The way our greatest newspaper “reasons!”

TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 2014

In the end, this can lead to no good: In this morning’s New York Times, the editors beat on Donald Sterling.

That isn’t especially hard to do, especially if you’re willing to reason like this:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (4/29/14): It has been widely noted that Mr. Sterling has a history of bigotry. In 2009, Elgin Baylor, the all-star and former Clippers’ general manager, accused Mr. Sterling of racial discrimination in an unsuccessful lawsuit. That same year, Mr. Sterling, who made much of his fortune in real estate, paid $2.725 million to settle a housing discrimination lawsuit brought by the Justice Department. Another federal lawsuit filed in 2003 accused Mr. Sterling of stating that he preferred not to rent to Latinos because “Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building.” Incidents of this sort are what led the Nets guard Shaun Livingston to say of the TMZ tape: “I think it kind of tells the same story as what’s been told, if you pull up the record.”
If a person is “accused” of something, does that mean he has a “history?” At the New York Times, it seems that it does!

You’d think that self-respecting journalists would avoid such clownish constructions. But on a journalistic basis, the New York Times editorial board has been an embarrassing mess for years.

Sterling has an embarrassing history, but so do quite a few others. In this morning’s sports section, Times columnist Julie Macur amplifies the story concerning Baylor:
MACUR (4/29/14): Now the Sterling problem has exploded in everyone's face, and it's time for the league and the team owners to act. None of them can feign ignorance. For years, they had their chance to stand up and be counted, to point out that Sterling was a dangerous liability for the league, and to press for his departure from their ranks.

Instead, they stepped aside while others complained about him, to no avail.

In 1988, he supposedly told Danny Manning's agent, ''I'm offering a lot of money for a poor black kid.'' That quote came from a discrimination lawsuit filed by Baylor, the Hall of Fame forward, in 2009.

That suit also accused Sterling of running his franchise with the mentality of a Southern plantation owner,
as a man who preferred a team of ''poor black boys from the South'' who were ''playing for a white coach.''

Baylor lost the lawsuit, but among the most shocking parts of it—just like the most shocking aspect of the most recent accusations against Sterling—was how long Baylor put up with ''the Southern plantation'' mentality before standing up for himself.

It took him 23 years.

Even then, Baylor—one of the best players in league history—made his charges only after he had been fired.
Even Macur almost seems to assume the accuracy of Baylor’s various charges.

Is it possible that Baylor may have embellished a tad in some of his more thrilling statements? If not, why did he hang around on that plantation for those 23 years?

At present, we’re chasing a scapegoat through the streets. When we do that, all claims are assumed to be accurate. Everyone enjoys the old-fashioned thrill of a good, cleansing chase.

Journalists are supposed to temper the mob at such moments. That said, we’ve had very few journalists in our press corps in recent decades.

We’re in a frenzy, and frenzies are fun. In the process, our eyes are kept off the prize—and make no mistake:

The “press corps” which stages this frenzy today will turn around on a moment’s notice. They will stage another frenzy, one aimed at you and yours.

This syndrome has played out for decades. Liberal and progressive goals have been massacred in the process.

52 comments:

  1. OMB (Bungling in Good Faith With BOB)

    Eyes on the Parts: Just for counting purposes, this is Part 3 of "obvious pseudo-discussion than the current pseudo-discussion, the enthralling pseudo-discussion about the weird, incoherent and pitiful things Donald Sterling apparently said."

    KZ

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  2. I know we have a system of innocent until proven guilty in our courts but very often if you're rich enough, like a US company being sued for abusing South African workers or Woody Allen with his incestuous abuse, you just get away with it with nothing more than a slap on the wrist at best.

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    1. Woody Allen was thoroughly investigated and there was no evidence found supporting the accusations against him. There is plenty of evidence that Mia Farrow is an unstable person however, and that she has said very negative things to her children about their father, throughout their lives. His relationship with them and his reputation has been forever damaged. If he did nothing to deserve that, what has he gotten away with?

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    2. No surprise the get Woody lynch Mob are some of the same idiots cashing in on this private conversation at Salon. Where's Glenn Greenwald? The President is taking advantage of private conversations to further his agenda.

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  3. When you listen to the actual tape, the girlfriend puts a lot of words into his mouth that he keeps objecting to. Ultimately, it seems clear that he doesn't want pictures of her on Instagram with other men. He doesn't seem to care what she does with anyone, just that she is posting pictures publically. In a way, this fits with Kevin Drum's remarks about his LA Times articles every time he donates money. He does seem to want to manage his public image (or his idea of that image) and he seems to see her as an extension of that image.

