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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

What did you expect, ESPN?

Earlier in the year, the Disney owned station hired political pundit and controversial radio personality Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh, for those who don’t know, has a popular nationally syndicated radio show. While on the air, Limbaugh spends ample time bemoaning the liberal and the political left’s influence on American society.

He has also said more than a few offensive and racially insensitive remarks to callers and guests alike. For example, during a “discussion,” he told an African American caller to “take the bone out of his nose.” Not only does he resort to insults, but he inserts the race card as well. As I see it, he is a bigot.

So what was ESPN thinking when it hired a racist blowhard whose primary area of expertise is politics to be member of a pro-football panel? What else, ratings. The upper management was hoping that people would tune in hoping to see him put his foot in his mouth. Guess what? It happened about two weeks ago.

In summary, Limbaugh said that Philadelphia Eagle’s quarterback Donovan McNabb, an African American, was “overrated.” Fine. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion about a player’s skill and ability.

Where Limbaugh went too far was why McNabb was overrated. Again in summary, he said the media had a special interest in promoting black quarterbacks.

Well, you can imagine the outrage his statement caused. A few days later, Limbaugh resigned.

Limbaugh failed because he couldn’t leave his political agenda out of the discussion. I understand that there are some people who believe that the statement was completely racist. What should be understood is that the comment was directed at the media, an acknowledged white male institution.

Limbaugh should have never been hired because of his lack of knowledge of pro sports, and the relationship between pro athletes and the media. ESPN, CBS, NBC, etc. are selling a product. They have to promote the players and there is not a more glamorous position in pro sports than the quarterback of a football team. In order for the sport to maintain its popularity, it is essential that there are superstars at the quarterback position.

Think about this for a minute. Right now, I would say there are only two, possibly three, quarterbacks that are guaranteed Hall of Famers: Brett Favre, Drew Bledsoe, and probably Peyton Manning. I’m not saying that there won’t be more from the current group, only that the NFL usually has more active quarterbacks with Hall of Fame potential at any given time.

Professional sports leagues need heroes and villains. Maybe Limbaugh was right in his assertion that the media overrated McNabb. He was dead wrong that it had to do anything with the color of his skin. The media has promoted and overrated many players in all sports: black, white, Latino, Asian, whatever. It’s a business where the only color that matters, in the end, is green.