Via Deadspin, below is an excerpt from a Daily Kos (the most visited liberal blog on the web) diary : yesterday
“I've witnessed for years former ESPN commentator like Chris Myers call home runs to right field "a Rush Limbaugh shot, right and fair." I've seen in studio college football analysts gush over Ann Coulter. I've listened to ESPN constantly hype individuals who are well known figures in the Religious Right. I've heard a basketball commentator call Jerry Falwell a good man during a basketball game.
I have no problem with these political views being uttered during a political broadcast. I do have a problem with hearing it during a sports show from the host. (They did hire Rush Limbaugh for goodness sakes!)
When John Kerry was shown on screen at a Red Sox game in 2004, ESPN played a tape of boos. It was NOT the crowd reaction. I knew the tape was fake by that quick click that transitions from live to pre-recorded. ESPN has done this stunt of playing fake cheers and fake boos time and time again. Last night, during Monday Night Football, ESPN did it again. I heard that same click.
…As George Bush Sr. was flipping the coin, you could hear a chorus of boos so loud that ESPN had its proverbial hand caught in the cookie jar. And remember, this was ten seconds after the announcements so imagine what the initial boos sounded like. New Orleans residents know better than anyone else how Bush 43 responded to Katrina and they know better than anyone else about Barbara Bush's comments about poor people and how sleeping in the Astrodome was "working out quite well for them."
I don’t know what to make of this, exactly. I have read through lots and lots of stories about the Monday night game, and while there are plenty of references to Bush the Elder officiating the coin-flip (clarification: he’s not “senior” because his son doesn’t have exactly the same name), I haven’t seen any references to the level of cheering or booing of the former President. I haven’t personally ever heard a reference to Ann Coulter on any ESPN broadcast and, as craven both ESPN’s hiring and firing of Limbaugh were, I don’t think ESPN’s own political biases, whatever they are, were the driving force behind the Limbaugh episode.
When Charley Steiner and Dave “Soup” Campbell used to do Sunday night baseball together on ESPN radio, the right-wing Campbell (he used to make mocking references to “Al Gore’s Global Warming” when Gore was Vice President) and the liberal Steiner would sometimes get into it. (Note to Soup: sorry, pal, it’s “our” global warming). Stephen A. is becoming increasingly political on his show, and not in a conservative direction, and the excellent Outside the Lines series considers contentious social issues from a variety of perspectives.
All of which is to say that while the unspoken assumptions in sports discourse, including on ESPN clearly tack right, and while I strongly suspect that most people associated with the network lean in the same direction, Kos’ account of Monday night does sound especially heavy-handed and, if true, more than a little bit weird. Count me a bit skeptical.