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Sinclair show canceled after commentator’s vulgar tweet about Parkland survivor David Hogg

Posted by Allman in the Morning on Monday, May 9, 2016

A conservative commentator at a Sinclair Broadcast Group television station has resigned — and his TV news show has been canceled — after a statement he made threatening to sexually assault Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg drew harsh criticism and sparked the beginnings of an advertiser boycott.

Jamie Allman, who hosted a nightly show on the Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate in St. Louis, wrote on Twitter that he was “hanging out getting ready” to sexually assault Hogg with “a hot poker.”

“Busy working. Preparing,” read the March 26 tweet, which is too vulgar to reprint in full.

An image of the tweet was published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as the remark began to draw more scrutiny in recent days.

Spurred on by a Democratic state lawmaker and activists who took to social media to highlight the commentator’s remarks, advertisers including Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, the St. Louis health center Palm Health and local real estate office the Gellman Team announced they would stop advertising on Allman’s TV program.

By Monday night, Allman was gone from the Sinclair station, KDNL.

“We have accepted Mr. Allman’s resignation, and his show has been canceled,” Ronn Torossian, a PR executive who is acting as a Sinclair spokesman, said in response to questions sent to the media company by The Washington Post.

On Tuesday morning, Allman was absent from “Allman in the Morning,” his daily show on the conservative FM news-talk radio station KFTK.

“Jamie’s taking a couple of days off,” a substitute host said, without further explanation, shortly after 6 a.m.

Hogg told the Orlando Sun-Sentinel on Tuesday that, “It doesn’t really matter what people say. I’d rather not respond, because I don’t want the focus to be on me. I want the focus to be on the kids who are dying from gun violence every day.”

Hogg’s mother, Rebecca Boldrick, wrote in a Facebook forum that Allman was a “smart man to resign,” according to the Sun-Sentinel. “So proud [of my son], but it’s getting exhausting dealing with all these haters.”

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The anger generated by Allman’s remarks is reminiscent of the outrage after another conservative commentator, Fox News host Laura Ingraham, mocked Hogg after it was announced the student activist did not get into some top colleges — only to face a fierce backlash from activists and advertisers.

Advertising space for her show in the two days after the tweet fell by more than half, and at least 18 advertisers have pulled out of her prime-time show.

Ingraham returned to Fox News on Monday night following a week-long vacation and lashed out at “left-wing retaliatory hit squads” that, she said, aim to silence conservative voices.

Allman’s crude remarks represented the potential of yet another public-relations crisis for Sinclair, which has come under harsh criticism in recent weeks after a video of dozens of its anchors reading the same mandated script about “fake stories” went viral.

Sinclair, a Maryland-based media company, is the largest owner of local television stations in the country, with 173 stations in 81 broadcast markets.

Before a video that showcased news anchors reading a required script went viral, Sinclair Broadcast Group was not a well-known name. (Video: Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)

It has come under scrutiny, as it awaits federal approval for a takeover of another media company, for injecting what many feel is a conservative bias into local news coverage. The company’s proposed buyout of Tribune Media, for which it needs approval from the FCC and the Justice Department, would bring its coverage into the homes of as many as 70 percent of American households.

Compared with Ingraham’s remark, Allman’s statement, with the overt threat of sexualized violence, was an attack of a different magnitude, though he is not a national media figure like Ingraham.

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Jeff Allen, the program director for FM NewsTalk 97.1, did not respond to an immediate request for comment. Entercom Communications, which owns 97.1, did not respond to a request for comment sent to executive vice president and chief financial officer Richard Schmaeling.

NBC affiliate KSDK reported that Entercom “said they will be keeping Jamie Allman off the air at 97.1 FM starting Tuesday while they gather facts and weigh all the information.”

Allman’s television show appears to fit into the conservative-inflected programming for which Sinclair has become known.

He often trumpets pro-Trump and conservative lines, assailing media coverage of the president and lambasting liberals and Democrats for seeming “to be all about one thing, shutting down people they disagree with.”

He has defended Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican who is awaiting trial on a felony invasion-of-privacy charge after prosecutors said he tried to blackmail a former paramour with an illicit photo.

And Allman has gone after Hogg, recently calling him a “big complainer” after Hogg criticized his high school’s new requirement that students carry clear backpacks.

“He says you shouldn’t have the right to have a certain kind of gun but I should have the right to have any kind of backpack I want,” Allman said incredulously during one segment. “Trying to nail this down. Very confusing. But these are confusing times.”

This post has been updated.

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