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A time for anger, a time for ...
The lifeblood of social media and increasingly all media is politically correct phony outrage.
Lacking the courage and financial freedom to express outrage over legitimate injustices, the mainstream media have chosen to mask their cowardice and corporate constraints by taking up causes trending on Twitter.
Doug Gottlieb, the CBS Sports broadcaster, is the latest victim of this phenomenon. He botched his debut on CBS’ NCAA tournament main stage by opening with a joke that fell flat. Seated in the middle of black colleagues Greg Gumbel, Greg Anthony, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley, the former Oklahoma State point guard quipped:
“I’m just here to bring diversity to this set, give kind of the white man’s perspective.”
It’s standard locker-room humor, or the kind of television commentary that has made Barkley rich, famous and indispensable on TNT’s NBA studio show. Gottlieb’s crime was not knowing his role. It’s Barkley’s job to be inappropriately funny. Gottlieb has watched more college basketball over the past 10 years than everyone else on the set combined (and Greg Anthony has watched a lot of college hoops). Gottlieb is on CBS’ studio show for his college basketball insight, not his ability to impersonate Barkley.
Whatever, no one was hurt by Gottlieb’s comment. He made himself look like an ass. It was a victimless crime, unless you consider his self-inflicted wound felonious.
But on Twitter, it seemed like everyone was talking about Gottlieb’s error in judgment. You would’ve thought Janet Jackson’s nipple had made another appearance on national TV. Recognizing an opportunity for clicks, blogs started linking to video of Gottlieb’s “awkward racial” comment. And then, boom! ESPN’s Mark May called for Gottlieb to be fired.
“After Doug Gottlieb’s ignorant comment on CBS he should be canned,” May tweeted.
“That type of comment is meant for a bar not a national stage. Nice job Gottlieb. I hope all the kids 12 and under didn’t hear it!” May followed up.
Eventually, Barkley defended Gottlieb on air, telling offended people on Twitter to get a life.
How about everyone in America find real things to get outraged over.
Hours before Gottlieb cracked a joke everyone with a diverse group of friends has heard a hundred times, it was announced that former Syracuse basketball assistant Bernie Fine had taken the necessary steps to file a defamation lawsuit against ESPN and Mark Schwarz for irresponsibly airing a story accusing him of sexual molestation.
In the sports journalistic crime of the century, ESPN and Schwarz destroyed the life Fine had known for 30 years based on the flimsily told words of two jokers and an audio tape completely devoid of context.
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Anyone with a tiny bit of journalistic instincts could see the problems with the ESPN story. Bobby Davis, the main accuser, said he was molested until age 27, despite being an athlete in far better shape than his alleged short, old man molester. Davis and his step-brother Mike Lang, the second accuser, are both now in their 40s but could never articulate what Fine allegedly did to them beyond touching their legs and a few other vague mumblings. Davis claimed to have slept with Fine’s wife and copped to owing Fine money. Schwarz hooked Davis up with a third Fine accuser, who just happened to be a convicted child molester and a lifelong enemy of the truth and reality.
Schwarz and ESPN presented a bad episode of Maury Povich like it was the Zapruder Film.
Will Mark May be calling for Schwarz and the editors responsible for airing the half-baked allegations to be canned? I doubt it.
OK, I get that May works for ESPN and he can’t go after a co-worker. If an employee at FOX Sports made a similar mistake as Schwarz, I would voice my opinion internally and leave the public comments to non-FOX Sports employees.
But how about this? May swallowed every bit of Yahoo!’s exaggerated, out-of-context, based-on-the-word-of-a-congenital-liar reporting on the Miami football program and called for the NCAA to give the Hurricanes the Death Penalty. He did this repeatedly on ESPN’s airwaves.
Charles Robinson’s investigation into Miami has more holes in it than a golf course. Starting with the claim that Nevin Shapiro paid for the abortion of a hooker who claimed she was pregnant by a Miami player, you could see many of the holes from Day One. Over the course of several weeks, Yahoo! made numerous updates and corrections to the story. In the last couple of months, the NCAA has had to admit its own negligence and unethical behavior in its investigation into the Miami program.
Has May called for Robinson or anyone at the NCAA to receive the Death Penalty?
May is in good company. Those of us in the media pick the wrong targets, the easy targets. Gottlieb is brash, a bit smug and he has a little dirt on his resume. He got in trouble at Notre Dame when he was player there. He’s also smart and talented. That creates hostility in the media industry.
I know what some of you are thinking. I’m defending Gottlieb because I think what he did is analogous to what happened to me when I cracked an inappropriate joke about Jeremy Lin. Not true. What I did was wrong and offensive. I owed Lin and the Asian community an apology. My timing was wrong, the platform was wrong, and I was wrong. I diminished a significant moment for Asian-American athletes.
Gottlieb diminished himself. He goofed on air and owed his co-workers a private apology for creating a distraction. That’s it. He didn’t hurt anyone, and he did an excellent job the rest of the night.
Let’s move on. Let’s save our outrage for real injustices rather than silly controversies powered by Twitter. I’m speaking primarily to those of us with legitimate media platforms. Let’s make Mark Schwarz’s and Charles Robinson’s names trend on Twitter. They owe the public an apology, not Gottlieb.
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