Sports Illustrated has this annoying tendency to serve up its sports coverage with a side dish of liberal politics. On its website, basketball writer Jack McCallum wrote of deciding to compare Democratic presidential candidates to NBA playoff teams after watching the Democrats debate on C-SPAN in the middle of the night after some spicy quesadillas.
He began by lauding Mike Gravel's routine of poking Barack Obama about which country America should "nuke" next. "So there you are -- Gravel is the Golden State Warriors. A feisty, combative, in-your-face underdog who loves the public stage." Later, McCallum added to the comparison: "Unorthodox and even a little scary, both are trying to overcome the odds with offense." Here are the other comparisons, enough to ruin the day of a conservative fan of any of these teams:
ESPN's Chris Berman likes to say "no one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills." He might add "or the Boston Globe." Its editorial of today, A telling admission, heaps of paeans of praise on Marilee Jones, who resigned her position as MIT Dean of Admissions after an investigation revealed that she earned none of the academic degrees she had claimed.
The Globe quickly gets out of the way its acknowledgement that "no doubt, Marilee Jones did the wrong thing." But you'd hardly know it from the rest of editorial:
"I misrepresented my academic degrees when I first applied to MIT 28 years ago," she said in a statement, "and did not have the courage to correct my resume when I applied for my current job or at any time since." Admitting to that lack of courage means being brave enough to be oneself, even if one is short on credentials but long on potential.
She deserves credit for her straightforward apology.
This forthright admission stands in contrast to others who have denied, delayed, or justified. Last year, David Edmondson, chief executive of RadioShack, said he planned to stay in his job even after it was revealed that he had not earned two college degrees listed on his resume. Days later he resigned.
Jones has had to face her own messy truth. She has done so in a commendable way.
The Globe comes close to excusing others who tell similar lies:
Sports fans checking the box scores this morning got a lesson in "transsexualism" when they opened the LA Times. Mike Penner, one of the paper's sports writers, announced in his column he is taking a few weeks off. When he returns he’ll be known as Christine Daniels.
The column detailed Penner's 40-year struggle with “transsexualism.” He said that “extensive therapy and testing” show that his brain was “wired female.” He defended the “medical condition” as “widely misunderstood” and a “natural occurrence.”
When three white Duke lacrosse players falsely accused of raping a black stripper were finally declared innocent by the attorney general of North Carolina earlier this month, New York Times critics focused on the paper's lousy coverage of the case, including Times Watch (citing research by law writer Stuart Taylor Jr.) and most prominently Fox News anchor Brit Hume on his April 12 "Special Report."
Even as the case fell apart and other liberal media outlets backed away, the Times issued a notorious 5,000-word portrait of the case on August 25, 2006, in which reporter Duff Wilson concluded that there was enough evidence against the players for local prosecutor Michael Nifong the case to trial.
As usual, company man Calame lets the Times off easier than it deserves, but his mild, overly faithful criticism does tease out a few nuggets of insight.
Thursday's New York Times was the only major newspaper to lead with the big news out of North Carolina -- the state's attorney general is dropping all charges against the three former Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of the sexual assault of a stripper at an off-campus house.
The story by Duff Wilson and David Barstow, "Duke Prosecutor Throws Out Case Against Players," noted:
"North Carolina’s attorney general declared three former Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a stripper innocent of all charges on Wednesday, ending a prosecution that provoked bitter debate over race, class and the tactics of the Durham County district attorney."
When it comes to slurring innocent Duke lacrosse players, New York Times sports columnist Selena Roberts is apparently angling to become the Amanda Marcotte of the New York Times. Even after the three lacrosse players have been all but formally cleared of the sexual assault of a stripper (in a case brought forward by a zealous local prosecutor Mike Nifong, to go on trial himself for ethics violations in his handling of the case), Roberts apparently thinks it was worth it in her Sunday column, "Closing a Case Will Not Mean Closure at Duke."
The Washington Post is so enamored of the idea of getting Attorney General Al Gonzales to resign for firing a few U.S. Attorneys that it's even seeping into the Sports section. In their attempted-humor column called "Starting Lineup," Dan Steinberg and Desmond Bieler mock underperforming Washington Redskins cornerback Adam Archuleta this way:
"Let's get this straight, a prominent Washington organization wants to shed one of its troublemaking employees because of performance-related issues? Um, paging Alberto Gonzales."
Digging around in the archives this morning reminded me that while the liberal activism of the global-warming cover of Sports Illustrated is shocking, it's not really new. In 1995, we noticed this contrast in Notable Quotables (scroll to the end):
"Whatever one thinks of Winslow's positions, it's encouraging to see a Stateside athlete -- particularly one who rose from the squalor of East St. Louis, Ill., to earn a law degree -- engaging himself in the world of which sports is only a small part." -- Sports Illustrated's 'Scorecard' feature on Kellen Winslow's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech supporting affirmative action and racial quotas, August 7, 1995 issue.
The coming out of gay former NBA player John Amaechi was boosted on Monday by an interview on CNN's afternoon show Newsroom, where anchor Don Lemon framed the interview as a question of social progress and tolerance: "do you think that the NBA now is ready for a player who may be out, while they're playing? Do you think the league is mature enough to handle that?"
Amaechi responded that the NBA may soon be "clean" on this issue, regardless of how the "clean" word's been politically dangerous in the last few weeks: "I think that [NBA Commissioner] David Stern is mature enough to handle that. I think he wants an organization that is pristine, and part of that, if you want, cleanliness will be to have a league that accepts all types, as long as they do have the ability."
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.
The NFL has a long history of rejecting overly political ads during game programming. However, it went too far recently in refusing an ad from a government agency during the Super Bowl. Sound improbable? Not when you learn that the agency in question was the Border Patrol (HT: bulletproof):
The National Football League refused to run a recruitment ad for the
U.S. Border Patrol in last week's Super Bowl program, saying it was
"controversial" because it mentioned duties such as fighting terrorism
and stopping drugs and illegal aliens at the border.
"The ad that the department submitted was specific to Border
Patrol, and it mentioned terrorism. We were not comfortable with that,"
said Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL. "The borders, the
immigration debate is a very controversial issue, and we were sensitive
to any perception we were injecting ourselves into that."
The NFL's rejection didn't sit well with Border Patrol agents,
who called it a snub of their role in homeland security and said it was
"more than a little puzzling."
"The NFL missed a golden opportunity to reach countless
patriotic citizens who want to answer the call to help prevent another
terrorist attack on American soil," said T.J. Bonner, president of the
National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents the agency's
nonsupervisory personnel. [...]
Keith Olbermann is a regular guest on the Dan Patrick show during the middle hour. Today, they were discussing the John Amaechi story, and making the inevitable comparisons to Jackie Robinson. Olbermann let loose with this:
Imagine what would have happened if he [Robinson] had hit .197 instead of .297 in 1947. We would have had literal apartheid in this country. That's how important that [season] was.
This is a quote.
Now, I know that 1947 was important, and that Branch Rickey worked hard to make sure that Robinson was a success: waiting until he found someone with a tough temperment, making sure he was seasoned in the minor leagues before being called up, and so on. But to claim that the difference between the civil rights movement and South Africa rested on Robinson's ability to plunk down a couple of extra hits a week is rather, ah, disproportionate, don't you think?
Political correctness is on the march again in the Washington Post sports section. In a column highlighted on the Post home page today with the headline "Sexuality Disclosed, Ignorance Exposed," sports writer Michael Wilbon uses former NBA player John Amaechi's coming out as gay as an opportunity to bludgeon the "ignorance" of anyone who would offer a discouraging word.
If we're lucky, the men and women who are both enlightened and emboldened will not only be supportive but will drown out the knuckleheads and Neanderthals and everybody who wants to slow the march of progress. Even one step away from tolerance, whether we're talking about race, gender, religious beliefs or sexuality, simply slows the march to the day when none of this stuff matters.
The Laura Ingraham Show this morning had a big discussion about the odd part of Prince's performance of "Purple Rain" during the Super Bowl halftime show last night. Prince is obviously self-impressed with the symbol he used for a name for a few years (the TAFKAP Era, for The Artist Formerly Known As Prince). Not only was there a huge symbol on the stage, it was also the shape of his guitar.
So many people thought putting Prince behind a flapping curtain with a spotlight so you could see him in silhouette playing his odd guitar sent an obvious er, male-genitalia message last night. Was this just a dramatic flourish gone awry? Some sort of Austin Powers hommage? And why would CBS let it slip through their censors after the Janet Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction of 2004? Anyone else think of old Prince lyrics about the "lion in his pocket"?
Victorious Colts coach Tony Dungy said to CBS sports anchor Jim Nantz on the post-game show last night that he and Bears coach Lovie Smith were proud to be successful black coaches, but more proud of being Christian coaches. How many media outlets will use the first half, and snip away the second?
I tell you what. I'm proud to be representing African-American coaches, to be the first African-American to win this. It means an awful lot to our country. [SNIP!] But again, more than anything, I've said it before, Lovie Smith and I, not only the first two African-Americans, but Christian coaches, showing that you can win doing it the Lord's way. We're more proud of that.
The interview aired right around 10:13 Sunday night.
The Washington Post is so liberal that even the sports writers are politically correct. In Saturday's Post, columnist Mike Wise stumped for the University of Illinois to dump their traditional Chief Illiniwek mascot. To a sports reader in D.C., it's quickly obvious that Wise is also sympathetic to making the Washington Redskins dump their moniker next.
