Progressive Talk Show Host Randi Rhodes Is Badly Beaten In Street Attack (UPDATED)


EDITOR’S NOTE: See our updated post above HERE since the New York Daily News is reporting that Rhodes was not mugged. We’re leaving up the original post since it details the original report as well, past cases of talk show hosts who’ve hit the news due to attacks, and weblog reaction to the early story.

Progressive talker Randi Rhodes, one of Air America’s highest-rated talk show hosts, was badly beaten up in New York City while walking her dog in what press accounts so far suggest could be a mugging and what some — including one of her colleagues — suggest could be an attack on her for her ideas.

Talking Radio has this:

Randi Rhodes was mugged on Sunday night on 39th Street and Park Ave, nearby her Manhattan apartment, while she was walking her dog Simon.

According to Air America Radio late night host Jon Elliott, Rhodes was beaten up pretty badly, losing several teeth and will probably be off the air for at least the rest of the week. At of late Monday night we have not able to locate any press accounts of the attack and nothing has been posted on the AAR website.

Several liberal blogs, including the Randi Rhodes Message Board and Democratic Underground have logged numerous posts on the Rhodes mugging with most of the posters expressing concern about the condition of the popular lib talker.

Morning talk host, Lionel filled in for Rhodes on Monday, but did not say anything about why she wasn’t on hand to do her show. The Randi Rhodes board reports that Sam Seder, who does a Sunday afternoon show for AAR, will be filling on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Elliott was extremely agitated when he reported on the incident. He opened his show by saying “it is with sadness that tonight I inform you that my Air America colleague Randi Rhodes was assaulted last night while walking her dog near her New York City home.”

Pointing out that Rhodes was wearing a jogging suit and displayed no purse or jewelry, Elliott speculated that “this does not appear to me to be a standard grab the money and run mugging.”

“Is this an attempt by the right wing hate machine to silence one of our own,” he asked. “Are we threatening them. Are they afraid that we’re winning. Are they trying to silence intimidate us.”

Details and press reports so far are sketchy. Rhodes’ website only says that she is recuperating and that Seder will be filling in for her.

Until full details come out, no one will know for sure what happened but you could safely say this:

1. New York City IS indeed a dangerous place and muggings are NOT uncommon.

2. Passions run extremely high in talk radio both on and off the air.
(The bad news for weblogs is that they are trending in the same direction — increasingly as manifestations of political rage which can be extremely dangerous if it gets out of hand).

3. Some progressive talkers have been assaulted in the past and one was even mercilessly murdered.

The case of Alan Berg:

On June 18, 1984, radio talk-show host Alan Berg was machine-gunned into infamy in the driveway of his suburban Denver townhouse. Berg, whose life and violent death inspired Eric Bogosian’s play (and Oliver Stone’s ham-fisted movie) Talk Radio, was verging on national prominence, having recently been profiled on 60 Minutes and selected by his employer, KOA-AM, to cover the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.

A self-proclaimed “Wild Man of the Airwaves,” the controversial, belligerent Berg managed to enrage, abuse, provoke and fascinate- insulting and cutting off his callers while carrying on irreverent and frank discussions about oral sex, Christianity, racial intolerance, gun control and any other topic his angry, abrasive tongue could wag about. KOA’s powerful signal, capable of reaching thirty-eight states in the evening hours, meant Berg’s blitzkrieg was pissing off a lot of people. In 1979 while working at KWBZ, a listener named Fred Wilkins, a local head of the KKK, stormed into the air studio and told Berg to prepare to die. Berg informed his listening audience that Wilkins had pointed a gun at him, but Wilkins– arrested and charged with felony menacing– claimed Berg was just trying to up his ratings.

More on Berg HERE at Wikipedia.

BE SURE TO READ TMV CO-BLOGGER Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ earlier post on the Berg case HERE.

Liberal talk show host Tom Leykis assaulted in 2004:

Controversial talk show host, Tom Leykis, was assaulted outside a Seattle bar early Monday by agitated radio listeners.

According to the online edition of The Seattle Times, a witness reported two men were involved in the incident:

“…One of the men said to Leykis, “I called your show once and you called me” a name. “You had no right to do that.” Then a man standing to Leykis’ left kicked him in the face. The blow knocked him to his knees, leaving his right knee scraped and bruised.” says Leykis suffered “…a scraped knee, black eye and a cut above the eye for which he received 17 stitches.”

