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Clear Channel rebukes Des Moines radio hosts’ comments on AIDS
Clear Channel Communications Inc., which owns WHO-AM and several other radio stations in Des Moines, distanced itself Thursday morning from one its hosts who said the idea that AIDS does not discriminate is a lie.
The Iowa Independent reported last week that Jan Mickelson, who hosts a morning show on Iowa’s largest radio station, criticized Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn for denouncing a GOP legislative candidate who posted anti-gay statements on his Facebook. Strawn said “HIV/AIDS does not discriminate,” a point that raised the ire of Mickelson, who has a history anti-gay remarks.
Mickelson said the disease discriminates against people who engage in “stupid behavior,” and since homosexuality is a “sexual disorder” that violates natural law, it “isn’t rocket science” to conclude AIDS discriminates against homosexuals.
“Homosexuality is intrinsically promiscuous, because it violates the design of our bodies,” Mickelson said. “There is no safe way to do that.”
In a statement read shortly before Mickelson’s program began Thursday morning, Clear Channel said Mickelson’s statements “confused strong opinion with medical fact, and contained factual errors regarding HIV/AIDS, it’s spread and current efforts to inform the public about this disease.”
“Mr. Mickelson’s comments do not reflect the opinions of Clear Channel, nor do they reflect the ongoing support Clear Channel provides to public service campaigns, such as Greater than AIDS, that works to convey the message that AIDS does not discriminate. We regret any confusion about HIV/AIDS that may have resulted from Mr. Mickelson’s remarks.”
In the week since news broke about Mickelson’s statements, One Iowa — the state’s largest LGBT-rights organization — worked with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), urging Clear Channel to correct the misinformation. Carolyn Jenison, executive director One Iowa, praised the company’s statement.
“Jan Mickelson’s comments on HIV/AIDS are reprehensible,” she said. “Stigma and discrimination surrounding the discussion of this epidemic are barriers to prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Clear Channel did the appropriate thing in responding to and correcting this misinformation.”
Cindi Creager, director of national news for GLAAD, said the group will continue to monitor Mickelson’s program.
“We thank Clear Channel for addressing this issue in an on air clarification, to ensure that WHO-AM’s millions of listeners will have the facts about HIV/AIDS, and dismiss the highly offensive, anti-gay and misinformed statements made my Jan Mickelson last week,” she said. “We’ll continue to pay close attention to future broadcasts, and Mickelson’s defamation will not go unchallenged.”
A March report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found gay men have higher rates of HIV and syphilis than the general population. But researchers made it clear that a “range of complex factors” contribute to the figures, including “homophobia and stigma” that can prevent gay men from seeking prevention, testing and treatment services.
Mickelson has hosted his morning show on WHO-AM since 1988. According to a Los Angeles Times profile of him published in 2007, he “reaches about 350,000 Iowans a week, twice the audience of his closest competition.”