Fox 13 meteorologist Joey Sulipeck’s career has been in limbo for more than a month after he wrote an innocent tweet blasting a NBA star. He’s been off the air as the Memphis television station “investigates” the single tweet. KWAM News Radio host Tim Van Horn came to his defense on the Todd Starnes Show.
TODD STARNES: I want to bring into our studio today our good friend. He is the chief fill in guest host of The Todd Starnes Show. He hosts his own program on KWAM, our flagship station, Tim Van Horn. Tim, good to have you with us.
TIM VAN HORN: Todd, it’s great to be here. Thank you for having me. And it’s just another hot day in Memphis. A good day for iced tea, for sure.
STARNES: Yes, it is. And use that discount code if you’re going to get it. Let’s talk about Joey Sulipeck now. You know Joey, you were a meteorologist, you were a weather guy here in the Memphis area for a very long time before switching over and doing the right thing and coming to radio.
VAN HORN: Exactly, exactly. I’ve known Joey for over 20 years. We did not work at the same station, but I would see him at conferences. I would see him locally. And he’s always been professional. He’s the kind of guy that will walk up and ask you and know, you know, your family’s name, how they’re doing. He’s the kind of guy that you want in the market.
STARNES: So he’s a good guy.
VAN HORN: Very much so.
STARNES: So he’s a big Memphis Grizzlies fan. And of course, there was a lot going on. It was a pretty tense rivalry between the Warriors and the Grizzlies, and he wrote a tweet.
VAN HORN: Yes, he did. And this goes all the way back to May 7th. And this was when the Grizzlies were in the second round against the Golden State Warriors. And Draymond Green is a troublemaker on the court. He runs his mouth a lot. He’ll push, he’ll nudge whatever he can to get an advantage. And one of the Grizzlies players had just gotten ejected for the first time and they had mouthed off to the official. Joey writes, “And Chew on this: Draymond runs his knuckle dragging open mouth all game long, but mild mannered Kyle Anderson disputes one call and gets ejected, next level jackassery.” That’s it.
STARNES: So basically he was saying the guy’s a Neanderthal.
VAN HORN: Yes.
STARNES: Okay, alright, well, the local sports guy for the commercial appeal got a hold of that tweet and turned it into this big racial controversy that literally went nationwide. I mean, everybody was talking about poor Joey Sulipeck, who in the aftermath apologized. He should not have apologized. He did nothing wrong and then deleted his account. He should not have done that. He did nothing wrong. And then the TV stations get involved and tell our listeners what happened at that point.
VAN HORN: Well, at that point, you get the boilerplate. On Saturday night, one of our staff members made a comment we do not agree with blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. This is going to be under full investigation. Well, here we are. We’re, what, June 22? And Joey Sulipeck has no idea if he still has a job.
STARNES: So this guy and again, a family guy, he’s got a wife, got kids, got to pay the bills. And he’s sitting at home waiting to find out if he’s got a job.
VAN HORN: Not only that, but he’s now had the stink of being essentially called a racist over a tweet. If you look at the Oxford dictionary, Todd. Knuckle dragger, and there’s one definition, “a stupid or loutish person.” It has nothing to do with race, has nothing to do with anything else other than just being a buffoon. The Urban Dictionary, Todd, also “reminiscent of the hunched over cavemen with his arms on the ground, an insult against those of extremely low intelligence or general stupidity.” I hear nothing about race in either of those dictionaries, which, by the way, that newspaper writer cited these dictionaries as a source but failed to put the actual definition in the screenshot he used against him.
STARNES: So it’s a set up here. And again, Evan Barnes, the sports reporter, Joey Sulipeck, this is important. He’s a white guy, and they’re trying to make him out like he’s a racist, which he is not. And the Commercial Appeal, the newspaper, did this. They set loose this cancel culture mob. And now the TV station, instead of standing by and defending their guy and putting him back on the air, they’re leaving him just wondering, do I even have a job?
VAN HORN: Not only is he wondering if he has a job. And I spoke with Joey recently, and he’s a guy that’s all about reconciliation. He thinks there’s no bridge too far that can’t be mended. He’s a guy that, I don’t know if I’m man enough to do this. If they were to hire him back, can you imagine going into that building, wondering what everybody in that building thinks of you behind your back? And I’m sure that there have been coworkers that have maybe reached out quietly, because in the media, if you were to back Joey Sulipeck, you might as well go ahead and pack your office supplies and get out if you do that openly. But can you imagine going in back to a building where you have been labeled a racist? Nobody had your back publicly. How awkward that would be, let alone can you even get the stink of being called a racist off whether or not it’s true, it’s not whether or not he is one. It’s the seriousness of the charge with the liberal media.
STARNES: And Evan Barnes, the guy who made these accusations unfairly in the Commercial Appeal, is a black guy. And if you’re going to say, because they’re all going out there saying, well, “Joey Sulipeck, white guy.” It’s important to also identify the skin color of the attacker in this case. If you’re going to play that game, you got to play both. You got to do it right.