    I think she genuinely does not understand his objection. She keeps going back to the racial aspect instead of hearing his complaint that he doesn't want her posting pictures of herself with minority men on Instagram. It is in no way clear that his objection to that is racial -- she keeps saying it is and he keeps denying that, but he isn't able to explain why it bothers him, except that it is visible to others (he does say repeatedly that he isn't objecting to her actions).

    This is very private. It concerns an argument between intimates. It does not belong on TMZ. It seems obvious that the girlfriend does understand his concerns about public opinion and vulnerability at some level because that is how she chooses to hurt him, to punish him. It is possible that she set him up by repeatedly referring back to race as his motivation and by being obtuse about his responses, requiring him to repeat himself over and over while she reframes his every remark in terms of race.

    This is very ugly stuff -- not because Sterling is a racist but because of how brutal two people who care about each other can behave toward a loved one when things go wrong. The public has no place in this matter. This is bed-room peeping of the most sordid kind. The public outrage is playing into the hands of the girlfriend, furthering her aims, and it is unclear whether she deserves that support given her contribution to the situation (taping and giving the tape to TMZ).

    Anyone who lives in an urban area knows there are tensions between African Americans and latinos, and that being aware of them is essential to doing one's job in many situations (e.g., police, public relations, community activism, teaching). In LA, gangs fight each other along those lines, neighborhoods organize along them. It is possible his concerns may be legitimate and not necessarily reflect racism. Hence, the need to portray him as a long time bigot and the dredging up of lawsuits (none decided against him). Once again, any shred of complexity has been stripped from this situation in the discussions in the media. It is impossible to consider any nuance without being similarly tarred with the racism charge and reviled along with Sterling.

    This is why we cannot discuss race in this country. Realities cannot be acknowledged and only idealistic platitudes are permissible discussion. Sterling says he loves black people, hates racism, and so on, but none of that keeps him from being the butt in this situation. He is assumed to be the worst regardless of anything he says in the tape.

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    1. Thank you for keeping your eyes on the prize and keeping us apprised in this pseudo-discussion.

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  4. And the frenzy about Cliven Bundy’s racism is soooo last week!
    As Bob has occasionally pointed out, we luv to shout the R word.

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    1. The Sterling brouhaha is a plot to divert attention while the feds prepare the armed raid on Bundy Ranch Hannity warned about. I hope the militia didn't let the women folk go back to their housework.

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    2. Make sure your guns are safe. The black helicopters are coming.

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    3. My guns are always safe. Safely loaded.

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    4. 401: are you safely loaded?

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  5. "At present, we’re chasing a scapegoat through the streets"

    Merriam Webster defines a scapegoat as a person who is unfairly blamed for something that others have done.

    He is not willing to say one thing condemnatory of Sterling:

    "weird, incoherent and pitiful things Donald Sterling apparently said."

    "Sterling seems to be almost as clueless as Cliven Bundy,"

    "It isn’t hard to be brighter than Sterling! For that reason, Sterling’s recent apparent comments"

    Please note that Sterling has only "apparently" said the things everybody is talking about.

    Blogger has gone full Monty.

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    1. Are you unaware that no one has yet verified that the voice on the tape is Sterling? That is why the word "apparently" is necessary, and "seems" and "apparent." It is the kind of careful language journalists are supposed to use when something being discussed has not yet been verified as fact.

      The other adjectives, "weird, incoherent, pitiful, clueless" show you Somerby's attitude toward the statements themselves, independent of who said them. They sound condemnatory to me.

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    2. No one has denied it's Sterling's voice either.

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    3. Lets assume it is Santa Claus's voice. No one has denied that either.

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    4. 2:26

      You win today's Governor Ultrasound Still Hasn't Been Charged" Award.

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  6. Hmmmm. Lifetime suspension. Lifetime ban from even attending an NBA game anywhere. $2.5 million fine. And the process has begun to take the team away from him.

    Yep, nothing to see here. Move along.

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    1. This would be the time for Sterling to file a suit. The punishment doesn't seem to fit the crime, in my opinion. This is what happens when decisions are made to appease public hysteria.

      What is the moral here? Don't trust anyone and never say anything out loud that might become a focus of public condemnation. A totalitarian state couldn't be more invasive. It is fitting that his sins will be punished financially, since we live in a capitalist state. But it is no less repressive when mob rule imposes tyranny instead of some dictator.

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    2. Ouch!

      blogger won't be able to pee for a while after the way he stepped on his dick on this one.

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    3. Anon 2:57

      BOB will pee for more posts if past performance is properly predictive. He's yet to piss on the perspiring pimp of piddle
      who put let poor Sterling be scapegoated down the street by the scariest scorer of all time.

      KZ

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    4. Hateful trolls with your persistent assault on Somerby.

      How far down the evolutionary scale are you willing to go to find someone to whom you can feel superior?