Leykis, whose program is normally syndicated out of Los Angeles, was in Seattle to do his show from affiliate, KQBZ-FM.

But the (excess) passions aren’t limited to the United States: in Hong Kong, in 1998, a talk show host was slashed:

On any given morning here, you could turn on the radio and hear Albert Cheng lay into Beijing, the Hong Kong Government, the Hang Seng stock index, politicians, property tycoons, lawyers, newspaper editors — in short, anything that matters in this former British colony.

Last Wednesday morning, two unidentified men attacked Mr. Cheng with carving knives as he arrived at work, inflicting deep slashing wounds on his arms, back and right leg that required six hours of surgery.

Mr. Cheng will survive. But in a city where talk radio has become a vital form of public expression, the brutal assault on its most famous practitioner has left people reeling. Doctors said Mr. Cheng may no longer be able to wield chopsticks. Listeners fear he may no longer wield his sharp tongue.

”I see it as a threat to people who want to be outspoken,” said Emily Lau, a member of the Legislative Council and herself a vocal critic of both Beijing and the Hong Kong government. ”People may say, ‘Why should I bother?’ ”

Mr. Cheng’s radio program, ”Teacup in a Tempest,” is far and away the top-rated morning show in Hong Kong. It has become a potent outlet for the territory’s 6.5 million people to sound off about issues ranging from the Asian financial crisis to Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese rule last year. And it turned the 52-year-old Mr. Cheng into one of the most influential, and controversial, figures in town.

The police said today they did not have a motive for the assault, which occurred at 6:40 A.M. Wednesday, as Mr. Cheng was striding into the studios of his station, Commercial Radio, in Kowloon. Police inspectors said they were studying tapes of Mr. Cheng’s last 40 radio broadcasts to see if he had made remarks about people or groups that might have been deemed offensive.

There was also the murder of a former talk show host in Seattle earlier this year, but that seemed to involve other side issues that made it less likely it was listener/non-listener outrage. And this year Jones Radio Network progressive talker Stephanie Miller was threatened.

So the Rhodes case will receive far more scrutiny than a typical mugging.

Will the criminals be caught? If not, the feeling will linger on the part of some that she and perhaps others were being sent a message by some listeners or by people who don’t listen much because they can’t stand her views. New York City is a dangerous place — and talk radio can be, too.

SOME OTHER WEBLOG REACTION (go to links and read entire posts):

Taylor Marsh (who is a talk show host):

There’s a lot of speculation why this happened, because evidently she wasn’t wearing jewelry and was in a jogging suit. I have no idea why it happened and neither does anyone else at this point, but the link above offers some ideas, one of which is that she was targeted because she’s a liberal radio host. In New York City that is harder to believe than if she was in Alabama. We just don’t know right now. It’s simply horrific. Prayers for her speedy recovery go out to Ms. Rhodes.


i’m hoping, not to be crass, that this is just an average nyc mugging and not a targeted attack from someone who disagrees with her “lefty” opinions.

Wizbang’s Kim Priestap:

I was shocked to hear about Randi Rhodes being attacked on Sunday night. I sincerely hope she will be alright. She must have been terrified. But I was equally shocked when I read that her co-host, Jon Elliot insinuated that the “right wing hate machine” was behind it. What an irresponsible, unfounded, and, not to mention, completely paranoid thing to say…

….One the one hand, it infuriates and offends me that he would automatically assume that it was a right winger who did this. There are all sorts of crazy types in New York City who have attacked innocent people unprovoked. On the other had, I feel sorry for him and others on the left who live their lives in fear that some made up, figment of their imagination “right wing hate machine” is out there lurking in the shadows waiting to “silence” them.

-Bits Blog:

I have no doubt that she was attacked, and I wish her a full recovery. But you’ll forgive me if I don’t take as accepted fact that her attack was politically motivated. This is, after all, The Liberal Mecca of New York City we’re talking about, here. Muggings, there are not exactly uncommon, by any stretch of even her wild imagination. Moreover, the woman’s mouth getting ahead of her, is how she makes her living. It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see where that would get her outside of the studio. And , let’s consider the idea that untruths have been coming out of this woman’s mouth, almost as a reflex, for years. Are we really to accept that she’s telling the truth about this attack?

