Thursday, June 16, 2005

Nuclear button may have been pushed on Cincinnati talk radio

Bill Cunningham, Cincinnati's most famous conservative export (his radio show is beamed to roughly half the country every day on 700 WLW, the 50,000 watt radio giant) may have inadvertently begun a right-wing nuclear war in the talk radio world. For months on end, Cunningham has engaged in a relentless attack on the Catholic Church. The attack began with clear concern over the number of abuser priests who were allowed to continue in ministry in the Archdiocese. Fair enough, lots of people were concerned about that. The situation has now escalated to the point where Cunningham has attacked the Catholic education system, the priesthood and the episcopacy as institutions, once playing the theme from The Godfather when pointing out the number of city and county officials who graduated from Archbishop Elder High School. (Note: If you had a Catholic education in this town, the odds are good you went to Elder, Moeller, St. Xavier, or La Salle. There are other schools, but those four are in the closest proximity to where the most Catholics are. Over half of the "regulars" at my Knights of Columbus council went to Elder.)

What is most sad is that not long ago, Cunningham was probably the most Catholic talk host on a secular radio station that I was aware of. He used to openly brag about being Catholic, and it was not unheard of for Willie to recite the Nicene Creed on the air! It is clear that the clergy sex abuse scandal has rocked Cunningham's faith. I know that he has lost many Catholic listeners just from talking to people at my parish who are long-time Cunningham fans who no longer listen because of the Catholic-bashing. Rumor has even spread that Willie has renounced the Church.

Well, a disturbed an irate caller to last night's Catholic Answers Live had finally had enough of Bill Cunningham's Catholic bashing, and mentioned it to the guest, who just happened to be William Donohue, head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Like Cunningham, Donohue's conservative credentials cannot be questioned, except that Bill Donohue is not someone I'd want to make angry, he has the ability to bury you, and he has done so (figuratively speaking) to many people. The Catholic League (and by extension, Bill Donohue) has become the most powerful Catholic lay advocate organization in America. Even Hollywierd producers are afraid of the Catholic League's wrath, and they frequently call Donohue to see if their films pass muster for being sufficiently pro-Catholic. Donohue is also unafraid to take to the air to defend the Church.

When the caller in question complained about Cunningham's newfound anti-Catholicism and gave examples of how he is running down the Church, Bill Donohue said: "You tell this Cunningham that I will be happy to take him on live on the air. Donohue then threatened to make a fool out of Cunningham on the airwaves of Cincinnati. As a long-time listener to Bill Cunningham, I know that he can make fools of many people, and he is very often right. If there is one person that can turn the tables on Cunningham, it is Bill Donahue. Cunningham has yet to answer Donahue's challenge. Does he have the guts to engage in an all-out oratorical nuclear war with one of the Church's most powerful lay-henchman in America?

On-air nuclear war!!!!!!!

Will Bill Cunningham
accept the challenge?

Bill Cunningham: Cincinnati's famously combative conservative talk-show host may have gone too far in running down the Church on the air. His antics have triggered a challenge from the Catholic League. (Photo from the liberal CityBeat)

Bill Donohue: Has challenged Cunningham to an on-air sparring match. This is not a man I would want to make angry, as his conservative credentials can't be questioned. Against another conservative, Donohue may wipe the floor. Both men are known for their abilities to win debates on radio and television, so if Cunningham accepts the challenge, it could lead to an on-air nuclear melt-down at The Big One. (Photo: The Catholic League)


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