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    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    Michael Wilbon lays an egg on Limbaugh and racism

    ESPN has a show called Pardon the Interruption, or PTI, that airs most days at 5:30PM and is hosted by former sportswriters Tony Kornheiser (from who's old radio show I was banned) and Michael Wilbon.  Next to RedEye, this is my favorite show, largely because Tony and Mike have great chemistry, and they are generally (Tony, especially) funny and pithy.  Wilbon's a bit of a jock sniffer, but, hey, if you were a sports journalist (TK was less devoted to sports in his career), you would be, too.  Side note - He's good pals with the hilarious Charles Barkley, who we share a connection with, since Barkley once tried to pick up my wife at a charity golf tournament.

    Anyway, on Friday, October 9th, the topic veered to Rush Limbaugh's proposed ownership interest in the hapless St. Louis Rams, and some black players' reactions being that they wouldn't play for the racist Limbaugh.

    This brought out of Mike Wilbon the following statement (it may be important to the reader to know that Mr. Wilbon is a black man):
    "I don't know whether Rush Limbaugh is a straight-up bigot, or if he simply plays one on TV and radio, but he is universally reviled by black people in this country and justifiably so based on his public proniouncements, constantly saying things that are offensive.  I'm just going to mention one.  He referred to the NFL by the way, in terms of the Bloods vs. Crips without the weapons and another point he said 'Slavery' and this is in context, 'had its merits' and he joked, I guess he joked, 'the streets were safer after dark.'"
    First, Mr., Wilbon, the Bloods vs. Crips quote, as you indicate you know, is taken out of context, and the slavery quote is totally unattributed to Rush and only appeared in a hit book published without sourcing the quote.  So, essentially, you have taken one quote out of context, and another you chose to use as "in context" without knowing that there is no proof that Limbaugh even said it.

    As Jay Nordlinger wrote in National Review this week, sportswriters should, like singers, just leave their politics at home.  I know Tony Kornheiser is as big a Leftist as Wilbon, and yet, we never hear him injecting his political views, and certainly not using made-up quotes to further what may even be a valid point.

    Wilbon's point was that the black community reviles Rush.  Well, the black community reviles conservatives and Republicans, despite having so little to show for 50 years of fealty to the Deomocratic party, and, despite being fairly conservative in their own lives.  I've never understood it, but, look, Wilbon, this community votes 90% for a party (the Dems) who have demonstrably taken them backward.  Clearly, they have reason to revile those who oppose their chosen political party, even beyond charges (usually false, by the way) of racism - it's been drilled into them by leaders who really crave power, and have found it in the Donkey Party.

    I would hazard a guess, that among black athletes, the support for Republicans is slightly better than the 10% of the general population of blacks, but, that would be based on their socio-economic plight (being rich, and all that) not their skin color.  Conservatism tends to attract a lot more adherents after they start paying confiscatory taxes.

    Wilbon also went on to discuss that players say Limbaugh doesn't get the culture (this was the crux of the segment, based on comments in this New York Daily News article).  What culture is it he doesn't get?  The one that aborts 30% of their children?  The one that has a 70% illegitimacy rate?  The one that glorifies misogyny and murder in rap music?  The one that has elevated "thug" to something aspirational?  The one where only 30% of black men graduate high school?  The one that makes up 70% of prison populations (and, of those, 80% of the crimes are against other blacks)?  If Wilbon is not familiar with THAT culture, perhaps that is because he hangs with black athletes, nearly all of whom have graduated from high school, and many from college.  And, I somehow doubt Wilbon ran into many of this crowd at St. Ignatius Prep or Northwestern.

    So, instead of using this as a means to address real problems in the black community, Wilbon (and the others  who will pile on) wants to use it for conservative-bashing via commentaries on racism.  This won't advance anyone anywhere.  Instead, it foments the seeds of division and continues a meme that has been drilled into the black community for 40+ years now.

