New York Rangers hockey player and team "enforcer" Sean Avery is speaking out in support of gay marriage in New York State as part of an ad series sponsored by the left-wing Human Rights Campaign. He was profiled in glowing terms in a New York Times news story by John Branch in Sunday's sports section, "In Rarity, a Player Speaks Out for Gay Rights." But how have the paper's columnists treated athletes who take conservative stands?
Until now, supporters have come mostly from the worlds of politics, entertainment, theater and fashion. One type of New York celebrity was conspicuously absent: the athlete.
Enter Rangers forward Sean Avery.
He recently recorded a video, becoming one of only a few active athletes in American team sports to voice support for gay rights, and is believed to be the first in New York to publicly advocate for same-sex marriage. No active male player in a major American team sport has declared his homosexuality, and homosexual slurs remain in use to insult opponents and officials.
Avery, a 31-year-old from Pickering, Ontario, has played nine seasons in the N.H.L. Known as a fashion-conscious, on-ice agitator, he has never been afraid of what others think of him.
It was a tiny item in the New York Times -- a brief at the bottom of page B14 of Tuesday's sports section, under Lacrosse: “Crystal Mangum, who falsely accused three Duke players of raping her in 2006, was charged with murder in the death of her boyfriend.” The man died two weeks after Mangum stabbed him, and Mangum has now been charged with murder.
The Times may prefer to forget that name, but it was far more interested in Crystal Mangum back in 2006. More than any other media outlet, the Times trumpeted her rape accusations against three Duke lacrosse players, accusations that quickly fell apart in a mass of contradictions and shifting stories.
What will it take for the MSM to stop smearing the falsely-accused Duke lacrosse players? Judging by the performance of ESPN's Steve Weissman this morning, legal exoneration is not enough.
Introducing an ESPNNEWS item on a lacrosse game between Duke and the University of Virginia, Weissman claimed that three years ago, the Duke team had been involved in "a devastating scandal," and that while the accused players had been exonerated, "the questions remain."
Weissman, looking for a hook to intro the story, went for the cheap moral equivalence between the false charges leveled against the Duke players, and the murder charge against a UVA player in the death of a women's lacrosse player.
New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey applauded the NBA's Phoenix Suns uniform protest of Arizona's strict new anti-immigration law in Saturday's "Walking Tentatively in Protester's Shoes," suggesting only that it didn't go far enough and even calling for Major League Baseball to boycott games in Arizona. The column also put in perspective the paper's long-time hypocrisy on athletes making political statements.
When the Phoenix Suns wore the name Los Suns on their jerseys Wednesday night, it was construed by many of their fans as a political statement against the new Arizona law regarding illegal immigrants.
As a political gesture, it fell far below the black gloves worn by two American sprinters in the 1968 Olympics. However, there definitely was a measure of criticism of the law from high up on the team -- including from the Suns' owner, Robert Sarver; the general manager, Steve Kerr; and players like Grant Hill, Amar'e Stoudemire and Steve Nash.
It was refreshing to hear reaction to current events from sports figures. It is easy to take pot shots at athletes and team officials for living in a bubble, isolated by money and fame. When athletes care about something, conservative or liberal, it is a sign they are alive.
Vecsey's stand is no surprise, coming from a newspaper that can't just let athletes play but tries to enlist them into pushing liberal social agendas. The Times ran an editorial on November 18, 2002, suggesting that Tiger Woods boycott The Masters golf tournament out of solidarity with women who aren't allowed to become members of Augusta National Golf Club, host of the tournament.
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
On Sunday, Howard Kurtz accidentally exposed how poorly the media report on issues of race, and how they not only use implications of prejudice to "[pump] steroids into an ordinary story," they also either ignore important events or badly misreport them due to their own biases.
In the first segment on the most recent installment of CNN's "Reliable Sources," Kurtz and his panel discussed comments made by various press members last week that opposition to Barack Obama's agenda is being fueled by racism.
Kurtz as he normally does had the last word (video embedded below the fold, relevant section at 8:00):
In his column "Exposing the Truth About Exposing the Truth," New York Times sportswriter Harvey Araton defended his "good friend" Selena Roberts -- a former Times sports columnist now reporting for Sports Illustrated -- from "misogynist ravings" launched after her recent reporting on steroid use by Yankees baseball star Alex Rodriguez.
Roberts has Rodriguez dead to rights on his steroid use and even made him cough up a public apology for previously lying about it. But Araton failed to reveal his former colleague's own sexist attacks and unfair persecution of Duke lacrosse players when they were falsely accused of raping a stripper in 2006. The case fell apart, and the Times, which pushed hard for the prosecution on its front page, came off looking both vengeful and pathetic.
