Reliving the Republican Era on 'Monday Night Football'

Earlier this week, one columnist for ESPN’s web site went out of his way to recycle a cheap shot at President Bush, and another inadvertently reminded some of us that for a few brief, shining moments, a highly rated, prime-time, broadcast-network TV program aired unambiguously conservative points of view.

--Scoop Jackson (no relation to the late U.S. Senator from Washington state) took the NFL to task for "showing zero compassion for the people of New Orleans or [Saints] players" in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Fair enough, but Jackson also sniped, "It almost made you wish Kanye West would have added the NFL to the comment he made about George W. Bush."

--Bill Simmons called Al Michaels, Dan Fouts, and Dennis Miller, the Monday Night Football announcing crew for the 2000 and 2001 seasons, "my favorite post-Cosell team." Not that Simmons mentioned it, but another reason conservative MNF watchers relished those years is that they occasionally heard politically congenial remarks from Michaels and Miller.

Miller gave Bernard Goldberg's book Bias a plug, and Michaels, during the 2000 presidential-election recount, referred to Florida secretary of state Katherine Harris as an "American heroine." The previous week, both Miller and Michaels praised Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, as Brent Baker reported in CyberAlert:     

Returning from an ad break during the 4th quarter, the ABC camera focused on a poster...which featured a picture of ABC football commentator Dennis Miller and proclaimed: "Dennis, You Decide." Miller commented: "Well, if it’s up to me I’d pick Peggy Noonan."    Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels responded: "That gave me goose bumps."    Miller asked: "You like Peggy’s writing, huh?"    Michaels gushed about her columns in the Wall Street Journal, though he dropped the word Journal: "I read the Wall Street editorial page, I get goose bumps."

And, in their last regular-season telecast together, Michaels and Miller skewered one of the Democrats' most prominent spinmeisters. From CyberAlert:

Over matching video clips of pass fakes from the season, this exchange occurred:     Michaels: "Last game of the year. Denny, it's a good time to do some, I think, awards. It's been a wild year, some crazy stuff's happened this season."     Miller: "Yeah, we got the Oscar nods coming up, Al. We have our nominees for the best fake. Let's watch Kordell [Stewart, Pittsburgh Steelers] here. He's really good at it, I thought; Kordell sold that. Kurt Warner [St. Louis Rams], not quite as good, but I think he's a Christian and he's afraid to fake people like that. And then we have the [Miami] Dolphins. Lamar Smith, one of the few guys in the league who can actually receive a fake like that and still get less than three yards in the carry. But the biggest fake of the year, Paul Begala's last smile, as always is the case, Al."     Over a picture on screen of a smiling Begala, Michaels endorsed Miller’s sentiment: "Unanimous, a lifetime achievement award, I think."     Miller: "Maybe Paul's here tonight. We're down in his neck of the woods."     Michaels: "There's a television camera -- he might be here." 

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters