All Three Network Morning Shows Highlight NBA Player's 'I Hate Gay People' Comments

Here's a double standard on hate. While none of the Big Three networks have mentioned the hate speech of the bloggers (now retired) of the John Edwards presidential campaign, former pro basketball star Tim Hardaway's shocking and repulsive line on a Miami radio show that "I hate gay people" made all three network morning shows on Thursday in the wake of the first former NBA player announcing he's homosexual. NBC anchor Ann Curry tried to stifle laughs and then said "I'm sorry, America, but it was just so far across the line." ABC reporter Taina Hernandez closed her story with the scolding line "No active NBA player has ever come out of the closet and Hardaway's comments offer a troubling reminder of attitudes that apparently still linger." CBS didn't even mention former Orlando Magic center John Amaechi, whose new book revealed his long-held secret.Hardaway's comments, first seen by many at the top of the Drudge Report, are newsworthy, although the cultural opinions of basketball stars are rarely in the headlines. But when networks announce a line has been crossed and find "troubling" reminders of lingering attitudes, is that meant just for Hardaway's now-retracted statement of hate, or for anyone who opposes homosexuality as morally wrong?The Christian attitude of "hate the sin, love the sinner" was absent from Hardaway's comments, and stories on coming out and "homophobia" often completely exclude anyone who would attempt to rebut the politically correct point of view. NBC carried an anchor brief at about 7:14, then followed up with giggly banter about making Curry want to laugh:

Ann Curry: "Retired Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway has apologized for remarks he made Wednesday on a radio talk show about last week's announcement that former NBA center John Amaechi is gay. The host had asked Hardaway how he would react, interact with a gay player."Tim Hardaway: "I hate gay people. So, you know I let it be known, I don't like gay people. I don't like to be around gay people. I don't, you know, yeah I'm, I'm homophobic. I don't, I don't, I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world for that or in the United States. So, yeah, I don't like it."Curry, holding back laughter: "Hardaway later apologized calling his comments a mistake."Curry struggled for self-control through a report on the new dollar coin, and then apologized: Curry: "I am so sorry that I'm losing it over that one. I am so sorry but I, just, it went so far across the line."Matt Lauer: "...caught you off, caught you off guard, I know, that's...crazy comment."Al Roker: "I don't think I've ever seen that happen to Ann."Curry: "Well you were laughing and that was the problem!"[Lauer, Roker, Vieira collectively: "Ooooh!"]Lauer: "That is what we call around here being thrown under the bus."Roker: "I'm the only one who was laughing? Yes of course."Curry: "I apologize America but it was just so far across the line."Roker: "Say hi to your pal Tim Hardaway."Vieira: "I actually thought, I actually thought in the beginning he was kidding."Roker: "Maybe it was a joke."Lauer: "No."Vieira: "No it was not."Roker: "Wow that was not a joke."Vieira: "He has since apologized."

ABC highlighted the controversy at the show's opening, then carried a report at about the same time as NBC, halfway into the first half-hour:

Chris Cuomo: "A former NBA star is backtracking this morning after making stinging comments about gay people. Taina Hernandez has more." Tim Hardaway: "You know, I hate gay people. You know, I let it be known I don't like gay people, I don't like to be around gay people." Hernandez: "The in-your-face comments by retired Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway come just a week after another former NBA player, John Amaechi, revealed that he is gay. Amaechi told ESPN that he lived in fear that his teammates would learn of his sexuality. John Amaechi: "The machismo, it's an amazingly, it's a testosterone riddled group. And it's not just the NBA, it's professional sports." Hernandez: "Though Amaechi and Hardaway never played on the same basketball team, Hardaway told a Miami sports radio show how he would react to a gay teammate. Hardaway: "First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team. I think the majority of the players would ask him to be traded or they would want to get traded."Radio host: "You know that what you're saying there Timmy is flatly homophobic."Hardaway: "I am homophobic, so, yeah, I don't like it." Hernandez: "Overall, Amaechi is getting support from, among others, Shaquille O'Neal, and late Wednesday, Hardaway did apologize, saying, yes I regret it, I'm sorry. No active NBA player has ever come out of the closet and Hardaway's comments offer a troubling reminder of attitudes that apparently still linger. For Good Morning America, Taina Hernandez, ABC News.

