- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2003

Media frenzy

“The media on Wednesday turned Rush Limbaugh’s comments Sunday, on an ESPN pre-game NFL show, about media coverage of a black quarterback, into a media frenzy with CNN, literally, running segments on the controversy every hour all day,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

“By evening, ABC and CBS were impugning Limbaugh as a racist by likening his comment, about how ‘the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well’ and so ‘I think there is a little hope invested in [Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan] McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he really didn’t deserve,’ to broad generalizations about the entire Negro race uttered by Jimmy the Greek and Al Campanis.

“Neither network could find anyone who agreed with Limbaugh,” Mr. Baker said.

“ABC’s Peter Jennings rued how ‘we’ve been down this road before. Jimmy the Greek Snyder lost his job with CBS Sports and Al Campanis resigned from the Los Angeles Dodgers for remarks deemed to be racially insensitive. Mr. Limbaugh is a rich and famous man, but the NAACP and at least one presidential candidate said today ESPN should can him.’

” ‘Still ahead on the CBS Evening News,’ Dan Rather intoned: ‘Were or were not Rush Limbaugh’s comments about an NFL player racist, a ratings grab or both?’ CBS reporter Byron Pitts linked Limbaugh to a history of racism: ‘The debate over quarterbacks isn’t new. For decades, from Little League to college, black ball players were discouraged from playing the position. The thinking was they weren’t smart enough to succeed. It was a stereotype perpetuated by the likes of one-time CBS sportscaster Jimmy the Greek.’

“This morning, Thursday, The Washington Post and Katie Couric on NBC’s ‘Today’ ran through a litany of supposedly racist remarks Limbaugh has made on his radio show, but failed to put them into the context of how he was delivering humorous parodying of news events of the day. The Post cited no source, but Couric said she got her examples from a far-left columnist, though she naturally failed to identify him as such.”

Intentionally offensive

“Most of those who are excoriating Rush Limbaugh for saying what he believes about media coverage of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb are hypocritical grandstanders or opportunists,” says Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative group.

Mrs. Ridenour offered examples:

“An ESPN spokesman said ESPN didn’t think Limbaugh’s comments were racially biased, yet ESPN released a statement saying Limbaugh’s comments were ‘insensitive and inappropriate’ and George Bodenheimer, the president of ESPN Sports, says Limbaugh’s subsequent resignation from ESPN was ‘the appropriate action to resolve this matter expeditiously.’ Yet ESPN has posted on its Web site a poll asking visitors if McNabb has been overrated because of his race. Why is it inappropriate for Limbaugh to discuss media coverage of McNabb but not inappropriate when ESPN does it?”

Mrs. Ridenour cited what she called other instances of hypocrisy, such as The Washington Post’s Leonard Shapiro using the beginning of a column Wednesday to approvingly discuss the importance of having more black coaches in the NFL and then editorializing against Mr. Limbaugh for noting that the news media wanted blacks to succeed in football. Said Mrs. Ridenour: “Shapiro’s article reads almost like a parody.”

Mrs. Ridenour added: “Several sports reporters went out of their way to attack millions of conservatives in columns ostensibly complaining that Limbaugh had injected politics into sports. NBCSports.com’s Mike Celizic complained that Limbaugh’s ‘fun isn’t in the game. It’s in inflicting his political agenda on a gullible public willing to subcontract their thinking to him. Part of that agenda is based on the basest xenophobic instincts of the human species. It’s about “them” and “us,” and the bad guys just happen to be foreigners and minorities.’

“Compared to Celizic’s comments about conservatives,” Mrs. Ridenour said, “Limbaugh’s comments were almost non-political, and certainly less intentionally offensive.”

Radio revolution

“There were 31 petition drives to recall a California governor before the one directed at Gray Davis. All failed to make the ballot,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Ted Costa, the antitax crusader who became the official sponsor of the Davis recall, knew this one would be different when in early February he appeared on Eric Hogue’s Sacramento talk show at 5 a.m. to announce he was collecting signatures for a recall. Within minutes a few of his neighbors were pounding on his door wanting to sign up. Within hours more than 300 people had appeared at his office,” Mr. Fund said.

“California’s recall revolution was an unusual confluence of citizen anger at a failed political establishment, a governor who seemed competent only at manipulating the political process for his own selfish ends, and a budget crisis that he helped hide from the voters until after the 2002 election. The whole process was fueled by talk radio and the Internet.

” ‘Without the support of talk show hosts, it might not have happened,’ says recall strategist Dave Gilliard. ‘These shows have created activists, people who go out and work.’ Consultant Sal Russo, who worked for Davis challenger Bill Simon last year, says, ‘Talk show hosts are the new precinct captains of democracy in California. The Internet piggybacked on talk radio as a vehicle for both fund raising and downloading petition forms so people could just sign it and mail it in.’ Howard Dean isn’t the only one to realize the potential of the Internet in politics.”

Waiting on Young

Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young is keeping Democrats guessing about his plans for a Senate bid, telling congressional Democrats yesterday that he is “in the process” of preparing a campaign one day after close friends said he was leaning against running.

Mr. Young, who had told Democrats this summer that he planned to run for the Senate seat from Georgia and would begin his campaign in September, said yesterday he still wasn’t ready to announce his candidacy officially.

“I’m in the race, but I’m in the race my way,” he told reporters after a speech at the Capitol. “Either you’re in or you’re out, and right now I’m in — in the process.”

Later, spokeswoman Dianne Wisner said Mr. Young planned a news conference in Atlanta this morning “to set the record straight about his intentions.”

Recruiting Cleland

Senate Democrats are intensifying efforts to coax former Sen. Max Cleland to run again in 2004, Roll Call reports.

However, Mr. Cleland has resisted their entreaties so far, reporters Lauren W. Whittinton and Mark Preston said.

Mr. Cleland lost a bid for re-election in Georgia last year. Fellow Democrat Zell Miller has decided not to run for re-election to the Senate next year.

“I have talked to him and all kinds of people have talked to Max,” an unidentified senior Democratic senator told Roll Call. “We think Max would be our best candidate in Georgia. For a long period of time we have been after Max.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]


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