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Taped at College : Metzger’s TV Show Stirs Furor

Times Staff Writer

Thomas L. Metzger, a former Ku Klux Klan leader who now heads a San Diego County-based group advocating worldwide separation of the races, said Thursday he will continue making race-oriented cable television tapes at California State University, Fullerton, despite an uproar on campus this week about his programs.

“You wouldn’t think you would have this problem with a university,” Metzger said. “You would think a university would be a bastion of free speech.”

University officials, including President Jewell Plummer Cobb, have strongly criticized Metzger and his television programs. But they have said that he is entitled to continue taping them under the First Amendment, as well as federal laws governing the availability of public-access cable television facilities.

For the past two years, Metzger, a Fallbrook resident, has been recording his programs advocating separation of the races at the university’s Instructional Media Center. The center is a main production site for public access programs of Group W Cable in northern Orange County.

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By federal law, groups or individuals with wide ranges of viewpoints are supposed to be allowed access to cable TV. Metzger has been using Group W’s public-access Channel 38 and its Cal State Fullerton recording facility to tape and later broadcast his programs. Group W has about 22,000 subscribers in Fullerton and Placentia. Metzger said he also sends copies of “Race and Reason” all over the nation for broadcast on public-access channels by scores of cable stations.

Metzger said he functions as the moderator of the show and that guests give their views on various topics dealing with racial separation. “Not everyone who’s on the program agrees with our point of view,” he said. “We’ve had Muslims and blacks on it.”

His use of the university-based studios became an issue on campus Wednesday when the student newspaper, The Daily Titan, printed a story about him and the TV show. By coincidence, the news story broke the same day there was a student protest scheduled against apartheid in South Africa. The “Metzger issue” became a focal point of the anti-apartheid rally, said Joyce Garcia, managing editor of The Daily Titan.

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“People were shocked” about the Metzger report, Garcia said.

According to a Group W official, the Metzger program has attracted few complaints from cable viewers and no controversy in the past two years, despite its content.

“Group W does not support this kind of racist message,” said Judy Shane, public affairs director of Group W’s regional office in Encino. “But we do support the First Amendment.”

Cobb, the Cal State Fullerton president, is black and active in anti-discrimination groups. She said that regardless of her distaste for the Metzger programs, she defends Metzger’s free speech rights.

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Metzger, 47, said in a telephone interview from Fallbrook on Thursday that he dropped out of the Ku Klux Klan in 1980 and now leads White Aryan Resistance. “We want separation of groups by race and culture and self-determination for them,” he said.

It is wrong, he said, to call him either a “segregationist” or a “white supremacist,” although he advocates keeping other races from mingling with whites. “I’m a separatist,” he said.

Metzger, who once claimed he was grand dragon of the California Ku Klux Klan, became the focus of a major political storm in California when he won the Democratic nomination for the House of Representatives in a heavily Republican district of San Diego County. The state Democratic Party formally disassociated itself from Metzger’s candidacy, and the Republican incumbent, Clair Burgerner, won by an 87% to 13% margin.


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