Fox host makes gay jokes at death of Heath Ledger
A variety of MSNBC hosts were "sickened" by comments made by Fox host John Gibson on his radio show, soon after the death of actor Heath Ledger, that appeared to hint that the actor was gay.
Gibson used the occasion of the 28-year-old actor's death to crack jokes about the actor and play clips from his most notable film, Brokeback Mountain. The remarks from the radio host seemed to make insinuations about the actor's sexuality.
"Maybe he was a weirdo, I'm thinking about it right now," Gibson said on his show.
Gibson also played a memorable line from Ledger's most notable film, Brokeback Mountain, and said, "Well, he found out how to quit you.
"Heath Ledger died, and I'm sure people will be upset," Gibson continued. "All you "Brokeback Mountain" fans who want to give Christine a call, she'll be happy to talk to you."
"I don't know how you stay on the air after doing something like that, quite frankly," Mika Brzezinski said in response on MSNBC's Morning Joe. Show host Joe Scarborough also excoriated Gibson's staff for letting him take the discussion in that direction.
Keith Olbermann also declared Gibson the "worst person in the world" on his show Wednesday night.
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown and MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast January 23 and 24, 2008.
Transcript of Morning Joe via closed captions
:: You didn't use the john gibson news you can't use. Did you hear what that guy did yesterday?
:: I heard bits of it.
:: He -- it was unbelievable. Mika saw this and brought it up to my attention.
:: I did.
:: This is kind of concerning. Do we have the clip, chris?
:: We'll have it in one second.
:: Where john gibson was actually talking about heath ledger's tragic death
:: And I believe this -- what you're about to see is a bit callous. Is that a safe way to characterize that?
:: I would characterize it as being grossly inappropriate bordering on --
:: Just show a small clip. I don't want to --
:: It's very insensitive. Let's watch. John gibson yesterday.
:: Maybe he was a weirdo. I'm thinking about it right now. Heath ledger died, and i'm sure people will be upset. All you "brokeback mountain" fans who want to give christine a call, she'll be happy to talk to you. Maybe he had a serious position in the market.
:: Possibly. And today he looked at the window --
:: And said, oh, my gosh, apparently heath ledger was suicidal and his friends saw it coming. I think he watched the clinton-obama debate last night.
:: And then he went on -- didn't he go on and say something like I can't quit you.
:: I think he had a clip of I can't quit you. And he said something like he did quit us. Is he trying to be funny? that's not funny.
:: I don't know how you stay on the air after doing something like that, quite frankly.
:: It's not just him. That entire team was making fun of a trageic death, and anybody that has had a friend or family member that has fought --
:: -- addiction problems and the demons of that. And this man, this human being, this father, who had a 2-year-old daughter that he dearly loved and he left behind, it's unconscionable. I don't understand that, mika. I really -- you're right. Calling this guy a weirdo, saying he found a way to quit us, maybe he killed himself because he watched the clinton-obama debate. This is about as callous and harsh of anything I have heard. It is unspeakably rude.
:: I also don't see how you get away with something like that. I just don't. Not that -- I don't know. I don't know how you stay on the air. I don't know who would listen to you.
:: I don't get it.
:: Maybe i'm just --
:: Maybe people like listening to that.
:: Not edgy enough.
:: Making fun of tragedy in other people's lives.
:: I swear, I don't understand that at all.
:: What's wrong with him?
:: Let's make a rule. When someone dies, let's not laugh about it. Let's all agree on that.
:: We'll make it a rule here in the trust tree, and we're not going to talk about john gibson anymore because it's too sick.
:: It's sick. That's a great word for it. It's sick. And it wasn't just john gibson, it's whoever else was around him, sitting there mocking and ridicules heath ledger, a young man, 28 years old, fighting depression, fighting substance abuse, fighting a loet of demons that a lot of americans fight every day.
:: Yeah. Well, okay.
:: And he's making it -- he's making this young man's death, this father's death a punch line.
:: Well, it was absolutely, totally out of line.
:: Chris says we have another one.
:: No. I don't --
:: Let's play a little bit more. Let's see who this john gibson is.
:: Since we're going to be working together, I reckon it's time we start drinking together.
:: Sure found a way to make the time pass up there.
:: We was fishing buddies.
:: I wish I knew how to quit you.
:: Well, he found out how to quit you. Heath ledger died, and i'm sure people will be upset. All you "brokeback mountain" fans who want to give christine a call, she'll be happy to talk to you.
:: We're dead.
:: We're dead.
:: We're dead.
:: Did you hear him laughing?
:: That's not funny.
:: That makes me nauseous. I'm serious.
:: Did you hear him starting to laugh?
:: I cannot believe --
:: Is he laughing that heath ledger died because he made a movie about two gay men? is that why this young father dying was a punch line to john gibson?
:: Of course it is. That's the implication.
:: So if you make a movie, this is now -- it's not that uruguay, then your death is a punch line. If you make a movie about being gay, that's a punch line. Your death becomes a punch line. This is -- I don't know who syndicates this guy, but that is absolutely stunning. That john gibson would be that mean-spirited and hateful. There are -- there is no other -- let's move on. I am so flaber -- flabberghasted by this that egs laughing at a young father's death. And I suppose today he could say, well, he's the guy that decided to kill himself and leave his daughter.
:: He didn't, first of all. We don't know that.
:: We don't know that that's the case. Also, every family -- gay families, straight families, republicans, democrats, conservatives, liberals, evangelicals, jews, atheists -- everybody has been touched by somebody in their family that has either been impacted by depression or by substance abuse. And it is tragic, and the fact that he is making light of it is, again, just incomprehensivible. I don't know how the guy sleeps at night.
:: I assume this guy should apologize, and at the very most. He should probably lose his job.
:: I don't even want to look at his face anymore because, you're right, it makes me sick.
:: And the one thing we haven't brought up as we bring up this rift between hillary clinton and barack obama and look ahead to south carolina this saturday, which we'll be covering, is these reports coming out that he bungled votes, that he pushed the wrong button. Have you seen this?
:: No, he's not saying that, is he? he pushed the wrong button.
:: He's not.
:: He's sayingette pushed the wrong button.
:: I believe five times during his eight years in the state office, obama cast a vote and said he hit the wrong button.
:: No, he did not.
:: Joe, you voted. How often did you hit the wrong button?
:: I voted tens of thousands of times.