Last Thursday, WISN-AM (1130) talker Mark Belling knew he was wading in dangerous waters when he began by saying, "I'm going to choose my words carefully here," as he talked about opponents of the proposed Downtown Marriott Hotel, describing that they were a tight group, "they are part of the same country club."
Then he noted, without elaborating, "The fact that the majority of them are Jewish may be neither here nor there. It does mean, though, that they are friends and associates."
Here's a link to Belling's podcast from last week with the audio (starting at about 13:30)
His comments were picked up by Jim Rowen's liberal Political Environment blog, and floated around the blogosphere until Michael Horne elaborated on the story, which got a mention in Tom Daykin's JS Online blog.
Belling finally addressed the whole thing this afternoon.
"It is being suggested that my comments were anti-Semitic and bigoted," he said. "I'm going to address it head-on ... I stand by what I've said.
"I ain't gonna be pleading guilty to anything this time around."
"I would challenge anyone to name a person who in the last 22 years has been more outspoken in defense of Israel and outspoken in criticism of blatant anti-Semitism in Milwaukee."
He then went on with criticism of anti-Israel comments of Muslims in Milwaukee, and ripped the Islamic Society of Milwaukee and its leader.
"There is overwhelming sensitivity among Jews to the notion that there's a Jewish conspiracy," he said. "It's a charge that's been hurled forever ... I wandered into this area last week."
He ripped the Journal Sentinel's Daykin as "the weasel Daykin" for reporting what he'd said.
Belling repeated that it "may be neither here nor there," saying, "It's what I meant and what I believed.
"I don't care what it sounds like I'm saying," he said. "I don't give three rips what it might lead people to think."
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.