Ziegler Hates LA, Says Lawsuit Has Ruined His Life - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Ziegler Hates LA, Says Lawsuit Has Ruined His Life

Maureen Kyle

(LOUISVILLE, May 19th, 2005, 7 p.m.) -- Former 84 WHAS radio talk show host John Ziegler is well known for his often outrageous on-air commentary. Some of those comments cost him his job in Louisville, and Ziegler said the defamation lawsuit filed against him by former WDRB Morning Show host Darcie Divita against has ruined his life. WAVE 3's Maureen Kyle has more.

Ziegler fought back tears during a second day of testimony Thursday as he described his current life in Los Angeles:

"My life has been not disrupted -- it's been destroyed," Ziegler said at one point. "On numerous occasions, I have lived in 10 different states, largely because -- almost entirely because -- of this career.

"I am not married. I have no children. I'm now living 3,000 miles from the closest people of my life. I'm missing my nieces and nephews growing. I hate where I live. I don't even feel like LA is America. I feel like when I come here I ought to go into the international terminal, show my passport."

The no-nonsense talk show host told the court the only thing worse than the scandal surrounding his comments about Divita and subsequent firing was the loss of his mother.

"It's the only thing in my life that was more devastating than the series of events that placed us here today," Ziegler said.

Later, the no-nonsense talk show host choked up as he tried to explain the circumstances surrounding a dispute he had with an official from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization:

"And I said, 'what I'd like is for the little brother to come in and see my show, come on the show if they want to come on.'"

Officials did arrange for a 10-year-old boy to visit the studios during one of Ziegler's shows. That's when Ziegler asked the boy to comment on the air about the Kobe Bryant rape allegations -- which didn't sit well with the organization.

But Ziegler said there was no indication that anything was wrong until later.

"When the show ended, we looked at each other, and I said, you know I want to go further with this.' And she was very enthusiastic about it. And Michael turned to me and said, Mr. Ziegler, this has been one of the best days of my life.'

"And so I very much wanted to see him again, and I did, on a couple of other occasions after that. And so I called the person from Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and they gave me some -- it was unbelievable, bureaucratic meaningless.

"And I told the person I was speaking to, 'I am going to fry you on the air. I am going to fry you on the air. And I went on the air, and that's what I did. Because I was pissed off, and I'll tell you something: my listeners were pissed off."

The definition of "truth" has a lot of bearing on this trial, and Divita's attorneys questioned Ziegler at length about his perception of truth.

"I'm here because I want to be here and I want to see the truth come out," Ziegler Divita's attorney, T. Clay.

Clay then read from a statement Ziegler made on one of his shows:

"Unfortunately, you will find that the truth doesn't matter much in real life. In most cases, perception is reality. In fact, you are actually more likely to get in trouble in life when you tell the truth than when you lie."

Ziegler didn't hesitate to agree. "I wholeheartedly -- whoever said that was pretty smart."

"You said it," Clay shot back. "Does that make you pretty smart?"

Ziegler replied: "it was a smart statement. I'm impressed."

Clay asked if Ziegler agreed with the statement, asking if he really believed "that the truth doesn't matter very much in real life?"

"Unfortunately, I believe that's the case," Ziegler said.

Clay also questioned Ziegler's perception of this trial, asking him what he found "hilarious" about it.

"I said a lot of things about my upcoming trip to Louisville," Ziegler said. "it's possible I referred to an aspect of what is happening here as hilarious."

Clay wanted to know "what aspect might that have been?"

"The fact that a claim that has no merit has gone all the way to trial," Ziegler replied.

Members of 84 WHAS management took the stand late in the afternoon and testified that they did warn Ziegler not to talk about Divita on the air, and that the comments he made in August of 2003 resulted in his dismissal.

The trial continues on Friday and could wrap up by the end of next week.

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Online Reporter: Maureen Kyle

Online Producer: Michael Dever

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