Rush Limbaugh's Ex-Crew Apologizes for Nonresponse
Monday, October 6, 2003
"ESPN's NFL pregame show returned Sunday with an apology -- and without Rush Limbaugh -- a week after the commentator's race-tinged comments about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb," the Associated Press reports.
"Panelists Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Steve Young and Michael Irvin took criticism from the media, as well as McNabb, for not responding when Limbaugh suggested on the Sept. 28 'Sunday NFL Countdown' show that McNabb was overrated because the media wants to see a black quarterback succeed."
"'Do I wish that I had caught it in hindsight? Absolutely,' Jackson said Sunday. 'Do I regret that I didn't? Yes. But I'm human. Mostly, I regret that I missed it for Donovan McNabb's sake. I regret that.'"
In the New York Times, Richard Sandomir noted that "it was an extraordinary joint mea culpa,"but added that "one crucial element was missing: an ESPN executive.
"Yes, not replying promptly last Sunday demonstrated a breakdown in the way the program should work. If Berman, Jackson, Irvin and Young missed the race-related nature of Limbaugh's remarks, the producer and director should have quickly pushed them to reply.
"But more important, where was George Bodenheimer, the president of ESPN, or Mark Shapiro, the executive vice president, who has led the company's headlong leap into entertainment? . . . it was unfair for them to sit alone, without Bodenheimer or Shapiro to discuss why they hired Limbaugh and why they did not know, or ignored, his history of racial statements. Bodenheimer's and Shapiro's presence on that set would have given viewers a chance to see who orchestrated Limbaugh's hiring."
Limbaugh still has his defenders. On the opinion pages of the Philadelphia Daily News today, Allen Barra wrote:
"If Limbaugh were more astute, he would have been even harsher and said, 'Donovan McNabb is barely a mediocre quarterback. But other than that, Limbaugh spoke the truth. . . . But the truth is that I and a great many other sportswriters have chosen for the past few years to see McNabb as a better player than he has been because we want him to be."
And the Washington Times found a black conservative, Horace Cooper, a senior fellow with the Centre for New Black Leadership, to denounce "the double standards employed by the political correctness police [that] are doing more to harm race relations than any effort since Lester Maddox's."
In the Washington Post, however, recently retired sports AME George Solomon used the incident to recall Sam Lacy, the legendary African American sportswriter who died this year at age 99. "Lacy, and others in the black media of his day, spent much of their lives trying to convince Limbaugh's so-called liberal sports media to be fair, pay some attention to efforts to integrate professional and amateur sports, and give a little attention to the less publicized teams and athletes," Solomon wrote.
More Black Columnists on Limbaugh and ESPN
- Robert A. George, Salon.com:
"If conservatives seriously wonder why it is so difficult for either the movement or its political manifestation -- the Republican Party -- to attract African-Americans, this incident should be Exhibit No. 1."
- Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate:
"A white man or woman should not automatically be seen as a raging bigot by virtue of their skin color. No black man or woman should be viewed as an affirmative action hire just because of their race. We will not become a society that lives up to our name -- the United States -- until we learn to stop focusing on race."
- Deborah Mathis, Black America Web.com:
"If sports reporters are kinder to McNabb than they?ve been to white quarterbacks ? then good. If journalists are trying to give a black quarterback a break ? if they?re being patient and supportive ? it?s about time we?re on the receiving end of the 'good ole? boy' treatment that has for so long kept whites afloat even when they were outstanding only in their mediocrity."
- Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune:
"Excellence, McNabb's attitude and actions tell us, is the best revenge for such insults. We can all learn from him."
- Les Payne, Newsday:
"ESPN likely dreamed of annexing the Limbaugh audience without exposing their viewers to the Limbaugh swill. This would no more have been possible than French-kissing Madonna without getting germs."
- Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald:
"This is not about sports. It's not about political correctness or even racism, which I don't believe Limbaugh's remark demonstrates. It is, rather, about that sick disgust that comes when you climb one mountain, only to discover that somebody's put another in your path.
"I have no idea if McNabb is overrated. Don't really care. I just wish that someday a black man could be overrated, indeed, screw up royally as white men are rumored to do from time to time, without some bloviating windbag lazily and reflexively making it an issue of his race.
"It is draining and demeaning to be reduced constantly to a color."
- John Smallwood, Philadelphia Daily News:
"McNabb wasn't perfect in the Eagles' crucial, 27-25 victory over the Washington Redskins yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field.
"His numbers (16 of 30 for 157 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions) wouldn't blow you away.
"He still overthrew some receivers, short-hopped a few passes and failed to hit a couple of guys in stride.
"Truth be told, his overall performance was no more than mediocre.
"But the old saying is that statistics are for losers. And the problem with the stat-driven, rotisserie-league evaluations of McNabb is they fail to account for the quality of the plays he makes."
- Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune:
"You can't immediately change the hearts of man, I know. But here's a tip: Limbaugh and those like him are sideshows. They should stay in their spheres of influence. That's true in the same way trash talk-show host Jerry Springer was never going to work as a Chicago newscaster. (Remember that train wreck?)
"Both were attempts to boost ratings. And, yes, Limbaugh's last 'Sunday NFL Countdown' reportedly had the highest rating for the program in seven years. That made it no less of a bonehead move.
"When will television and radio execs learn that when you bring in the circus, you get more than just foot-in-mouth syndrome? You get poop, elephant poop."
- Lonnie White, Los Angeles Times:
"The days when black quarterbacks didn't get opportunities to play because teams felt safer playing white quarterbacks, even if they were overrated, are over.