    I challenge Mr. Wilbon to get out of the bubble he's in.  Start with Daniel Patrick Moynihan's The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.  Visit the writings of Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams and Bill Cosby and even Barack Obama. There are things holding blacks down today.  Quite honestly, racism is not one of them.


    Michael in MI said...

    Great post, Jay. I had similar thoughts (though not expressed as well as you) that I posted at my blog on Friday after just happening to catch the show, after years of not bothering to watch it.

    ESPN’s Racist Michael Wilbon Proves PTI Stands for ‘Pardon the Ignorance’

    I also linked to your post in mine.

    Anonymous said...

    I just want to know why you were banned from Tony Kornheiser's show.

    Sister J.

    Jackie said...

    I don't mind leaving my name!

    Sister J.

    Anonymous said...

    First of all, I have no respect for anyone who idolizes Rush Limbaugh. Like every other far right conservative, he's racist whether his quotes were taken out of context or not. As far as issues in the black community is concerned, I'm not going to judge them for seeking acceptance in gangs. I've never had a cousin shot down when he was walking home from the grocery store, I've never had my sister robbed and raped as she was walking from her car to her friends house, I've never had an uncle who beats me when he's drunk and I certainly don't know what it's like being raised by a single mother in a single bedroom appartment who can't support herself, let a lone her 4 children.
    Do I think black people in prominant positions could do better to be a positive influence on the black communities youth, absolutely and I believe it is a moral responsibility that they do so. But I also believe that the conservative right has the same obligation if they have any interest in changing the black american lifestyle the way it is today.
    And please don't claim that black athletes are out of touch with black america. you don't have a clue about what it took for them to get where they are today.

    Michael in MI said...

    >>>...he's racist whether his quotes were taken out of context or not.<<<

    Really? Based on what? I guess his program director, Mr. Snerdly -- who is Black -- is an Uncle Tom then, working with a racist?

    If the Left would bother to listen to Rush's show on a daily basis, instead of getting their info about him from George Soros's Media Matters, that might help.

    Jay said...

    Mr. Anonymous,

    Thanks for your comment. Although I discount anonymous commenters, I think your points are interesting.

    But, your first paragraph pretty much sums it up better even than I could. Those things have never happened to YOU, yet, you assume that is situation normal in the black community. Whether what you describe is typical or just perceived as typical, it is a sad indictment on this community.

    As far as black athletes are concerned, you must not have read the post. The fact that nearly ALL of them are high school graduates, and many college graduates clearly places them in a minority among members of their community. Sure, they are much more likely to have witnessed the things you describe, but my comment was directed at Mr. Wilbon, who attended Jesuit school and the near-Ivy League Northwestern university. He's far, far removed from any poverty.

    As for your Rush comments, I think Mike has pretty much put that into perspective. Next time you comment, please include the total number of hours you have personally listened to Rush, so we can judge your expertise accordingly.

    Anonymous said...
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    Jay said...

    Unfortunately, Anonymous (#2?), this is my blog, and my rules, so comments with profanity (even masked) are deleted.

    For the record, Anon's comment was that Rush fans are idiots and to get out of the stone age (or something like that).

    Nothing like Anonymous to bring a rash generalization to the debate, one which justifies his/her lies and mischaracterizations by informing that because we listen to and enjoy Rush, therefore, we are unenlightened and stupid. Of course, the converse is that he/she is the source of all knowledge and, by comparison, intellectually superior to all us right-wing talk radio-listening morons.

    Do I have that about right, Anon?

    Of course, at least one study says talk radio listeners, and Limbaugh's in particular, are better informed, and more educated than the populace as a whole.

    Jay said...

    Jackie, the TK banning was actually a running joke on Kornheiser's WTEM show in the early '90s. I don't remember how one actually got banned, but, if you did, and you ever called back, I think Tony played a "Banned from the Tony Kornheiser Show" sound effect that was pretty funny.

