Conservative radio host Craig Silverman says that for three hours every Saturday, he wanted to talk about the facts of the Trump impeachment case. But as he was doing that on November 16, Silverman was abruptly taken off the air in the middle of his show.
Silverman says the station, owned by the conservative Salem Media Group, didn’t like his criticism of President Donald Trump.
“I was frustrated that we couldn’t talk about the facts of the impeachment case and it all came to a head as I was excoriating Donald Trump on my show yesterday,” Silverman told CNN’s Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources” Sunday.
The station, KNUS, appears to have since removed the website for Silverman’s show — the link to it now reroutes to a “404 Error” page. However, KNUS says Silverman’s show has not been canceled, and said the interruption had nothing to do with his politics.
Silverman has hosted the “Craig Silverman Show” on 710 KNUS in Denver on Saturday mornings for nearly five years. He is also a partner at a local law firm, a former chief deputy district attorney in Denver and, in 2016, was a Trump voter. But Silverman had recently begun to change his tune when it came to Trump, just as the inquiry into the White House’s interactions with Ukraine’s leader heats up. Earlier this week, the first of the public hearings to be held in the impeachment inquiry were held in Washington.
Silverman said that while every host makes decisions as to the content of their show, when he would try to discuss it with leaders at the station, “you come into words like ‘sham’ and ‘hoax.'”
“I said, ‘that’s interesting, (but) you can get plenty of that elsewhere,'” Silverman said. “On my show, we are going to talk about Ukraine and this impeachment hearing and the facts and what the President is saying that doesn’t add up.”
On his show Saturday, Silverman was in the middle of a segment about Trump’s former personal attorney, Roy Cohn, when he says his show went dark and his program director “came in and said, ‘you’re done.'” Silverman told the Denver Post that in the following segment, which never made it to air, he had planned to discuss what he called the Democrats’ “strong case” made in the week’s impeachment hearings.
“I thought (Ambassador Bill) Taylor and (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George) Kent were great, they laid a base,” Silverman said on CNN Business. “I’m a trial attorney, I’m a former prosecutor. I know how to put on a case. And then (former US ambassador to Ukraine) Marie Yovanovitch. She inspired me. She was an outstanding witness, but if nobody on radio talks about it, how are the American people going to understand?”
KNUS vice president and general manager Brian Taylor said Silverman’s show was not taken off the air because of the impeachment coverage. Instead, it was because he mentioned a recent appearance on a competing station that KNUS had asked him not to speak on, though Silverman said he is an “independent contractor” for the station.
“We asked Craig to avoid appearing there, since we consider him an important part of KNUS,” Taylor said in an email to CNN Business. “He decided it was important for him to appear across town, and said so on his program Saturday. That is what prompted our decision to take him off the air … The notion that he was relieved of his program because he criticized President Trump is absolutely untrue. We have never told Mr. Silverman the position to take on Trump and impeachment.”
Taylor added that station hosts “have the freedom to express their opinions on current events based on their own personal conviction.”
Silverman’s characterization of the impeachment witnesses does strike a much different tone than that of many other conservative media hosts this week.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh referred to several witnesses as “a bunch of professional nerds.” On Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Wednesday, former state department senior advisor Christian Whiton said Kent and Taylor “look like people who sat by themselves at recess.” Later in the week, Carlson said, “by the end, the hearings sounded like a therapy session or an extended meeting with the HR department, the definition of hell.”
Silverman said he’s “surprised” that some of his peers in conservative media don’t seem to “want to address the facts of this important and consequential matter.”
Tom Tradup, vice president for news and talk programming at Salem Radio Network — a 24/7 national news and talk network run by Salem Media Group — told CNN Business in an email that the network “has nothing to do with personnel decisions made by individual radio stations … whether (as in this case) Salem-owned or not.”
The host of another KNUS show on Twitter Saturday also said the cancellation “had nothing to do with anyone’s politics.”
However, another former Salem radio host, Joe Walsh, came to Silverman’s defense.
“Pathetic,” Walsh said on Twitter. “(Silverman) was a great, honest voice on the radio. But (Salem Media Group) & almost all of conservative talk radio don’t want honesty. They want Trump worship.”
Walsh, the former Republican Congressman and 2020 Trump challenger, has been a vocal critic of both Trump and conservative media. Walsh’s show with Salem Media Network was ended when he announced his candidacy for president. But Walsh told CNN last month that before he left, he “got pressure every day” from his syndicator to speak highly of Trump.
KNUS’s Taylor said “nothing has changed” at the moment with the status of Silverman’s show, but he said: “We need to confirm that Craig has abandoned his intention to be included on competing radio stations while maintaining a featured position here.”
By Clare Duffy, CNN Business