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    5. You mean you can get farther down than Somerby?

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    6. According to Somerby the Fox Five are the first humans to evolve continuously.

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    7. "Hateful trolls ... ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzz.

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    8. Sterling could certainly file suit then spend the rest of his life dragging it out and hearing what a bigot he is.

      And the suit will go nowhere because Silver acted well within the powers granted to him by the NBA constitution and by-laws, which Sterling agreed in writing to abide by.

      You don't think the NBA has attorneys advising Silver?

      Or . . . Sterling could sell his $12.7 million investment for something around the $575 million value that Forbes estimates, and fade into the mist of history.

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    9. He's 81. He is going to fade into the mist of history soon anyway. It is very hard to see what this whole fiasco accomplished.

      His wife demanded he get back the car and house he gave his girlfriend. She retaliated by taping and publicizing a private conversation in which she repeatedly calls him a racist. As a consequence, the Clippers lost endorsements and UCLA lost several million in Sterling foundation donations. So who is the winner in this sorry situation?

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  7. Well. I guess Adam Silver is just another career pseudo-liberal
    R-bomber.

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    1. He isn't particularly rational.

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  8. This is a sad spectacle indeed, and the really galling part of is Obama, whom has promised us the NSA will never misuse our private conversations, using a clearly private conversation to rally the base. The creeps at Salon are having a field day, we may all pay for it.

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  9. The shame of it all: It appears Sterling is a liberal who cares about black kids.

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    1. Yes he does care. Feeds them. Houses them. Gives them cars. And that is just the female ones a quarter of his age who he has sex with. Think what he does for the ones who can pass, shoot, rebound and dunk.

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    2. He has been a registered as a Republican since 1998.

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    3. 4:05 there were many people who changed party that year in response to the reprehensible immorality of Bill Clinton with a woman less than half his age.

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    4. With Gingrich the Immoral banging the impeachment drum the loudest, did you change your party affiliation?

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    5. And let us never forget Henry "Youthful Indiscretion" Hyde.

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  10. Baylor was without doubt one of the worst, most clueless executives in NBA history.

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    1. This is a non sequitir.

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  11. OMB (The Way Our Great OTB Reasons)

    "Even Macur almost seems to assume the accuracy of Baylor’s various charges."

    "At present, we’re chasing a scapegoat through the streets."

    "Sterling has an embarrassing history, but so do quite a few others."

    Even BOB almost seems to assume we see his reflection in the mirror.

    Almost. We assume. Or so it seems.

    KZ

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    1. "almost seems to assume"

      Classic Somerbyism.

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  12. You’d think that self-respecting journalists would avoid such clownish constructions.

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  13. "The “press corps” which stages this frenzy today will turn around on a moment’s notice. They will stage another frenzy, one aimed at you and yours. This syndrome has played out for decades. Liberal and progressive goals have been massacred in the process."

    Paranoid much, Bob?

    Lemme calm you down. One of the owners of a basketball team said some very stupid things. The commissiononer of said league came down hard on said owner.

    The apocalypse has not quite arrived.

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    1. The funny thing is, this had nothing to do with anything the "press corps" wanted. When you have a deluge of sponsors jumping ship not to mention the entire players organization threatening to not play and to protest until something major was done by the commissioner, the decision was really easy. As always, it comes down to $$$$$$.

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  14. Folks - we are cutting blogger too much slack. Since he will never say anything like

    '

    “The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” said Adam Silver, the commissioner of basketball. “That they came from an N.B.A. owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.

    '
    and since he is a bitter old loser, why aren't we drawing the conclusion that

    He himself entertains feelings that go with loser angry white males.

    This blog is a long-running resume' for a job with FOX.

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    1. He asked his girlfriend not to post pics of herself with minority men on Instagram. All the other stuff was said by his girlfriend. I call that mildly offensive. It does not justify the over reaction by the NBA fueled by public hysteria.

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    2. You sound like an agist. A very ugly form of discrimination. Check yourself buddy.

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    3. Blogger will never take any allegation of racism seriously. He invariable uses such allegations as ammo to blast the "liberal media" for "throwing around the R word" and whine how such reports harm the true cause of "we liberals."

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    4. Sterling has every right not to like Blacks or any other group. However, he is a public figure and he has to keep his dislikes really really private and within the law.

      What he did was shockingly hurtful to the sentiments of lots of black people and I can't imagine why blogger pretends to have a tin ear for the horrificness of what Sterling has done.

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  15. "This syndrome has played out for decades. Liberal and progressive goals have been massacred in the process."

    It saddens me to think of all the goals massacred in the frenzies that distracted the #Occupy movement.

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    1. As I recall, blogger didn't much like the Occupy movement either, saying their cause was "fuzzy."

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