Spike Lee Benefits from ESPN Double Standard

After booting Rush Limbaugh over non-political remarks that the news media favor Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb because he is black, ESPN, the radio home of Keith Olbermann, allowed left-wing director Spike Lee to go off on a rant about how New Orleans is not rebuilt. Limbaugh touched on the topic in his show Tuesday:

I must tell you, I watched the game a little bit last night. I had a very important secret meeting and I didn't get to see the entire game, missed some of the beginning, but as soon as I tuned in who do I see but Spike Lee in the booth being asked questions as though he's an expert on social policy and everything else. I listened to a little bit of it, and I kept saying, "It's a football game! Couldn't you have done this in the pregame show?" I find out they did, they devoted a lot of time to the pregame show.

It was pure politics in the booth at ESPN last night, and it was pure liberal politics, disguised as social compassion. Give us the game, guys! I'm getting sick of all these shots of the fans and the crowds and the shots that take us away from the field. It's no different than if you're at the game and a bunch of drunks in the row in front of you stand up and you can't see what's going on on the field. That's what these networks do. I don't want to hear Spike Lee when I'm watching the Atlanta Falcons and the Saints. I don't care. He got his HBO documentary. It doesn't matter to me. This ain't a social welfare-concern show. Now, I know that there might have been some pressure brought by the NFL. We gotta make New Orleans look good. We gotta make people understand still a lot of work to do here and so forth, but it got so syrupy and Milquetoast that I was about to puke. It's a football game! And football announcers, I thought, were not supposed to delve into politics. Where did I hear that once? Did politics we get all over the place, and we got liberal politics, and how rotten and horrible it is. "You may think Bourbon Street looks good, but we had to go on a tour of all these areas of New Orleans that are still dilapidated and un-repaired."

All well and good except if you're going to do that, ESPN, tell us the truth about why instead of leading everybody to the false impression that there's one entity and one entity alone responsible for it, i.e., the Bush administration. Even though it wasn't specifically stated, when you get Spike Lee in there after that documentary he did on HBO, you kind of get the flavor of where these guys are headed and what they're thinking. The idea the federal government doesn't care, that theme reverberated well, but you stand by, because I have the truth about what's wrong down there. [...]

You know what it reminded me of last night? I remember back in the old days watching Thanksgiving football, back in Sacramento, 1984, '85, and remember, football on the left coast, the early game starts at 9:30, the late game starts at one. And so between the two games, the local news would come on and do news reports, and you could make book on it, one or more of the stations would send out some reporter to some homeless shelter, and they'd find the most destitute, unkempt, filthy-looking person they could. This person would be sitting in a homeless shelter cramming whatever the homeless shelter was feeding that day, some semblance of a Thanksgiving meal, both hands (making scarfing sounds).

Half of the food was not ending up in the mouth. Half of it was on the whiskers, and the info babe, the reporter, would look in the camera and try to make everybody at home feel absolutely guilty that this was happening. It wasn't said, but the implication was clear: "How dare you be at home with your family and a fireplace and a cozy, warm, Thanksgiving Day, stuffing yourselves, all the food and more than you ever need. Look it at these poor people. How dare you?" Well, that was the purpose, and I sort of got the same feeling last night, watching a football game. I don't want to watch a homeless shelter video when I'm watching a football game, and I don't want to listen to three Nimrods tell me what they think is wrong and then get some politicized guests on ESPN, like Spike Lee, to start blabbering their own political agendas, in a football game.

Let 'em do it somewhere, but not in a football game. But if you're going to do it, which they did, then try to be innovative. And if you're going to take cameras out and show us the parts of New Orleans that are still devastated and people that are still in pain, at least endeavor to be honest and explain all sides of why, instead of just going with the easy, lazy mantra that the government doesn't care and that we need more compassion in this country and we need more concern, and, yeah, the football game's on but don't get the idea just because we can show you pictures of a really humping Bourbon Street and French Quarter, that this whole city is back. Don't believe the notion that it is just the ninth ward, there's lots of parts that -- well, we all know this.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013