Spit-Take: WashPost Miffed Conservative Outkick Would Politicize Sports

September 3rd, 2020 12:36 PM

Reading the Washington Post is mainly a joyless slog through waist-deep Democrat conventional wisdom and thickets of fashionable lefty platitudes. But the intrepid and alert can sometimes be rewarded with enlightenment.

For example, Post sports and media writer Ben Strauss’s long (nearly 2,300 words), deeply hypocritical September 3 article doesn’t tell you much about its subject, conservative sports blogger and radio host Clay Travis. But it’s a heckuva primer on how the world looks from a perch on the Post’s masthead. Strauss’s piece could be Exhibit A in the divorce trial of Mr. and Mrs. America -- clear proof of incompatibility and irreconcilable differences.

Travis and his site Outkick are lately enjoying some success and influence -- enough to annoy Strauss. According to reports, Travis is popular with some people in the White House and he set up a phone call between President Trump and the head of the Big 10 NCAA football conference, aimed at jumpstarting the coronavirus-stymied college season. This, according to Strauss, completed Travis’s “only-in-2020 transformation from abrasive sports blogger to influential conservative sports radio host to apparent Trump campaign surrogate.” Meow, Ben!

For his part, Travis asked: “How is it political to want sports to come back?” But Strauss isn't having it. Travis consorted with Trump. Besides, he has priors.

See, “For years, Travis, who also hosts a gambling show on Fox Sports and runs a website called Outkick, has been building a brand partly rooted in attacking progressive athletes and ‘mainstream’ journalists,” Strauss writes. Conservatives “attack.” (They also “pounce.”) And they create “nascent mini-media empires” to serve “Republicans hoping to win over sports fans.”

Lefties often show a special animus toward black conservatives, and Strauss doesn’t hide his distaste for Travis’s Outkick business partner Jason Whitlock. Whitlock’s “work, like Travis’s, shares political DNA with Trump’s: Sports as red meat in the culture wars, racial grievances, media-bashing.” Racial grievances? Whitlock specifically rejected “prioritiz[ing] race, gender, sexuality and political ideology … ahead of God and country.” But maybe racial grievance is in the eye of the beholder. 

“Sports have been a consistent target of Republicans since 2016, when Colin Kaepernick’s protest began and was viciously attacked by Trump (and Travis),” according to Strauss. 

Certainly. Republicans were just praying some multi-millionaire athlete with a separate room for his shoe collection would make a gesture of disdain for his country so they could “viciously” attack. (In this case, “viciously” meant saying out loud what most people outside The Post newsroom actually thought.) 

It gets worse, because Travis apparently doesn’t f*cking love science the way Strauss does. “Lately, Travis has also mixed in Trump’s dismissal of science, telling people to ‘chill out’ about the novel coronavirus and selling T-shirts making fun of mask-wearers.” You can debate the wisdom of discarding masks and ignoring media fear porn. But Strauss’s unquestioning trust in experts who would shut down church services while shrugging at BLM demonstrations is almost touching.

So is Strauss’s au courant liberal description of NCAA football: “Enter college football, whose fans skew conservative but whose unpaid players, who are mostly Black, have agitated for more power amid the pandemic.” Unpaid capital B Blacks playing for conservatives? Gosh, that sure sounds inequitable. It’s kind of like slavery, except that playing is entirely voluntary, and players are offered a higher education, if they care to have it.

And of course, there’s Strauss’s professional perspective on Travis: 

After spending years lambasting the politicization of sports and arguing about the business downsides of activism, his own politics may be impacting his long-term position in sports media. At least one advertiser has left his radio show over his politics; a co-worker has publicly criticized him; and one Fox Sports employee said they were told directly that company executives have been dismayed by his misleading coronavirus commentary.

In other words, leave the politicization of sports to the pros, Clay. 

And careful about that bias: Strauss ended the article tutting about this:

“I don’t see anything that is immediately political,” he said one day in August, scrolling through the day’s headlines. Had he scrolled a little further he would have found that week’s “Outkick Election Pollwatch” and a story headlined, “President Donald Trump on Joe Biden’s VP Options.” Both stories quoted only one person, Trump, from an interview he gave to Travis.

Yes, that’s from a Postie. Stop laughing. C’mon. Stop!