WE ARE EXPERIENCING THE DEPARTURE OF A TELEVISION PERSONALITY FROM A SUCCESSFUL SHOW DUE TO HER EXPRESSING A POLITICAL OPINION.
Do you remember Al Campanis?
Campanis was a widely respected coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. On his death, Al Campanis was remembered by former Dodgers manager, Bill Russell, who said “He was just a great baseball man who loved the game, who obviously dedicated his life to the game.” Yet, that is not what most folks remember about Al Campanis.
Campanis is most remembered for an ill thought statement he made during an interview by Ted Koppel on ABC’s Nightline. When Koppel asked Campanis about the lack of black executives in Major League Baseball, the coach responded that they “may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager.” Campanis, a man who was known to have had good relationships with people of color, ranging from Jackie Robinson to Roberto Clemente, said the wrong thing, and that wrong thing cost him his job.
That brings me to another famous sports professional, this one a commentator, not an athlete, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder.
Snyder, a football sportscaster on CBS, was interviewed almost exactly a year after the Campanis incident, and, as tradition would have it, shoved his foot even further down his throat than the former Dodgers coach.
It was Martin Luther King Day in 1988 he explained that black athletes were better at sports than their white counterparts as a result of “breeding” by slave owners. His exact quote was, “During the slave period, the slave owner would breed his big black with his big woman so that he would have a big black kid–that’s where it all started.” Apparently, Snyder, a former gambler, thought himself to be an expert at genetics too. Jimmy “The Greek”, like Campanis before him, found himself unemployed after that incident.
Traditionally, when people like Al Campanis and Jimmy “The Greek” step over the line by making ill thought public statements, those statements are racially charged.
Don Imus, as we all know, got his rear end booted off CBS Radio and MSNBC a few months ago for calling the Rutgers University women’s basketball team a bunch of “nappy headed hos.”
Now, however, we are experiencing the departure of a television personality from a successful show due to her expressing a political opinion, not for inappropriate racial epithets.
Rosie O’Donnell, in a discussion with one of her co-hosts on The View, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, on May 17, alluded to the possibility that the everyday Iraqi citizen might consider our invading troops to be the terrorists, not the home grown insurgents who they see as trying to get the invaders out of their country.
O’Donnell asked, “I just want to say something. 655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?”
Hasselbeck, a Bush conservative, responded, by asking, “Wait, who are you calling terrorists now? Americans?”
O’Donnell then said, “I’m saying if you were in Iraq, and the other country, the United States, the richest in the world, invaded your country and killed 655,000 of your citizens, what would you call us?”
To me, that seems like a pretty legitimate question.
A few days later, O’Donnell and Hasselbeck got into another on air brush up over the fact that when the press came around looking for comments from Hasselbeck, she did not defend O’Donnell and refused to state that Rosie did not call American troops terrorists. A reading of the transcript makes it pretty clear that O’Donnell was asking Hasselbeck to consider the position of the citizens of Iraq as regards the American presence in their country. This is something many Americans, particularly those with a conservative political bent, like Hasselbeck, refuse to ever take into consideration.
O’Donnell, who had announced earlier that she had decided not to return next season, then put out the word that she would leave the show effective immediately. One has to wonder how much of her early departure was orchestrated by Disney, the co-owner of The View with senior host, Barbara Walters.
Disney is a conservative company which is more known for supporting the political rantings of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity than they are for supporting the liberal point of view. O’Donnell must have been a thorn in their side right from the get go. The problem they faced, however, was that the ratings on The View skyrocketed by 20% after Rosie O’Donnell replaced Meredith Vierra in the lead co-host seat.
So Disney was caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they must have had the hairs on the back of their necks standing at attention every time Rosie opened her mouth. On the other, they were crying all the way to the bank as a result of the revenues that were earned as a result of the show’s increased ratings.
By deciding to leave the show, Rosie gave Disney an opening to seek a way to get rid of her sooner rather than later. One has to wonder whether Hasselbeck, notably not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, was put up to goading O’Donnell into an argument that would lead to her early departure.
Whatever the cause, two things are evident. First, the ratings on The View are bound to fall next season, unless Barbara Walters can convince someone with similar drawing power to move into Rosie’s seat. That’s good.
But the second issue is really insidious, and it changes the whole landscape of television commentary.
When Al Campanis, Jimmy “The Greek” and Don Imus got 86ed, the reason was a degree of racial insensitivity that was clearly inappropriate. The departure of Rosie O’Donnell is clearly a tied to her taking a political position that made the right wing media moguls at Disney uncomfortable.
For years, we have heard about the control of the media that is held by liberals. Reality has shown us that far more media companies are controlled by an ever shrinking number of conservative companies than are controlled by their relatively small number of liberal counterparts.
Rosie O’Donnell may be the most recent major victim of this new Republican political witch hunt, but, trust me; it is likely she won’t be the last. The Disney Murdoch cabal has tasted the blood of the liberal gay woman they loved to hate, and, like an animal that has killed once, they are salivating to come back for more. They got Dan Rather for telling the truth about Bush’s history of military AWOLs, and now they have eliminated Rosie O’Donnell for speaking truth to power.
They are priming the pump for the 2008 Presidential cycle. Over the next few months, they will begin to find ways to rid the airways of people who do not support their points of view.
I’m not being paranoid.
They really are out to get us.
HENRY A. HONIG – THE PUNDIT