's suit accused Muller and the station of defamation, and the station and Evergreen of negligent supervision and retention of Muller. He had been asking for up to $5 million in punitive damages.
In an interview Wednesday, Van Horne said he was content with the settlement, even though no liability was assigned to Muller.
"I'm happy that it's over and I feel vindicated," Van Horne said. "I think the [dollar amount] speaks for itself.
"This was not a guy who was just going off. He was a guy saying mean, vindictive lies, things that were not true. He defamed me, and I needed to defend my name. This settlement is just gravy. He likes to prop himself up as a defender of free speech, when he really is an offender."
Muller won't have to pay for the settlement. According to lawyers for the station and Muller, the tab is being picked up by the station's insurance company.
In a statement Wednesday, Muller, now the morning personality at WKQX-FM 101.1, defended his statements.
"Keith Van Horne has dropped his claims against me, and the settlement is being funded entirely by my former employer's insurance company," Muller said. "I am not contributing a penny to this settlement, and will issue no apology or retraction. I have defended my right to free speech for over half a decade in this case, and I will not abandon that most precious constitutional right."
Lawyers for Van Horne said the case was not about free speech or even free outrageous speech.
"This case had nothing to do with outrageous speech. It had everything to do with speech that is defamatory," said Phillip Zisook, an attorney with Deutsch, Levy & Engel, which represented Van Horne.
Beside its potential free-speech implications, the case also centered on a key issue for employers--whether a company can be held liable for the actions of one of its employees. Lawyers for Van Horne speculated Wednesday that the prospect that Evergreen could have been held responsible for negligent supervision may have expedited the push for a settlement.
Lawyers for the company and Muller said that the high cost of a long trial was one of the motives for settling.
"We've been at it for 5 1/2 years and we were looking at four to six more weeks during a trial," said Steven Baron, an attorney with D'Ancona & Pflaum, which represented the station. "You have to put it all behind. Like any litigant, you try to minimize your risk."
On Thursday night(10/28), Stern's rival Mancow Muller really went out of control at the WB Radio Music Awards shouted an expletive rarely heard on television, prompting a flood of complaints to the network.
WB network apologized for Mancow's behavior, the day after the awards aired live from Las Vegas to an audience of about 4 million viewers including Boston where the show was carried by WB56 (WLVI TV56).
At 8:32pm, Erich "Mancow" Muller appeared with actress Garcelle Beauvais of WB's "The Jamie Foxx Show" to introduce a performance by pop singers Sugar Ray. Muller appeared angry and absolutely uncontrolled.
When Muller's joke about shock jock Howard Stern's marital woes and the recent deaths of country singer Hoyt Axton and golfer Payne Stewart was met by audience boos, Muller responded by using the expletive twice.
A three-second delay button that allows the network to censor unsuitable material was used on the first word, but the second one slipped by. After about 5-second bleep, the viewers watching on WB 56 heard :"...F*ck him!" as Mancow was putting down Howard Stern.
WB has banned Mancow from any future WB appearances On cable's Fox News Channel, Mancow is a regular part of the "Fox & Friends" morning show where he stays away from using obscenities.
The first WB Radio Music Awards Show, billed by WB as the fledgling network's first live, "big-event" special, based nominations on the amount of radio airplay an artist received. Radio program executives from across the country picked the winners.
Some of the winners from the WB RADIO MUSIC AWARDS include KHKS/DALLAS morning man KIDD KRADDICK for Best Morning Show. (WFNX's PD and afternoon voice Cruze announced the nominations in that category.) KPWR (POWER 106)/LA morning man BIG BOY was named the Urban/Rhythmic Air Personality of The Year. Other winners included : Artist Of The Year Alternative: Smash Mouth. Artist Of The Year Country was a tie between Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain. Song Of The Year Pop belonged to Goo Goo Dolls("Iris"). Hip Hop Artist of The Year was Laurn Hill. Hook-Up Song Of the Year was Edwin McCain's "I will be". Legend Award was given to David Bowie who closed out the show.
June 16, 1999
IRV KUPCINET SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Now hear this: Shock jock Mancow Muller is now being sued for $110 million in a defamation suit filed by the wife of his radio rival Steve Dahl. But here's the topper. Mancow was sued a few years ago by the wife of another DJ, Danny Bonaduce, on the similar charges, that he referred to Gretchen Bonaduce as a drug addict involved in sexual promiscuity. Bonaduce's wife settled for a meager $20,000, but the case never came to light because the judge placed a gag order on the suit. Now, however, with our revelation of the case, Janet Dahl is expected to demand Mancow appear for a deposition and testify about degrading other women.
BY ROBERT FEDER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Q-101 bosses defend Mancow's `sarcastic humor'
While Mancow Muller remains under orders to keep mum about Janet Dahl's defamation lawsuit against him, his WKQX-FM (101.1) bosses released a statement Tuesday defending his on-air comments about her and her husband, Steve Dahl, as "comedy routines" and parodies of Dahl's shows. "We also believe that the First Amendment protects the right of broadcasters to express critical views of public figures like the Dahls through sarcastic humor, even if some people may not like Mancow's type of humor," the statement said. "It is ironic that the Dahls are known for using humor and insult to ridicule other public figures. It is particularly unfortunate that this suit is brought on behalf of someone who has been an active participant in controversial radio broadcasts for a number of years and who has benefitted from the very First Amendment principles challenged in this case." The suit, which was filed Monday, marks the second defamation case against Muller by the Chicago law firm of Deutsch, Levy & Engel. The firm also represents former Chicago Bear Keith Van Horne, whose 1994 suit includes the claim that Muller's former employers were "negligent and reckless" for hiring him. Janet Dahl's suit also makes the claim of negligence against Muller's Q-101 and Emmis Communications Corp. bosses.
June 15, 1999
BY ROBERT FEDER TELEVISION/RADIO COLUMNIST
Shock jock Mancow Muller found himself on the receiving end of a jolt Monday in the form of a $110 million defamation lawsuit filed by the wife of radio rival Steve Dahl. Janet Dahl, a lawyer, west suburban school board member and mother of three, claimed in Cook County Circuit Court that Muller "repeatedly and falsely referred to [her] as engaging in adultery, fornication and sexual promiscuity in the vilest of terms." The suit, which also alleges invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, cites eight broadcasts of "Mancow's Morning Madhouse" that aired between January and April. "I'm just trying to protect my good name for my kids," Janet Dahl said. Named in the suit along with Muller were his Chicago radio station, WKQX-FM (101.1), Indianapolis-based parent company Emmis Communications Corp., and two licensing companies. Also named were WCIU-Channel 26 and owner Weigel Broadcasting Co., which airs a late-night television version of Muller's show, and seven of the out-of-town radio stations that carry his show. Conspicuously absent from the suit was Muller's biggest syndication outlet, WKRK-FM in Detroit. The CBS/Infinity Broadcasting-owned station also happens to syndicate Steve Dahl's afternoon show, which originates on CBS/Infinity's WCKG-FM (105.9). The suit was filed after lawyers for both sides failed to reach a settlement on the matter. Muller did not return calls Monday. But after reports surfaced last month that the Dahls were preparing to sue him, Muller defended his comments as parody and humor directed at Janet Dahl, whom he called a public figure because of her frequent appearances on her husband's show and her role as an elected school official. Muller also pointed out what he called the "hypocrisy" of Janet Dahl targeting another radio personality for the same type of conduct that made her husband famous. After four years at the former WRCX, Muller joined Q-101 last summer in a $3 million-a-year deal.
May 9, 1999
BY NEIL STEINBERG SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Back in the time when I spent my workdays as a reporter chasing suburban ice skating hopefuls and city fly-dumping violators, driving my dead grandmother's blue Chevy Citation all over the map, the tedium of crawling up and down the expressways was relieved by listening to Steve Dahl and Garry Meier on the radio. (The AM radio, all the Citation had. It couldn't have been more of a tin can if it were filled with tuna.) One of the many strong Dahl moments that echo in memory was a terribly uncomplimentary assessment of Sun-Times employees. I can still see where the Citation was parked--I had been lingering in the car, reluctant to stop listening, always a peril with Dahl. I sat there, absolutely horrified, stung by my hero. It was as if you offered your cheek to your mother for a kiss and she bit you. I was hurt and horrified. This was it, I thought, reaching for the dial. This is the end for you, Steve Dahl. No more. Never again. I would have to bite the bullet and listen to WBBM-AM. Suddenly, a calming thought came to mind: It was my turn. Of course. I pulled my hand back. I had laughed as Dahl laid on the lash on all manner of idiots and losers and headcases. Now it was my turn. Now I was the idiot. If you are going to enjoy harsh humor, a Steve Dahl, a Howard Stern, the price you pay is that, occasionally, you are the idiot. So I kept on enjoying Dahl, rather proud that I had understood the necessity of sometimes having my ox gored as the price of admission. It is a difficult concept for many people. I occasionally get letters from readers saying something along the lines of: "I've enjoyed everything you're written for years now, so was doubly shocked and betrayed when you wrote about liking malted milk balls. My pet beagle Rover choked to death on a malted milk ball left on the ground by some ruffian. They're a menace and I will never, ever read your column again and hope you rot in hell." You yearn for that sort of person to pause, take a breath and recognize that their view might somehow be skewed by Rover's untimely end. Similarly, when I read in Robert Feder's column Wednesday that Dahl was poised to sue rival radio personality Mancow Muller for allegedly defaming Dahl's wife on WKQX-FM (101.1), my first thought was: "Oh, Steve . . ." Of course, I first heard the slurs (which do not bear repeating) in news of the potential lawsuit. That's what protests of offensive things do. They spread the offense. If 100,000 people originally saw the soft kiddie porn Calvin Klein ads, then 100 million saw the ads in news accounts after the moralists started protesting them. A handful of people reached the inner recesses of the School of the Art Institute to see that portrait of Harold Washington in ladies' underwear, until a posse of boob aldermen seized it, projecting the painting into international news and earning it a spot in the history of the city. Nice going, guys. Which makes you wonder what the point of the protests is in the first place. Obviously, Dahl wants to get back at Muller. But a lawsuit? To me, a lawsuit is the last resort of the powerless, the fired employee facing a big corporation, the abused neighbor with no other recourse. Isn't Dahl sitting in front of an open microphone five days a week? Couldn't he, oh, I don't know, say something biting that would return the favor and end the matter without dragging it into a courtroom? After all the FCC trouble Dahl has been through, is he really the kind of guy who wants to rush to law? It's whiny, like a kid running to the teacher and saying Billy is teasing him. I mean, Muller is a pretty broad target. I had never heard his show until my publishing company sent me there to promote a book. Muller kept me cooling my heels for an hour in a side room, which would have been OK, but I had to listen to the program. He's Pat Buchanan for lowbrow teenagers. Muller was promoting some sort of live show and listeners were having trouble getting tickets, and he was trying to spin it as some sort of vast conspiracy against him, the kind of transparent they're-trying-to-keep-you-from-buying-the-last-block-of-tickets-to-my-show-but-you're-not-going-to-let-them-are-you-gang rant that might fool 14-year-olds but no one else. He sounded like a pro wrestler, delivering his fake pre-bout bluster. He hadn't read my book, or any book as far as I could tell, and promised to send me a box of cigars but never followed through. Sort of a jerk. You have to wonder why Dahl can't bite back at him without suing. As it happened, the day I read about Dahl's pending lawsuit, I ran into his former partner, Garry Meier. We talked about the lawsuit, and he pointed out the irony--their partnership had broken up over jokes Dahl made about Meier's new bride. Meier is still hopping mad about it. Which is another reason Dahl should not file that lawsuit. Turnabout is fair play.
