By Ken Stone
Graham Ledger’s tagline on his One America News opinion show is “Stand by! The doors to the newsroom are locked and the ‘PC police’ are not getting in.”
But will the coronavirus?
The Emmy-award winning conservative apparently opposes wearing a mask to shield himself from COVID-19 infection.
San Diego native Ledger most certainly is against health orders by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who tweeted Wednesday: “Wearing a mask is a sign of toughness. Of resolve.”
An hour later, Ledger replied: “Wearing a mask is a sign of submission. I would rather die from the Wuhan Coronavirus, than EVER submit (to) you! COME AND GET ME! Jerk!”
Wearing a mask is a sign of submission. I would rather die from the Wuhan Coronavirus, than EVER submit your you! COME AND GET ME! Jerk! #1stJuly #NationalDoctorsDay #COVID19 #remdesivir #coronavirus https://t.co/Fi1Llvnu2I
— Graham Ledger (@GrahamLedger) July 1, 2020
Ledger and his boss, OAN founder and CEO Robert Herring Sr., didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
But a former OAN newsroom staffer told Times of San Diego that the newsroom staff had been given masks and a temporary pay increase.
Temperature checks also were conducted, the ex-employee said.
“However, not all employees in the newsroom wear a mask and are not practicing social distancing, and to my knowledge, no one was given the opportunity to work from home,” said the staffer, who asked not to be identified.
“Talk show staff are a different department, so their rules and protective measures could be different.”
On his show “The Daily Ledger with Graham Ledger,” the commentator reflects the “media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others,” wrote Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post.
Last week, Post columnist Margaret Sullivan noted studies that “Americans who relied on Fox News, or similar right-wing sources, were duped as the coronavirus began its deadly spread. Dangerously duped.”
Arthur West — the nonprofit leader in Olympia, Washington, who sued Fox News over its coronavirus coverage — was quoted in the Sullivan column.
Wednesday night, he commented on the Ledger tweet.
“How is it that the lunatic fringe like Mr. Ledger has taken over a section of our media and insists upon programming designed to interfere with our nation’s reasonable reaction to a global pandemic?” West wrote. “It is shocking that any news editor anywhere approves this type of programming when over 125,000 Americans have died from a highly contagious disease.”
He recalled 1960s network anchors Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley, saying neither would ever have said anything even approaching the “COME AND GET ME” statement.
“Perhaps he believes he is [the late Heath] Ledger playing a reprise of his role as the arch-villain the Joker?” West said.
“How have we come so far in just a few decades to the point where a few powerful media organizations flood our public forums with content designed to sow division and harm the public?”
He said: “It is because of empty talking heads like Mr. Ledger that other countries now properly view America as a country comprised largely of buffoons and children without the common sense to survive a pandemic. If you don’t believe that, try vacationing in Europe this summer.”
In response to another Newsom tweet — about 19 counties ordered to close indoor operations in certain sectors — Ledger tweeted: “How much more of this anti-constitutional behavior, attacks on your freedom and liberty, and this destruction of your economy and your financial well-being are you going to take from this Marxist?”
Late this month, however, Ledger’s lawyers will seek another trial in the case of Jonathan Harris, a Black former booking producer for Ledger who alleged he was routinely harassed by Herring and Ledger because of his race and liberal political views.
Harris in February was awarded nearly $290,000 in compensatory damages, bringing his total damages to nearly $1.1 million in his civil suit against the network and its parent company, Herring Networks.
Rodney Diggs, an attorney for Harris, said in a phone interview Wednesday that a July 30 motion hearing in San Diego Superior Court would decide on whether a new trial is warranted.
Diggs said One America News Network, the defendant, was using the motion as a way to show it had exhausted all remedies before appealing the $1.1 million judgment.
Jurors ruled that Harris was not discriminated against because of his race, but did find that his racial discrimination complaint played a substantial role in his firing within 24 hours of making complaints.
Updated at 8:40 p.m. July 1, 2020
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