Fox News Host Tells LeBron James to ‘Shut Up and Dribble’ in Vile, Racist Rant

Laura Ingraham has long been a vocal opponent of the First Amendment, particularly as it applies to entertainers and other creative or famous people. Fifteen years ago she wrote the book Shut Up and Sing purporting to reveal “How Elites from Hollywood, Politics, and the Media are Subverting America.” In reality it was an extended diatribe against the free expression rights of anyone with whom she disagrees. It was a transparent attempt to silence some of the most effective and passionate communicators our society produces. And it is no coincidence that these complaints from Ingraham and other right-wingers is only directed at liberals. They frequently, and hypocritically, embrace conservative “celebrities” like Scott Baio, Ted Nugent, and ballplayer Tim Tebow.

Fox News Laura Ingraham

On Thursday Ingraham expanded the scope of her anti-speech mission to include blatant racism. On her primetime Fox News program she ventured into a loopy tirade that attacked basketball greats LeBron James and Kevin Durant (video below). The spittle inflected rant displayed her overt racism and disrespect for important voices of successful contributors to American society and culture.

The segment featured badly edited clips from an interview of James and Durant by Cari Champion. Ingraham began the piece with a demeaning tone by misrepresenting the interview as an ESPN podcast. In fact, it was produced by James’ own media company, Uninterrupted. It was not on ESPN, and it was not a podcast. Following those journalistic failures, Ingraham continued with her trademarked assault on personalities who dare to speak out. Ironically, the part of the video she highlighted (which is well worth watching in full) was actually talking about the responsibility of role models in politics, entertainment, and sports. The featured exchange began with Champion asking “How do you describe the climate for an athlete with a platform nowadays that wants to talk about what’s happening in our world?”

What surely rattled Ingraham was the part of James’ response that portrayed Donald Trump as “someone who doesn’t understand the people and really don’t give a f*ck about the people.” That’s a characterization that perfectly fits this president, and he proves it every day. He is a narcissist who was born into wealth and spent a lifetime avoiding and insulting the “little people” for whom he had nothing but disdain. His background of exploitation and prejudice is well documented.

Nevertheless, Ingraham lashed out against James and Durant with ugly slurs intended to belittle them. She described them as “barely intelligible, not to mention ungrammatical.” James discussed Trump’s racism noting that it was predictable to the point of being laughable. But he also agreed that it was “frightening” and that people shouldn’t become “numb” to it. Whereupon Ingraham mocked James with a Valley Girl “like” expression and asked “Must they run their mouths like that?”

Yes, they must. Especially because of people like Ingraham whose ignorance and bigotry actually affirms the criticisms that James and Durant put forward. She couldn’t possibly be a better example of the bias that permeates society at large and Fox News in particular. And her summation at the end of her screed closed the case on her contemptuousness:

“This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA. And it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball. Oh and LeBron, Kevin, you’re great players but no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So keep the political commentary to yourself or, as someone once said, shut up and dribble.”

First of all, James graduated from high school. And his decision to join the NBA after that resulted in a remarkably successful career in sports and business. You have to wonder, has Ingraham ever criticized Bill Gates for dropping out of college? Secondly, James gets paid for winning. He gets paid for mastering both the physical and strategic aspects of a complex athletic enterprise. Ingraham is ignorantly diminishing the achievements of someone who has become a historic figure in his field.

Finally, if Ingraham wants to tout the millions of votes Trump got, she might also mention that Hillary Clinton got millions more. And also that he holds the distinct dishonor of having the lowest approval rating of any president on record. There’s good evidence that James knows more about the lives of average Americans than Trump ever will. And Ingraham’s repulsive and oppressive demand that he “shut up” is nothing more than a plantation master’s approach to uppity lessers who don’t know their place.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

WTF? Donald Trump Just Used Low Ratings to Justify His Attacks on Kneeling NFL PLayers?

The embarrassing spectacle of Donald Trump’s feud with popular sports figures continues to heat up. It began several days ago with Trump lashing out at NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and NBA star Steph Curry. These and other public figures have been actively expressing themselves regarding civil rights and racism in America. And what they get for exercising their First Amendment rights is ignorant insults from the White House.

Donald Trump NFL

In response to Trump’s Twitter tantrums, many more players are speaking out. What’s more, they have been joined by their coaches and team owners. Among those castigating Trump are friends and political supporters like former Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan, who is “pissed off.” Patriots owner, and Trump donor, Robert Kraft, said he is “disappointed” with Trump. On Sunday morning players for the Jaguars and the Ravens took a knee, joined by coaches and owners. The entire Steelers team will not take the field for the national anthem.

Trump’s ill-advised tirade is producing a backlash that any sensible person could have predicted. He has inspired more people to protest than ever would have had he kept his mouth shut. And the criticism directed at him points out the obvious racist overtones in his outburst. For instance, many observers have noticed that Trump called protesting athletes “sons of bitches,” but praised white supremacists in Charlottesville as “very fine people.” It’s apparent that the President has a case of tunnel blindness that prohibits him from seeing reality. And that may explain his latest tweets on Sunday morning:

First of all, it is unprecedented that a president of the United States would call for a boycott against American enterprises on purely political grounds. He is advocating financial harm and the loss of jobs for businesses and citizens who have done nothing more than employ free speech to lawfully and peacefully express their opinions. Furthermore, he is calling for Americans to be fired for constitutionally protected activities. Clearly Trump has no understanding of American values as he demonstrates his overtly anti-American position. But he wasn’t finished with this juvenile tantrum:

Trump totally skids off the rails with this criticism of the NFL’s ratings. He recently misrepresented the TV ratings as being “massively” lower. That’s a lie. They are modestly lower. And the reasons have more to do with the evolving state of television than with player protests. But what makes this criticism so absurd is that Trump’s own ratings have broken records for descending into an abyss. No president has ever had lower approval ratings at this point in his presidency. And he is bringing the whole Republican Party down with him.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

By his own standard, therefore, Trump is “disrespecting our flag and country.” The American people “stay away [from him] because they love our country. They should boycott this presidency, and he should be fired. It’s fair to say that given the choice, voters would choose to keep the NFL over this failure of a president. And his most recent abhorrent behavior only solidifies the distaste and distrust they have for him. If there’s one thing that Trump has succeeded in, it’s getting people to join together in their hatred for him.

Bill Maher Misfires On Free Speech

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Bill Maher addressed the ongoing controversy over civility (or the lack thereof) by public figures in broadcasting, entertainment, and politics. As might be expected, the comedian had a few prime punchlines dispersed throughout the piece that essentially argued in favor of offensive speech. For instance:

“The right side of America is mad at President Obama because he hugged the late Derrick Bell, a law professor who believed we live in a racist country, 22 years ago; the left side of America is mad at Rush Limbaugh for seemingly proving him right.”

The article began by correctly pointing out that a joke by Robert De Niro about whether the country was ready for a white first lady was wholly non-offensive and any umbrage taken was purposefully faked by people who “pretend to be outraged about nothing.” But, unfortunately, Maher went further to propose what he thinks would be an appropriate response to actual hate speech:

“If you see or hear something you don’t like in the media, just go on with your life. Turn the page or flip the dial or pick up your roll of quarters and leave the booth.”

Maher’s position seems to be that free speech is exercised only by the first person to speak. If that person says something that offends someone else, the obligation of the offendee is to clam up and walk away. I couldn’t disagree more.

Free speech is a right granted to everyone, and the exercise of it is not limited to whoever gets to the microphone first. Responding to the comments of others with whom you disagree is still protected speech and is a part of the great tradition of open discourse in America. If Rush Limbaugh calls a law student a slut, it is entirely appropriate for people offended by that to respond, criticize, and even engage in protests and boycotts. The same is true for those offended by Maher. That is not censorship – it is the complete realization of the meaning of the First Amendment.

In short, you have the right to speak freely. But you do not have the right to be free from criticism for anything stupid that comes out when doing so.

Maher closes his article by saying that he doesn’t “want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone.” Neither do I. But I also don’t want to live in a country where no ever talks back when people incite racial division, or lie about important public policies, or insult civic-minded women and other citizens who only seek to participate in the affairs of their communities.

As usual, the pimply-faced editors at the Fox Nation continue to demonstrate their most juvenile tendencies by, once again, referring to Maher with an insulting epithet: Pig Maher Calls for Truce. First of all, Maher did not call for a truce. In fact, he called for continuing to use controversial language but advising people not to get upset about it. Secondly, isn’t it cute the way the Fox Nationalists use a story about toning down uncivil rhetoric by using uncivil rhetoric in their headline? And these people want to be regarded as legitimate “news.”

Fox Nation - Bill Maher

Bill O’Reilly: Censorship, Lies And Plunging Popularity

A couple of days ago Bill O’Reilly again demonstrated his aversion to free expression as well as his penchant for dishonesty. An op-ed that appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (a paper that O’Reilly regularly castigates as “far-left loons”) laid out a case for Impeachment: If not now, when? The column was accompanied by a political cartoon that had Bush and Cheney dressed up for their mugshots.

That was more than enough to set O’Reilly off on a rant that amounted to a call for censorship (YouTube):

“Look at this. This is ridiculous […] It’s based on nothing […] I want you to excoriate them. Let them have it […] It’s wrong though for them to do it. Don’t you think that showing a mug shot of a sitting president, a sitting vice president is irresponsible?”

O’Reilly is outraged that anyone would exercise their First Amendment rights to express an opinion about the criminality of this administration. He believes that such open expression “diminishes intelligent conversation,” (as if O’Reilly ever engaged in one) and his response is to shut down conversation entirely. Note that O’Reilly is complaining about the cartoon, not the content of the article. Although he does say that the cartoon is “based on nothing,” despite the fact that it is attached to a well-documented column that enumerates specific justifications for investigating the President and his administration.

After once again calling the paper “loons,” (an example of his idea of “intelligent conversation”) O’Reilly attacks the paper’s credibility by smugly declaring that it has lost 40% of its readers in the past ten years:

“Almost half of their readers have said ‘We don’t like you anymore, we’re not going to read you.'”

What O’Reilly leaves out is any actual context that would enlighten his viewers. The truth is that almost all major newspapers have suffered sharp declines in circulation over the past ten years. But more to the point, in only two years (Sept 2005 to Sept 2007) Bill O’Reilly himself has lost 33% of his total viewers and a whopping 59% of viewers in the all-important 25-54 age group. That’s more than half of his viewers saying, “We don’t like you anymore, we’re not going to watch you.”

This brief exchange reveals much about O’Reilly. It shows that while he is vociferously objecting to the free speech rights of others, he will use his own platform to misinform his viewers. No wonder they don’t like him anymore.