Love him or hate him, no one ever accused former ESPN pundit and Kansas City Star sportswriter Jason Whitlock of pulling his punches, and in speaking out against “far-left political ideologues” Whitlock lived up to his reputation.
Now co-host of a regular show on Fox Sports I called “Speak for Yourself,” Whitlock shared his thoughts in an interview on Wednesday with Michael McCarthy of the Sporting News. The interview was frank enough and shrewd enough that it might actually help correct the maddening leftward drift of sports journalism. (Hat tip to Tony’s Kansas City)
The question that got Whitlock warmed up dealt with the future of Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback released by the San Francisco 49ers in part because of his celebrated refusal to stand for the national anthem.
“Some sports journalists want more pro athletes to speak out on political and social issues,” said McCarthy. He asked Whitlock if he was one of them. He is not.
“Kap is running around with Twitter idiots who love to play the race card,” said Whitlock. “No general manager or coach wants Shaun King second-guessing them in the New York Daily News about a one-win quarterback who is trying to prove his blackness through public gestures.” King, by the way, is a Black Lives Matter leader who was outed last year for being white. That hasn’t stopped him from telling black people how to think. Whitlock, who is black himself, has never needed anyone to instruct him.
McCarthy reminded Whitlock that Slate ripped him as a “paranoid contrarian from the black-teenagers-should-pull-up-their-pants school of civil rights discourse” and called his criticism of Kaepernick “embarrassing.”
“Kap is an important pawn in the far-left movement to change sports culture,” said Whitlock. “I’ve angered the far left by pointing out that Kap has some understandable identity issues based on his unique upbringing and a society that is brutally harsh on mixed-race people. Kap is not a thought leader on race or even informed about the issues. He was a guy who liked to kick it, lift weights and be a celebrity quarterback. The Niners benched him and he became a militant activist, which made him attractive to the far-left movement.”
“The far left wants to control the conversation about black quarterbacks,” Whitlock continued. “Quarterback is the most important position in all of American sports. A voice in that conversation gives you an important voice in American sports. I’m the fly in the ointment.”
McCarthy observed that Bryan Curtis of The Ringer wrote a widely discussed column on how sportswriting has turned into a “liberal” profession. He asked Whitlock whether Curtis was right or wrong.
“Yes, sportswriting has moved far left. The entire media has moved far left,” said Whitlock. He blamed the shift on social media, which is managed out of “San Francisco/Silicon Valley, the hub for revolutionary, far-left extremism.” He added, “This is a major story the mainstream media ignore. San Francisco hacked the media. Frisco-inspired clickbait is the real fake news.”
On the question of whether ESPN has become a liberal network, Whitlock said the obvious. “ESPN and most of the mainstream media have lurched farther left. That’s a complaint from middle America and, in my opinion, objective America.”