NY Times Columnist: Every Newsroom or Stadium Press Box Without a Black Shows Donald Sterling-Level Racism

On NPR’s race-matters talk show “Tell Me More” on Monday, host Michel Martin discussed the Donald Sterling scandal with New York Times sports columnist William Rhoden, announcing he had written the book "Forty Million Dollar Slave: The Rise, Fall, And Redemption Of The Black Athlete."

Rhoden used the Sterling scandal to thump a tub for racial quotas in journalism. He claimed that every time there’s not a black journalist in a newsroom or a stadium press box, that news outlet or media elite  is Donald Sterling-level racist: [MP3 audio here.]

MARTIN: Do you think Mr. Sterling's thoughts are unique to him, or are they things that one has heard in the league?

RHODEN: Well, that's a great question. And of course, you know, you can't speculate. [Ha!] I mean, he was just stupid enough to get caught. I mean, I look at this as him throwing a good old-fashioned racist hanging curveball. You know, racism has become so insidious now and so under-the-radar and so multifaceted that it's rare that somebody's dumb enough to just get caught.

But, no, I mean, you know, every time I walk into a press box, Michel, and see no African-American reporters, or every time I walk into a newsroom and see no African-American editors or, like, no reporters, you know, people are saying the same things without necessarily saying it. We don't respect you. We don't respect black people. We're not going to hire you. We don't want you around.

I hear, you know, partners in law firms complain of the same thing that there's, like, one of them or maybe only a clerk. So no, I think you ask a great question. And I think it's probably one of the questions to ask is - we could jump all over Donald Sterling. You know, he's just an 81-year-old man who's a old-school kind of bigot. But there are a lot of people who are younger, who are a lot more slicker realize that they don't - they're smart enough to not get caught.

MARTIN: Christine Brennan, you've been in a lot of these same press rooms. What's your take on this?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA TODAY: I agree with Bill on so much of this. And Bill and I don't always agree on every issue we talk about. But we do agree on this one, Bill, and it's great. And, Michel, great to talk with you in all these years we've all worked together.

You know, I could say, actually, the same thing about women. I wish there were so many more women. Diversity is so important. And press boxes can often - often we can see one or two women, as well, Bill, as we know.

It probably shouldn’t be surprising that Rhoden also felt the “homophobes” should be drummed out of society just like Sterling:


RHODEN: Well, A, if these are in fact his comments, no, I don't think this is the first time he said it. And again, I think that - so that's the first thing. And also in terms of the privacy thing, if you're a bigot, you're a bigot, if you say it privately, if you say publicly. You know, if you're a bigot, you're a bigot. Now, you could argue certain legal things about what's private, I mean, should your spouse -- whatever. But if you are a racist or a homophobe or whatever and it comes out, that's who you are. And you've got to be held accountable for it.

Martin began the segment with a shot at the late Andrew Breitbart: "And let me start by saying alleged comments once again because it occurred to me, in the spirit of fairness - you know, I'm thinking about Shirley Sherrod, for example - the agriculture department employee who was falsely portrayed as a racist by an ideologue who edited and then posted her remarks. I think it's important to say that this matter is still being investigated."

As if Michel Martin and William Rhoden and Christine Brennan are NOT ideologues! See the blog Legal Insurrection, which made the point that the Breitbart-edited video includes Sherrod's claim that she realized her racist attitude was wrong.

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