May 10, 1999
I welcome your recent bashing of me [editorial, April 12]. Every slam is a boost when it comes from the likes of you. I do not support your "correct speak." I am not a PC liberal, so I accept that you will hate me. Any dissenting opinion offends those in ivory towers. I think for myself, and I have my own life view. You laughingly seem to think your vision of me has some effect on my listeners and I. Wrong. My show talks of God, country, and love we each must have for one another. I make people smile. You destroy lives. You have no journalistic integrity. Remember Richard Jewell? You were wrong about Ronald Reagan when you tried to destroy him, and you are wrong now to support Bill Clinton and his evil empire. I dare to expose Clinton for this stupid war used to cover his collaboration with a dangerous enemy. That's the real story, not me. Follow the Chinese cash. You Ivy League, self-appointed prophets think a divine message is channeled through you and it must be passed to the rest of the world. Wrong again. Look at your readership numbers. People are bored with the whole idea of you. My show is called "Mancow's Morning Madhouse." Consider the source. You take me seriously? It's a stupid radio show. I've never forced anyone to listen to me or watch the TV version of my show. I feel good knowing I'm up setting the liberal mannequins with their narrow little molds of what is permissible. If I believed in our president, late-term abortion, freedoms destroyed, senseless wars and a godless world, I know then you'd praise me. I'll pass! I love your hate. Mancow Muller, WKQX-FM (101.1)
May 5, 1999
BY ROBERT FEDER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
The long-simmering feud between Chicago radio titans Steve Dahl and Mancow Muller appears ready to explode into a celebrity death match of epic proportions. Unless a settlement can be worked out by next week, Dahl plans to sue Muller for making what Dahl's lawyer calls "depraved and degenerate" comments about Dahl's wife on the air. Sources said Dahl is seeking "millions of dollars" from Muller, his Chicago station, WKQX-FM (101.1), and its Indianapolis-based parent company, Emmis Communications Corp. Dahl also wants a letter of apology from the chief executive officer of Emmis Communications and a promise that Muller will refrain from talking about Dahl's wife, Janet, on the air. Dahl, who hosts afternoons on CBS/Infinity-owned WCKG-FM (105.9), declined to comment Tuesday, as did officials of Q-101. Muller could not be reached. To press his case, Dahl has retained the Chicago law firm of Deutch, Levy & Engel. It's no coincidence that Paul Levy is the same lawyer representing ex-Bear Keith Van Horne in his multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit against Muller. In an April 5 letter to Emmis Communications, Levy wrote: "Although I am confident that you and those to whom you may turn for counsel may suggest that Mr. Muller has engaged in satire or parody, I have advised Mrs. Dahl that embedded in Mr. Muller's efforts to vilify her are objectively false statements of fact which will most certainly support an action for defamation and emotional distress." Also notified that they may be dragged into the case are WCIU-Channel 26, which airs the late-night television version of Muller's show, and several of the radio stations that carry "Mancow's Morning Madhouse" in national syndication. Adding to the weirdness of it all, Dahl and Muller share the same syndication outlet in Detroit--CBS/Infinity's WKRK-FM. Dahl's claim is based on at least 12 of Muller's morning show broadcasts, starting on Jan. 25. Transcripts show Muller calling Dahl's wife (or a character posing as Dahl's wife) a "whore" and a "slut" and describing her performing various sex acts.
May 4, 1999
BY ROBERT FEDER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Already stung by a sudden drop in the winter ratings, Mancow Muller has been nailed by Arbitron for remarks he made on his WKQX-FM (101.1) morning show. "I get to play some stupid . . . jingle where they talk about how great I am, so you remember my name, so you write it down in the ratings book, and I continue to work," Muller is quoted as telling listeners on Jan. 29. "That's all it's about." Arbitron specifically prohibits stations from engaging in any activities that could distort survey results. "We are concerned about any statement that may . . . prompt diarykeepers to report listening to a particular station . . . or that may prompt diarykeepers to use the diary as a vehicle for supporting a station's personalities [rather than as a means for recording listening]," Arbitron explained in a special notice published in its Chicago survey report for winter. Arbitron took no further action against Muller or his station. The company took quite a dimmer view last summer when Steve Dahl devoted much of his WCKG-FM (105.9) afternoon show one day to blasting the ratings methodology and urging his listeners to participate in surveys. In response, Arbitron listed WCKG's quarterly ratings separately. Chuck Hillier, vice president and general manager of Q-101, said Muller's infraction was regrettable but unintentional. "Dahl's rant was a willful, premeditated diatribe that lasted for chunks of an entire show," Hillier said. "Mancow's one single utterance during a five-hour show cannot remotely be compared with a campaign to influence ratings." Muller's morning show dropped from third place to eighth in the winter ratings overall. Among listeners between the ages of 25 and 54, he dropped from first to a tie for sixth.
April 29, 1999
BY ROBERT FEDER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
The long-running and high-profile legal dispute between shock jock Mancow Muller and former Bear Keith Van Horne turned into a federal case Wednesday. Van Horne's lawyers filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a ruling on a key issue in his $5 million defamation lawsuit against Muller. The petition seeks to overturn a ruling in December by the Illinois Supreme Court which threw out a claim that Muller's old bosses were "negligent and reckless" for hiring him because of his reputation for harming others through his controversial and outrageous conduct on the air. The case stems from comments Muller made in 1994 on his former WRCX morning show after a confrontation with Van Horne in a hallway outside the studios at the John Hancock Center. Muller claimed that the ex-offensive lineman had threatened to kill him for previously talking about Van Horne on the air. Also named in the lawsuit is Evergreen Media Corp., onetime parent company of WRCX and predecessor of Chancellor Media Corp. Muller subsequently was hired by WKQX-FM (101.1), which is owned by Emmis Communications Corp. A dozen broadcast industry groups and companies (including Emmis Communications) lined up against Van Horne to argue against the idea that employers should be held liable for hiring broadcasters who later make defamatory statements on the air. A trial date on the lawsuit has been set for March 15, 2000.
