TNT NBA Sportscaster Ernie Johnson Offers Measured Take on Presidential Election

In contrast to all the passion spewed about the recently concluded presidential elections, TNT’s Ernie Johnson earns plaudits for offering the most measured thoughts on the contest.

As TNT’s Inside the NBA opened Thursday night the hosts strayed from their normal coverage of basketball and offered a few words about the recent election of Donald Trump to the White House.

Charles Barkley, who said he did not vote for Trump, expressed discouragement but still said that “we have to give him a chance.” For his part, Kenny Smith slammed Trump and insisted the real estate mogul had “crossed a moral line.” As for Shaquille O’Neal, he essentially echoed what Barkley said.

But it was Ernie Johnson’s thoughtful, two-minute response that got everyone’s attention.

In a very measured tone, Johnson insisted that the campaign rhetoric on both sides worried him and he noted that it forced him to make the tough choice to vote for neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton. Instead, the long-time broadcaster said he wrote in Ohio Governor John Kashich’s name

But after that admission, it was what the respected broadcaster followed that up with which drew accolades.

Johnson said that despite the harsh atmosphere of the past election, he still felt optimistic. And it was his calm optimism that got everyone talking. (See full transcript below)

While Trump fans won’t appreciate Johnson’s refusal to vote for Trump and many may scoff at his useless vote for John Kasich, it is certainly right that he — and all of us — should give Trump a chance.

Naturally not everyone was so awed by Johnson’s response to the election.

SBNation.com’s Tom Ziler, a white sports writer living in Sacramento, California, went on a hate-filled Twitter rant excoriating Johnson, demeaning him as an old white man, and saying he is “unworthy of praise.”

In a short response on SBNation.com, Ziler also raged at Johnson and everyone who “got cute with their ballot to let President Trump happen. We won’t forget that. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever,” he pointedly said.

Transcript:

When this campaign season started, I felt like I’d been dealt a bad hand. Had these couple of choices. And there were trust issues with Hillary Clinton that I couldn’t get past. And there was the inflammatory rhetoric from Donald Trump, which to me was incomprehensible and indefensible. I couldn’t vote for either one. For the first time in going to the polls for 42 years, I hit the write-in button and I voted for John Kasich. And I left knowing that John Kasich wasn’t gonna win, but I left with a clear conscience because I hadn’t settled.

Number two, I’m hopeful. I watched the video today on CNN, what was going on in the White House with Donald Trump and President Obama. I was hopeful and I was encouraged that there will be a difference between the President Trump and the campaigning Trump. And I’m with these guys: We have to give him a chance.

But here’s the deal: I just hope that he’s all in, in fixing the wounds in this country and the divides that separate this country. And I want to be part of that, too. And for me to be part of it, I have to look in the mirror and I have to say: ‘How am I gonna be a better man? How am I gonna be a better neighbor? How am I gonna be a better citizen? How am I gonna be a better American? How can I be a fountain and not a drain?’

And number three, I know you’re not supposed to talk about politics and religion but we’re already talking about politics so I’m gonna go the ‘R’ direction, too: I never know from one election to the next who’s gonna be in the Oval Office, but I always know who’s on the throne. And I’m on this earth because God created me, and that’s who I answer to. I’m a Christian. I follow a guy named Jesus, you might have heard of him. And the greatest commandment he gave me was to love others. And scripture also tells us to pray for our leaders, and that’s what I’m gonna do: I’m gonna pray for Donald Trump, I’m gonna pray for all those people right now who feel like they’re on the outside looking in, who are afraid at this point. I’ll pray for them, too. In short, I’m praying for America, and I’m praying that one day we’re gonna look back and we’re gonna say: ‘You know what? That Donald Trump presidency? That was all right.’ But I’m praying.

Incidentally, here is what Charles Barkley had to say…

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.


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