The Leftists on the Sidelines - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Leftists on the Sidelines

Bias-Booth-Insider-Exposes-Distort/dp/1621573311">Bias in the Booth: An Insider Exposes How Sports Media Distort the News
By Dylan Gwinn
(Regnery Publishing, 256 pages, $27.99)

As there is less and less difference now between tabloid journalism and so-called mainstream journalism, so there is less and less difference between news media and sports journalism. Both now, especially at the highest level, are rife with left activists masquerading as reporters. Folks whose agendas are far more important to them than the events they are supposed to be covering.

One can no longer, with assurance, turn to the ball game simply for the pleasure of the completion, for the skill displayed, for the grace demonstrated (or not) under pressure, or just because the games are fun and entertaining. And no more switching to ESPN to escape the liberal sermonette you’re getting from the network news guy. All too often on sports channels these days, sports-loving couch potatoes are hectored about such distinctly un-athletic matters as white racism, homophobia, misogyny, the lack of adequate gun control, and other liberal hobby horses. Left scolds are on the sidelines and in the press box now. And the ball game too often is just a prop used to promote what the reporter really cares about.

Veteran sports talk radio guy Dylan Gwinn give us chapter and verse on this doleful development in his fine new book from Regnery, Bias in the Booth. Gwinn pulls no punches. He names names. He outlines the charges and specifications. His evidence is overwhelming.

For the limousine Left — from whence cometh most sports reporters with the networks, ESPN, major newspapers, and TV outlets — the personal is political. Now so is the athletic. Gwinn gives chapter and verse on how Big Sports Media treated Michael Sam, a decidedly mediocre defensive end, as the most important football player on the planet and wildly over-covered him, not because he had any observable pro-level talent, but because he was openly gay, something not yet seen in the National Football League. This made him a cultural hero to the Left. The offense here is not that most sports fans don’t want to hear about an athlete who happens to be gay. But that most sports fans want to know if the guy can play and don’t care what he gets up to at night.

Jeff Pearlman of Sports Illustrated, who Gwinn says had blogged “I want Tim Tebow to fail,” because Tebow’s expressions of his Christian faith offended Pearlman, later said, “Michael Sam is now my new favorite football player. I don’t have a close second…” This on the basis of how Sam is wired sexually, and with no knowledge of whether or not Sam can tackle. (Two teams passed on his services — so maybe he can’t.)

In a chapter called “The Separation of Church and Sport,” Gwinn expands on how sports reporters, and sports leagues, will tolerate the expression of almost any political or religious positions save Christianity, and how reporters and league officials rarely stray far from the gospel according to the homosexual political movement. They’re as quick as the network news guys are to equate religious freedom with anti-gay bigotry. Witness the NFL’s threat to move the 2015 Super Bowl from Arizona because that state passed a law that protected citizens there from being compelled to act against their religious beliefs. The law has been portrayed as anti-gay, which it wasn’t. But even if it were, what does this have to do with football? Let the news-side deal with this, in their usual (sarcasm alert) even-handed way.

In “Knaves on the Warpath,” Gwinn takes on the sport media’s relentless badgering of the Washington Redskins to change the team’s name, even while most real American Indians either don’t care about the issue and like the fact that the team is named after them. Non-Indians don’t want the name changed either. Just the grievance-entrepreneurs of the media.

Gwinn’s chapter “Bull in Durham” should come with a reader warning. Some of the lengths the sports media went to in order to convict white male Duke lacrosse players of rape on the basis of flimsy allegations by a black stripper are almost stomach-turning. The accuser’s story, which was a moving target, didn’t hold up, and the accuser was ultimately convicted of killing her boyfriend. Prosecutor Mike Nifong handled the case in such a way that he was disbarred for his trouble. But the white racism mongers in the sport media stayed with the accuser even after the charges, which looked bogus from the beginning, were shown to be groundless. After it was clear even to highly paid reporters that no rape had taken place, they nattered on that the players were guilty of white privilege and generally not being nice progressive folks like the reporters.

Gwinn quotes Washington Post columnist John Feinstein as saying on the syndicated “Jim Rome Show” after all charges had been dropped for lack of evidence that the players were “guilty of everything but rape… I really don’t want to hear that they’re victims and martyrs, and that their lives have been ruined.”

This is a right peculiar thing to say, as rape was what the players had been charge with. Gwinn suggests that Feinstein, and plenty of his colleagues in the media, found the Duke players guilty of the charge of “being rich while white.” 

Gwinn dissects other crusades our increasing unsportsmanlike sport reporters are prone to go on, such as piling on with the debatable evidence that playing football is the biggest health threat to young American males. He braces the media for essentially blacklisting Rush Limbaugh when he attempted to become part owner of an NFL team, while embracing much dicier characters who bought into sports teams. He reminds us of Bob Costas’s gun control sermonette when the news was football, not guns.

Bias is by no means a pleasant read. Conservatives, familiar with much of what Gwinn relates, are the aggrieved parties and may not want to be reminded of all the abuses they’ve endured. Liberals will complain that they’re being misrepresented. (Some of the more alert ones will just hate that they’ve been caught out. Again.) But the history of an important and unattractive change in our media culture is accurately presented here.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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