On this long holiday weekend, let's take a short break from looking at the media's political bias and instead examine the possibility of their sports bias. In the past month, two columnists for ESPN's web site have suggested that when the sports media cover the steroid issue, they tend to come down considerably harder on major-league baseball than they do on the NFL. In early August, ESPN.com baseball columnist Jerry Crasnick wrote that
with the continued fallout from the BALCO scandal, baseball is receiving a huge -- and some might say, disproportionate -- share of attention as the whipping boy for performance enhancing drugs. While the stray Floyd Landis or Justin Gatlin might seize the headlines temporarily as sports' resident cheater du jour, it's a virtual lock that the focus will eventually drift back to baseball.
Just for fun, we Googled the words "Bud Selig" and "steroids" and came up with 263,000 matches. A similar search for departing NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue yielded a mere 33,900 matches...
The ostensible topic was the NFL fantasy-league draft that members of the Today show crew recently conducted. But in sharing her strategy for making draft picks, Campbell Brown might have unintentionally offered hope to Republicans looking nervously to November and beyond.
Campbell admitted to weekend co-host Lester Holt that she knows little about football. So in making her picks, Brown said she simply adopted this strategy: "I picked the ones who looked tough and mean."
Bush supporters who think that the MSM's sports pages might offer a respite from Bush-bashing should think again. MSNBC managed to slip a sneak attack on the president into a seemingly innocuous article on the recent collapse of the Boston Red Sox.
Wrote MSNBC contributor Bob Cook, criticizing Sox General Manager Theo Epstein [pictured here]:
"Epstein might be better [sic] keeping his mouth shut for a while. His recent, unfoundedly optimistic pronouncements have him sounding like President Bush on Iraq."
Previous NewsBusters posts (this one, for example) have dealt with the racial elements of Bryant Gumbel's Tagliabue/Upshaw/leash remark, but what about its substance? Is it true, as Gumbel contends, that NFL players have been shortchanged by weak union leadership? Two prominent columnists -- one white, one black, and, incidentally, both politically liberal -- aren't buying it.
Gregg Easterbrook, in this week's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column on ESPN.com, wrote:
As to the substance of Gumbel's claim, he's way off...Baseball long-term has had the most confrontational labor relations of the major sports, so let's compare MLB player pay with NFL player pay since the onset of the NFL salary cap in 1994. Adjusting for inflation, the average pro baseball player's pay has risen 71 percent since 1994, while the average pro football player's pay has risen 132 percent. NFL player pay increases have dwarfed all other team sports, which hardly sounds like the union is on a leash...
Mouthy liberal former sportscasters of a feather stick together. On Wednesday night's Countdown, former ESPN/Fox Sports anchor Keith Olbermann mocked the NFL for even considering renouncing their deal to let Bryant Gumbel broadcast games on the emerging NFL Network. MRC analyst Scott Whitlock noticed that he tried to pile more laughs on Gumbel's apparently side-splitting comments that Eugene Upshaw was a leashed pet of NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue:
"First, time for COUNTDOWN’s latest list of nominees for ‘Worst Persons in the World.’ The Bronze to the National Football League. It is reportedly considering dismissing Bryant Gumbel who was to do play-by-play of games on the NFL`s own TV network. Gumbel claims the league`s current commissioner owned a leash on which he kept the executive director of the very pliant Football Players Union. Mr. Paul Tagliabue called Gumbel`s comments ‘uninformed and quite inexcusable.’ No truth to rumors that union head Gene Upshaw called the comments, ‘Roof. Ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff.’
Bryant Gumbel has generated backlash from outgoing NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue for accusing him of keeping the players union chief on a “leash” as his “personal pet,” with Tagliabue suggesting the league may rescind its plan to have Gumbel do play-by-play for games on the NFL Network. But in the same commentary at the end of the August edition of HBO's Real Sports, first aired on August 15, Gumbel also used Vice President Dick Cheney as a foil in castigating the football league's temperament. In his “open letter” to incoming NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Gumbel opined: “Although your league is wildly successful, making it fit Dick Cheney's demeanor can't serve you well in the long run. Yeah, football's a business, but it's also a game. Legislating individuality out of the NFL may have been Paul's thing, but it needn't be yours. Have some fun, let others do the same.”
