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KHTK suspends Damien Barling for daring to criticize Kings

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Censorship should never be tolerated.

Today at noon, Jason Ross and Ken Rudolph of KHTK’s show “The Lo-Down” came on and immediately signed on and off as their co-host, Damien Barling had been suspended by KHTK for his comments after Sacramento Kings GM Vlade Divac’s press conference on Monday. Ross and Rudolph backed their co-host and refused to do today’s show in light of the punishment.

What exactly did Barling say to get suspended?

Only that Vlade’s press conference was embarrassing and that he was unfit to be a GM. You know, basically the same criticism that pretty much the entire basketball world was levying against Divac.

The full audio of Barling’s comments can be found on KHTK’s website on the 3rd Hour of the 2/20/17 show, but I have transcribed what seem to be the offending remarks here in case that audio gets taken down for some reason. These remarks come immediately following Divac’s press conference.

Damien Barling: “That was embarrassing. That was absolutely embarrassing.”

Jason Ross: “In what way?”

DB: “In every single way imaginable. That dude is not fit to be the General Manager of a basketball team. This is real life. You just heard a General Manager say publicly at a press conference ‘We had a better deal two days ago’. You moron! You can’t say that! ‘Oh why didn’t you wait till Thursday?’ ‘Oh cause we had a better deal two days ago?’”

JR: “It was getting worse”

DB: “Are you serious? Bro... I don’t even know what to say. If you’re a Kings fan, you should absolutely be embarrassed by that. That was awful. That was absolutely awful. You cannot do that. You can’t do that. Awful. That’s awful dude. Absolutely incredible”

KHTK has long been a partner of the Sacramento Kings, broadcasting every Kings game for as long as I can remember. Many of KHTK’s employees also work for the Kings in other capacities, including Grant Napear (TV Play by Play), Kayte Christensen (Sideline Reporter) and Jason Ross (Radio), Barling’s co-host.

As far as I know Barling does not work for the Kings, and it’s literally in his job description to provide his opinion. Now he’s been suspended for it. Agree with him or not, KHTK went too far. Censorship should never be taken lightly, and that’s exactly what it looks like is happening here: if you’re overly critical of the Kings, you’re going to be punished.

This was a monumentally stupid decision, especially since if they hadn’t done this, many of us might not have ever heard what Barling said which again, isn’t much different from what a lot of fans and other media were saying at the time. The only difference is that Barling said it on KHTK, a partner of the Sacramento Kings.

To echo Barling’s own words, that’s embarrassing. Absolutely embarrassing.

UPDATE:

Sources close to the Kings confirm they did not have a hand in this and are flabbergasted by the decision themselves. They realize this makes them look bad by association and are upset at KHTK for putting them in this position.