Dan Fagan back on air after radio show's suspension

November 01, 2010|By Lori Tipton | Channel 2 News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Radio talk show host Dan Fagan was back on the air Monday after his show was temporarily suspended. KFQD didn't air "The Dan Fagan Show" Friday after he was accused of ethically and legally crossing a line in this year's election.

The controversial host stood by his decision to convince Alaskans to head down to the Division of Elections and register as write-in candidates in the U.S. Senate race.

“Why, all of a sudden this year, are we handing out a list of write-in candidates? I'll tell you why, because Lisa Murkowski is a powerful person... We're going to get as many people to register as a write-in candidate as we can. That way when you get this list that they're handing out, there's going to be a gazillion names on there,” Fagan said on his show Thursday.

On his show Thursday, Fagan expressed his disappointment with the Division of Elections for allowing voters to see the official write-in candidate list at polling places -- so he told his listeners to join the list, in what the website called "Operation Alaska Chaos."

Shortly after Thursday's show, KFQD management received a complaint from John Tracy.

Tracy is a former broadcaster, who is now with Bradley Reid and Associates -- a firm working for the Murkowski campaign.

In a statement Tracy said, "I believe Mr. Fagan used the public airwaves to manipulate an election in favor of his preferred candidate by offering prizes to listeners who would go to the Division of Elections and file as write-ins.  Mr. Fagan's expressed purpose was to disenfranchise as many voters of Lisa Murkowski as possible."

Tracy wasn't the only one who felt what Fagan did was wrong.

“I don't care what candidate you're in favor with, I think people ought to be upset about somebody trying to subvert the federal elections process to favor a particular candidate using the airwaves,” said media law attorney John McKay.

McKay has taught media law at the University of Alaska Anchorage for over 25 years.

According to McKay, Fagan may claim what he did was an act of civil disobedience, but that doesn't give him the right to purposefully try to affect the outcome of an election.

“Basically, the problem I see here is that he was saying, 'I disagree with the Supreme Court opinion, therefore I'm encouraging people to break the law as retaliation for that,'” said McKay.

“I didn't do anything illegal, Thursday,” Fagan said.

Fagan's boss, Dennis Bookey, came on the radio show Monday afternoon to explain why he suspended Fagan's show.

“Anything coming out of this show should never be designed to confuse… So in the future, we're not going to do things on this program that are going to confuse,” Bookey said.

But shortly after Bookey's guest appearance, Fagan spoke candidly about his decision and is not apologetic for what he did.

“I think what I did was right. I think what we did, the 200 people that went down and registered, was we tried to thwart the cheating that's being permitted by the state of Alaska on behalf of Lisa Murkowski. I stand by it. I'd do it again and I think it was not a mistake in the least,” said Fagan.

Later in the broadcast, Fagan said he wished he had thought about encouraging Alaskans to register as write-ins earlier in the week in hopes of having thousands sign up instead of hundreds.

As for the station being sued, Bookey did address that on-air. He said Tracy did not threaten to take legal action against the station.

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