Salon magazine this afternoon is asking the silly question, Why can Limbaugh speak, but not Costas?
It is Rush Limbaugh who is banned from speaking, not Bob Costas.
Salon’s David Sirota has a long introduction to his argument (which you can read here) that boils down to this:
In concrete terms… Costas is no less entitled to speak about public issues on the public airwaves than Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh — and that’s true even though the latter two are billed as ‘political’ and Costas isn’t. To insist otherwise — to insist that Costas has no right while self-ordained ‘political experts’ do — is to champion a hegemonic view of the public square. That is, a view implying that only certain pre-approved political elites have a right to make their voices heard.Setting aside the nonsense about any individual actually being “entitled to speak about public issues on the public airwaves” (honestly, are there any entitlements liberals won’t rush to embrace?) Sirota is ignoring the elephant in the room: The NFL and the sportscasting world essentially have banned Limbaugh just because he’s conservative.
Their excuse is that he once mentioned efforts by the mainstream press to speak well of black quarterbacks, which itself was partly in response to decades of racism by black owners and coaches, who preferred that quarterbacks be white.
People who notice and retain facts will recall that Limbaugh was thrown off a ESPN commentator gig in 2003 for expressing this opinion:
I don’t think [Donovan McNabb] been that good from the get-go. I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there’s a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he really didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.As Project 21’s Geoffrey Moore said at the time,
What cost Limbaugh his job as an ESPN commentator might actually be the truth. The media may actually be cheering a little harder for black quarterbacks.The NFL and the media that helps make it profitable had some sins in their past, and maybe it was just a bit embarrassing that Rush Limbaugh, in pointing out the coverup, was indirectly acknowledging the sin.
Historically, aspiring black quarterbacks were often moved to positions such as wide receiver, running back or defensive back to take advantage of their athleticism. Another reason was the prevailing belief among owners, coaches and much of society at the time that blacks lacked the intellectual components necessary to play quarterback. We all know these claims now were nothing but racism. But, back then, successful black NFL quarterbacks such as Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon (who played in the Canadian Football League to get a fair chance) and Doug Williams could be counted without removing one’s shoes. Increasing numbers of black quarterbacks began to be drafted in the 1990s. When three were chosen in the first round of the 1999 draft, it equaled the total number chosen in the first round during the previous 63 years.
Why would the media feel the need to cheer a little harder for black quarterbacks? Among the most obvious reasons is guilt, with a dash of social justice. With the pattern of racism that existed primarily at the quarterback position, perhaps they feel it’s their duty now to help correct something in which they were complicit. How many times do we need to hear that a great play made by a white player was smart while a great play made by a black quarterback was athletic?
But that’s not the NFL’s only attack on Limbaugh.
In 2009, when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell idiotically said Rush Limbaugh would not be welcome as an NFL owner because “we’re all held to a high standard here.”
Goodell said Limbaugh’s six-year-old comment about McNabb all but made him ineligible to be an NFL owner, all of whom apparently are too virtuous to let on, even subtly, that the NFL had a racist past. As reported by the New York Times:
“I’ve said many times before, we’re all held to a high standard here,” Goodell said. Then he continued: “I would not want to see those comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL –- absolutely not.Compare Goodell’s comments to the entirely of Limbaugh’s quote, above, and you’ll see they don’t match. It’s like Goodell isn’t really thinking about what Limbaugh actually said.
…”The comments Rush made specifically about Donovan, I disagree with very strongly,” Goodell said. “It’s a polarizing comment that we don’t think reflect accurately on the N.F.L. or our players. I obviously do not believe those comments are positive and they are divisive. That’s a negative thing for us, obviously.”
Could there be something else at play?
Goodell wasn’t the only censor in the bunch. Also as reported by the Times:
…the Colts’ Jim Irsay, indicated which way he would vote - a definitive no.In 2003, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie, said that merely to hire Limbaugh, a conservative talk show host, as a commentator, is evidence of ‘institutional racism’ at ESPN. As I said at the time, “Imagine that — merely hiring a conservative as a sport commentator is evidence of ‘institutional racism.’”
“I, myself, couldn’t even consider voting for him,” said Irsay, who feels Limbaugh “demonizes individuals with his commentary.”
Said Irsay: “When there are comments that have been made that are inappropriate, incendiary and insensitive… our words do damage and it’s something that we don’t need.”
Sportswriters were equally intolerant and offensive in their remarks about Limbaugh, who represents the views of tens of millions of mainstream conservatives:
Chicago Sun-Times, 10/4/2003: “This league with such a shameless record on affirmative action was now getting its sociology lessons from a man who would probably, under a polygraph, disavow the Emancipation Proclamation….”Limbaugh was tossed off ESPN, effectively banned from owning an NFL team and vilified by the sports weenies for being honest and for being conservative. Costas still has his job. Yet silly Salon thinks we’re unfair to Costas.
New York Daily News, 10/2/03: “Strip away all Limbaugh’s media (I’m surprised he didn’t say “liberal media”) mumbo-jumbo and what you have is someone who believes McNabb is an inadequate quarterback because he is black.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/4/03: “You didn’t know when, you didn’t know where, but you knew sooner or later, he was going to trot out his racist political venom. …the suits at ESPN… should have known exactly what that political agenda was based on a body of work that suggests - heck it fairly screamed - that Limbaugh was a mean-spirited, liberal-bashing, feminist-bashing, gay-bashing, minority-bashing blowhard who spent a great deal of energy ripping everyone who doesn’t look or think like him.”
NBC Sports: “[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.”
But what should we expect from an emotive electronic rag that, right next to the Limbaugh/Costas story, was teasing this story: “Remember that time Little Richard was on ‘Blossom’?”
Salon: Home to the airhead demographic, and predictably wrong about Limbaugh.