Let us try, for a moment, to imagine a media figure. Let us assume that this figure has been a major media personality for more than 20 years, but has, on occasion, been known for making racially tinged comments. This media personality has built a reputation as an intellectual, so he's aware of what kind of comments can be mis-interpreted or mis-construed.
Now, let us a imagine a professional sports league which is in the process of changing commissioners. It has been an extremely successful league, with billions of dollars in revenue, and a long period of relative labor peace between ownership and the player's union. Let us suppose that the Commissioner in question (we'll call him "Paul Tagliabue") is a white man, and the President of the Players Association ("Gene Upshaw," for short) is a black man.
'Rome is Burning' is ESPN's edgy sports-commentary show starring the eponymous Jim Rome. Jason Whitlock is standing in for Rome this week, and while I don't know much about him, from what I've seen I enjoy his shtick. He's smart, funny and seems to successfully walk the fine line of expressing strong views without being malicious.
Another plus: his physique and bearing remind me of one of my all-time favorite movie characters in my all-time favorite movie - Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari in Casablanca. Judge for yourself.
In any case, in the show's opening monologue, the host riffs on what 'he's burning about.' Among Whitlock's topics today was what he suggests be the top priority for about-to-be-announced new NFL Commisioner. For Whitlock, job #1 is
"Fixing the league's officiating crisis. The new commissioner shouldn't bury his head in the sand and pretend everything is OK with the zebras. It's not. The new millenium NFL player is souped up on supplements and moves at the speed of sound. It's ridiculous to have 50 year-old white guys chasing after 25-yr old black guys."
Imagine you're Larry King. You've landed the first interview with Floyd Landis, the winner of the Tour de France with a great feel-good story - until he flunked a drug test.
What would be the first question you'd ask? OK, this is Larry King. Not known as the 'king' of the hardball, so to speak. So grant Larry a few warm-up questions to put Floyd at ease. But eventually, at some point, as painful as it might be, DON'T YOU HAVE TO ASK LANDIS IF HE CHEATED?? I mean, what the heck else is the purpose of the interview?
But along with millions of others [OK, Larry's ratings haven't been that great in recent years. Let's say 'thousands of others'] I waited in vain for a question that never came. Larry King never asked Floyd Landis if he took performance-enhancing drugs that accounted for the high testosterone ratio levels the post-race test detected.
In what has to be the biggest stretch of all time to personally attack the President, the LA Times tries to blame the bad behavior of a French frog on George W. Bush.
NOW WE KNOW why France's team captain lost his cool in the World Cup finals and France lost the trophy to Italy. Terrorism.
Zinedine Zidane, who is of French and Algerian ancestry, head-butted an Italian player who insulted him. Although Zidane in an interview Wednesday would not say what words provoked him, a lip reader hired by the Times of London claims Marco Materazzi called Zidane "the son of a terrorist whore.'' That's pure trickle-down politics. From the White House to the soccer pitch, "terrorist" has "cooties" and "your mother wears combat boots" flat beat as the top playground potty-mouth slur for the 21st century.
Who's surprised? The Bush administration has been scattering the word like ticker tape on a Manhattan parade. Old McDonald left the farm for the NSA, and now it's here a terrorist, there a terrorist, everywhere a terrorist.
That has to be the most sophomoric reasoning I've ever encountered in a newspaper. George Bush didn't make Marerazzi say what he did. George Bush didn't force Zidane to act like a French frog.
But this fits hand in glove with the party-line liberal view of personal responsibility -- that there is none.
Let's imagine an American World Cup team member 'of pallor' had head-butted, oh, an Arab or African player. Would the MSM be quick to excuse, even to make the incident the object of humor? Or would we have been treated to mind-numbing disquisitions on racism in sport as a microcosm of society at large?
But when a French player of Arab ancestry head-butts an Italian? Well, CBS tells us, boys will be boys. CBS's Elizabeth Palmer, who narrated a segment on the incident on this morning's Early Show, informed us that "it's a male thing understood around the world." To prove her point, CBS ran a clip from an Adam Sandler flick showing the comedian, as a football player, taking a flying foot leap into another player who had insulted his mother. We were also treated to images of video spoofs and video games that the incident has generated.
What is it with Boston Globe sportswriter Dan Shaughnessey and Florida cities? Trouble booking a tee time? Lines too long at his favorite Disney World ride? Bad OJ in his screwdriver, perhaps?
For the second time this year, Shaughnessey took the occasion of a TV appearance to gratuitously label a Florida city a 'yahoo town'. As I wrote about here, back in January, appearing on ESPN's 'Rome is Burning', he called Jacksonville a 'yahoo town,' comparing it unfavorably with Detroit, which he dubbed a 'real city' because "you can get the New York Times here."
Appearing again today on 'Rome is Burning', Shaughnessey was back on the yahoo beat.
Via Romenesko, we learn that syndicated sports columnist/humorist Norman Chad was decrying the unbearable whiteness of sports section editors, but he encapsulated it with a political wisecrack: "We're whiter than Newt Gingrich's Fourth of July barbecue." (The column ran in the Washington Post on Monday.)
Since this is an attempt at humor, it's doubtful that Chad is trying to be factual, as if he has actually witnessed a Gingrich barbecue. But this is an odd joke, considering Gingrich has long been very Jack-Kempian in his reaching out to black audiences, supporting a Martin Luther King holiday and sanctions against apartheid-era South Africa in the 1980s, for example. Then there's his endorsements of black Republican candidate Dylan Glenn for Congress in his home state of Georgia. Are the liberals running out of easy GOP "bigot" targets?
This week’s edition of Newsweek carries a devastating story suggesting the case is falling apart against three members of the Duke lacrosse team accused of rape. The phrase bannered across the cover: “Duke: Should The Case Be Dropped?” The story’s subhead: “The prosecutor insists his rape case is strong. One big problem: the facts thus far.”
So, what does Times sports columnist Harvey Araton have to say about this turn of events? After all, Araton went after the Duke lacrosse team in two previous columns, even attacking the university’s women’s lacrosse team for daring to defend their athletic colleagues.
In ending the June edition of his Real Sports news magazine show Tuesday night on HBO by urging Americans to watch and appreciate World Cup soccer, Bryant Gumbel slipped in a personal/political slam: “I know that in soccer they score about as often as Ann Coulter makes sense.” Back in February, Gumbel used a commentary, about how he would not watch the Winter Olympic games, to denounce Republicans over race as he condescendingly suggested viewers "try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention." (Dave Pierre's NewsBusters item on that, with video)
Rachel Sklar, formerly of Mediabistro's FishbowlNY blog and now the "Eat the Press" specialist at the Huffington Post (no "Green Acres" accents required), reports on what she calls a "cheap but hilarious" shot at congressional Republicans on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." It's apparently funny to blame Republican softball players for the floods in New Orleans, as fake-reporter Dan Bakkedahl put it:
The Daily Show's Dan Bakkedahl reported last night on the crisis gripping Congressional-league softball in D.C. this season after the Republican players split off into their own league in response to more inclusive regulations proposed by Democrats. According to the Wall Street Journal (and The Daily Show), the Republicans "seceded" from the league after the Democratic commissioner, Gary Caruso, permitted below-average teams to compete in the playoffs. The WSJ and Daily Show cited several emails accusing the league of being "all about Softball Welfare" and accusing Caruso of "punishing success and rewarding failure - He's a Democrat. Waddya' expect?"
It was a fantastic day at RFK Stadium today watching the Nationals come from a 9-2 deficit to an 11-9 victory. Amazing game. We went with the church youth group, and the house was packed with Yankees fans (including some in our party), so as a fan of the sad salary-deprived Milwaukee Brewers, it was fun to see the Yanks and Mariano Rivera take a powder.
The only real sour note of the day was some chowderhead wearing his Nationals hat -- and a red T-shirt with bold white "CCCP" letters and a little hammer and sickle on it. I wanted to heckle this sad shill for the Soviet Union, but we were ten rows up, and my 16-year-old son would have spent the rest of the game in another section. Soviet Guy was quite a bit thicker than little Johnny Weir. At least some baseball fans came in pro-life religious T-shirts as well.
I've often read that plants grow better when exposed to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide.
Yet, when the Associated Press mentions the subject, what it says is: Global warming boosts poison ivy.
The AP report, as published May 29 by the Boston Globe, begins:
Another reason to worry about global warming: more and itchier poison ivy. The noxious vine grows faster and bigger as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, researchers report Monday.
And a CO2-driven vine also produces more of its rash-causing chemical, urushiol, conclude experiments conducted in a forest at Duke University where scientists increased carbon-dioxide levels to those expected in 2050.
For those who think that sports broadcasts might offer a respite from liberal media spin . . . think again. At least when it comes to ESPN [an arm of ABC] the same ESPN that forced Rush Limbaugh out from his position as an NFL commentator for expressing his views on QB Donovan McNabb.
Let’s look at USA Today's story which ran just five days after the media began reporting on the rape allegation and its fallout. I think even those of you with a low opinion of MSM will be shocked by the story’s blatant bias.
The flier being distributed outside Duke's student union Wednesday night looked like a wanted poster: 40 faces of young men, smiling smugly for the camera.
What was most disturbing to those gathered was the possibility several of the Duke men's lacrosse players whose photos were arranged in those neat rows may have committed criminal charges, including forcible rape and sodomy.
Does lacrosse lead to rape? NBC’s Today show seriously investigated that question in the April 21 edition. Matt Lauer teased the story with this scintillating query:
Lauer: "And still to come, the Duke lacrosse rape case. Is there something about the sport of lacrosse that causes players to act out of bounds?"
Natalie Morales furthered this line of thinking when she introduced the segment at 7:32AM EDT:
Morales: "But first, Matt, the investigation into the alleged rape by some members of the Duke lacrosse team. It's not the first time the players there have been in trouble and it has some wondering whether this aggressive sport leads to aggressive behavior."
When things got a bit contentious this morning between conservative Jim Pinkerton and liberal Ellen Ratner on Fox & Friends Weekend's 'Long & the Short of It' segment, Pinkerton proposed a peace plan that other warring parties might well wish to adopt: "let NewsBusters.org sort this out."
The bone of contention was just what what it was that President Bush declassified - some would say leaked - and that Scooter Libby is in turn alleged to have provided to the press - presumably in the person of Judy Miller of the NY Times.
Ratner: "This was a Nixon bad-list kind of trick [presumably a reference to Nixon's 'enemies' list] to get . . . "
Host Kiran Chetry [back from maternity leave - and beautiful as ever, I might add]: "Why?"
Michelle Malkin has posted an "apparent Dateline NBC solicitation to Muslim groups." With the comments about the April 1st weekend, perhaps we should hope this is an elaborate April Fools prank. If this is as authentic as John Green's "Bush makes me sick" e-mails, the most enjoyable part is how these anti-discrimination producers want to make sure their professional victims "look Muslim" and have full beards and skull caps, and then send them to a NASCAR race. (Hmm. In fact, since NBC still airs Nextel Cup races, wouldn't it be seriously off-putting to its racing-broadcasting arrangements?)
Let's hope Dateline doesn't try to put the Muslims in exploding GM trucks, since that would be taking the staged segments to a whole new level. Here's how it reads:
In the weekly Friday afternoon roundtable with Cam Edwards at NRANews.com, he brought up three stories he had seen that he doubted had received much national media attention:
1. AP reported a sports-and-politics story from Puerto Rico: "While Cuba played the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, a spectator in the stands raised a sign saying: "Down With Fidel," sparking an international incident that escalated Friday with fastball velocity." A Castro stooge was upset with a man with an anti-Castro sign. He was lectured on free speech by the local police.
