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Morning Briefing: Talk Show Host Dan Le Batard Defies ESPN's 'No Politics' Policy to Condemn Donald Trump

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 19, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | July 19, 2019 |


Man, you guys: Yesterday, I was feeling low. Last week, my kid was at a two-week sleepaway camp — his first overnight camp — and he got super sick four days in, on his birthday. In fact, he spent his entire birthday in the nurse’s cabin, and the next morning, we go fetch him and bring him home. He’s home for 6 days, and we decide to give it another go and send him back for the last three days of camp. He couldn’t make it, so I had to drive back up the next day and bring him home.

Meanwhile, on these three-hour round trips, I’m listening to Colson Whitehead’s Nickel Boys, which is based on an actual reformatory school in the panhandle during the Jim Crow era where black boys were abused, raped, and often beaten to death (in 2009, investigators found a number of unmarked graves). It is bleak. And the thing about the beatings and abuse in that school — as Whitehead explains it — is that it was completely indiscriminate. Like, if you’re a black kid, there was no way to game the system. There was no way to keep your nose clean, so to speak, and avoid the beatings. You got beat because you were black. Period.

Meanwhile, we’ve got Trump telling Congresswomen to “go back” to their countries, Trump rallygoers chanting “Send them back,” and Republican white women insisting that Trump isn’t racist. The despair was at full tilt when I wrote this post yesterday. Nickel Boys is a fantastic novel, but it feels too damn real right now.

I’m feeling marginally better about the state of the country today — notwithstanding another chunk of Nickel Boys I listened to this morning — for a few reasons, chiefly among them this graphic from Axios:

Screen Shot 2019-07-19 at 9.14.43 AM.png

Basically, Trump and the Republicans hold on this country cannot last. “The numbers simply do not lie,” reports Axios. “America, as a whole, and swing states, in particular, are growing more diverse, more quickly. There is no way Republicans can change birth rates or curb this trend — and there’s not a single demographic megatrend that favors Republicans.”

“Next year, the entire under-18 population will be majority non-white, according to Brookings demographer William Frey.”

In other words, after next year, there will be a growing segment of the voting population that is less white than non-white. It doesn’t mean that racism will end. Of course not. It does mean that the racists will be more easily outnumbered in the years to come, and that Trump has set his party back for at least a generation with the damage he’s done in the last three years. I mean, look at Texas: It’s 57 percent non-white. Beto O’Rourke nearly defeated Ted Cruz in that state in 2018. Hispanic people now make up 39 percent of Texas. It may not fall in 2020, but it will fall. And when Texas falls, it’s game over for the Republicans. Forget Ohio. Let’s see a Republican try to win the Presidency without New York, California, and Texas. This is why they’re so crazed at the moment.

Granted, that’s still in the future. Today, we still live in a hellscape, but yesterday, at least Trump attempted to distance himself from the “send them back” chant.

I mean, he’s lying through his teeth, and he was totally eating that chant up, but at least he recognizes that the chant itself was a bridge too far, even for him. Lara Trump is out there this morning trying to distance Trump from the chant, too, by also lying through her teeth.

I don’t believe her. I don’t believe Trump. Literally no one does. He basked in that chant for 13 seconds. Still, it’s not much, and it doesn’t make him any less racist, but at least Trump isn’t embracing it, which is what I feared would happen. There’s a smattering of Republicans who must have realized, “Oh man. We can get away with saying the quiet part out loud, but we can’t chant it.” There’s still the illusion of shame associated with racism. It’s not much, but it’s something.

And then there was this, from ESPN’s Dan Le Batard. As most of you know, ESPN doesn’t talk politics, which is a cowardly, bullsh*t position, as Drew Magary pointed out the other day on Deadspin. The network has been skittish as hell about politics since Jemelle Hill correctly blasted the President for being racist.

Look: I don’t even know who Dan Le Batard is, but I do know that, even in progressive states like my own and Massachusetts, that sports talk radio leans hard to the right. It’s impossible to listen to anymore. It’s insufferably toxic. But here’s Dan Le Batard potentially endangering his own job to not only call out the President and the people who chanted “send them back,” but ESPN itself for their cowardice.

“I don’t talk politics on here but this isn’t political, this is obvious: This is abhorrent, obviously racist, dangerous rhetoric and not calling it out makes you complicit. The ‘send her back’ chant + the ‘go back to where you came from’ are so antithetical to what we should be … This isn’t about politics; it’s about race … We don’t talk about what is happening … unless there is some sort of weak, cowardly sports angle that we can run it through.”

I’d like to see a few people from the mainstream news media take a cue from Dan Le Batard, take a break from the horse race, stop inviting Richard Spencer on their damn programs, and stop for a moment and look what’s going on instead of “objectively” and detachedly documenting the country’s descent into fascism. At this point, we’re about a month away from a journalist waking up bloody and beaten from an unconscious state to ask people attending a Trump rally if he deserved the beating he just received for being a reporter. “Sir, I was standing over there minding my own business when a rallygoer beat the ever-living hell out of me. Now, my leg is broken and I can’t see out of my right eye. Do you think the beating was warranted?”

“CNN! Fake news! America’s biggest enemy!”

“Well, there you go, folks. ‘I’m America’s biggest enemy. I guess I got what I deserved. Now, back to you, Anderson. MEDIC!”