Contact: David Almasi (202) 543-4110
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For Release: October 6, 2003

 

 

NFL Team Owner Claims Merely to Hire a Conservative as a Sports Commentator is Proof of "Institutional Racism"

Should Conservatives Part Company with the NFL?

"Much of the commentary by the pro football community in the wake the the Rush Limbaugh/ESPN controversy has been hostile to conservatives," says Amy Ridenour, president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative group. "Some of it attacks all conservatives explicitly; most of the rest attacks Rush Limbaugh in such a way as to make it clear that conservatism is what they actually hate. Will the NFL, any pro football team, or any sports network disavow these insensitive attacks on tens of millions of Americans? Or are conservative fans not wanted?"

"The owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie, has said that merely to hire Limbaugh, a conservative talk show host, is evidence of 'institutional racism' at ESPN," said Ridenour. "Imagine that -- merely hiring a conservative as a sport commentator is evidence of 'institutional racism.'"

According to media reports, Lurie also called the mere hiring of Limbaugh a "racial potshot" at the NFL.

Concluded Ridenour, a life-long football fan: "I've been reading editorial comments about what Limbaugh said, and in doing so I've seen A LOT of anti-conservative vitriol from print media sports columnists, TV sports commentators and pro-football players in addition to the especially offensive attack from the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. What I have not seen is anyone from the NFL or anyone from an institution that makes money from its association with the NFL saying that the millions of conservatives being attacked right now are valued customers. So maybe we're not. Maybe they don't want us around. Do they care enough to prove us wrong?"

Ridenour supplied several examples, chosen at random, of sports columnists attacking conservatism or Rush Limbaugh apparently for his conservatism -- usually a parody of conservatism -- instead of constructively discussing the actual remarks:

"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..... Left unsaid, though, was what ESPN's motivation was for hiring the latter-day Red baiter in the first place. Has the NASCAR crowd been switching to Fox and away from the Disney-owned stations in protest of PC-filled animated films?" - Jeff Vrabel, Jeff Wisser & Jeff Johnson, Limbaugh Shows True Colors, Cut from Team, Chicago Sun-Times, October 5

"The reason that mudslinging works on the radio is simple: On the radio, Limbaugh is speaking to the dittoheads, the disciples who swallow everything. On TV, Limbaugh has to address the population as a whole." - Mark Whicker, Reality Television: Rush Limbaugh Revealed, Orange County Register, October 4

"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. And, according to Limbaugh's own words, any credit McNabb has gotten has nothing to do with on-field accomplishments and everything to do with the color of his skin. Limbaugh on the radio, where he is preaching to his choir of sycophants, would not have been so tactically vague. He would have called McNabb an 'affirmative action quarterback,' then opened the phones to have his every word reinforced." - Bob Raissman, Race-Hustling ESPN Got its Ratings Boost before Limbaugh Resigned, New York Daily News, October 2

"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. My only surprise is that it took so long for him to spew it all over the foolish network executives like ESPN's wonderboy Mark Shapiro, who came up with the not-so-bright idea to hire him in the first place. The pressure to ditch him - and the reason he gave in to that pressure and resigned - was not about unfair racial double standards, or a man being penalized for simply offering a sports opinion. It was about a man seeking a new forum to trumpet his usual political agenda. It was about the suits at ESPN who 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. - Bryan Burwell, ESPN Gets What it Deserves in Rush of Poisonous Venom, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 4

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