Mark Belling has come under fire for a remark he made while talking about Milwaukee County Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic.
On his WISN radio show last Friday, Belling was discussing Dimitrijevic and her lies about the county board's negotiations with a decertified union, District Council 48 of AFSCME.
On his Tuesday program, Belling apologized repeatedly for his choice of words after a letter demanding that he do so, signed by Leftists, was highlighted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (It should be noted that no one sent the letter to Belling. Dimitrijevic didn't directly demand an apology from him.)
Representatives for working women are calling on conservative talk show host Mark Belling to apologize for using the term "bitches" while describing Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic's fight with state lawmakers over a bill to trim the board's pay.I think Belling did the right thing by apologizing because his comments could be construed to refer to Dimitrijevic. By apologizing, and apologizing profusely, he defused the situation. He disarmed his detractors.
"Even for mean-spirited people, there is a line, and he's crossed it," said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work Consortium.
On Friday afternoon's show on WISN-AM (1130), Belling was echoing Republican legislative leaders who ripped the Milwaukee County Board for opening contract negotiations with a decertified union.
...Belling personally attacked Dimitrijevic for her handling of the matter.
After describing her as a "dangerous person" guilty of a "corruption of power," the radio talker said Dimitrijevic's actions may have pushed some moderate Republican lawmakers into supporting a bill that would cut the pay of county supervisors in half if approved by voters in a binding referendum in 2014. Belling noted, in particular, that the bill would significantly cut her pay.
"You know what the saying in this case is? 'Payback, she be a bitch,'" Belling said in the second hour of his show. "Lot of bitches in this story."
...Dana Schultz, state director of 9 to 5, urged Belling to apologize on air both to Dimitrijevic and the Milwaukee community for his "misogynist remark."
Schultz released a letter signed by 36 female political and labor leaders objecting to Belling's "poisonous rhetoric." Among those signing the letter are former Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton, ex-Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk - all of whom are Democrats.
"Enough is enough," says the letter. "When anyone attacks a female leader with comments related to her gender and not on the merits of the discussion, it is vital for our entire community that this behavior is addressed and changed."
Schultz's letter calls on critics of Dimitrijevic to stick to the issues and not to attack her personally by using such terms as "bitch."
...Conservative radio host Charlie Sykes came to Belling's defense on Tuesday, noting that many of those criticizing Belling said nothing when liberal talker Sly Sylvester mocked Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch's battle with cancer and suggested she performed sex acts on Milwaukee radio hosts.
...Schultz, who organized the letter criticizing Belling, said Sykes made a good point.
"I'm equally upset at Sly's comments," Schultz said. "I wasn't aware of this example you mention and was not at 9 to 5 at that time. An attack on Lt. Gov. Kleefisch is an attack on all women and equally diminishes the political dialogue no matter which side of the aisle."
I'm not defending Belling's use of the derogatory term. However, I do think the people who signed that letter are a bit thin-skinned, making a mountain out of a molehill, especially when put in the context of the abuse hurled at conservative women. They reveal themselves to be major league hypocrites.
They flipped out over Belling's spoutings, but stood silent when Sly Sylvester mercilessly degraded Rebecca Kleefisch.
Dana Schultz excuses herself from the hypocrisy: "I wasn't aware of this example you mention and was not at 9 to 5 at that time. An attack on Lt. Gov. Kleefisch is an attack on all women and equally diminishes the political dialogue no matter which side of the aisle."
Blah, blah, blah. Too little, too late.
She wasn't at 9 to 5 at the time. So what?
Falk, Lawton, and Lautenschlager had to know about the slime being spurted by the vile Sylvester.
Belling's "bitch" remark can't be compared to the vitriol directed at Kleefisch, not even remotely. Nonetheless, Belling apologized to Dimitrijevic. No doubt about that. It was clear, not a vague non-apology apology.
In addition to news of Belling's apology, something else came to light on Tuesday.
Dimitrijevic was actively soliciting support, stirring up outrage at Belling.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Milwaukee County Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic declined to enter the public fray when asked this week about radio host Mark Belling's use of the term "bitches" while describing Dimitrijevic's battle with state lawmakers.This episode has really backfired on Dimitrijevic.
Behind the scenes, however, Dimitirijevic was lining up signatures over the weekend for a letter from female labor and political leaders asking Belling to apologize for his "sexist remarks."
"Please let me know if you are willing to sign on to this letter tonight," Dimitirijevic wrote on Sunday in an email from her personal account to a "fellow woman leader."
Responded former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager: "Please join me in signing this letter as a necessary rebuke to Belling's continued disgusting remarks. You may email me or Marina if you care to sign on."
...Bill Zaferos, spokesman for Dimitrijevic, said there's nothing inconsistent about the chairwoman's public words and private actions.
"Was she aware of the letter?" Zaferos asked. "How could she not be?"
Zaferos said the freshman County Board leader was offended by Belling's remark on his Friday afternoon show. "It was a derogatory, sexist term," Zaferos said.
That's a much more direct response than the one put out Monday by Dimitrijevic via a spokesman. "The comment speaks for itself," she said. "The listeners can judge for themselves."
Her stunt to attack Belling only served to highlight her deception. She was the driving force behind the effort to whip up a frenzy over Belling's comments even though she tried to present herself as being uninvolved, "no comment."
Dimitrijevic's creation of this "controversy" drew attention to the context in which Belling's comments were made, highlighting something far more damaging to Dimitrijevic than a radio talk show host using the term "bitch." He discussed her county board activities. She gave Belling the opportunity to call her out for being a liar.
While he expressed his regret and apologized numerous times, Belling called on Dimitrijevic to "apologize for lying to us."
I suspect that Dimitrijevic regrets taking on Belling.
Daniel Bice has written yet another article about the Belling "bitch" scandal.
This story is getting a ridiculous amount of attention.
If you haven't had enough, you can chat about it with Bice.
Journal Sentinel columnist Daniel Bice will answer questions during a Thursday online chat on Mark Belling's apology, Summerfest salaries, the County Board, Milwaukee's residency requirement, Gov. Scott Walker's frequent-flier miles and just about anything else - yes, there is a line - on Milwaukee or Wisconsin politics.