2. Frank Greve of Knight-Ridder had an unusual story: chronicling something that didn't happen: a teen crime wave predicted by "conservative criminologist John DiIulio." Greve also notes he wrote a book on it with Bill Bennett. Neither man had comment. But there's still a good-news-for-Bush angle in it: "Americans are experiencing the sharpest decline in teen crime in modern history. Schools today are as safe as they were in the 1960s, according to Justice Department figures."
MRC's Mike Rule passed along to me that NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg explained on the weekend chat show "Inside Washington" how she doesn't root for American wins at the Olympics: "I sort of like other countries to win a fair number of medals, it’s supposed to be an international competition, and it’s nice when other countries win. I don’t root for us particularly."
This is more proof that the liberal media are out of step with most Americans, who love to wave their flags and root for Apolo and Sasha and Shani and Chad and so on to win the gold. But Totenberg is not alone. In 2002, CBS and NBC anchors were extremely agitated at the thought of American "nationalism" ruining the games in Salt Lake City:
Last Wednesday, sports columnist Harvey Araton wrote about the Olympian feud between U.S. speedskaters Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis, with Hedrick starring as Bush and Davis as John Kerry:
“…at the root of the conflict is Davis's belief that Hedrick has been attempting to swift boat him here at the Olympics, use him as a prop as he wraps himself, Texas-style, in the flag, for the purpose of increasing his commercial appeal, while claiming that the feud has elevated their skating and is good for the sport.”
Araton, of course, took Davis’s side.
Araton, who posts his email address with his column, relies on an unexpected surge in reader feedback to fill his Saturday follow-up on the Hedrick-Davis imbroglio.
Sports columnist Harvey Araton ventured onto thin ice with an anti-Bush metaphor on Wednesday while relaying the simmering feud between Olympic speedskaters Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis:
“And at the root of the conflict is Davis's belief that Hedrick has been attempting to swift boat him here at the Olympics, use him as a prop as he wraps himself, Texas-style, in the flag, for the purpose of increasing his commercial appeal, while claiming that the feud has elevated their skating and is good for the sport.”
To translate Araton's esoteric comparison: Hedrick is President Bush (they both hail from Texas, you see), and Davis is a stand-in for John Kerry, unfairly attacked by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. We think.
Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise took apart Bryant Gumbel's racial trash-talking about the Winter Olympics in Friday's paper as I hoped a sports writer would. (Although you could grumble that it would have more punch on the front page of Sports instead of the top of the Olympics section on E-11, But let's face it, on the test of its newness, we're all writing about "earlier this month" instead of "last night.") Wise began by noting that in sports TV, Gumbel was a racial pioneer in a pretty white sportscasting bastion, much like speed skater Shani Davis or bobsledder Vonetta Flowers, and then followed up:
Gumbel has a right not to like the Winter Olympics. He can trash curlers, lugers and snowboard-crossers all he wants. But who made him arbiter of all things culturally diverse? Superimposing your own idea of diversity upon athletes from 80 different nations, essentially equating diversity with only race, is just inane.
Things didn't work out well at the Olympics for Johnny Weir, the flamboyant American figure skater. Favored to take home a medal, he finished a disappointing fifth after a very rugged long program.
But Johnny shouldn't feel too bad. When he hangs up the skates, there could be a promising second career for him . . . as a member of the liberal media.
Interviewed on CBS' Early Show this morning, Weir explained that he knew he wasn't at his best on the day of the long program, and in particular wasn't "feeling pretty." Then, waxing philosophical, he noted that things aren't always perfect. If they were, Michelle Kwan would be skating, and "we wouldn't be in Iraq."
As reported by Dave Pierre of NewsBusters Thursday, HBO’s Bryant Gumbel made some truly absurd and obviously racist remarks recently on his “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” program. To refresh everyone’s memory, Gumbel was in the middle of a rant about why the Winter Olympics aren’t sports when he blurted out “So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention.” (Video Link)
This faux pas looks even more absurd given the gold medal that Shani Davis won Saturday night in speed skating, making him the first black athlete to win an individual gold medal in Winter Olympics history. As reported by the Chicago Tribune: