POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Radio hosts suspended for slur against NJ attorney general

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

A firestorm was ignited by two radio hosts who repeatedly hurled religious-based insults at the state attorney general. New Jersey 101.5 has suspended the hosts of the popular “Dennis & Judi Show.” Senior Correspondent David Cruz has been following the story.

Gubir Grewal is the 61st attorney general of the state of New Jersey. He is a Sikh American.

Those facts evidently eluded a pair of radio personalities, Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco from NJ 101.5 Wednesday who tried to turn their ignorance into humor by targeting the attorney general’s religion:

Malloy: The attorney general, the guy, I’m never going to know his name. I’m just going to say ‘the guy with the turban.’
Franco: OK
Malloy: The new attorney general?
Franco: Turban man!
Malloy: Turban man. Listen, if that offends you, then don’t wear the turban and I’ll remember your name. But turban man, is that highly offensive?
Franco: To me? No. To people who wear turbans? Could be.

Reaction was immediate and across the board.

Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy weighed in, saying that the White House has set a low standard for the tone of discourse in the country.

Murphy: I hope we can, you know, get away from this us versus them world we’re in. My predecessor, bless his heart, was an us versus them governor. We now have a president, I said to somebody earlier, he’s given the hall pass to the rest of these folks who are saying this stuff. They say, ‘Listen, if he can say it, why can’t I say it?’

Grewal, a father of three, said this was not the first time he’s had to deal with hateful rhetoric. In fact, it’s been a lifelong battle, he said, but added that he saw this as an opportunity to stand up for others.

Grewal: What really bothered me is that there are so many other people in this state that don’t have that same thick skin. There are people that don’t have the benefit of the same security I have, that will be affected really deeply by these types of comments. Particularly kids, other Sikh kids, who might not have thick skin. And, given my position, I thought I needed to stand up and push back and use the platform that I have as attorney general to stand up for the citizens of New Jersey who might not be able to stand up for themselves in this type of situation and call out this hateful rhetoric.

This is not, unfortunately, new ground for NJ 101.5. The conservative talk station has offended Latinos, Asians and women suffering from postpartum depression.

The two hosts have apologized and been suspended for 10 days. The governor? He said if they were in his shop, they’d be fired.

Grewal said he’d take a pass on appearing on the radio show, but suggested that maybe the radio hosts could join him at a town hall meeting to discuss issues of intolerance and bigotry.