Sorry, I’m not. I don’t buy it.

Sorry you got hurt, Randi, I really am. I wish you well in your recovery efforts. But you’re not telling us the whole story here. And I’m not buying the illusion you’re pushing. Sorry.

Stephen Green aka Vodkapundit says “Ouch!” about the news, then writes:

I know this is hardly the time for cruel honesty, immediately after a brutal assault. But when you work for Air America, muggers are going to pretty much assume that you walk around unarmed.

Shakespeare’s Sister:

I would, of course, caution anyone to jump to any conclusions, good or bad, at this point. There are potentially a lot of reasons to withhold information that would speak definitively to a sexual assault or a robbery or political retribution, so what it sounds like at this point doesn’t necessarily in any way reflect what it actually is.

Liberty Pundit:

The left constantly ignores one simple fact when it comes to mainstream conservatives and how they react to political opponents, as opposed to how mainstream liberals behave when they confront their political opposition: we don’t get physical. They, on the other hand, do.

We don’t throw pies, condiments, or charge the stage; they do. We don’t slash tires; they do. We don’t vandalize campaign offices; they do. We don’t show up on their doorsteps and then assault them; they do. I can give you a ton of examples, but you get the idea.

We don’t resort to the things the left does to silence our opposition, and we don’t physically attack radio hosts, either. Just face it, guys…Ms. Rhodes was alone, at night, and was the unfortunate victim of a senseless attack. It happens all the time in America. Quite frankly, she’s lucky to be alive (it must not be as serious as they’d have you believe, though…she’s apparently recuperating at home, and not in the hospital).

State of The Day:

Randi Rhodes was assaulted Sunday night as she walked her dog near her apartment in Manhattan. Randi Rhodes continues to be assaulted in the comments section of the post, linked to above, reporting on her attack. The hate, the utter insensitivity of the brown-shirts on the right is absolutely disgusting.

Brilliant at Breakfast:

Granted, we don’t know for certain that Rhodes was specifically targeted for political reasons. We are, after all, talking about New York and people do get mugged. But taken in the context of a right wing hate machine that’s grown ever more shrill as not just their president, but their entire ideology, has shown to be a hollow shell constituting just a veneer over a fetid, stinking core of greed, hypocrisy, and incompetence, they’re going to lash out at those who shattered their illusions, rather than those who manipulated them in the first place.

The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler:

LC Rurik informs us that some scumbag goblin assaulted Randi Rhodes while she was out jogging with her dog. Predictably, the nutroots are convinced that she was the victim of Roaming Right Wing Death Beast Murder Squadsâ„¢…..

While the howling Moonbats are nursing their persecution complex, inflating their own importance above and beyond the bounds of sanity, allow us to wish Randi all the best as well as a full and speedy recovery. We may not be able to stand her and her insane rants, but by G-d she has a right to make them, and if it does turn out that the perp or perps were motivated by a desire to beat up a woman over words they didn’t agree with, then it is our most profound hope that they get locked up in the same cell as a sex-starved, muscular linebacker.

Of course, that’s exactly the same thing we wish for if it turns out, much more likely, that she was the victim of one or more run-of-the-mill mugging goblin swine. A crime is a crime is a crime

  • Tyrone Steels II

    I think Jon Elliott is extremely off-base by insinuating that the “right wing hate machine” is basically ordering hits on the left. As Joe said, NYC is a dangerous place. But the Left vs. Right Civil War just isn’t satisfied with that. Everything has to be partisan.

  • rasmus11

    Adolph Hitler’s right wing thugs regularly “mugged” opponents and members of unpopular groups even before he came to power.
    The people who support the current administration have repeatedly demonstrated their belief that they are entitled to engage in all types of reprehensible behavior to further their cause.
    Given Randi Rhodes courageous outspokenness about the sinister intentions of the right wing, it is not unreasonable to suspect that this non-robbery assault is an attempt by Neo-conservative thugs to silence her views.

