Recall When Craig Carton and Ray Rossi Were Charged with Racism & Homophobia


Hyundai, Cingular Wireless, and Applebee's stopped advertising on NJ 101.5 in 2005 after Craig Carton and Ray Rossi made blatant racist remarks against Asians.

"Asian-Americans have always been seen as a passive group that won't speak up too loudly," said Veronica Jung, executive director of the Korean American League for Civic Action. "This flies in the face of that. The message is that we will no longer be the voiceless model minority. We represent significant buying power and a large consumer base, and we'll use that weight."

Edison Democratic mayoral candidate Jun Choi was challenging Mayor George A. Spadoro. “I don’t care if the Chinese population in Edison has quadrupled in the last year, Chinese should never dictate the outcome of an election, Americans should,” Carton said during the broadcast. “In Edison, this is just another example of us losing our own country. Ray and I represent the average guy in New Jersey, blue-collar white people.”

Choi heard himself and other Asian-Americans referred to as “damn Orientals and Indians.”

Station manager Eric Johnson defended Carton: “The comments were meant to be inclusionary, not exclusionary,” Johnson said. “Carton is not a racist. The statements were taken out of context. They did play on certain stereotypes. Craig said it all in a mocking, humorous manner. It was not said in a serious way.”

“Hate is very contagious, and I hope it does not create chaos in our community,” said Christine Bae, president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York.

Bae sent a letter to the radio station calling for Carton, Rossi and the show’s producer to be fired. She also plans to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.

Comments made during the broadcast “create an atmosphere that allows discrimination to exist,” said Bergen County Assemblyman Robert Gordon, who attended the press conference.

“I found the comments to be repugnant, and all New Jerseyans should be offended by these remarks,” he said. “They have no place in civil discourse. The parties involved have a long history in doing this. They are equal-opportunity bullies, and the disc jockeys should apologize to the state.

Edison Mayor George Spadoro condemned the remarks made on the broadcast.

“The comments are derogatory to Asians,” the mayor said. “We are proud of our diverse population. Edison was built by immigrants, and the recent wave of immigrants is just a continuation of a long wave of immigration into the area.”

In another part of the broadcast, Carton exclaimed “damn Orientals and Indians” and asked a caller, “It’s like you’re a foreigner in your own country, isn’t it?”

State Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson (D-37th District) called the broadcast the “latest version” in the history of racism at the time.

“This broadcast is stupidity at its best,” Johnson said. “I am speaking as an African-American, and I have seen firsthand what happened to African Americans when television and radio in the 1950s and 1960s depicted people of color as being lazy and unable to articulate the English language. This stigma then stuck for a generation, and it leads to an attitude that we are inferior and bolsters those who believe they are superior,” he said.

“I see the same thing reoccurring here today,” Johnson said.

“The comments were un-Jerseyan and un-American, Jun Choi said.

Here's the transcript.

Caller: You just said it all, the last couple of … callers, I guess they don't know that they live in America and we're being overrun. I had just moved out of Edison because of what has happened in the past 10 years… Orientals are all along, the whole complete route 27. And Indians have taken over Edison in north and all over.
Carton: Damn Orientals and Indians .
Caller: I..i moved out..36 years I've lived in Edison
Carton: And what was the biggest problem you had with the Orientals and the Indians?
Caller: I can't handle them! There's no American people anymore.
Carton: Eh..
Caller: There shoving us the hell out!
Carton: It's like you're a foreigner in your own country isn't it?

FF to 2007. Carton and Rossi started “Operation Rat a Rat/La Cucha Gotcha,” a listener-participation game that encouraged people to turn in friends, neighbors, and “anyone suspicious” to immigration authorities. “La Cucha Gotcha” was meant to evoke the Spanish word for cockroach.

“Scapegoating and stereotyping Latinos does nothing but give bigoted individuals a platform to make ethnic slurs and racist comments,” said Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo of Newark, calling the campaign a “publicity stunt” that could incite violence against Hispanics.

But anyone expecting an apology was sorely disappointed when Mr. Carton and Mr. Rossi held an on-air news conference a few hours after Mr. Caraballo’s comments. Seeking to profit from the recently ignited firestorm, the Jersey Guys gathered a corps of journalists, most of them Hispanic, in their Trenton studios and gleefully refused to back down. They insisted that the campaign was not anti-Hispanic and that the phrase “La Cucha Gotcha” was inoffensive, likening the song “La Cucaracha” to a lullaby or a patriotic standard like “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

After calling Assemblyman Caraballo a “pathetic liar,” Carton repeated his call to deport every illegal immigrant in the country. “If you’re here illegally, you are breaking the law — no better, no worse than the guy who robs the liquor store or the guy who waits to case your house out and robs you of your belongings,” he said, correctly. “You are a criminal.”

He went on to blame illegal immigrants for the state’s high property taxes, problems with uninsured drivers and violent crime. He also hinted that illegal immigrants were more likely to become terrorists. “Our country is at war right now, and it’s very important that we protect our kids, and one of the ways you can protect them is to not let undocumented immigrants into this country,” he said.

“This operation is not a game, not a contest,” Mr. Carton said. “Our goal is to make New Jersey and the United States of America safer places to live.”

LOL, Mr. Carton.

A few months later Senator Ray Lesniak wrote the following:

Craig Carton of 101.5 Jersey Guys fame built a huge audience based on hate and bigotry. He called me a Jew-hating bastard because I wrote an op-ed piece in the Star-Ledger protesting his statement that "Half the Pollacks joined the Nazis to do what? Kill Jews."

As a U.S. Army veteran, a member of the Polish Legion of American Veterans and a recipient of the Man of the Year award from the Jewish National Fund, I was a tad offended. I joined with Edison Mayor June Choi - whom Carton ridiculed for being Asian-American - and Assemblyman Fred Caraballo - who was upset when Carton compared illegal immigrants to cockroaches - in an effort to alert sponsors of the show to Carton's bigotry and hate.

Carton was also obsessed with whether I was gay, calling my office while on the air demanding to know. He wasn't obsessed with whether I was straight, only asking if I was gay - clearly homophobic.
Carton got religion when sponsors started deserting his show in droves. He became very sensitive to gays and minorities. He even had representatives from the Polish American Congress on his show to speak about the contributions of righteous gentiles who saved the lives of Polish Jews while risking their own.

I wish Carton well in his new position on WFAN. We'll never know whether it was an epiphany or a career saving change that he made. But I like the kinder, gentler Carton much better. I bet he likes himself better also.

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