In the wake of the infamous (and illegal) antics of the New England Patriots, having admitted they repeatedly and blatantly broke the rules and cheated during their Super Bowl run of the early 21st century, a story appeared in the Boston Herald newspaper that the Patriots had taped the St. Louis Rams' walkthrough prior to beating the heavily favored Rams in the 2001 Super Bowl. Since the Patriots are admitted cheaters, this was not a stretch of the imagination, especially since a member of the Patriots' video staff- one who illegally taped other team- was setting up while the Rams were walking through their game plan. However, the story has not been corroborated by anyone, and the member of the Patriots' staff who did most of the illegal taping told the NFL commissioner that he had no knowledge of anyone doing said taping, and that he certainly did not. Following this, the Herald and its reporter, one John Tomase, have apologized- and on the front page, no less. Tomase wrote on the HErald's website today
"First and foremost, this is about a writer breaking one of the cardinal rules of journalism. I failed to keep challenging what I had been told," wrote John Tomase in Friday's editions of the newspaper. Tomase explained what led up to the publication of the Feb. 2 story, which appeared one day before the Patriots' 17-14 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. The Herald on Wednesday apologized for the story, after former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that he did not tape the walkthrough and did not know of anyone who had.
Welcome to the 2007 Top Ten Lowlights of The New York Times. As usual, the year brought a cornucopia of biased behavior by the nation's paper of record, from sliming innocent Duke lacrosse players to defending illegal immigration to yet another liberal rant from a high-level Times executive (this year it was Executive Editor Bill Keller who did the honors). Times Watch has whittled down the absolute worst from another liberally slanted year from the New York Times. For the full report, visit Times Watch. Here are the headlines for a taste:
10. Bill Keller Unleashed in London -- "War Going Very Badly in Iraq"
9. The Haditha "Massacre"
8. Doubting the Fort Dix Six Terror Plot
7. France's Fearsome Nicolas Sarkozy
6. Gee, Why Is Dick Cheney So Secretive?
5. Reporter Chastised for Saying "Surge" Worth a Shot...
4. Blaming the Victims in the Duke "Rape" Hoax
3. Loving the (Illegal) Alien
2. Deep Discount for MoveOn.org's "Petraeus-Betray Us" Ad
"View" moderator Whoopi Goldberg surprisingly called out Reverend Al Sharpton for sometimes jumping to conclusions too swiftly, particularly on the false Duke lacrosse sexual assault allegation. In discussing Al Sharpton calling for Isiah Thomas to apologize for his conduct with a female New York Knicks staffer, Whoopi Goldberg called for Sharpton to apologize for protesting the innocent Duke lacrosse players.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Will you do me a favor? Will you ask him to please apologize to the Duke lacrosse players?
When members of the Duke University lacrosse team were falsely accused of raping a black stripper last year, media focused great attention on the woman in the middle of the controversy, and the supposed crime.
Yet, as pointed out Thursday by NewsBuster Matthew Balan, as the press report activities in Jena, Louisiana, the name of the white boy who was beaten by the "Jena 6," Justin Barker, is rarely mentioned, and the assault which precipitated the arrest of the "6" is either ignored, or downplayed.
Such was certainly the case on Thursday's "Nightly News" which led with the day's civil rights protests in Jena, but, for all intents and purposes, ignored the assault which precipitated the arrests of the six students in question.
Ironically, NBC's Brian Williams began the broadcast:
On Sunday, law professor Jeffrey Rosen reviewed for the New York Times the new book "Until Proven Innocent -- Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case," by Stuart Taylor & KC Johnson, which, among bringing other injustices surrounding the case to light, also excoriates the mainstream press's shoddy coverage, much of which presumed the guilt of the three white lacrosse players.
Rosen called the book "riveting," but devoted just two sentences to the frequent passages that rip apart the Times's shoddy coverage of the case, taking particular aim at reporter Duff Wilson and columnist Selena Roberts.
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Chris Cuomo talked to the authors of a new book about how liberals in the media allowed their politically correct biases to color coverage of the accused students in the Duke lacrosse rape case. Critiquing the media, Cuomo acknowledged, "It was difficult to report on this story fairly because there was so much pressure about pushing the angle that something had to happen. Something had to happen. It couldn't be nothing." He even proclaimed a lesson of the case to be "what people have always suspected, which is be careful what you hear from the media."
Stuart Taylor, co-author of "Until Proven Innocent," indicted liberal journalists who hold an obsession with race and sex. He derided the media’s gleeful handing of the case, saying, "The New York Times loved it, or a lot of people at the New York Times loved it. USA Today loved it. Nancy Grace on CNN loved it." However, while Cuomo did engage Taylor and his co-author K.C. Johnson on the subject of the media’s failing, the GMA anchor ignored an example from his own network. In April of 2007, ABC reporter Terry Moran blogged on the network’s official site that Americans shouldn’t feel too bad for the Duke students because of their wealth. He also claimed that the women of Rutgers basketball team suffered more from Don Imus:
Does liberal New York Times columnist Selena Roberts have a double standard for white/blacks accused of crimes? A review of her recent work makes that conclusion hard to escape.
Earlier this year, Roberts wrote passionately (if incorrectly) regarding the three falsely accused Duke lacrosse players in the Times's once-august pages. One of her main themes was that the lacrosse players were engaging in a wall of silence designed to protect the guilty. She condemned this behavior in very strong terms, even using the illustration of a gang member wearing a "Stop Snitching" T-shirt on her first article, published on March 31, 2006. In this she portrayed them as equally despicable and in fact equivalent to those gang members who discourage snitching to the authorities with threats of physical violence.