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Bias in the Booth: An Insider Exposes How Sports Media Distort the News

Sports-radio staple Dylan Gwinn has blown the whistle on his profession.

Bias in the Booth: An Insider Exposes How Sports Media Distort the News would have appeared as a non sequitur of a book a decade or two ago. Now that ESPN imitates MSNBC, and sports commentators trip over themselves to denounce opponents of gay marriage and athletes holding other unfashionable opinions, Bias in the Booth hits bookstores at the perfect time.

I discussed Bias in the Booth with its author this week.

Breitbart Sports: Sports and politics would seem to go together like mustard and ice cream. How did the politicization of sports media ever get to the point where it became necessary for you to write Bias in the Booth?

Dylan Gwinn: I had to write this book because the sports media somehow managed to turn mustard and ice cream into peas and carrots! Sports and politics should indeed never mix, and maybe back in the 1970s when there were only three major networks, no cable, virtually no talk radio, no twitter, and a sports media that would only occasionally swerve out of their lane in to politics then maybe I could have ignored the infrequent political dalliances of leftist sportscasters. The tremendous might and reach of the modern sports media coupled with an overt, almost canine zeal to use their platforms to advance a leftist agenda, made ignoring it impossible. This book, I felt, had to be written.

Breitbart Sports: Two SEC lightning rods, Tim Tebow and Michael Sam, attempt comebacks to return to NFL rosters. You contrast the media’s treatment of them. Do you feel as though journalists rooted for Sam and rooted for Tebow to fail?

Dylan Gwinn: There’s no question journalists rooted for Tebow to fail while rooting for Sam to succeed. Jeff Pearlman, formerly of SI, even wrote a piece for his blog titled “I want Tim Tebow to fail.” Specifically, because he feared Tebow using his celebrity to “spread the word of Jesus Christ.” He also wrote another piece—while openly admitting that he had never watched Michael Sam play football and knew nothing about him as a player—to profess that Michael Sam was now his favorite player and “he didn’t have a close second.”

Pearlman was not alone. Gregg Doyel at CBS and others took much the same tact.

Tebow and Sam were correspondingly hated and loved by the sports media for reasons having absolutely nothing to do with football. Why? The sports media is overwhelmingly made up of liberals, and share the same revulsion that mainstream liberals have when it comes to anything that preaches reverence to any authority outside of the state. They love homosexuality and hate Christianity because Christianity explicitly forbids homosexuality. Therefore, by adopting homosexuality as their pet cause, or more importantly their own personal brand of religion, they can then establish things like gay marriage as an institution, make it socially acceptable, and effectively brand Christian teaching as hate speech. This “Nazification” of Christianity is as much the goal of the sports media as it is the mainstream media.

Breitbart SportsYour chapter on the Duke lacrosse case reads as a great inconvenience to many members of your profession. Good luck in the press box. Name names. Who in sports media fell for the Duke lacrosse rape hoax and why did they buy into such a transparently preposterous story?

Dylan Gwinn: Selena Roberts, then sports writer for the New York Times, was clearly the most visible offender of the bunch. She was essentially running PR for now-disbarred Durham County DA Mike Nifong and gleefully reporting every half-truth and outright lie that came out of his office. John Feinstein of the Washington Post called for the scholarships of all 47 lacrosse players (one of whom was black) to be stripped away because they had not come forward to testify about a crime that never happened. Lester Munson and Bomani Jones, both of ESPN, beclowned themselves royally—Munson by suggesting the players come forward and enter guilty pleas even after the rape charges had been dropped, and Bomani Jones for cherry-picking the Coleman Committee report about the lacrosse team’s alcohol-related and public urination infractions. Conveniently, Jones ignored that the committee also said the team had never displayed any evidence of racist or sexist behavior.

Why did they do all this despite the evidence? Because rich, white kids of privilege remind liberals entirely too much of themselves. The overwhelming majority of the liberal media—sports and mainstream—are the children of privilege. An identity that they despise, because they feel this country was built on slavery, genocide, and racism. So being among the prime beneficiaries of such “ill-gotten gains” makes them decidedly queasy. When they see an opportunity to lash out at that culture, or what they perceive that culture to be, they jump on it. That’s what the Duke lacrosse case was really about. It had far more to do with them than it ever did with Crystal Mangum, Kim Roberts, or any black person for that matter.

Breitbart SportsFrom pregame prayers to postgame “thank you Jesus” interviews, sports contain an awful lot of religiosity and athletes seem disproportionately to fall into the ranks of believers. Is the disconnect between the people covering professional sports and the people playing professional sports greatest regarding faith?

Dylan Gwinn: Absolutely. Athletes, by and large, see faith as a nurturing, motivating force that empowers them spiritually, and enables them to do more physically than anyone else would likely be able to do. It also empowers them mentally to handle success and failure by grounding them firmly in a set of morals.

The sports media, by and large, see it as a dangerous rival to their statist, liberal orthodoxy. At worst, they think it should be eradicated, and at best it is simple-minded hocus pocus. The same kind of smug arrogance among the sports media is also found in scientific circles. The idea that they already know everything, so who needs this Jesus guy? There’s no other area, politics or otherwise, where the gulf between player and broadcaster is wider.

Breitbart Sports: You’re living the dream of tens of millions of American males by talking about sports for a living. Can you tell me Dylan Gwinn’s three greatest sports moments and the best sporting event you’ve had the privilege to cover or watch live? 

Dylan Gwinn: Despite covering sports professionally, I’m still a fan at heart. My three greatest moments are all moments having to do with the teams I grew up rooting for as a kid. John Riggins running through the arms of Don McNeal on his way to the end zone in Super Bowl XVII. Darrell Green deflecting Wade Wilson’s pass on 4th and 4 to win the NFC Championship and send the Skins to their second Super Bowl win. The “Kick Six” with Chris Davis running back the field-goal try against Alabama in the Iron Bowl is high on that list too.

My best moment covering a game had to be this year’s Super Bowl. I got a chance to interview Malcolm Butler 30 minutes after he intercepted the ball on the worst play call in NFL postseason history. Having the chance to talk to a guy who wasn’t even in the game plan for the Super Bowl, experiencing the full gamut of human emotion from total obscurity to international legend, all in one play! It was just an amazing thing to see and be a part of—easily my favorite moment in the media.

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