I live in Western NY. Talk radio gives me two options: Rush Limbaugh and clones or Sports talk radio. So I listen to sports talk even though the only national teams in the region are the Bills (football) and the Sabres (hockey). Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a trend over the last several years – that the sports talk shows are becoming increasingly political. Especially the local shows. As you can imagine, the principle political opinions expressed are conservative, often extreme conservative.
For whatever reason, local sports talk radio hosts have allowed this co-mingling of sports talk and conservative talk to continue. Though the hosts themselves generally don’t push their own views, extreme or not, they simply allow callers to talk politics on a sports call-in show. It pisses me off because if I listen to the radio for sports, not tea party platitudes from Obama haters. I don’t have an iPod to listen to music, and I don’t always want to listen to NPR, which frankly is pretty bland and “balanced” these days.
Yesterday, the big topic on the local afternoon drive time sports show station was the NYC marathon. The New York City marathon is a world famous event every year in long distance running circles – you have to win a lottery to have a chance to run in it if you are not a world class athlete. Fifty thousand runners participate so it’s a big deal for the New York economy one weekend every November.
The marathon had been scheduled to be held this weekend. Now this issue was caused completely by Mayor Bloomberg. He insisted, for whatever reason, on proceeding with the running the NYC marathon despite the concerns (and outrage) that many people expressed that the event, with its fifty thousand runners, would detract from clean-up and power restoration efforts in the aftermath of Sandy. Understandably, many people in my area have friends, business contacts or relatives in New York, so passions ran high about Bloomberg’s decision to hold the race.
Well, Friday Bloomberg backed down and he and event organizers cancelled the race, obviously feeling the heat of the negative publicity they were receiving and the anger of local New Yorkers. Fine and dandy. It was a legitimate topic for a sports talk show. Unfortunately, some callers took the opportunity to blame President Obama for what was essentially a local decision by a Republican mayor. Even worse, they went all Kanye West on the President. That right, they went there:
“Maybe Obama hates white people”
That’s a direct quote from one caller who claimed that Obama was racist. Other callers also derided the President as if he, rather than the Republican Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, had any part in the initial decision to hold the NYC marathon after Sandy hit. Now I’ve heard a lot of negative stuff said about Obama and the Democrats over the last four years on my local sports talk radio, nasty, bigoted stuff, so I can’t say i was surprised, but considering the rapid and massive effort that the President, FEMA and the Federal government as a whole has made to the Sandy disaster, an effort praised by Republicans such as Chris Christie, Mayor Bloomberg and others, I was more than disappointed.
You see, there is nothing this President can do, from ordering a daring and risky raid to kill Osama bin Ladin, to ending the war on Iraq, to providing real saving for Medicare recipients by closing the donut hole created by Bush’s costly budget busting Medicare D Prescription plan, to actually employing FEMA the way it should have been employed during the Katrina disaster, to save lives and provide immediate help to the survivors of Sandy wrath, that will satisfy the racists in our society, most of whom now reside happily in the extreme wing of the Republican party.
And there are fewer and fewer places one can find on broadcast media where these radical, racist, extremist viewpoints will not be given a voice. On a day when Geraldo Rivera, of all people, does something commendable by denouncing the lies being propagated on Fox News by his fellow pundits about the Benghazi consulate attack, far too many people continue to believe the lies and continue to irrationally hate President Obama because they are racists, and their racist beliefs, attitudes and hatred is broadcast and rewarded by our media.
Did the Sports talk show host who listened to this man’s diatribe rebuke him? No. Did he cut him off? No. He let this racist jerk continue with his rant until it was finished. Did the host sound uncomfortable that his show was being used by a vile bigot to spout this nonsense. Well he sounded uncomfortable, but he didn’t do anything about it. Why? Because I suspect he has been told by his bosses to allow his callers to air their bullshit opinions on politics and race.
Now does this same host, and others like him, shut down callers if they don’t like their opinion about a sports topic? All the damn time. You disagree with the host about his take on a football team he cuts you off. You call out the President of the United States on the air — a man performing his job with incredible grace and dignity under enormous pressures from a Republican Congress dedicated to taking down our country’s economy if that’s what it takes to defeat him, and in the face of a concerted effort by the right to demean, defame, deride and incite people against him — and the host sits there and says next to nothing, much less cuts this caller off for such comments.
That’s the America we live in, today. Once upon a time, believe it or not, bigots and racists who acted in this manner were not given any airtime to express their ill-informed prejudices and hate. Now? Anyone can say anything vile and offensive and racist. Indeed, these racist and extremist opinions dominate the airwaves, even on media whose stated purpose is to cover sports.
Tell me again about the so-called liberal media, because I keep waiting to discover its hidey-hole.