Maura Healey says WEEI is ‘paying the price’ for their history of derogatory comments

The Boston sports radio station is facing backlash from advertisers, including two Massachusetts state agencies, in the wake of its recent controversies.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey testifies before a legislative panel hearing as it considers how Massachusetts might respond after the Federal Communications Commission repealed net neutrality rules at the Massachusetts Statehouse Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey during a net neutrality hearing last week at the State House in Boston. –Stephan Savoia / AP

Maura Healey says she supports the growing number of advertisers fleeing WEEI and that no state money should be spent for ads on the sports radio station in the aftermath of its recent controversies, unless they make “some changes.”

“I think it is significant that you see a lot of advertisers pulling out and making a decision with their wallets right now, recognizing that there’s a real movement on to take this out of the discourse,” the Massachusetts attorney general said in an interview Wednesday on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio.

WEEI suspended host Christian Fauria for five days last week, after the radio host and former New England Patriots tight end used a stereotypical Asian accent to mock Tom Brady’s agent, Don Yee. Fauria’s suspension came less than two weeks after the station indefinitely suspended another host for making a disparaging remark about Brady’s 5-year-old daughter.

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“This isn’t the first time that EEI has found themselves in the midst of criticism over things that they’re radio hosts have said,” Healey said Wednesday, alluding to the radio station’s long history of controversies and inflammatory remarks. “That goes back awhile.”

Healey, a former basketball player herself, said it was disappointing to see the conversation “devolve” to such a degree, when there is “so much to talk about” when it comes to sports.

“You don’t need to be making comments in the course of that that are racist or derogatory towards women, towards minority, or the like,” she said, later adding, “But I think now you see them paying the price for that.”

As The Boston Globe‘s Shirley Leung reported Wednesday, at least five advertisers have either terminated or suspended their advertising on WEEI, after Leung began contacting them this week about Fauria’s comments. Among the defectors are two state agencies, the Massachusetts Health Connector and the Massachusetts Lottery, both of which cut ties entirely with the station.

Healey said Wednesday that her office doesn’t have an advertising budget, but that the Health Connector and State Lottery were right to pull their ads. Asked if any state money should be spent on advertising on the station, the attorney general said not “until and unless they make some changes.”

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WEEI announced Wednesday that it was canceling its live programming Friday so that its employees could participate in mandatory sensitivity training.