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Sunday, December 28, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 10/5/2003

Limbaugh's losing game

He landed a job he called “the fulfillment of a dream” and blew it. Whatever one thinks of conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, his remarks that led to his resignation as an ESPN sports analyst were wrong in fact - let alone political correctness.

It would be unfair and probably incorrect - a rush to judgment, so to speak - to cast Mr. Limbaugh's comments as racist when he said on the air that the news media want Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb to succeed because he's black. But racist or not, he erred badly in his contentions.

Neither the media nor the NFL - where the color barrier is no longer an issue - is in the business of propping up a quarterback, black or otherwise.

Last weekend, when Mr. Limbaugh insinuated that the sports media were treating quarterback McNabb with kid gloves because of his race, seven black NFL quarterbacks started games. Two other blacks who regularly start were out with injuries. Black quarterbacks are no longer a rarity in the NFL, and the media have no reason to gloss over McNabb's alleged deficiencies any more than they do any other player.

Yet the right-wing radio talk-show commentator - who acknowledged thinking at some length about the issue before opening his mouth - still said of McNabb: “I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.”

The statement on ESPN's weekly pre-game show, NFL Sunday Countdown, sparked a firestorm of protests and demands that the sports cable network fire its heat-seeking missile.

ESPN got exactly what it sought in the controversial Mr. Limbaugh and more - like an inappropriate, erroneous comment about a quarterback's race coloring media objectivity.

Fortunately for ESPN, the unapologetic Mr. Limbaugh resigned posthaste, saying that he wanted to spare his television colleagues the discomfort of his opinion.

Interestingly, the move was immediately followed by unconfirmed reports that Mr. Limbaugh was under investigation for abusing prescription drugs. In a brief statement, the caustic conservative pleaded ignorance about any investigation but promised his full cooperation.

Then he resumed milking the ESPN controversy he generated for all its worth on his syndicated radio talk show.

In his trademark arrogance, Mr. Limbaugh declared, “If I wasn't right, there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sports writer community.” And the more people listened and talked about his spurious remarks, the better his ratings.

ESPN enjoyed its biggest Sunday audience in seven years the day Rush displayed his spotty football background.

And Donovan McNabb, who's the first to admit his season has gotten off to the worst start in his career, went on to lead the Eagles to a 23-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills.



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