Did We Lose A War?
In the episode “Trash of the Titans,” great American, Homer Simpson is running for sanitation commissioner. In his campaign speech he chastises the crowd by asking, “Did we lose a war? That’s not America. That’s not even Mexico.” Perhaps it says a lot about me that I can relate non sequitur quotes from The Simpson’s or Family Guy when it comes to serious subjects. Sometimes humor is needed to keep from focusing on some of the headlines we have been subjected to and the attention or lack thereof that the press has paid to each. First, let’s tackle LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. There is no denying that the 81 year old Sterling is a lot of disgusting things ranging from a bigoted pervert and to a demented demagogue. As we all know by now, Sterling was unknowingly recorded by one of his bimbettes, V. Stiviano, uttering some reprehensible, racist remarks in what he felt was a private conversation. In the matter of a weekend after the recordings were released the firestorm was so hot, NBA commissioner, Adam Silver with the backing of other owners, announced that Sterling would be banned for life from the Clippers and was being forced to sell his team.
Let’s start with the recording being ill-gotten. California Penal codes forbid people to record conversations without all parties knowing1, but we all know that you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube. However, fellow NBA owner Mark Cuban added some clarity to the situation when he said, “What Donald said was wrong. It was abhorrent. There’s no place for racism in the NBA, any business I’m associated with. But at the same time, that’s a decision I make. I think you've got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It’s a very, very slippery slope.2”
Sterling and his lawyers have countered with a 32 page document sent to the NBA with the gist being regardless of what was said in an illegally recorded conversation, he has not violated his contractual agreements with the league. “A jealous rant to a lover never intended to be published cannot offend the NBA rules.3” Beside the legality surrounding the forced sale, the Sterling family would be forced to pay capital gains taxes of close to $1B as opposed to waiting to sell after his death when a stepped-up basis would drastically reduce the taxes the family would have to pay.
Regardless of your feelings about this, there is no denying the press came off the porch chasing, salivating, barking, and biting. Let’s compare this with what happened on Friday, May 23rd. If you’re in the Public Relations business and your client has committed a despicable crime that he’s admitted to what better time to call a press conference but at 5PM on the Friday leading into a long holiday weekend?
Kudos to Baltimore Ravens star running back Ray Rice and his press agent for the timing of their presser. Rice and his then fiancée and current wife, Janay Palmer ironically spent 2014’s Valentine’s Day in an Atlantic City casino. Obviously, something seriously went wrong that evening when an argument which started in their hotel room spread to the elevator. Cameras caught the couple becoming physical in their altercation on the ride down to the lobby. Rice admitted to striking Palmer during the decent knocking her unconscious and then was captured dragging her unconscious body from the elevator into the lobby. Priceless.
Even more special were some the quotes from the Press Conference. During his opening statement Rice said…and I can’t make this up… “Failure is not getting knocked down, it’s not getting up.” So…I guess Palmer would be deemed a failure as she didn't get up that night. She had her own brain-dead quote. Said Palmer, “I regret the role I played in the incident that night.4”
Domestic violence is one of the most pervasive problems we face in this country. To have Palmer “standing by her man” and uttering a Stockholm Syndrome quote in front of the few media that showed up for the long weekend presser makes the press complicit in the perpetuation of this problem. Where is the public outrage from a 220 lb. mountain of muscle beating his now wife senseless? Where is outrage of the staging of this press conference in what amounts to a “black-out” news cycle over the Memorial Day weekend?
Who poses the greater risk to our society…An 81 year-old, pre-dementia Neanderthal closet racist or football player who hasn't the self-control to refrain from punching his fiancée in the face. Why are the dogs staying on the porch for this one? An 81 year old billionaire with an estranged wife and a scorned lover rambling racists comments gets a lot more eyeballs than another rich, entitled football player beating his girlfriend or wife. This is not America. Hell…we’re not even Mexico.
1. “Donald Sterling’s Alleged Ex-Girlfriend V Stivano Just as Villainous As He in This Appalling Scandal!” CDL Intern. May 26, 2014. Celebdirtylaundry.com http://www.celebdirtylaundry.com/2014/donald-sterling-racist-nba-scandal-racism-v-stiviano-girlfriend-tapes-recorded/ 2. “Cuban: Ousting Donald Sterling ‘slippery slope’”. AP. April 28, 2014. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2014/04/28/cuban-ousting-donald-sterling-slippery-slope/8442461/ 3. “Donald Sterling vows fight, says hea hs offers of $2.5B.” Brent Schrotenboer, USA Today Sports. May 28, 2014. http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/clippers/2014/05/27/donald-sterling-letter-privacy-los-angeles-lawsuit-ban/9646707/ 4. “Ray Rice apologizes for altercation with wife in controversial press conference.” Chris Burke. May 23, 2014. Nfl.si.com http://nfl.si.com/2014/05/23/ray-rice-apology-aggravated-assault-wife-janay-palmer/
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