A New Orleans radio station is accusing a gay radio host of sending a homophobic tweet about himself as part of a hoax to get money from the station, a claim the radio host’s attorney denies.
The fuss began on Sept 10, when sports talk show host Seth Dunlap of radio station WWL posted a tweet with a link to his analysis of NFL action. The link was retweeted by WWL’s account in a message that referred to him as a “fag.”
Although the tweet was taken down quickly, it was screen-captured and became the center of a controversy in which many attacked the station for the comment it appeared to have made, according to NOLA.com.
Dunlap had previously posted on his Twitter and Facebook pages about the difficulties of being a gay male working in sports media.
Being yourself has never been more important. The hate that has infected our society threatens to tear us apart from the inside out. I’m overwhelmed, but I’m also very proud of who I am and the life I live.
I’ll be taking tonight off from the show to reflect and decompress.
— Seth Dunlap (@sethdunlap) September 11, 2019
The story grew more complex this week after a New Orleans Police Department report said that radio station executives believe the offensive tweet was sent by Dunlap, something his lawyer denies.
Station executives claim Dunlap vowed to go “scorched earth” on the station and demanded more than $1.8 million, the police report said, according to NOLA. The allegations were made by WWL Senior Vice President Kevin Cassidy and lawyers for Entercom, the company that owns the station.
Police are conducting an investigation of what they deem possible extortion.
Dunlap’s attorney, Megan Kiefer, denied the company’s allegations, calling them “defamatory and self-serving,” and “littered with falsehoods.”
She said Entercom’s lawyers “illegally used the threat of criminal prosecution” in order to lowball any settlement with Dunlap over the tweet.
Dunlap says he passed a lie detector test in which he was asked whether either he or someone he knows posted the offensive tweet.
Kiefer said that Dunlap did not even know the password to access the station’s Twitter account. She also noted that station executives have never asked for Dunlap’s phone in order to prove their claims.
“As of today, Entercom still has produced no documents to us or the public to substantiate their defamatory claims despite repeated requests for the same,” Kiefer said in a statement, according to Gambit.
For its part, the station has said it hired a digital forensic expert who examined the station’s telecommunications infrastructure and found that Dunlap “posted the (homophobic) tweet himself from his personal cellphone.”
The station also supplied a motive for any alleged hoax, saying that it had been receiving requests for a wage garnishment from Dunlap’s creditors.
“Apparently, Mr. Dunlap has a variety of unpaid credit cards and personal loans, and the companies holding the debt are going into collections for the unpaid amount,” the station said in a statement to police.
Kiefer said Dunlap plans to sue WWL, citing both its response to the tweet and the broader issue of its workplace climate.
“It is truly reprehensible (the station) would be attempting to blame the victim of its own anti-LGBT culture, and they are only compounding the severe damage that Mr. Dunlap has experienced at the hands of Entercom,” she said.
Kiefer said a lawsuit will prove WWL allowed “an anti-gay, bigoted and hostile work environment to flourish.”
Dunlap has not appeared on the air since the day offending tweet was sent.
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