John Ziegler (talk show host)
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John Ziegler at a demonstration in New York City, June 2009
March 28, 1967 |
Heidelberg, West Germany
John Ziegler (born March 28, 1967) is a radio talk show host and documentary film writer/director.
Ziegler's most prominent work in radio has been as the evening (7-10 PM) host of a radio talk show called The John Ziegler Show on KFI AM 640 in Los Angeles, California from January 12, 2004 until November 13, 2007. Talkers Magazine listed John Ziegler as number 54 on their "Heavy Hundred" list of the most important U.S. radio talk show hosts in 2007.
Currently, he is the host of a Sunday evening radio program, the John and Leah Show, which is nationally syndicated and as of 2016 is considered the 99th most influential talk shows by Talkers Magazine, and a staff columnist for Mediaite. He makes appearances on television cable news as a conservative pundit.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 3 The John Ziegler Show
- 4 Documentaries
- 5 Reversal on Sarah Palin
- 6 Remarks at a 2007 campaign event
- 7 Personal life
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life and education
Ziegler was born in a U.S. Army post in Heidelberg, Germany, and grew up as the eldest son of a financial manager in the small village of Washington Crossing, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He was a standout golfer in high school, being named High School Golfer of the Year by the Bucks County Courier Times. In 1985, Ziegler graduated from the Catholic Holy Ghost Preparatory School located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. He then attended Georgetown University, graduating in 1989 with a degree in Government and a minor in Theology and Philosophy. While attending Georgetown, he lettered in golf for three years.
Concerning his family's religious background, Ziegler has stated that he "grew up in an incredibly, very strict Roman Catholic family on both sides, my mother and my father's side. I've got numerous aunts who've been in the convent. I went to Catholic high school, Catholic college, as did almost all of my relatives, so, I mean, I'm very steeped in Catholicism". Ziegler is, however, an agnostic, referring to himself as a "recovering Catholic".
After graduating from college, Ziegler became a sportscaster, moving his way up to a full-time position at WTOV in Ohio. He left the position to write a book about high school football in Steubenville, Ohio called Dynasty of the Crossroads. After the book, he took a position as a sportscaster at WRAZ in Raleigh, North Carolina but was fired in 1995 after making what he describes as an "incredibly tame" joke about his belief that O.J. Simpson was guilty. Ziegler revealed on his November 21, 2006 KFI broadcast that he once had a romantic relationship with Kim Goldman, sister of murder victim Ron Goldman, who has also been a frequent guest on the show commenting on topics related to O.J. Simpson.
He then began a career in talk radio, working at various stations before ending up at WWTN in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was later fired after having said the word nigger on the air, in, according to Ziegler, "a rather academic discussion about the way whites and blacks view each other". Ziegler has explained this event as him referencing what the boxer Mike Tyson said at a press conference, where Tyson referred to himself using that word. He then began writing columns for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News and co-hosted a talk show on Comcast's CN8 Television Network, which later resulted in his winning a regional Emmy.
In 2002, wanting to return to radio, Ziegler was hired by Louisville, Kentucky radio station WHAS. Once again, his tenure did not last long, as during a Ask John Anything segment, he discussed Darcie Divita, a former LA Lakers cheerleader and WDRB morning television host with whom Ziegler had a relationship until Divita broke up with him. WHAS fired him on August 27, 2003, and Divita sued for $2,700,000, claiming libel and defamation of character. However, on May 24, 2005, Ziegler was unanimously found not liable for damages as Divita was deemed a public figure by virtue of being a television personality.
Subsequent to his experiences of being fired and sued for saying what he believes was the truth, he has authored another book, The Death of Free Speech, which claims that American discourse has suffered because of political correctness, and that these taboos are not consistently enforced.
In 2003, while still employed by WHAS, he joined forces with Louisville Democrat and current 3rd district Congressional Representative John Yarmuth to debate political issues on the weekly WAVE program Yarmuth & Ziegler, with Yarmuth taking the progressive side and Ziegler, the conservative side. This gig lasted through November of that year. In 2006, Ziegler supported the Yarmuth election campaign for Kentucky's 3rd congressional district, both financially and as a political adviser. Yarmuth won the election to Congress, defeating his incumbent Republican opponent Anne Northup.
On January 12, 2004, Ziegler began work at KFI as a late evening host. As both WHAS and KFI are owned by Clear Channel, this placed him in the unusual situation of having been fired and re-hired by the same company within a short time frame. He moved to the 7-10 p.m. slot on February 21, 2005. In November 2007, he left KFI.
