Fox News Radio Host To Woman With Bipolar Disorder: You Don’t Have A Real Disability

Last night, I told you that the obituary for Colleen McCullough that ran in Friday’s edition of The Australian was arguably one of the most sexist items ever to appear in a newspaper. Whoever wrote that obituary saw fit to describe her as “plain in feature, and certainly overweight”–a wordy way of calling her a fat hag. That newspaper is owned by Rupert Murdoch, so this outrageous journalistic fail isn’t all that surprising. Well, Media Matters recently found an incident from the other half of the Murdoch news empire that is even more proof of its complete lack of decency. A host on Fox News Radio actually had the gall to tell a woman with bipolar disorder on the air that she really doesn’t have a disability.

Tom Sullivan with Marco Rubio (from Sullivan's Facebook)
Tom Sullivan with Marco Rubio (from Sullivan’s Facebook)

On Wednesday, Fox News Radio afternoon drive time host Tom Sullivan led off his show by saying that Rand Paul’s belittling of the mentally ill “rings pretty true to me.” Sullivan pointed out that 35 percent of Americans on Social Security disability benefits who have mental disorders. Out of that 35 percent, most of them live in and around Washington, D. C. To Sullivan, it meant that a good number of those claiming disability on mental grounds are “government employees” who know how to “game the system.”

That didn’t sit well with “Aunglee” in Sacramento, who called in to challenge Sullivan’s assertions later in the show. Aunglee told Sullivan that she was diagnosed as bipolar 13 years ago, but was able to get treatment that allowed her to graduate from college and get a full-time job. She now volunteers with Stop Stigma Sacramento, a group working to eliminate the stereotypes of mental illness in California’s capital. Sullivan’s response is so incredible that it has to be reproduced to be believed.

“I’m very skeptical. And I’ve got to tell you, if you haven’t been told, I will tell you. I think bipolar is like the latest fad. Everybody and their brother is getting diagnosed with bipolar. And last time I checked, we all have good days and we all have bad. And I don’t consider that an illness. And I don’t consider it a disability.”

Aunglee tried to tell Sullivan that bipolar disorder was real–indeed, in extreme cases, some sufferers have to spend all or most of the day in bed. But Sullivan was having none of it. He claimed bipolar disorder was a racket cooked up by mental health professionals and Big Pharma to “give people prescriptions and keep them coming in.” When Aunglee told Sullivan that her condition was so severe that she almost certainly would have committed suicide without her meds and therapy, Sullivan crassly asked her, “You ever think that maybe, maybe somebody’s talked you into feeling and thinking this way?”

Listen to the full exchange here:

I have to applaud Aunglee for keeping her composure in the face of Sullivan’s bat guano. I have a number of longtime friends who are bipolar, and I’ve seen the effects it has on them. I wonder–would Sullivan be willing to tell them, or anyone else, to their faces that what they’re going through is just a “fad”?

Sullivan’s bosses appear to be as classless as he is. Fox News Radio’s Website has the segment featured with this headline: “Bipolar Woman Says She DESERVES Disability Benefits. Tom Tells Her She’s WRONG!” Then again, it looks like Fox News Radio is trying to get in line with the rest of the Murdoch empire. Two years ago, Murdoch split News Corp into two companies, with the print half remaining under the News Corp banner and the broadcasting and film interests becoming 21st Century Fox. However, while they’re two separate companies, they appear to share the very same spirit. That’s the only conclusion you can draw from Fox News Radio seeing fit to promote this ignorant pigweed in this way.

Sullivan is getting deservedly slammed for this ignorant display on his Facebook page. If he has anything left in him, he should get the hint and apologize.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.