MINNEAPOLIS - A Minneapolis radio station said Friday it would air public service announcements on HIV/AIDS after a pair of talk hosts accused Magic Johnson of faking AIDS. KTLK's Chris Baker and Langdon Perry made the remarks during Baker's conservative talk show on Wednesday. After Johnson condemned the statements, the station said on Friday it regretted "some off-hand remarks" by the pair.
According to a partial transcript and audio clip posted on a media watchdog site, www.mediamatters.org, the remarks came after a caller asserted that health care isn't a basic right. Perry responded by asking about treatable diseases that a person can live with for a long time "if you just get some basic drugs."
Baker responded, "Like Magic Johnson?"
Perry replied, "Like Magic with his faked AIDS. Magic faked AIDS."
Baker said, "You think Magic faked AIDS for sympathy?"
Perry replied, "I'm convinced that Magic faked AIDS."
"Me too," Baker said.
Johnson issued a statement Thursday saying he was "outraged that Chris Baker and Langdon Perry would minimize such a serious and deadly issue."
"Millions are dying from HIV/AIDS, and the fact that they would make jokes about my status is unbelievable," Johnson said. "Chris, Langdon and KTLK should use their power in a more positive light by encouraging people to get tested for this disease instead of making up such ridiculous lies."
Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and then retired from the NBA at 32.
KTLK's statement said it recognized the seriousness of AIDS and the "great work" Johnson has done to call attention to the disease.
"We regret that some off-hand remarks by commentators on KTLK did not reflect that," the statement said. "To better inform our listeners and employees, KTLK will be airing HIV/AIDS awareness public service announcements, and will be reaching out to Mr. Johnson to get his thoughts on education efforts."
A spokeswoman for Magic Johnson Enterprises didn't immediately return a call for comment on Friday.
On the Net:
Media Matters: http://www.mediamatters.org/items/200810080020?fh_clips