BY PHIL ROSENTHAL TELEVISION CRITIC
MANQUE TV: We had suspected Erich Muller's Mancow act was wearing thin on radio long before he announced plans to bring it to television in the infomercial/test pattern/rerun hour of 12:30 weeknights on WCIU-Channel 26. The * 1/2 debut of "Mancow TV," however, showed it to be even more threadbare than we thought. Just as loud and angry as the local--and nominally syndicated--morning radio program from which it culls its material, "Mancow TV" is more visually interesting than the radio-into-TV programs of Muller rivals Don Imus (MSNBC) and Howard Stern (CBS and E! Entertainment Television) but it has precious little to say. Muller and his staff are able to milk only so much out of baiting Klansman/politico David Duke, reviving the Waco holocaust, discussing their sexual peccadillos in wearying detail, and playing semi-automatic shoot-'em-up with some Indiana gun nuts, shredding a Stern movie poster with bullets and (redundantly in the context of this show) blowing up an old television set. Perhaps this sort of thing will attract the kind of audience coveted by the show's advertisers, who were pushing phone sex, credit help and a home video of drunken women baring their chests. We have a job. We have a life. We have no idea. What ought to concern even Muller's fans is that so much of the initial show seemed to be a recycling of old material (though it is conceivable Muller does a self-important soliloquy on his relationship with the late Chris Farley every day). But the original premise was that this program would feature highlights of that day's radio show. This debut clearly was more of a greatest hits package, and it wasn't that great. One can only imagine the hits--and sucker punches--to come.
This bully must go
Even in this age of tasteless excess and public cruelty exemplified by the likes of Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones, so-called shock jock Mancow Muller has managed to cross the line. His egregiously offensive mocking of kids in the Special Olympics should get him fired. We will not repeat the heartless, demeaning, cruel and brutal exercise he passed off as entertainment on WKQX radio Friday. His employer, Emmis Broadcasting, issued an apology of sorts, saying Muller had gone too far in his role "to sort of push the envelope, kind of satirize everything." Such mealymouthed rationalizations are ignorant and almost as offensive as Muller's blatherings. Satire holds the follies, vices and abuses of life up to scorn and ridicule. None of that describes the Special Olympics or kids heroically overcoming disabilities. Muller and his ilk are one of the uglier aspects of contemporary culture. He and the others like him constitute specimens of arrested adolescence, little boys with little minds who snicker and giggle over dirty words and body parts, who delight in humiliating those weaker than themselves. Let's call Muller what indeed he is: a bully. It demeans us all to acquiesce in this. His values are not our values. He must go, and the sooner the better.
April 10, 1999
BY BRYAN SMITH STAFF REPORTER
In his daily mix of gotcha gags and off-color digs, radio shock jock Mancow Muller gets away with a lot. But Special Olympics officials weren't about to let slide what they said was an ``obviously hateful and malicious'' attack on their kids. Muller's radio station, WKQX-FM (101.1), apologized Friday to the Special Olympics for broadcasting a song that included the lyrics: ``Watch them laugh, watch them drool, watch them fall into the pool. That's diving at the Special Olympics.'' The song continued, ``Those guys playing wheelchair basketball gotta be about the funniest [expletive deleted] thing I've ever seen in my life. At the Special Olympics.'' Timothy P. Shriver, president and CEO of Special Olympics Inc., said: ``I think the blatant humiliation and the disparaging kind of sentiments of the piece were just an outrage. It's not outrageous that people have prejudices, but it's outrageous when it passes as entertainment or humor.'' Muller was not disciplined and did not apologize on air. But the station agreed the segment went too far. It was ``tasteless and truly thoughtless,'' said Jeff Smulyan, chief executive office of Emmis Broadcasting, which owns WKQX. ``Obviously, the whole point of Mancow's show is to sort of push the envelope, kind of satirize everything. ... And I think Mancow fully realizes that there are some things you can satirize and some things that aren't fair game. And I think these kids aren't fair game.'' The sting hurt even more because the Special Olympics--an international program of sports and competition for mentally retarded people--began in Chicago in 1968 at Soldier Field, officials said. Special Olympics accepted the apology. They said they did not push for Muller to be disciplined, partly because it was not his idea and he did not produce the segment. The song was part of a comedy album that Smulyan did not identify. ``The host and the company have been completely understanding of our outrage, completely committed to correcting it and completely honest in saying it was just a blunt mistake,'' he said. Smulyan said the station has a ``long history'' of supporting the Special Olympics, including participating in a charity album. Muller is the latest in a line of shock jocks to be criticized for their content. In February, Doug ``Greaseman'' Tracht was fired by Washington, D.C., station WARW after he played a portion of a song by Grammy Award-winning singer Lauryn Hill and remarked, ``No wonder people drag them behind trucks.''