  • domajot

    I love the comments that beging with “I don’t want to be (insensitive, crass, speculative etc)”, and then go on to be exactly that..

    That speculation about political motives is the knee–jerk reaction just shows the story state of what passes for political engagement these days. The hate in talk radio, cable news commentary and blogs has become a national disease, and instead of trying to stop it, every event is used as a reason to spur it on.

    Wasn’t there a time when the reaction would have bee to simply send best wishes and lfowers?

  • jmoss

    All that bloviating for nothing, there was NO attack. She fell down (drunk?)

    Cripes, I would have waited until there was more to go on.

  • domajot


    Can’t resist that one last chance to stir the poison kettle, huh?

  • S.W. Anderson

    “All that bloviating for nothing, there was NO attack. She fell down (drunk?)”

    Going by the Daily News story, here’s what we “know.”

    An unidentified police source said Rhodes was not attacked and her lawyer said she fell down.

    Why would a police source feel a need to remain unidentified in a case like this?

    Why would Rhodes and/or her lawyer say it was just a matter of falling down, vs. her AAR colleague saying she had been attacked?

    Possibilities include Rhodes having blanked out details of an attack as a psychological reaction. She might have suffered a concussion, perhaps with temporary amnesia.

    There is also a possibility, if she was attacked, that her attackers told her to keep her mouth shut or next time they would kill her — things like, “We know where you live and where you work,” “How would you like us to kill your dog?” “You have a daughter . . .” and “You report this and you’ll wind up like Berg.”

    Could threats such as those after a vicious beating cause Rhodes to deny she was assaulted? I’m not saying this is the case, but it’s certainly plausible.

    I don’t claim to know the facts and I doubt the Daily News writers have gotten anything like the full, accurate story either.

    I’m very skeptical that, sober or tipsy, Rhodes just fell down and lost several teeth as a result.

    I’m quite sure that a doctor worth his weight in tongue depressors can say with reasonable certainty whether Rhodes’ injuries were simply from falling down, or bear the earmarks of a beating.

  • S.W. Anderson

    BTW, Joe, your headline has a typo in it (“Rhoden s”).

  • J. Eugene Norton

    Left Wing character assassins have chosen a risky occupation, historically. Her calculated remark about Judge Alioto:

    “He’s like one of those guys who goes along for years really quietly … murdering hookers.”

    Exceeds all bounds of traditional American moral decency. It is far worse than knocking someone’s teeth out.

    However, it seems rather unlikely that some publically tormented soul committed this heinous act; it does seem likely that she ran into a pestering punk, and enraged him with one of her typical humanly degrading comments.

    She might profit from a careful study of “Miss Manners.”

  • dan

    have any of you who keep touting the “danger” of nyc actually been to manhattan for extended periods of time?

    i mean. come on. you’re pretty much doing to NYC what you accuse elliott of doing to the right.

    ‘sides, any straight-up mugger wouldn’t go for anyone who clearly didn’t have anything valuable. so ya gotta wonder. it’s not unfounded at all. someone bring up some numbers of “random senseless beatings” in manhattan before you all go off half-cocked…


    On the other had, I feel sorry for him and others on the left who live their lives in fear that some made up, figment of their imagination “right wing hate machine” is out there lurking in the shadows waiting to “silence” them.

    i find this rather funny. in a “liberal media” sort of way…

    in case it matters, i don’t listen to air america. and i listened to rhodes once… and i don’t remember what the topic was, but i remember thinking she was being a bit ridiculous…

  • mediabloodhound

    Mr. Norton,

    In the context of Randi Rhodes having been attacked (I realize that now she may or may not have been), are you really saying that Randi’s crack about Alito (surely said in jest, i.e., a joke, as humor is part of her show) is “far worse than knocking someone’s teeth out”? That’s quite an interesting moral compass, sir. It also shows utter contempt for free speech and the rule of law. I have to wonder if you would feel the same if those teeth didn’t belong to someone who disagrees with your philosophical and political views. If Ms. Rhodes, as you say, “might profit from a careful study of “Miss Manners,” you might do well to read the Constitution of the United States of America. Incidentally, I don’t think Miss Manners would suggest knocking someone’s teeth out because of a comment. So you might take your own advice and dip into that book as well. Happy reading.