VAN HORN: And on top of that, let’s talk about the other player that Joey was defending in the Tweet, also a black man.
STARNES: That’s right. So there you go. So here we are, you made an interesting point, though, today, because, again, this guy, folks, is a victim of a cancel culture mob and we see this play out all over. I was just sort of surprised to see it happen here in Memphis. But Tim, you pointed out something about Fox 13. They’ve been using a phrase on the TV. So anchors, reporters, have been using a phrase that, quite frankly, is far worse than anything Joey Sulipeck said.
VAN HORN: Oh, it’s amazing. And it’s something that’s been chanted at a game. There’s a rapper here called Al Kapone. And this comes from a movie, Hustle and Flow. There’s a song called or a rap called “Whoop That Trick.”
STARNES: So we’re not talking about magician here. This is not that kind of a trick.
VAN HORN: No, and Todd, I would fully expect you to know what “whoop that trick,” means, because, I mean, if there’s anybody that’s on top of hip hop culture, it’s you and me.
STARNES: I got in trouble for rapping the theme song to Beverly Hillbillies once, so I try to steer clear.
VAN HORN: My rap name is L.L. Kool-Aid. But you have a television station, Todd, that has set this guy on a shelf, you know? Goodness knows. Is he ever going to come back? Are they even going to make some sort of announcement? They are essentially ruining his reputation day by day, regardless of what the truth is. And you have these anchors that are not only going out there and saying this phrase, but they’re encouraged by the station. I had a montage that I put together this morning on the show to highlight the hypocrisy.
STARNES: And again, “whoop that trick” and let’s just try to clean it up as best we can. What does that mean?
VAN HORN: Whoop that trick, the definition, which comes from the Urban Dictionary, is when you basically slap your girl for not listening, not being a good hoe, as they say.
STARNES: Sidewalk Sally, we prefer that term.
VAN HORN: For not being a good Sidewalk Sally.
STARNES: So it’s okay for the anchors to use that language, that verbiage on the air. But Joey Sulipeck is in trouble for something he tweeted, which is pretty innocuous.
VAN HORN: It’s it’s very innocuous. And you’d be hard pressed to find anything that has a racial component to it. And it’s heartbreaking because for those that don’t stand with him on this and think that, okay, well, if he’s gone, then this is over with, oh, no, this won’t be the end of it. This will be just the beginning.
STARNES: Well, so here we are. This guy, Joey Sulipeck has no idea of he’s got a job. I understand that Cox C-O-X, that’s the parent company of the Fox 13 here locally, they’ve actually put out an ad looking for a meteorologist.
VAN HORN: That’s correct. They now have that ad out there. And for an aspiring meteorologist to come to Memphis, Tennessee, I would think twice about that. Because if you know anything about what’s going on in town, how can you apply for a job knowing that your employer doesn’t have your back?
STARNES: It’s a great point. And my concern here is the message this sends to every other reporter out there. Again, this guy’s done nothing wrong. I think it’s also important, Tim, to point out that some of the most vocal supporters of Joey and he’s got thousands of people, thousands of people supporting him here, are in fact, black.
VAN HORN: And that’s because Joey practices what he preaches. And to a person, if you follow any of the social media posts supporting him, you’ll find that he has spent so much of his time, he’s the first one to go to the stations, school supply drives food drives, coat drives, he’s not just in the community, he’s a part of it. And the listeners and the viewers, they remember those things. They know when you’re genuine. And he is the real deal. It doesn’t matter what Draymond Green has said, he’s tried to add fuel to the fire. Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, who I’m not sure has ever met a white man he’s not willing to condemn, has been a part of this problem as well. He’s been part of the cancel culture. And now it’s simply time to let this man back on the air or at least give him some closure. He has earned the respect of this community, and they’re not giving him one iota.
STARNES: And for our Memphis listeners, KWAM, and this is our flagship radio station in the Memphis area. I mean, you guys know Joey Sulipeck. I mean, your thoughts about this guy, should he be returned to the air on Fox 13? 844-747-8868, that’s 844-747-8868. And Tim, I just have to imagine that Fox 13 is going to be taking a plunge in the TV ratings as a result of what they’ve done to this good and decent man.
VAN HORN: And well, they should be. Any station should be out to serve the people, to serve the community. And if they fall short of that, then they get every bit of punishment that’s going to be coming their way.
VAN HORN: And shame on the TV station for not defending their guy. You know, Tim, I mean, you’re an employee of mine here at at KWAM, our flagship station, and we take care of our staff. You know, we’re not going to leave anybody hanging out to dry.
STARNES: No, I am at a station that has my back. I’m at a company that has my back. All you ask is best effort every single day. I mean, that’s an easy standard to hit every single day. And for all of these TV stations that have these, we’re on your side. We’ve got your back. I’m calling bull hockey on that right now on Fox 13.