Giuiliani fired from WABC over broken promise to keep stolen election claims off air, station's CEO says

NEW YORK — John Catsimatidis, the CEO of WABC radio, offered a detailed explanation Monday for the station’s decision to pull Rudy Giuliani from its airwaves, saying the former mayor repeatedly violated an agreement prohibiting him from spreading claims that fraud caused Donald Trump to lose the 2020 presidential election.

In a written statement, Catsimatidis said Giuliani gave him an ultimatum last week demanding he double his airtime and salary.

Two days after the demand, Catsimatidis said he learned that Giuliani continued to make “defamatory comments” about Georgia election workers, two of whom sued the former mayor for defamation and won $148 million in damages as a result. The stolen election narrative pushed by Giuliani and Trump has been proven false.

“That same day, I sent Rudy a letter reminding him not to speak about the legitimacy of the election results on our air,” Catsimatidis said. “Yet just hours later, during his 3:00 pm show that day, he did just that.”

Catsimatidis, who mounted his own failed run for mayor in 2013, did not say explicitly Monday whether or not he had fired Giuliani, who was suspended from airtime last Friday, but a WABC press release sent out Sunday noted that Catsimatidis was expected to “announce the cancellation” of Giuliani’s radio show.

On Monday, Giuliani all but confirmed getting sacked, saying on Twitter that he “was FIRED for refusing to give in to their demand that I stop talking about the 2020 Presidential Election.”

“I bought WABC at a time when media outlets wanted to stay away from associating with Rudy,” said Catsimatidis, who purchased the station in 2019 for $12.5 million. “I gave Rudy his own show and continued to support him despite the criticism I received as a result of this decision.”

He went on to detail how after buying the radio station, WABC received a letter from the lawyers of Dominion Voting Systems, which sued Fox News for defamation in March 2021, claiming the outlet spread the conspiracy theory that its machines transferred votes from Trump to President Biden.

That lawsuit resulted in Fox coughing up a settlement of close to $800 million to avoid a trial.

According to Catsimatidis, that resulted in WABC’s lawyers instructing its broadcasters “‘not to state, suggest or imply that the election results are not valid or that the election is not over.’ This has remained the policy of the station ever since,” Catsimatidis said, adding that Giuliani “agreed not to speak about Dominion” as well as “any allegations of electronic voting manipulation surrounding the 2020 election.”

After Giuliani broke that promise, Catsimatidis said that the WABC control room prevented his comments on the topic from airing live by using its “dump button” — but also noted that the station has a copy of the remarks “in our records.”

Giuliani received another warning in writing after that. Catsimatidis recounted how afterward Giuliani responded to him directly with a text stating “I am disregarding every order given in this letter.”

Catsimatidis, who made his fortune as the owner of grocery stores in the city, said the response raised concerns to him “as a responsible journalist” and that nobody at WABC has “ever been fired for free speech or talking about the election, even though in my mind, talking about the election of 2020 is like talking about who shot Kennedy.”

While Catsimatidis didn’t directly allude to Giuliani being fired in his statement Monday, he did reference each “decision” as the station’s head.

“As a licensee of the [Federal Communications Commission], the First Amendment grants me the rights and responsibilities to protect WABC,” he said. “Each decision I make is guided by what I believe best serves the station, our listeners, and above all, the truth.”