    I never actually called Kornheiser's show to get banned, but, when I bought his second book, Pumping Irony (highly recommended), he signed it, as requested by me "Jay, you're banned!" as a loyal listener.

    Those were heady days in DC, when the Redskins were good, and Kornheiser was at the head of the bandwagon.

    Terrence said...

    Rush predicted before the election that opposition to Obama will be labeled "racist". As usual, he is correct, the race card is played constantly these days, and its being played once again on Rush and his desire to become involved with an NFL team. What a joke!

    Rush was labeled a racist for telling the truth about Donavan McNabb a few years ago, and he was ushered off the ESPN stage because of it. What he said then in essence, was the media wanted to see a black QB do well (McNabb) because he was black. In the PC world of sports, telling that basic truth was unacceptable, only a racist would utter such things.

    Tell me, is it equally "racist" to tell a basic truth about the behavior of the media during the election of Obama - that the vast majority of the media was rooting for Obama to do well (win) because of his skin color?

    Guess bringing up that very simple comparison would have the race card slapped on yours truly faster than an Ahmad Bradshaw scamper for yet another 1st down. (Go Giants!!!)

    BTW, Rush had a very interesting call today from a former NFL linebacker named Steve Hutchinson, who said he was beside himself with anger with the way Rush is getting shafted over this whole mess. The former Cowboy and Seahawk said there are many players in the NFL who are angered by this PC nonsense, but are afraid to speak out for fear of the race card being played on them. Of course, "Hutch" is black, but that fact and call will never be played by the MSM because it goes against the narrative of Rush=Racist.

    Rush also pointed out, quite correctly, that sportswriters in general are even more lefty-libs than their conventional counterparts. The perfect example of that tendency would be Mike Lupica from the NY Daily News and the ESPN Sunday morning show. Lupica is a raving liberal weeny, who has taken his George Steinbrenner pom-poms and converted them into raving Obama pom-poms in the political sections of the Daily News.

    Don't criticize the anointed one, lest you be labeled a you-know-what. :D

    Anonymous said...

    Hi Jay,
    I'm anonymous blogger #1. My name is Brandon and I reside in MN. I worked 6 summers for a far right conservative and there were many days where we would tune into Rush's program as well as other conservative radio show hosts including sean hannity and others. There are a lot of moral issues I have with the conservative right and how they conduct themselves in the media. If I had to choose one media broadcast that I had total respect for on the subject of politics, it would be Meet The Press with Tim Russert as host and this is why. It didn't matter who he brought on as a guest, he came after you and made you vulnerable if you weren't prepared. Sadly he is no longer with us.
    As for me, I consider myself economically conservative, but morally liberal. Morally liberal because I have seen, first hand, far right christian conservates repeatedly contradict christian ideals over and over again and it's all because of money. For me possessions are meaningless, values and integrity is what makes a person. Do I understand the other perspective, absolutely, but don't proclaim yourself to be a christian.
    Anyways, my boss was a racist, that doesn't mean he hasn't employed black people in the past, or even that he isn't good friends with black people he met in college. There is still a negative undertone he has towards people of a different color, that he can conciously turn off when he needs to, nonetheless, it doesn't go away. From my listening to conservative right radio and watching fox news, I have yet to see or hear a host with integrity or values worthy of being a christian in my interpretation of the new testament.

    Anonymous said...

    Oh yeah,
    Brandon from MN here again, I should also mention I spent a week in prison last year, locked up in a single cot cell 20-22 hours a day. And I can assure you, I have first hand experience listening to the "black america" we've been talking about and getting a perspective of what it's like living in "black america"

    Jay said...


    You're entitled to your opinion based on your experiences.

    The charge of racism is a serious one, and perhaps you knew your boss's heart on this from the time you spent with him.

    But, I'd caution against using such a broad brush with every right-wing talker based on that.