Ziegler was the focus of David Foster Wallace's cover story in the April 2005 Atlantic Monthly, which examined the American talk radio industry through the lens of The John Ziegler Show. Ziegler viewed the article as "a partial hit piece;" in response to the article, he wrote Wallace a scathing obituary following his death in 2008, stating that Wallace "was an overrated writer in life. His suicide should not be used to elevate him even further beyond what he deserved, in death."
On February 2, 2009, Ziegler appeared on The View for his film "Media Malpractice." He also appeared numerous times on the Today Show, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.
The John Ziegler Show
KFI AM 640
The program was mostly news based political commentary, but it also brought up other issues such as events happening in Ziegler's personal life. The John Ziegler Show was advertised as Getting it Right at Night and a common catchphrase that Ziegler used to describe the show was "three hours of rationality in a world of ever increasing insanity".
As the host of a mostly news based political commentary talk show, Ziegler described himself as "more libertarian than conservative, more conservative than liberal, and more cynical and skeptical than anything else." On the issue of U.S. party politics, Ziegler has said that "the only dog I have in that hunt is that the more power Republicans have, the less power Democrats have; it's the lesser of two evils as far as I'm concerned, on most issues".
Recurring show segments
A regular feature of the show was Ask John Anything, a monthly call-in Q&A about his opinions on anything. Ziegler has said the most frequent question he received for the Ask John Anything segment were from people who want to know why he and newscaster Leah Brandon were not dating each other. Other features include What Have We Learned This Week, a review of the guests and topics covered on the show in the previous week, Sounds of the Week, a Friday countdown of five sound bytes that aired during the week and were either newsworthy or comical, and the banter between Brandon and Ziegler, which was often based on news stories and usually had a lighter tone than the rest of the show.
On Friday April 13, 2007, the John Ziegler Show changed its format to include the last hour of every show being caller-dominated (9:00pm to 10:00pm). Prior to this change, the show accepted callers only when Ziegler asked for an opinion on a given subject.
"Stuck in Iraq" controversy
In late 2006, John Ziegler drew nationwide attention for criticizing John Kerry for the statement that "You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." Ziegler had heard Kerry's speech played on a local TV station. He criticized Kerry's statement on the air on October 30 and played the audio several times during that show. In conjunction with the show of October 30, Ziegler had the Kerry audio posted at the KFI website, and it was picked up by bloggers and the Drudge Report on its way to becoming worldwide news. Ziegler took credit for placing the story in a context that made it a major news story.
Celebrity confrontations and interviews
2005 was a year of confrontation for Ziegler, who devoted large portions of his show playing audio of his personal confrontations with Jesse Jackson (whose bodyguard broke the KFI microphone), O.J. Simpson, Senator Barbara Boxer and Mark McGwire.
Even though The John Ziegler Show was not heavily guest oriented, some major political figures have appeared on the show over the years, including California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and 1988, 2008 and 2012 Republican Presidential primary candidate Ron Paul.
Ziegler was suspended for two days in 2006 following an on-air confrontation with John Kobylt of KFI's John and Ken Show. On November 13, 2007, the day after he announced his departure from KFI, Ziegler broadcast his last show. He told a reporter that the decision was due to mental and physical exhaustion, and to his work on a documentary.
KGIL 1260 AM
In June 2009 Ziegler announced on his website that he would begin work as a talk show host on Los Angeles news/talk radio station KGIL 1260 AM. The show began airing Monday June 8, 2009 and ran from 11 AM until 1 PM. weekdays. After leaving KFI in 2007, Ziegler has previously delivered on air commentary and was a fill in host on KGIL for a relatively short time.
On August 14, 2009 Ziegler announced unexpectedly at the start of the show that it would be his last day on KGIL due to matters out of his control. His last show ended with a recorded speech of the late President Reagan denouncing socialized health care. About two weeks later after Ziegler's announcement, KGIL changed its format to become a music radio station instead of broadcasting mainly talk radio.
On October 17, 2009 Ziegler interviewed David Keene at WCPAC. Ziegler asked questions regarding Sarah Palin, the FedEx/UPS pay-to-play scandal and Arlen Specter.
Nationally syndicated program
Beginning November 2, 2014, Ziegler rejoined Brandon to host the John and Leah Show on KHTS in Santa Clarita, California. In March 2015, the program became nationally syndicated through Envision Networks, with 24 stations nationwide doing business under the name Free Speech Broadcasting Network. The program moved its home base to KRLA in Los Angeles in August 2015. John and Leah was named as one of the 100 most influential radio talk shows in the United States by Talkers Magazine in 2016, coming in at #99. Leah Brandon left the show in November 2016.
