How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

L.A. city officials wade into media diversity

Photo by Ben McLeod/Flickr (Creative Commons)


It's not every day that city elected officials make a case for diversifying the staff of media outlets. Which makes a resolution passed yesterday by the Los Angeles City Council, meant to address a recent on-air controversy over racially charged language, worth noticing.

The background: In a segment last month a few days after singer Whitney Houston's untimely death in Beverly Hills, radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of KFI 640 AM’s “The John and Ken Show” referred to the late star as a "crack ho."

The duo was suspended for two weeks, but complaints continued, as the Houston flap was the most recent in a string of incidents that insulted minorities. In recent months, both Latino and Asian American groups had sought to have the show taken off the air. Asian American civil rights groups in Los Angeles protested earlier this year after the hosts made disparaging comments about Koreans; last fall, several Latino groups picketed Clear Channel’s offices in Burbank, demanding the show be canceled after the hosts gave out the phone number of an immigrant advocacy group’s spokesman on air. Their fans deluged the man with hate calls.

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Reactions to Limbaugh's 'ching chong' mockery

Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Rush Limbaugh

In the 24 hours or so since radio host Rush Limbaugh mocked Chinese president Hu Jintao's speech yesterday, making a series of "ching chong, ching chow" sounds as his, er, approximation of Chinese language, the reaction has come swiftly, angrily, and on the late-night circuit, comically.

For the record, a bit of what was uttered, as posted on ColorLines:

They normally — you have some translator every couple of words. But Hu Jintao was just going CHING CHONG, CHING CHOW CHONG CHA, CHONG CHANG, CHING CHONG CHIBABABA, OH CHONGHING CHI CHIGARAI, CHENG CHI CHI. CHING ZHA BABA CHENGA CHENG CHI CHI CHI. CHANGI. OOOOOO. CHING CHOLABA BABA. GE CHOW CHOW BA.

The Atlantic Wire has compiled a list of reactions from media pundits and bloggers, among them Mediaite's Jon Bershad, who asks if Limbaugh will be subject to the same amount of backlash as comic Rosie O'Donnell was when she uttered 

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