On The Early Show, CBS anchor Russ Mitchell touched on the story at the top of the 8 am hour without ever mentioning Amaechi:

Russ Mitchell: "A retired NBA player has apologized for saying he hates gay people. Former Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway made the initial statement to Miami radio on Wednesday."

Tim Hardaway: "I hate gay people. So, umm, umm I let it be known, I don't like gay people. I don't like being around gay people. I don't--you know I am, I'm homophobic. I don't like it, it shouldn't be <inaudible> in the world for it and in the United States for it. So, yeah, I don't like it." Russ Mitchell: "Hardaway later apologized saying he never should have said what he did."

Only ABC had noticed Amaechi's book before today, on Sunday's Good Morning America. They carried a story on the dangers of "residual homophobia" in sports and noted that Amaechi's book is published by ESPN Books, a corporate cousin of ABC:

Bill Weir: "Well, we turn now to a pro basketball player, the first pro basketball player, to speak out about being a gay man in the NBA, the history of professional sports only a handful of gay athletes have ever ventured out of the closet. And now, Ron Claiborne has details on this particular man's choice." Ron Claiborne: "Bill, his name is John Amaechi. And he knocked around the NBA for several seasons until his retirement just a few years ago. Amaechi, who was raised in England, has now written a book called, 'Man in the Middle,' and he's speaking out for the first time about what it was like to be a gay player in a very macho sport. John Amaechi spent six years in the NBA. At six foot 10 inches, 270 pounds, he played center for four different teams, and all the while, he lived in fear his teammates might learn his secret that he was gay." Reporter: "What do you think it is about the NBA lifestyle that wouldn't embrace your choice in life?" John Amaechi: "The machismo, it's an amazingly, it's a testosterone-riddled group. And it's not just the NBA, it's professional sports." Claiborne: "Amaechi told ESPN that he was afraid of how his teammates would react if they discovered he was homosexual." Amaechi: "It, you know, kind of knocks the deck and makes the music jump when you have to think, 'Oh, maybe the person that I really love and support is gay."Claiborne: "In all of pro basketball, baseball, football and hockey, Amaechi is only the sixth player to publicly disclose that he's gay." Billy Bean (Former baseball player): "I think that it's great to see images of strong people who have succeeded, like John Amaechi. And you know, this coming out wasn't shrouded in controversy. It wasn't forced. He didn't do something bad." Claiborne: "But all of the gay athletes waited until after they've retired to come out." Eric Anderson (sociologist): "They're still afraid of residual homophobia. They're afraid of losing contracts and sponsorships in some team sport. But the reality is is when athletes come out of the closet, in all sports, at all levels, these things don't materialize." Claiborne: "Anderson says polls suggest the vast majority of pro and college athletes wouldn't care if a teammate revealed that he's homosexual."Anderson: "Attitudes amongst professional athletes 10 years ago were absolutely not. We would not accept the gay athlete. It would, it would harm team cohesion. I would be uncomfortable with the gay athlete. It wouldn't be tolerated and there would be physical violence. Today, the average statement is more along the lines of, as long as he's a good player, as long as it doesn't interfere with the team, it's not a problem, it's none of my business.Claiborne: "At least, publicly, the reaction of most NBA players asked about John Amaechi's coming out has been, 'So what?' LeBron James has been one of the few players to say anything critical. He says any player who hides his sexuality isn't trustworthy. Others expressed opinions similar to what Amaechi's former teammate, Tracy McGrady, said, 'I don't care what you are as long as you're doing what you're supposed to on the court.' Now, whether that would really be the case if an active pro athlete ever came out publicly, that has never been tested, not yet. Bill?" Weir: "It's going to have to be somebody very confident of their abilities on the court." Claiborne: "Yeah, exactly."Weir: "Because just for a journeymen like this guy, any stigma may keep him from getting a job. Interesting. Thanks, Ron. And we should mention that 'Man in the Middle' is published by ESPN Books, a division of our parent company."

Update 11:10 by Matthew Sheffield. Too much off-topic posting here again. Locking this thread as well.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis