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Nothing Has Changed With Limbaugh
When it comes to assessing Limbaugh’s journalistic integrity and/or criticism of the media, consider me one of Limbaugh’s harshest critics. The difference between Limbaugh and the Rev. Al Sharpton is purely financial. Sharpton pimps poverty for millions, and Limbaugh pimps politics for hundreds of millions.
Wednesday afternoon, I served as one of Limbaugh’s political props. During the second hour of his popular show, Limbaugh offered up my Sunday column about the need to question Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli as a “teachable moment” for his listeners and the national media.
As he has done throughout the political season and since President Obama’s inauguration, Limbaugh argued that the media are in the tank for Obama. Limbaugh criticized my column for ignoring that point. Basically, he contended that I wanted the Kansas City sports media to play by a higher standard of objectivity and fairness than national political journalists who cover the most powerful man in the world.
“Jason Whitlock is aghast that the media is laying down, has no interest, is not curious, is blindly accepting whatever comes out of the Chiefs’ front office,” Limbaugh said. “He wants to dig and find out what they’re trying to hide. He’s writing this about a football team! A football team which cannot raise your taxes; a football team which cannot take away your freedom; a football team which cannot tell you what kind of car to drive.”
Limbaugh went on to add: “Jason, the media is laying down and has checked its professionalism at the door with Barack Obama! The very demand, Jason, that you are making, that local media hold a football team general manager accountable, you don’t even think to reference the national media holding a president accountable? There’s no curiosity, there is blind acceptance of Barack Obama, Jason, right in front of your eyes. They’re stenographers.”
Before I respond to Limbaugh’s criticism, let me include a bit more context. What I’m about to insert will initially appear self-serving. Bear with me. It’s germane to my overall point.
Limbaugh opened his monologue praising my work as a columnist.
“(Jason) has written things in the past that we’ve quoted favorably on this program, other things he’s not been so favorably quoted on,” Limbaugh said. “But I like this man, and I think he’s really brilliant at times, and I think he’s very creative. In a clouded, clogged, overrun media community, Jason Whitlock still manages to write pieces that stand out. And he’s fearless. He has been fired from places like ESPN, which, to me, is a badge of honor. He has been fired for his outspokenness.”
Again, I respect and admire Limbaugh as a comedian, entertainer and performer. His radio talent is indeed on loan from God.
However, like the overwhelming majority of wildly popular and influential political broadcasters and pundits, Limbaugh has virtually no regard for truth, fairness or objectivity. He’s controlled by his political ideology.
While he lampoons the “mainstream” media for their “liberal” leanings, he conveniently ignores that he created the primary conservative “mainstream” medium — Fox News — which is now more pervasive and powerful than its left-wing competitors.
The handful of us who try to see complex/sensitive issues from multiple angles and still provide a provocative, insightful, honest and unbiased opinion are being squeezed out of the “mainstream” media because we don’t fit comfortably into a box.
Predictably extreme and divisive is the best way to land a television gig, radio talk show or columnist job. No one tries to help diverse people find common ground by challenging conventional wisdom. Sean Hannity has a church and preaches to his choir. Keith Olbermann has a church and preaches to his choir.
Limbaugh can’t see that he took the Jesse Jackson-Al Sharpton route. Limbaugh and his ilk on both sides of the political spectrum believe the remedy to unfairness is an equal amount of unfairness.
The summation of my Sunday column clearly stated that the media should not give Pioli or Obama a pass just because they’re popular in comparison to Carl Peterson and George Bush.
My mother worked tirelessly for the Obama campaign. She and my father were irate with me during the political season because of my indifference to the Obama campaign (until Sarah Palin joined McCain’s ticket). Many of my black and/or Democrat friends have been disappointed because I don’t see Obama as any more ethical than a typical politician. I didn’t particularly like Obama’s speech on race or his politically motivated abandonment of the Rev. Wright, and I’ve shared these thoughts in print.
After several months of debate, I kept my defiant streak alive. I refused to vote. Palin made me physically ill, and the Obama camp didn’t make me believe the change it talked about included real candor.
Politics, in my opinion, is a haven for dishonest people with no discernible skill other than smooth talking and deal-making.
Limbaugh’s Wednesday rant came off as politics as usual. He sounded as if he were trying to bait me into being the highly sought, highly paid fresh black face willing to attack Obama.
I grew up on Mike Royko. He didn’t like any of them, regardless of color or political affiliation. Royko was a real journalist. Today, TV and radio personalities are defining our democracy. We’re in trouble.