After leaving his talk show on KFI AM 640, Ziegler was involved in two documentary film projects.
Blocking The Path to 9/11 documentary
In August 2008, John Ziegler and producer David Bossie of Citizens United premiered a documentary co-produced, written and directed by Ziegler entitled Blocking The Path to 9/11, which revisits the political controversy about the ABC docudrama miniseries The Path to 9/11. Through interviews with the Path to 9/11 filmmakers and others, news clips about the controversy, and footage from the miniseries, the documentary makes the claim that Disney/ABC ultimately shelved plans to release a DVD of the miniseries as a result of pressure from the political left, specifically the Clintons. As noted in the documentary, Disney/ABC denies this and claims the move was merely a business decision. But commission member Richard Ben-Veniste said that the miniseries misrepresented facts presented in the 9/11 Commission report. Two FBI agents also criticized the film's accuracy. Thomas E. Nicoletti was hired by the filmmakers as a consultant, but quit, saying "There were so many inaccuracies...I'm well aware of what's dramatic license and what's historical inaccuracy," Nicoletti said. "And this had a lot of historical inaccuracy.'"
Media Malpractice documentary
Shortly after the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Ziegler announced that a documentary titled Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected was in production (the full title was later changed to Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected And Palin Was Targeted). The film claims that a liberal bias in the media was responsible for Barack Obama being elected president. The film was originally released live on the Today Show on February 23, 2009.
Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal documentary
Ziegler released a 32-minute "mini-documentary" on the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, criticizing media accounts that Joe Paterno was aware of Jerry Sandusky's abuse of children. The documentary interviews former Penn State players Franco Harris and Christian Marrone, as well as Sandusky's attorney Joe Amendola and Penn State trustee Anthony Lubrano. They argue that Paterno was not fully informed of Mike McQueary's allegations and thus could not have "covered up" the abuse. If financial contributions are received, the documentary will be expanded into a full-length film.
Ziegler interviewed Sandusky from prison and debuted some of that interview live on the Today Show on March 25, 2013. Ziegler steadfastly maintains that Sandusky was a "chaste pedophile" and committed no sexual acts with his victims.  Ziegler, who initially said he believed Sandusky was guilty of the crimes he was accused of, now believes that Sandusky is innocent. Ziegler's prison interview with Sandusky came under fire by the Paterno family. Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers released a statement, describing it as "transparently self-serving and yet another insult to the victims and anyone who cares about the truth in this tragic story" 
Reversal on Sarah Palin
On June 12, 2011, Ziegler wrote an Op-Ed for The Daily Caller announcing his disenchantment with Palin and her activities since the 2008 election; in particular, he eviscerated Palin for her "bunker mentality" and claimed that "there is absolutely no way that she can be elected." Ziegler still maintained that the mainstream media was involved in "knee-capping" Palin in a way that was irreparable.
Remarks at a 2007 campaign event
On December 1, 2007, one day after a peacefully resolved hostage situation at a Hillary Clinton campaign office in New Hampshire, Ziegler made the following remarks while introducing Fred Thompson at a campaign rally in California: "In case you missed it, some nut job broke in [to Clinton's campaign office] and took hostages and apparently threatened to blow himself up unless he got a chance to speak to Hillary. Now, I found this rather odd because I always feel like blowing myself up after I hear Hillary Clinton speak". ABC News says the audience "laughed and applauded", while FoxNews.com described the remark as "unfettered nastiness".
- KFI AM 640 website (retrieved May 19, 2007)
- TALKERS magazine article featuring the list of "Heavy Hundred 2007" (TALKERS magazine site retrieved April 15, 2007)
- "John Ziegler, Mediaite's Newest Columnist, on What to Expect from Him".
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, September 5, 2007 (7PM hour)
- Host The Atlantic, David Foster Wallace. April 2005
- John Ziegler's biography at KFI AM 640 (retrieved December 1, 2006)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, July 16, 2007 (7PM hour)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, April 17, 2007 (7PM hour)
- The John Ziegler Show KFI, May 16, 2007
- Closson Press, 1994
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, November 21, 2006
- "John Ziegler".