February 18, 1999
BY ROBERT FEDER SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
When you're making $3 million a year, you can afford to blow $3,250 on a bronze statue of O.J. Simpson. That's just what Mancow Muller did this week. While in Los Angeles to tape a guest appearance on the Fox series ``Party of Five'' and broadcast his syndicated WKQX-FM (101.1) morning show, Muller was the high bidder for the statue at an auction of Simpson memorabilia Tuesday. Muller's plans for the statue? ``I'm going to use the head as a kickball and then melt down the rest of it to make medallions that say, `Remember Ron and Nicole,' '' he said, referring to the slain Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson. Muller said he'll preside over the meltdown live on television. Proceeds from the sale of the pieces will go to a Goldman fund. ``I've purchased many celebrity items in the past, but never one that was destined for destruction from the day it went on the auction block,'' said Muller, whose personal collection of grisly items includes papers signed by Jack Ruby and John Wayne Gacy. The statue of Simpson, designed by Gene Logan, shows the barefoot former football star in uniform, holding his shoes in one hand and his helmet in the other. It had been displayed in the entrance foyer of Simpson's Rockingham estate. ``I just think it should be destroyed,'' Muller said. ``The man is a double murderer. I think it's fitting that the statue burn the way O.J. is going to burn in hell.''
The Following Info Was Obtained From The CHICAGO MEDIA RUMORMILL
December 4, 1998
BY ROBERT FEDER CHICAGO SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Former Chicago Bear Keith Van Horne is headed to court in his four-year legal battle with radio star Mancow Muller.
The Illinois Supreme Court paved the way Thursday for Van Horne to pursue his defamation lawsuit against Muller. The ex-offensive lineman is seeking more than $5 million in damages for remarks Muller made about him on the air after a confrontation between the two in 1994.
Also named in the suit were Muller's former sidekick and news anchor, Irma Blanco, his former station, WRCX-FM (103.5), and the station's parent company, Chancellor Media Corp.
In a partial victory for the defendants, the Supreme Court threw out a claim in Van Horne's suit that Muller's former bosses were ``negligent and reckless'' for hiring him because he had a reputation for outrageous and controversial stunts on the air.
``Such a holding would have [had] an inevitable chilling effect on free speech, as media employers would be reluctant to hire controversial broadcasters or reporters,'' Justice Michael Bilandic wrote in the opinion.
Muller, who moved his syndicated morning show to WKQX-FM (101.1), called the ruling ``a historic victory for free speech.''
Van Horne's attorney, Paul Levy, said no decision has been made on whether to appeal the ruling.
In either case, the stage is set for a Circuit Court jury to consider whether Muller defamed Van Horne on the air when he called him ``psychotic,'' ``nuts,'' ``a danger to society,'' ``an extremely violent individual'' and ``a Charles Manson who works out.''
Muller's comments and others by Blanco were prompted by an exchange between Muller and Van Horne before the show on Nov. 11, 1994, in a hallway outside WRCX studios. Muller claimed that Van Horne threatened to kill him for talking about him previously on the air.
Van Horne, who hosted an overnight radio show on another station at the time, said Muller's account was fabricated.
``We will vigorously defend Mancow, Irma and the station,'' said Muller's attorney, Steve Baron. ``We're not out of the water yet, but we now have a more manageable, garden-variety case to deal with. As a public figure under defamation law, [Van Horne] has a very high burden of proof.''
In addition to pursuing his legal claim, Van Horne has been spending time on investments and business activities, Levy said.