WGN’s Cochran apologizes for Mendoza ‘duct tape’ comment

Steve Cochran

Steve Cochran has apologized to Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza for suggesting that Governor Bruce Rauner put duct tape over her mouth.

“I chose my words poorly when I made a comment earlier this week while Governor Bruce Rauner was a guest on my show,” said Cochran, who hosts mornings on Tribune Broadcasting news/talk WGN AM 720. “My comments offended Comptroller Susana Mendoza and I apologize.”

At the same time, Cochran accused Mendoza of misrepresenting what he said during his interview last Wednesday with Rauner and underscored his longtime personal concern about violence against women.

Abdon Pallasch, spokesman for Mendoza, said Sunday that Mendoza has accepted Cochran’s apology.

But the story may not end there. Cochran said he’ll have more to say about the matter on his show Monday.

The controversy began when Cochran questioned Rauner about a new television commercial in which the Republican governor uses duct tape to dramatize that Democratic lawmakers fail to support long-term fixes in Springfield. In the interview, Rauner singled out Mendoza as part of the “broken system.”

“I was going to suggest that maybe you take some of that duct tape you are working with and put it over her mouth,” Cochran quipped. “But that probably wouldn’t be appropriate.”

(Here is the link to the complete interview on WGN.)

Susanna Mendoza

Mendoza seized on the remark at a press conference Friday, calling on Cochran and the station to apologize for what he said, and calling on Rauner to apologize for chuckling about it.

“This type of language is unacceptable and I’m here today to speak out on behalf of all women who have been marginalized, threatened, demeaned or made to feel that they are helpless,” Mendoza said in a statement.

“The attacks on women who speak their mind need to stop. The use of the language of a rape culture needs to stop.

“I am calling on WGN, on radio host Steve Cochran, and on Governor Rauner to issue an apology. Not for me, but for the millions of women who’ve been victims of violence or sexual abuse, who could turn the radio on, and hear a radio personality suggest to the Governor that duct tape be used to silence a woman and rather than have the Governor denounce that type of language, instead laugh right along with him. Rape culture language is not a laughing matter and it’s never OK.”

Todd Manley, vice president of content and programming at WGN, called Cochran’s choice of words “unfortunate,” adding he “should have never said it.”

Here is the text of Cochran’s apology, which he posted on social media:

I chose my words poorly when I made a comment earlier this week while Governor Bruce Rauner was a guest on my show. My comments offended Comptroller Susana Mendoza and I apologize.

Furthermore the words were mine and mine alone.

The comment was meant to be about my opinion that there is far too much grandstanding and not enough action by those in power to fix our state budget disaster.

I must add the following. I grew up in a house where I witnessed violence by my father against my mother. Nothing is more offensive to me. I have worked with agencies to raise funds and awareness to this cause. I have contributed my time and money to this fight. I have used my platform as a public person to speak out on this scourge for more than 30 years. As a husband, father, and grandfather to two amazing women and one incredible little girl, I’m proud of the work I’ve done and continue to do on this cause.

My hope is that the leaders in state Government will work just as hard to finally finish a budget that will in part help fund the cause of stopping violence against women and helping the victims who are still in jeopardy.

My comment has been misrepresented by the Comptroller today. Neither the Comptroller nor her office made any attempt to contact me prior to her public statement today. She is welcome on the show to continue this discussion in person and I hope she will join me.