    While 70% of the prison population may be black males, I don't think that demographic represents the true views of the black community as a whole. There are still a vast majority of blacks who are upstanding citizens just trying to make a living like the rest of us. I'm actually more bothered that you are basing your knowledge of black America based on a month in prison.

    Speaking of religious beliefs, Christians come in all political beliefs. I actually believe and appreciate Michael Moore (who's politics and gotch-style mockumentaries I abhor) when he says he does things because of his Christianity.

    There is no one person who has ever practiced his religion perfectly (save for Christ himself). The one thing all Christians have in common is hypocrisy. This is why the charge has so little meaning to me personally. I know I am a hypocrite.

    I didn't even address your "no respect" comment. First off, I don't think there are people who "idolize" Rush. I think people agree with him, and when he is attacked for his views, they feel attacked.

    Call me a racist if you want, Brandon. Again, I know what's in my heart, not you, and the charge really doesn't bother me, since I know I am not.

    I would like everyone to live their lives as they see fit and to do it under the auspices of a government that gives them the best opportunity to succeed while ensuring their basic human freedoms are maintained.

    I happen to think the founders (racists as many of them may have been) still got it right when they wrote our nation's founding documents. What is happening now is the dismantling of those documents and the decline of this nation into a European-style social welfare state.

    Quite honestly, that's not good for any citizen of any color. It only works for those few who wield political power.

    We can trade freedom for security for only so long until there is no freedom left to trade.

    I've gotten way off track here, so I think I'll stop.

    Anonymous said...

    Well I'll try not to dwell on your closing comments, but if you want to talk about individual freedom, you better not be looking at the republicans for this, who were responsible for enacting the patriot act, as well as denying recogition of homosexual partnerships, and a women's right of choice, none of which have any constitutional valor and in my opinion undermines our constitution. As for Obama turning america into socialist Canada and Europe, you're right, he is pushing us in that direction. If you want to say this is bad, you would also have to say that the social programs FDR founded during the great depression are also bad. I would say if you look at America before WWII and after(or before the new deal and after) from an economical standpoint, I think you would find we were much better off after. If you think we lost a lot of freedoms from the new deal, you're absolutely correct, but what you can't say is that it made our country weaker in the long run because there isn't a single piece of evidence supporting that claim.
    As for your claim that all christians are hipocrates, I disagree. Sure there are times in life where every christian will make a hipocritical statement, but that doesn't mean their lifestyle is hipocritical to the christian religion. I know many christian in my community who have good, well paying jobs who don't pride themselves with their possessions. They lead simple lives and devote large portions of their time and money to support causes they believe in. You should note that these people are not outspoken right wing conservatives, and actually tend to vote democratic, even though they may not believe in things like abortion or gay marriage. I'm not saying these people are everywhere, but they are out there.
    As for you questioning my short term experience in prison and using it to claim I have some sort of understanding how people of color live in the inner city, your right, it's biased, but nonetheless, you get an unmistakeable feel for social life on the streets by living there. I also had good relationships with my counselor and a corrections officer I knew from my childhood and they were more than willing to share their stories with me on what it's like to work in that environment.
    Back to racism, ever person who believes that people collecting paychecks from the government are bloodsucking leaches on their hard earned money, and know that the vast majority of the people collecting that money are people of color, have a strong leaniency towards being racist. People in the right wing media know this fact, and they pound it into their listeners of viewers over and over. They do this because it makes them money and it makes them money in several ways, namely, emotional viewers and listeners will tune into the show more often giving them better ratings. The other way it makes them money is the more round-about way of getting people active in the republican party, donating time and resources to it, which in turn gets more republicans elected resulting in less taxes for the rich, including people hosting these programs and the companies that run them.
    I guess this doesn't necessarily make Rush Limbaugh (or other right wing media hosts) a racist, but as a result of his program, racism is more prominent in America.
    good chat.

    Jay said...

    Brandon, I promoted your comments (thank you) and responded in-line in a new post

    My Response