Twin Cities radio talk-show host Bob Davis has lost an advertiser and is being offered an all-expenses-paid trip to Newtown, Conn., to repeat what he said on the air recently: that the families who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook school shooting can "go to hell" for taking a visible role in the national debate on gun control.
The criticism of the conservative co-host of the "Davis and Emmer" show on KTCN (AM 1130) centers on this perspective from Davis on April 12:
"I have something I want to say to the victims of Newtown or any other shooting, I don't care if it's here in Minneapolis or anyplace else: Just because a bad thing happened to you doesn't mean that you get to put a king in charge of my life. I'm sorry that you suffered a tragedy, but you know what? Deal with it, and don't force me to lose my liberty, which is a greater tragedy than your loss.
"I'm sick and tired of seeing these victims trotted out, given rides on Air Force One, hauled into the Senate well, and everyone is … terrified of these victims. I would stand in front of them and tell them, 'Go to hell.' "
Acknowledging that his comments angered some people, Davis explained himself on his next show, three days later. He said he understands that families of the victims of the elementary school shooting in December would want to "dedicate their lives to the memory of their children."
Davis said, "I do not hide behind flowery language. I do not pull my punches."
Another four days later, Davis told listeners he "made an inappropriate comment" and "did not mean to criticize the families of the victims. … I want to offer my most sincere and total apology to all the families for any further pain those words may have caused."
Gregg Swedberg, an executive with KTCN's parent company, Clear Channel, declined to say Monday whether Davis was disciplined. Davis has not missed a show.
Over the weekend in a commentary posted on www.startribune.com, Brad Greene of Sandy Hook, Conn., said he sent Davis an e-mail "offering to pay his travel expenses to Newtown to stand in front of people and repeat the words he said on the radio. It is no surprise that he has not responded to my offer."
Greene wrote, "it is disgraceful that Davis would use his platform in such a divisive manner. I feel strongly that words matter and that Davis' comments are an embarrassment to the good city of Minneapolis."
As of Monday afternoon, Greene said, Davis has yet to respond to his offer.
Late last week, "Davis and Emmer" sponsor Atomic Data said it was immediately and permanently pulling its advertising in light of Davis' comments. A statement from the company said, "We don't believe, as Bob Davis seems to, that being mean and resentful is a 'liberty.' It's disrespectful, and, in Bob's case, it crossed the line of civility."
Davis shares the time slot with former Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.
Scott Evangelist, marketing manager for Atomic Data, a Minneapolis-based information technology support company, said Monday that "the tone, content, and politics of the Davis and Emmer show has changed greatly since we first signed on with them."
Swedberg said that Atomic Data is the only advertiser to pull its ads from the show.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482