According to several reports, MSNBC is getting set to fill the slot formerly occupied by Don Imus slot with Philadelphia radio host Michael Smerconish. But if MSNBC was looking for a quiet, non-controversial host in a post-Imus world, they may have to look harder. Smerconish has a history of controversial statements — including, ironically, what he called “the sissification of America,” claiming that political correctness has made the United States “a nation of sissies.”
A selected history of Smerconish’s thoughts on Muslims, women and detainees [via Media Matters]:
On the June 20, 2006, edition of Scarborough Country, Smerconish trivialized reports of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, referring to the alleged abuse as “naked pyramid pictures.” He also referred to alleged mistreatment at the Pentagon detention facility at Guantánamo Bay as “play[ing] Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud.”
On the April 10, 2006, edition of Scarborough Country, Smerconish suggested that “maybe law enforcement ought to step in” at pro-immigration demonstrations and consider “gathering … up” illegal immigrants. Smerconish wondered why there was “zero discussion” of “gathering them up” at the demonstrations, when “[a]ll I keep hearing is how would we ever find them?” He then suggested that law enforcement officials are being hypocritical by refusing to “gather … up” illegal immigrants because they would “step in and do something about” a rally of “pot smokers,” who “wanted decriminalization” of marijuana, or “scofflaws” with unpaid parking tickets.
Substituting for host Bill O’Reilly on the April 4, 2006, broadcast of The Radio Factor, Smerconish repeatedly discussed “the sissification of America,” claiming that political correctness has made the United States “a nation of sissies.” Smerconish also claimed, several times, that this “sissification” and “limp-wristedness” is “compromising our ability to win the war on terror.”
On the November 23, 2005, broadcast of The Radio Factor, while guest-hosting, Smerconish took issue with a decision by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to provide a designated prayer area at Giants Stadium. The decision was in response to a September 19 incident involving the FBI’s detention and questioning of five Muslim men who were observed praying near the stadium’s main air duct during a New York Giants football game. Smerconish stated: “I just think that’s [the men’s public praying] wrong. I just think they’re playing a game of, you know, mind blank with the audience. And that they should know better four years removed from September 11.” Smerconish defended the comments in an April 15 column, stating: “When five Muslim men in attendance at the Meadowlands in September 2005 for a Giants-Saints game that was also a Hurricane Katrina fund-raiser, with George H.W. Bush in attendance, saw fit to pray in an area near food preparation and air duct work, I think it was a case of mind blank. That’s a form of terrorism in itself.”
On the November 23, 2005, edition of The Radio Factor, Smerconish interviewed Soo Kim Abboud, author of Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers — and How You Can Too (Penguin, 2005). Smerconish asserted that “if everyone follows Dr. Abboud’s prescription … you’re going to have women who will leave the home and now get a great-paying job, because you will have gotten them well educated.” He continued, “But then they’re not going to be around to instill these lessons in their kids. In other words, it occurs to me that perhaps you’ve provided a prescription to bring this great success to an end.”