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“Rollye,” from page 12 radio assignment for nine months, and that as a result of ensuing bad publicity, she was reduced temporarily to “living out of her car.” She has since taken a job as a weeknight radio host for WWBD-AM in Philadelphia, where she earns $6,000 a week \(her her dismissal violated her contract, and moreover, that management remarks published after her firing were libelous and made it impossible for her to find equivalent employment in radio. The core of James’ case, in the words of her attorney, state representative Terry Keel, is that KLBJ management knew very well the nature of James’ show when they hired her, and that indeed it was why the station hired her, hoping to get more of the same. Keel noted that the station’s own ad campaigns emphasized her outrageous political opinions including ads that suggested ending welfare by shooting welfare recipients. “KLBJ got exactly what it paid for,” Keel told the court. “For them to come back later and claim, this particular show was somehow over the line, is nothing but hypocrisy.” James had been recruited by KLBJ to follow Rush Limbaugh’s contract specified that she would deliver programs “similar” in content to those she had supplied as samples of her previous radio work. Among them was a talk show in which James expressed disappointbeen assassinated. “Here she was,” said Keel, “discussing the assassination of a head of state. KLBJ knew what they were getting.” For seven months, James followed Limbaugh’s mid-day diatribes with her own brand of “libertarian” political commentary, occasionally leavened by “entertainment” features like pop music trivia contests. She styled herself as a cheerier, feminine, localized Limbaugh-jock, similarly devoted to anti-government, anti-tax messages on issues ranging from affirmative action to gun control, public education to public transportation. When challenged she could be nastily strident, eagerly redbaiting opponents which included all Democrats, environmentalists, union-members, government employees, and virtually anybody she considered to be “leftists.” Following the example of one of her heroes, Senator Joseph McCarthy, James reflexively denounced those she disapproved of as “socialists” or “communists.” During and immediately following James’ October 15 show, several complaints were made to the station and to Luci Johnson’s office. \(Among these were calls from the Observer, which James son told general manager Mike Crusham to review the tapes and if the complaints were accurate, James was to make an apology to her listeners and promise never to repeat such remarks. Johnson herself listened to the tapes, and said they were worse than she imagined. In her deposition, Johnson described the assassination remarks as “a source of grave concern to me, because I do not believe that a radio station … entrusted with a license for the public welfare, should advocate shooting anybody.” But when Crusham and program director Mark Caesar discussed the situation with James, she insisted she had done nothing wrong. She was instead outraged that Johnson had intervened in the matter, calling her interference a “betrayal.” She reminded Crusham that when she was hired, she had said she “hates the Johnsons” because of LBJ’s “socialism,” and had demanded specific guarantees that the “Johnson family sensitivities” would have no influence over her broadcasts. Crusham acknowledged that he had given her such assurances, but insisted that “common sense” should have made James understand that did not mean it was okay to joke about shooting the president. James refused to guarantee that she would not make similar statements in the future, and shortly thereafter, Crusham informed James that her show would be cancelled. When James later demanded full payment under her contract, the station responded that because she had breached the contract, KLBJ had no further obligation. The station’s defense was not helped by evidence that management initially lied to the Secret Service about tapes of the James show first saying there were none, and then admitting the tapes existed only after several days of stalling. James testified that Caesar and Crusham told her to erase the tapes, until she responded that doing so might constitute obstruction of justice. Jurors may have believed that if the Secret Service had not begun a formal investigation potentially threatening KLBJ’s broadcasting license station management would have simply ignored James’ remarks and returned to business as usual. And Crusham admitted repeating to James his version of Luci Johnson’s standard response to Democratic friends who complained to her about KLBJ’s broadcasting Rush Limbaugh: “Luci doesn’t care how you make us money, as long as you don’t care who she contributes it to.” Crusham said James should have realized such assurances did not cover assassination threats. But the jury apparently disagreed. Attorney Minton, who is now in his sixties, said jurors told him that such inflammatory comments are commonplace on talk radio, and jurors seemed to believe he was “quaint and dear” to presume otherwise. “My son and law partner warned me,” said Minton, “that this is not Denton County in 1940, and radio is different these days. I guess I should have listened more closely.” The jury decided that James, dismissed after seven months at KLBJ, was owed the full amount of her two-year The jury’s libel decision seemed a good deal less forgiving of satiric insult. Following James’ departure, KLBJ advertising staff apparently sent a fax to some potential advertisers, picturing James on a broomstick with the heading, “Ding! Dong! the [witch] is gone!” \(using a photo of James perched upon a broomstick to represent the and the Week from Hell.” And in remarks to reporters following the cancellation, Crusham had described James’ assassination remarks as “inappropriate,” “mean-spirited” and “vitriolic.” In the judgment of the jury, the evidence of the fax, together with Crusham’s remarks, caused Rollye James a loss of reputation, income, and business opportunities, as well as mental anguish in the overall amount of $545,000. Unless overturned on appeal, the combined judgments will cost the LBJ Broadcasting Company nearly $715,000. Among the many anecdotes recalled of Lyndon Johnson is the wry response he often gave to friends who asked him why he continued to work with some troublesome political ally. “I would rather have him inside the tent pissing out,” Johnson would say, “than outside the tent pissing in.” It is a hard-earned lesson that Rollye James is apparently determined to teach, at some expense, to LBJ’s survivors. 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 19, 1998