Many people have asked me what I thought about KUOW reporter Bill Radke's response to the uproar over their interview with the Nazi. I've seen his comments described as "heartfelt," and I guess that's true. He seemed to be very emotional over the whole thing, and he acknowledged that he made some mistakes.
But as I suggested on Thursday night, this isn't a matter of journalism. This is a bigger problem than Bill Radke. And my central concerns still haven't been addressed. Here are the two things that I believe it's essential for KUOW to do in order to regain my trust:
KUOW must not give platforms to Nazis. I've seen some people suggest that this is a slippery slope, or an affront to the idea of free speech. Not so. I'm not suggesting that KUOW ban any conservative thinker I don't like, or anything like that. I'm saying when someone is a known supporter of Nazi causes — if they appear in photographs with Nazi paraphernalia — they do not deserve a platform. The swastika they wear stands for genocide and the end of civilization. They don't get to explain that ideology, or to recruit others to their cause. That's the clear bright line: if they have direct involvement with swastikas and Nazi ideology, they don't get a platform at all.
When a person wears a swastika, they are explicitly encouraging violence against Jewish people, people of color, and LGBTQ citizens. Just as KUOW wouldn't air a death threat, they should not turn over their airwaves to people who want to murder minorities. KUOW should directly apologize to the specific groups who are threatened by Nazis and Nazi ideology.
That's it. Those are two fairly simple requests: don't give a platform to Nazis, and apologize to groups who they imperiled with their reckless coverage.
Some have questioned my call to stop giving money to KUOW until they make things right. So here's my thinking on that: KUOW has demonstrated that they are more than happy to transform listener commentary — negative tweets, phone calls, emails — into clickbait articles about the controversy. So listener complaints are worse than ineffectual — they're actually generating content and revenue for KUOW.
That leaves perhaps the loudest message that any media consumer can send: money. By telling KUOW that you're not going to give them any more money until they agree to not give platforms to Nazis and until they apologize to targeted groups for giving a platform to a Nazi, you are speaking in a language that station management understands. By not listening to KUOW or subscribing to their podcasts or clicking on their articles, you're letting their editors and social media experts know that you're not kidding around.
Besides, Seattle has another fantastic public radio station that has not given a platform to a Nazi. If you support KNKX with the money you would ordinarily use to support KUOW, you're still supporting local media. This is not a zero-sum game.
I want to be clear: this is not about Bill Radke. It's not about doxxing the Nazi that KUOW allowed to appear anonymously. This is not about any individual. This is about a standard that we as a society must agree to uphold: genocide is not up for debate. We will not allow the murder of minorities into the free market of ideas. We wholeheartedly reject the Nazi ideology, and we will not allow it into our public discourse.