Cumulus Media has issued a mandate to its roster of conservative talk show hosts to stop spreading false claims that the 2020 Presidential Election was rigged and stolen by the Democratic Party.
“We need to help induce national calm NOW,” Executive VP, Content & Audience Brian Philips, wrote in an internal memo, the Washington Post reports. Philips continued, saying Cumulus Media and Westwood One, “will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’”
The memo, which was released Wednesday morning (Jan. 6), may have been too little, too late. Later that day a narrow group of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington, DC as Congress sought to certify the electoral votes naming Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election. The riot resulted in five deaths.
Since the election, Westwood One-syndicated hosts Ben Shapiro, Mark Levin and Dan Bongino, have been echoing the false claims of Trump, who continues to say that the election was rigged.
“You think the framers of the Constitution sat there and said, ‘Congress has no choice [to accept the votes], even if there’s fraud, even if there’s some court order, even if some legislature has violated the Constitution?’” Levin said on his program Tuesday, Jan. 5, the Post reports. Levin said the certification of the election was akin to “tyranny.”
Philips’ memo says anyone who disregards the mandate will be fired. “If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately.”
Levin, apparently didn’t get the memo, or refuses to abide by it. “It appears nothing has changed in 24 hours,” he said during his program on Thursday, Jan. 7. “Not a damn thing. The never-Trumpers, the RINOs, the media — same damn thing… I’m not stirring up a damn thing. Everything I say is based on principle and mission. Everything is based on liberty, family, faith, the Constitution. My enemies and my critics can’t say the same.”
Meanwhile, the company has taken action against KMJ Fresno (580) midday host Ray Appleton, who has been suspended without pay for saying that some members of the media should be “hanged” during his Thursday, Jan. 7 program. Appleton was comparing coverage of Wednesday’s insurrection at the Capitol with coverage of protests earlier this year calling for police reform in the wake of numerous deaths of Black citizens at the hands of law enforcement.
Appleton apologized for the comments, saying they were taken out of context. “I spent a good deal of time talking about how frustrated I was with the news media for not reporting things in a fair and consistent way,” he wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post, the Fresno Bee reports. “I made the statement that because of this ‘inconsistent way of reporting certain news editors should be hanged.......maybe.’ I went in later in the segment to clarify and clear up that statement, which was clearly tongue in (cheek).”