Wise begins in the most propagandistic way, comparing oafs favoring the tradition declaring they're going to become racists and do violence to Indians with an Indian activist who fears for her life. He suggested this was the biggest issue going in college athletics:
We get all lathered up because college football does not have a playoff system. We produce talk shows about gender equity. We want our student athletes paid, as if that will somehow right another NCAA wrong.
The January 12 front-page story in the New York Times, "Duke Accuser Contradicts Herself," on the Duke lacrosse "rape" case, catches the case just as it's entering final meltdown phase.
NYT reporter Duff Wilson begins:
"In an interview last month with a district attorney’s investigator, the woman who has accused three Duke lacrosse players of sexual assault contradicted critical evidence and parts of her earlier accounts, dealing a new blow to a faltering case."
At ABC's "World Newser" blog, Chuck Lustig, ABC's Director of Foreign News, laments big-money college athletics, represented by Nick Saban's reported eight-year, $32 million contract to coach college football at Alabama. Perhaps he can carry around a protest sign reading "Books Not (Long) Bombs." Expect another blog to follow from an ABC feminist complaining that Alabama's coaches for women's sports are being cheated of larger salaries, a sure Title IX violation. Lustig lamented:
Then I started to think about the $40 million Oprah Winfrey spent to build a school in South Africa and asked the question is there something wrong with our educational priorities in this country that a college coach can make so much money at a time when many of our country's school districts are wrangling with huge deficits?
Meredith Vieira stopped short of breaking out the pom-poms, but the 'Today' crew otherwise did its best to cheer Barack Obama and his appearance on last night's Monday Night Football. For those who missed MNF, the broadcast opened with a deadpan Obama seemingly on the verge of announcing his candidacy for president, before simply endorsing his home-state Chicago Bears.
Call me a grump, but watching it live last night my first reaction was "how's this for millions in free advertising, courtesy ABC-ESPN?"
But the folks at NBC clearly weren't troubled by a little politicking by their rivals at ABC. Nary a discouraging word was heard, and to the contrary, the Today cast tried to outdo each other with their praise for Barack and his performance:
Professional golfer Jerry Kelly isn't pleased with the media's coverage of the Iraq war. Neither is a U.S. soldier with whom Kelly spoke while the Madison, Wisconsin-based pro, along with fellow PGA tour members Corey Pavin, Howard Twitty, Frank Lickliter, and Donnie Hammond, recently spent eight days in Iraq under the auspices of the USO.
Kelly was interviewed about the trip by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel golf writer Gary D'Amato, whose story ran in Saturday's paper. Highlights:
The golfers visited 14 bases in Iraq, entertaining the troops with golf exhibitions and swapping stories with soldiers in conversations that stretched into the early morning hours...
Since I'm in the habit of recycling items from the Sixers blog today, NFL junkies will enjoy the latest news from the Austin American-Statesman that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees does not want to be seen as endorsing his mom's campaign for a Texas judge spot:
Drew Brees wants no part of his mother's political aspirations.
The NFL quarterback and Westlake High School graduate has told Mina Brees, an Austin attorney, to stop using his picture in TV commercials as she runs for a spot on Texas' 3rd Court of Appeals, saying their relationship is now "nonexistent" after souring six years ago.
Writer-editor Kurt Andersen, a card-carrying member of Manhattan's liberal cultural elite, may be coming around to the idea of bias in the Times, judging by his New York magazine story on the paper's slanted coverage of the Duke lacrosse "rape" case, "Rape, Justice, and the ‘Times.’"
Here's the subhead to the provocative story, on what many have come to feel is a perversion of justice on the Durham college campus driven by a politically motivated prosecutor: "'I've never felt so ill,' says one reporter about the paper’s coverage of the Duke lacrosse-team case. Luckily, a blogger’s on the story, too."
Andersen celebrates blogger K.C. Johnson, who'd been on the case:
As the NFL season opened Thursday night, it might not come as a surprise, but USA Today (among others) have reported that Bryant Gumbel's obnoxious commentary demeaning black NFL players union leader Gene Upshaw as being on a "leash" will not cost him his new job calling football games for the emerging NFL Network.
New NFL commissioner Roger Goodell isn't dumping Bryant Gumbel from the NFL Network.Goodell met with Gumbel last week and had "a very good dialogue" regarding his criticism of the league and union chief Gene Upshaw...
For his part, Upshaw is still foregoing comment, but Newsday columnist Bob Glauber notes that he's not holding back against critics echoing Gumbel:
Former Browns defensive back Bernie Parrish is critical of Upshaw's stewardship of the union. "Bryant Gumbel got it exactly right," said Parrish, a founding member of the NFLPA. "I don't think I can say it any better." Upshaw has held his tongue over Gumbel's remarks, but he's furious at Parrish.
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.