Bruce Jacobs' Rip Of Julie Erfle Spurs Police To Target KFYI Advertisers

Julie Erfle

By Ray Stern Bruce Jacobs is a mean-spirited, loud-mouthed right-wing talk-show host. He proved how mean last week with an intensely personal criticism of Julie Erfle, the widow of a Phoenix police officer who was slain last year by an illegal immigrant.

Jacobs, who has a morning show on 550 a.m. (KFYI), claims Erfle's support of "comprehensive" immigration law reform is nothing more than support for amnesty of all illegal immigrants, and he said on-air last week that her dead husband, Nick Erfle, would be ashamed of her for such a stance. He said he would partially blame her the next time a cop is gunned down.

Brutal, eh? Even conservative Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts slammed Jacobs, saying he should apologize and pointing out that:

...There's a difference between criticizing her point of view and taking a bludgeon to the side of her head – or the center of her heart.

But that sentiment can be applied to the police reaction to Jacobs' comments, too. Except instead of taking the verbal bludgeon to the talk show host's heart, the cops took a different path -- they're out for his job.

At yesterday's police press conference, Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris and others let everyone know how despicable they thought Jacobs was for attacking the widow of a cop who had made the ultimate sacrifice.

And then they handed out a list of the advertisers on Jacobs' show, all the while claiming they weren't calling for a boycott. The list includes Acura, Autozone, SRP, David Schweikert for Congress, Gallagher's Sports Grill, Honda, Nissan, Southwest Airlines, Subaru, Toyota and Village Inn. According to the police, Casino Arizona and McDonald's have already pulled their support of the show.

Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson tells me the police department put together the list before the 4 p.m. press conference yesterday, and swears "the police department did not call anybody to say 'please pull your sponsorship.'"

But there's just one problem with that: Since McDonald's pulled its sponsorship before the press conference, that means one of three things probably happened:

* McDonald's pulled its advertising on its own, after hearing Jacobs' statements about Erfle but before the police let their outrage be known. *Someone in the PD called McDonald's. *Someone in the PD leaked the list of advertisers to someone who did make that call.

Phoenix police officers, as much as anyone, have a First Amendment right to appeal to the public, and to advertisers, to shut up Jacobs.

But as a journalist, it's somewhat chilling to see a government entity come down so hard on a single radio host who was, after all, merely stating his opinion.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.