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Old 10-02-2003, 11:44 AM   #1
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Free Speech = Don't Question the Media

From the NY Times

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Limbaugh Resigns From ESPN's N.F.L. Show
By RICHARD SANDOMIR

ush Limbaugh resigned last night from ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" three days after he made race-related comments about how the news media view the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

The remarks prompted demands for ESPN to fire Limbaugh yesterday by Gen. Wesley K. Clark, a Democratic presidential contender, and Rep. Harold Ford Jr., Democrat of Tennessee, who said that he had enlisted 20 other House Democrats and had interest from three Republicans to sign a letter to the ESPN protesting the radio commentator's comments.

On Sunday, Limbaugh elaborated on his belief that McNabb is overrated and that the Eagles' defense has carried the team over the past few seasons.

"What we have here is a little social concern in the N.F.L.," he said. "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback can do well - black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve."

Two of the analysts on the show, Tom Jackson and Steve Young, commented on the football part of Limbaugh's remarks, but did not address the racial content.

"My comments this past Sunday were directed at the media and were not racially motivated," Limbaugh said in a statement issued at midnight yesterday. "I offered an opinion. This opinion has caused discomfort for the crew, which I regret.

"I love 'NFL Sunday Countdown' and do not want to be a distraction to the great work done by all who work on it. Therefore, I have decided to resign."

George Bodenheimer, the president of ESPN, said, "We believe he took the appropriate action to resolve this matter expeditiously."

Limbaugh's departure ends a monthlong experiment at ESPN in which the syndicated radio star - on a perch away from the other members of the show's main desk - offered essays about the National Football League and challenged the opinions of Jackson, Young, Michael Irvin and the host, Chris Berman.

While usually tart, Limbaugh's opinions on the program did not provoke much controversy, merely a lot of shouting and laughing on the set. But that changed with his discussion about McNabb. McNabb told The Associated Press yesterday that he wished someone on the show had challenged Limbaugh's view on race. "I wouldn't have cared if it was the cameraman," he said.

He also said that an apology from Limbaugh "would do no good because he obviously thought about it before he said it."

Early yesterday, Limbaugh refused to retreat from his comments about McNabb, saying on his radio talk show that the focus was on the news media, not McNabb.

"All this has become the tempest that it is because I must have been right about something," Limbaugh said. "If I wasn't right, there wouldn't be the cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sportswriter community."

Hours before the resignation, Clark wrote to Bodenheimer to say, "Mr. Limbaugh has the right to say whatever he wants, but ABC and ESPN have no obligation to sponsor such hateful and ignorant speech."

ABC, a division of the Walt Disney Company, owns 80 percent of ESPN.

Ford, who is black, said that he had no problem with Limbaugh voicing an opinion on McNabb's quarterbacking skills, "but when he injected race and said the reason we root for him or that we have something invested in him is because he's African-American is asinine. And it borders on his motivation for making the comment beyond his assessment of Donovan McNabb as a quarterback. It suggests to me that he was thinking of things in cruel and nefarious ways."

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson told Bloomberg News that Limbaugh's remarks were insulting and asked that Michael D. Eisner, the chairman of Disney, and Paul Tagliabue, the N.F.L. commissioner, intervene with ESPN.

"ESPN knew what they were getting when they hired Rush Limbaugh," said Joe Browne, a spokesman for the N.F.L. "Donovan's status as a top quarterback reflects his performance on the field, not the desire of the media."

The rating for "Sunday NFL Countdown" has risen 10 percent from last season, and Sunday's show, Limbaugh's last, was the highest-rated edition in seven years.
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Old 10-02-2003, 01:08 PM   #2
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I won't comment but to say the title to this thread is wrong.
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Old 10-02-2003, 01:49 PM   #3
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My question is what the heck was ESPN thinking when it hired Rush in the first place. Didn't they realize that eventually his extreme consevative politics would creep in eventually.
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Old 10-02-2003, 02:46 PM   #4
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I don't really get why this thread has that title either, but that aside, I'm glad he's resigned. I know exactly nothing about (American) Football, but IMO making comments about an athlete's skin colour rather than his ability is wrong and is completely inappropriatie on a television show which is watched by millions of people.
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Old 10-02-2003, 02:51 PM   #5
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But that is just the point. He didn't say anything about McNabb's ability due to his skin color. He questioned the media's treatment of a football player because of his skin color.

If you cannot quetsion the media, you do not have free speech.
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Old 10-02-2003, 03:09 PM   #6
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"The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback can do well"

whether it was the intention or not, this implies that black quarterbacks doing well is a rarity
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Old 10-02-2003, 03:11 PM   #7
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the over reaction to what he said is more than a bit ridiculous
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Old 10-02-2003, 03:13 PM   #8
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It is rare to the extent that most NFL QB jobs are held by white players.
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Old 10-02-2003, 03:16 PM   #9
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especially when mcnabb came into the league, he kind of paved the way for more black qb's to follow

i dont agree with what rush said, i think the reason so much attention is on him is because he was a controversial number 2 pick in the draft and with that comes high expectations, but i dont really see it as racist in anyway
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Old 10-02-2003, 03:29 PM   #10
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no, i understand it isn't racist...but what do you expect? I'm sure he had the BEST intentions...but in this day in age, it's just dangerous to say things like that

I'm not saying what I think of that, i'm just sayng that he should have maybe known better

??
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Old 10-02-2003, 03:46 PM   #11
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I think what he said was racist-to bring up the color of that man's skin is in itself racist in my opinion. What does that have to do w/ anything? To say that "the media wants him to do well" is implying that somehow his abilities are inferior, and that his color is the only reason he is where he is.

From what I heard, he is a three time Pro Bowler who has led his team to two straight title games (this might be wrong). Too bad Rush couldn't have the class and humility to admit he was wrong and that his statement was racist, or at the very least had racist overtones.

I think we've had enough problems w/ people like that Jimmy the Greek that people like Rush should know better.
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Old 10-02-2003, 03:57 PM   #12
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it isn't racist to bring up somebodies skin color...I have to disagree with you there

I think I could list many scenarios where listing a mans skin color wouldn't be racist
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Old 10-02-2003, 03:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
to admit he was wrong and that his statement was racist
So, in effect, it becomes "you're a racist, prove me wrong".

Does the media act with pure colorblindness? Is it fair to question the media's coverage of people of color?
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Old 10-02-2003, 04:09 PM   #14
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My interpretation of what he said was that it at the very least had racial overtones.

Did he ever talk about "white quarterbacks" on that show, specifically using those terms?

How often is an athlete's race mentioned on ESPN, regarding his or her performance?

Maybe I'm just "overly sensitive" to these issues, but that's just how I am And I admit, I don't like that man, but I'd feel the same way about what was said no matter who said it.
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Old 10-02-2003, 04:11 PM   #15
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Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
I think what he said was racist-to bring up the color of that man's skin is in itself racist in my opinion. What does that have to do w/ anything? To say that "the media wants him to do well" is implying that somehow his abilities are inferior, and that his color is the only reason he is where he is.

Exactly. It's the implication.

He's not questioning the media. He's making an assumption based on his beliefs. You can't question the media, unless you for sure know the reason media wants him to do well is because he's black. What if they want him to do well because he's a nice guy.

Maybe he was high at the time he made the comment

Sorry I know I shouldn't make fun of someone's addiction, but I couldn't help it.
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