"If today a black quarterback led his team to a 4-1-1 record, there's no way he would be replaced. Yet that's what happened in 1974, when [Joe] Gilliam started for the Pittsburgh Steelers but was benched in favor of Terry Bradshaw.
"But that's the way it was back then, when black quarterbacks were judged more by their skin color than their performance on the field".
Julian Bond Remembers Bob Novak Back in the Day
Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP, has little sympathy for columnist Robert Novak, who identified the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, an administration critic on Iraq, as a CIA operative. Novak is in the center of an ethics debate over whether he should identify the official who likely violated federal law by leaking her name.
"Robert Novak's role in punishing Ambassador Joseph Wilson for exposing Bush's phony war excuse culminates a long career of hatchet man for the wingnuts, segregation's apologists and the full mooners," Bond says in a message.
"I thought you'd like to see a Novak hatchet job from 1967 in which Novak seemed to think that Jim Forman and [Stokely] Carmichael needed Fidel Castro to show them what to do about racism in the U.S.
"Once a red-and-race-baiter - always a red-and-race-baiter."
Bond attaches a 1967 syndicated column by Rowland Evans and Novak that ran in various papers during the first week of August. It begins, "The sudden appearance of Stokely Carmichael in Havana, rubbing elbows with Fidel Castro and the hemisphere's Communist guerrilla leaders is an inevitable development in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's long evolution."
The column goes on to describe Forman as "already a hardened radical and an associate of Negro terrorist Robert Williams (who fled to Cuba to escape Federal prosecution)." It says that "by the time of the Mississippi Summer Project in 1964, SNCC's admiration for Castroism was apparent."
The final paragraph says, "Some believe SNCC has played a part in most of the major riots; others believe SNCC is far too disorganized for that. But effective or not, there is no longer any doubt that SNCC today is Fidel Castro's arm in the United States."
Bond was active in SNCC and was its press secretary at the time of the 1963 March on Washington. In 1965, Bond was elected to the Georgia Senate, but the body refused to seat him "because he refused to repudiate the SNCC statement condemning the U.S. war in Vietnam," as Forman wrote in his 1972 book, "The Making of Black Revolutionaries." Bond eventually represented Atlanta in the body from 1966 to 1987 after a ruling in his favor by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Dallas Morning News launched its daily Spanish-language newspaper, Al Día, last week, a month after the rival Fort Worth Star-Telegram moved up the frequency of its own, free La Estrella from twice a week to Tuesday through Saturday.
Al Dia, with a circulation of 40,000, is published six days a week, Monday through Saturday, the Belo Co., which publishes the Morning News, said.
"Gilbert Bailon was elected treasurer-designate of the American Society of Newspaper Editors during its fall board meeting, in Portland, Ore. on Sept. 19. Bailon will become treasurer of the group in April, at the annual convention, and rise through the officer ranks each year until reaching the ASNE presidency in April 2007," the ASNE announces.
"ASNE President Peter Bhatia, executive editor of The Oregonian, Portland, said, 'Gilbert has been a stalwart for ASNE and for our industry. He was an outstanding diversity chair for ASNE and continues to be at the front of the work on those efforts. And, he will be the first former NAHJ [National Association of Hispanic Journalists] president to serve as ASNE president -- an important first. As his current works demonstrates, he has been and is a journalistic innovator. He will be a great leader for the Society,'" the statement continued.
Actually, Bailon, executive editor of the Dallas Morning News and a board member of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, will be the first ASNE president to have also headed any of the journalist of color organizations. Since last fall, Bailon has been working on creating Al Dia, the Spanish-language offshoot that just made its debut.
New Orleans native Kurt Davis arrived in San Antonio from Atlanta about two weeks ago to become executive news director at KENS-TV, reports Melissa S. Monroe in the San Antonio Express-News.
"Davis becomes probably the city's first African American news director," Monroe writes. "He's also believed to be the first minority news director among local network affiliates.
"While it's important that the station mirrors the community, he said, what's imperative is being No. 1 in 'ratings dominance.'
"And it just happens to be a black guy doing it," Davis said in the story.
The latest diversity survey from the Radio-Television News Directors Association showed that 0.9 percent of broadcast news directors were African American, down from 2.0 percent.
"Heavy viewers of the Fox News Channel are nearly four times as likely to hold demonstrably untrue positions about the war in Iraq as media consumers who rely on National Public Radio or the Public Broadcasting [Service], according to a study released this week by a research center affiliated with the University of Maryland's School of Public Affairs," the Baltimore Sun reports.
"'When evidence surfaces that a significant portion of the public has just got a hole in the picture ... this is a potential problem in the way democracy functions,' says Clay Ramsay, research director for the Washington-based Program on International Policy Attitudes, which studies foreign-policy issues.
"Fox News officials did not return repeated requests yesterday for comment on the study," the story continued.
For the first time in recent memory, The New York Times' best-seller list,"the nation's most influential barometer of book sales, is pitting liberals and conservatives against each other in roughly equal numbers, ending what some publishing executives say is nearly a decade of dominance by right-wing authors," reports Emily Eakin in the New York Times.
"The left's strong showing has caught publishers by surprise. 'Over the last 5 or 10 years, I can't remember a time when there were as many liberal books on the best-seller list,' said W. Drake McFeely, president of Norton, which published [ Paul]>b> Krugman's book. Indeed, the conventional wisdom had been that big profits were the province of the right," the story said.
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