Now For Some Good Ol’ Fashion ESPN Racism.
Last week on ESPN’s “First Take” something more stupid than usual happened. You know the program, the daytime debatable debate show that runs all afternoon on the sports leader and features the two racial extreme superpowers of Skip “Super Wasp” Bayless and Stephen A. “Black Power Man” Smith, who sit around and typically just piss each other off all afternoon to the delight of…well, there has to be someone who likes this scripted forced garbage for it to be so popular, right?
Well, last week these two racially charged comic book character versions of sports reporters1 broke away just long enough from talking about Tim Tebow to discuss with one of their regular guests, Rob Parker, what he thought of Robert Griffin III’s role as an African-American quarterback. And this dumbass racist, probably in trying to out-race-card the show’s hosts, responded with, “My question, which is just a straight honest question, is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”
Seriously. He said that. Live. But wait, he wasn’t done…
Rob Parker then referred to RGIII having “a white fiancée” and cited there’s “people talking about that he’s a Republican” while also adding RGIII is “not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us” and “he’s kind of black, but he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with”… and on and on Rob Parker rambled about what makes black, black, to which he even took to Twitter afterwards all in an effort to substantiate any validity of his saying this crazy shit he just said.
Keep in mind when contextualizing how outright absurd these statements are in general, let alone for any sports network in 2012 to have said on its programming. Then note this was reaching all new levels of absurdity even within the already well established forum of absurdity that is First Take. In fact, Rob Parker went so far overboard in his comments Stephen A. Smith ended up the voice of reason when this round table of ridiculousness circled back around, and with disapproval washed over his face he responded with, “Well first of all let me say this: I’m uncomfortable with where we just went.”
Okay, first warning something’s gone wrong, ESPN, any time Stephen A. Smith is the voice of reason as a soul-power train is careening off the tracks of righteousness in the hands of another brother. Seriously, how did alarms not go off all over Bristol when this was happening?
Fast forward, the segment ends, then, and this may be the best part of all, ESPN re-airs the whole episode unedited later that day!
God bless Disney World.
Eventually some Mickey Mouse at the station did catch on to the fact that they had just let a blatant racist air his ignorant hate all over their brand, and that they replayed it later.2 So the next day their efforts were swift (the day late version of swift that is) and they placed Mr. Parker on indefinite suspension pending a full review.
Of course it was left to other sports networks and media outlets to report on the “The World Leader in Sports” because ESPN tried to throw its dirty laundry out and act like nothing had happened. Which is exactly what they did. If you’re keeping score, the “sports leader” makes sports news instead of just reporting it. Then, they replay it for good measure. Then they provide a quick statement that Parker had been suspended which they waited to offer until the next day. Then, they make no mention of it on any of their coverage, not on Sportscenter(s), not on Pardon The Interruption, hell, they didn’t even bring it up on First Take the next day where the show just immediately jumped into Jets QB talks it clearly should have never veered from in the first place.
Yep, racism literally pitched a shutout at ESPN.
And you know what? Ultimately, this is the real issue here, the fact that ESPN didn’t go all ESPN on itself.
As for what Rob Parker said; whatever, he’s an idiot. Happens. There’s a lot of idiots everywhere, all shapes, genders, colors and creeds, and they’re usually just lurking about waiting for the chance to unleash their stupidity if given it. My word, Matt Millen is still on-air and that guy has had to apologize for being a racist more times than Republican senators had to throughout the 90’s. Besides, Rob Parker has frequently pushed the boundaries on hot button issues before he was ever even invited on First Take, and he will continue to again in the future in one forum or another. It’s what he does.
The real problem isn’t that ESPN let this knuckle dragging forehead sloping moron speak his mind,3 no, when Rob Parker did something along the lines of what he’s known to do, be controversially stupid, and the net result was the network making national sports news for having let it happen, twice, the real problem is that ESPN didn’t own up to its own headline machine and cover it.
Do you think if this were to have happened on some other network, say CBS or NBC, that ESPN wouldn’t have been all over it? Of course they would. It’s what they do, and it’s what they should do. Just like they should have acted on themselves like they do anything else in the world of sports that’s news, they should have covered it, and not just mostly act like it didn’t happen. Instead, the conclusion to this story is that the “full review” ESPN promised is done, and Rob Parker has been sentenced to a 30 day suspension. Rob has also since then posted on Twitter, “I blew it and I’m sincerely sorry, I completely understand how the issue of race in sports is a sensitive one and needs to be handled with great care.”
Essentially, he offered the kind of apology one tends to offer once their job is threatened.
ESPN’s statements within this announcement today were simply, “…mistakes both in judgment and communication were made” and “as a direct result, clearly inappropriate content was aired and then re-aired without editing”, to which they closed in saying they “have enhanced the editorial oversight of the show and have taken appropriate disciplinary measures…” blah, blah, blah.
You blew it ESPN. And then you compounded your mistake. Shame on you. From a devoted follower, shame on you. Honestly, I expect better. And the ironic part is that I expect better by a bar you pretty much set.
The biggest issue here isn’t stupid ignorance by your “talent”, or even that of creating a forum where they’re encouraged to embrace how stupid they can be, it’s that you made sports news and you didn’t report on it.
Well, there’s that, and the fact that you have known racists on-air. But whatever, I guess it’s all in the name of entertainment, right? That is what the “E” stands for, right?
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- Which they’ve mostly just become since hosting this program. It’s what ESPN likes to do to its talent lately, take away any hard earned integrity they might possess and turn them into caricatures of themselves. Case in point, damn near everyone on ESPN. [↩]
- There’s a replay for you, only question is how come it wasn’t in their Sportscenter’s Not Top 10 of the Week” countdown? “…and #2 in the Not Top 10 of the Week, Rob Parker being a racist douchebag live on First Take…and #1, drum roll please, your Not Top 10 replay of the Week, a literal replay itself, the re-playing of Rob Parker being a racist douchebag! …(voice over) ESPN’s Not Top 10 of the Week was brought to you by Coors Light Silver Bullet, a company once owned by the KKK that help funded apartheid in South Africa…” [↩]
- Parker, not Millen…well, Millen too, technically [↩]
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