The radio host said his DMs were flooded with criticism after he complained about the ongoing protests — but he’s not apologizing.
Jeff Lewis spent a lot of Monday’s radio show venting his frustrations with the previous weekend’s Black Lives Matter protests … and the rest of the week answering for his comments.
The radio host revealed he has heard from many disappointed listeners this week, over his response to the demonstrations against racial injustice that have taken over the world following the killing of George Floyd.
On Monday’s show, he first broached the subject by asking his cohosts whether they had seen “criminals” stealing an ATM from a Chase bank, before it turned into a conversation about the looting, fires and property destruction going on near protests.
Lewis said the weekend’s events made him happy he lived in the Valley, out in the suburbs — before saying watching the news made him feel “very unsafe living in Los Angeles.”
“I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as a peaceful protest, that’s what I learned this weekend,” he said, before making a comment that they should hold a protest to try and get their show expanded to 5 days a week. “I guess we can throw rocks at police, we can burn buildings down, we can loot and there’s no consequences. There’s no arrest, there’s no nothing.”
“If I could move out of Los Angeles after what happened this weekend, I would,” he continued, expressing shock that many of the protests were happening in “the wealthy areas” of Los Angeles, like Beverly Hills. This, of course, is by design, as Black Lives Matter organizers told the LA Times they wanted to bring the demonstrations to “places of white affluence so that the pain and outrage that we feel can be put right in their faces.”
Keeping his focus on some of the destruction to arise, Lewis said he didn’t think it “serves any purpose,” before criticizing police using rubber bullets.
“You know what actually didn’t do jack shit was those rubber bullets,” he said. “I watched those kids getting shot and getting right back up and running. They didn’t do anything, those rubber bullets. What’s the point?”
He added that watching the news made him seriously think about getting a gun to “protect” his home and himself. “I’m not going to shoot with rubber bullets,” he added.
Suffice to say, a lot of his listeners were not happy.
On Tuesday, he began the show by saying there was a petition to “take Jeff Lewis off the air four days a week,” as he admitted to ruffling “some feathers” the day before.
“I will not backpedal from the things that I said yesterday,” he continued. “I am not going to be one of these phony celebrities that gives my opinion then realizes, people are so upset I’m going to delete my tweet and apologize. I’m not going to apologize for what I said yesterday, but I will clarify a few things.”
Saying there was “a huge backlash” — but not “hate” — Lewis commended his detractors for approaching him with “genuine,” “articulate” and “thoughtful” messages.
“I was accused of being ignorant and spoiled and privileged and I will agree I’ve led a very privileged life,” said the host. “I’ve had opportunities that other people have not. That doesn’t mean I don’t have empathy. Where I think I failed yesterday is I didn’t really discuss the George Floyd incident in detail and how I feel about it.”
As he had breezed right past the reasons behind the protests the day before, Lewis explained that he does believe Floyd’s killing was a murder. Calling it a “despicable act,” he added that he thinks Floyd was treated “inhumanely” and in a “barbaric” fashion and said all the officers involved should face charges. “I don’t tolerate police brutality, discrimination or racism of any kind,” he added.
Then, acknowledging this is where many will disagree with him, he said he didn’t condone — under any circumstance — violence. “That includes breaking and entering, theft, arson, assault and battery, vandalism,” he explained. “I still believe that these protests are dangerous. You can tell me all day long that they’re peaceful protests — I spent what I figured 11 hours watching the news coverage and it made me so upset and angry.”
“I felt fearful. Just because I’m white and I’m privileged doesn’t mean I can’t be scared,” he continued. “I support the movement, but I can’t get behind this particular strategy and I think it’s being grossly mishandled.”
Saying the “bigger picture” isn’t lost on him, he said he also doesn’t believe “burning down our city is the solution.”
After he spoke, his cohost Megan Weaver said she agreed with the listener criticism, feeling that Jeff wasn’t looking at the “bigger picture” the day before. She added she didn’t speak up because she felt uninformed and was worried about saying the wrong thing.
His other cohost, Doug Budin, also expressed regret for not pushing back against Lewis more — before comparing some of the demonstrations to similar protests in the gay rights movement.
“I feel like, at this point, after 7 days, I think the message has been sent and received,” Lewis added. “We all get it and everybody understands now. It’s loud and clear. I think now it needs to stop.”
He also said he got pushback for saying the police weren’t doing anything during the protests, adding, “I think they’re doing the best they can considering they’re completely outnumbered. They’re doing the best they can.” Megan pushed back, saying, “Not all of them.”
As Tuesday’s conversation continued, Lewis also decided to express his support for anyone caught in traffic because of protests spilling onto the freeway — and not with those who are demanding an end to systemic racism.
“All I can think of is you’ve got all of these hard working, law abiding, tax paying citizens that have worked 8, 9, 10 hour days and all they want to do is get home to their families and they can’t because you’ve got a bunch of f–king lunatics all over the 405,” he said derogatorily of protesters. “I do think the message is getting lost.”
His cohosts said they believed acts like this, however, were bringing more attention and awareness to the issue.
On Wednesday, Lewis said he had received even more messages from their audience — adding that he didn’t realize how many Black listeners they had.
“There were a lot of people that reached out and a large amount of African Americans reached out and they were very thoughtfully constructed, unemotional, void of anger and just giving me their perspective, their position, personal experiences,” he said. “I wanna say that if you do take the time to write to me about your personal experiences, your view points, your opinions I am reading it with an open mind.”
Thursday, it came up once again as he joked guest Ali Landry was likely losing followers for agreeing to be on his show.
“I’ve been kind of looking back at my behavior. I think I was in my right mind as of Tuesday, but on Monday I realized I had severe, severe anxiety and I hadn’t really put my thoughts together in an organized manner,” he said.
“I came in and kind of spit up over people,” he added, admitted his words had “alienated a lot of people.”