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, November 9, 2007
- Cumberland House Publishing, 2005
- Biography of Congressman John Yarmuth (Congressman Yarmuth's official House of Representative site, retrieved June 18, 2007)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, October 25, 2006 (8PM hour)
- CNN.com's Elections 2006 (retrieved June 18, 2007)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, January 12, 2007 (7PM hour)
- "Death of a Salesman".
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, June 12, 2007 (8PM hour)
- Ziegler, John: "Bipartisan Benedict Arnold" Op-Ed in Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2007 (retrieved June 26, 2007)
- Ziegler, John: "World Cup shows their true colors" Op-Ed in Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2006 (retrieved July 27, 2007)
- Ziegler, John: "How the liars won" Op-Ed in Los Angeles Times, November 10, 2005 (retrieved July 27, 2007)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, June 20, 2007 (7PM hour)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, April 6, 2007
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, May 14, 2007
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, June 27, 2007 (7PM hour)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, April 4, 2007
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, May 28, 2007 (7PM hour)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, July 6, 2007 (9PM hour)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, April 13, 2007
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, October 31, 2006
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, October 30, 2006
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, Jan 1, 2007 (9PM hour)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, May 2, 2007
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, August 1, 2007
- John Ziegler's editorial My trip to Barbara Boxer's Alito press conference (January 25, 2006)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, June 21, 2007 (7PM hour)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, Jan 1, 2007 (7PM hour)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, Jan 9, 2007 (7PM hour)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, June 19, 2007 (8PM hour)
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, September 11, 2007 (7PM and 8PM hours)
- LYCAN, GARY (September 17, 2006). "radio // No start date yet for Dees". Orange County Register. Santa Ana, Calif. p. 1.
- LYCAN, GARY (November 18, 2007). "John Ziegler abruptly leaves KFI; On the radio". Orange County Register. p. 1.
- John Ziegler website (accessed June 7, 2009)
- John Ziegler, KGIL 1260 AM (accessed June 7, 2009)
- "He Zigs When Others Zag". 28 May 2015.
- "Welcome to John and Leah Radio - John and Leah Radio".
- "Seven More Salem Stations Add 'The John And Leah Show'".
- "2016 Talkers Heavy Hundred 76-100". 11 April 2016.
- Blocking The Path To 9/11 - Credits, Blocking The Path To 9/11 official website (accessed September 21, 2008)
- Premiere of John Ziegler's Film Announced!!, John Ziegler official website (accessed September 21, 2008)
- Premiere of JZ's Film Ends With Standing Ovations, John Ziegler official website (accessed September 21, 2008)
- "Who Was Blocking 'The Path to 9/11'?" by Jeffrey Ressner http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0808/12671.html
- 9/11 Miniseries Is Criticized as Inaccurate and Biased - New York Times
- F.B.I. Agents Question Accuracy of 9/11 Series - New York Times
- "Film criticizes media for handling of Paterno in Sandusky case". Philly.com. 8 November 2012.
- Bill DiFilippo. "Mini-Movie Seeks to Exonerate Joe Paterno". Bleacher Report.
- "Victim 9 Is Now Proven To Have Lied About Joe Paterno, But Hardly Anyone Will Care".
- "Jerry Sandusky wrongly convicted? A look at some of the points raised by his supporters on the 'Today' show". PennLive.com.
- Cindy Boren (25 March 2013). "Jerry Sandusky interview: Paterno family says it's an "insult to victims"". Washington Post.
- John Ziegler (2011-06-12). "The Sarah Palin I Know". The Daily Caller.
- "Radio Host Swipes at Clinton During Thompson Event". December 1, 2007. Retrieved April 18, 2011.
- "Hillary Clinton Draws Boos at Iowa Campaign Event, 1 Day After Hostage Situation". Fox News. December 2, 2007.
- "Alison Kallik & John Ziegler". TheKnot.
- "John Ziegler on Twitter".
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, May 4, 2007
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, June 18, 2007 (9PM hour)
- John Ziegler's official website
- Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted website
- The Atlantic Monthly profile, April 2005
- Former First Church of Tiger Woods website
- Article on John Ziegler's time at KFI from LA Observed
- The Real KFI (John Ziegler's former website detailing his experience at KFI; archived at Internet Archive)
- WCPAC Part 1 of 3 John Ziegler interview with David Keene
- WCPAC Part 2 of 3 John Ziegler interview with David Keene
- WCPAC Part 3 of 3 John Ziegler interview with David Keene
- John Ziegler Arrested / USC Katie Couric Award Part 1
- John Ziegler Arrested / USC Katie Couric Award Part 2
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