Was Barbara Espinosa's use of the word "monkey" to describe President Barack Obama free speech or slander?
PHOENIX -- Some shocking remarks about President Barack Obama were broadcast over the Arizona airwaves.
Conservative blogger and former host of KFNX talk show “Hair on Fire” Barbara Espinosa used a derogatory term when referring to Obama.
(Click the play button to the right to listen to the audio clip of the broadcast.)
It started when a caller identified only as Richard went on the air and said the president was ruining the country. After he referred to the commander in chief as the “rabbit-eared guy,” Espinosa fired back with, “I call him a monkey.”
The caller then went on to talk about how he served in the military to defend the country but Espinosa interrupted, saying, “I don’t call him guy with rabbit ears, I call him a monkey. I don’t believe in calling him the first black president ....”
But then the caller quickly interjects by saying he voted for McCain. Espinosa finished with “I voted for the white guy myself.”
Espinosa later wrote a post about her comments on her website, "American Freedom by Barbara."
“Yes I did say I voted for the white guy," she wrote. "Unless there has been a takeover of America and free speech is no longer allowed and I can be put to death for making a remark, I refuse to take the fifth.”
That post has since been deleted.
On the conservative political blog SonoranAlliance.com, Espinosa wrote, "The comment was prompted by the google [sic] image cartoon that was sent to me." She also included a Google link in the June 12 online comment.
On Monday, Espinosa posted on Twitter, "... YES I DID USE THE WORD MONKEY..."
We reached out to Espinosa for comment and while she did contact us in person, she did comment on this story via Facebook.
"When it comes to talk radio both the left and right can, unfortunately, employ a little too much free speech," Espinosa wrote. "It is a medium for inspiration and robust debate, not gratuitous insult. I apologize to anyone that was offended by my comments. It was a poor joke off the cuff that deserves apology not example. I am a proud supporter of numerous African-American republicans that have run for office and will continue to do so."
(Click for image of Facebook post)
KFNX 1100 management responded Monday to the incident with the following statement.
"Barbara Espinosa does not host a show anymore on KFNX 1100, so the information is dated. She has not aired a show at KFNX for nearly a month. She currently hosts an internet show on Blogtalk radio to the best of our knowledge.
"KFNX management, staff and sponsors do not endorse or agree with her viewpoints. Ms. Espinoza (like all KFNX Hosts) does have the First Amendment Right to say what she believes, but KFNX Host' Contracts includes a clause which prohibits on-air slander of people.
"KFNX no longer has a relationship with Ms. Espinosa, and again certainly does not support her comments. If those comments were made on KFNX, we would have terminated our relationship with her. We certainly apologize for our former relationship with Ms. Espinosa and are deeply sorry she said offensives things.
We do not know when the comments were made, but it is possible they were made in the past while airing on KFNX, or maybe could have been said on her current internet show on Blogtalk. We also do not know who posted the YouTube video. It is an edited video (and not dated) , so it is unclear what context the improper comments were made."
Online posts and comments about Espinosa's use of the word "monkey" to describe the president, including several YouTube clips, started popping up in the past several days, but the original broadcast on KFNX was on March 1. The guest was Arizoan GOP Chairman Tom Morrissey.
Espinosa's "Hair on Fire by Barbara" blog was shut down on March 8 with a link directing readers to her "American Freedom by Barbara" blog. That blog continues to be updated regularly.