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Friday, March 28, 2008

Sports Radio Host Defends Obama

The Philadelphia Sports radio anchor who was interviewing Obama when he said his grandmother was just another "typical white person" tries to put the controversy to rest and defend Obama. I think anyone who wasn't looking for a controversy understood what Obama was trying to say, but it's nice to see someone else step up and defend him:

"I interviewed Sen. Barack Obama on my 610 WIP radio show last week. That’s right, I spent seven minutes and 45 seconds talking to a man who may soon be the leader of the free world. That the opportunity would fall to me and my co-hosts was inconceivable because we only occasionally deal with life outside of sports. That we would then all become embroiled in the national crisis of the day was downright surreal.

During a softball interview (sorry, Columbia), Obama referred to his white grandmother as a “typical white person” who would be intimidated if she walked past a black man on the street. The context was clear. He was by no means saying she was a racist; he was merely depicting the mindset of that generation. Obama was trying to show the way people once thought about race — even the woman who helped to raise the first truly serious African-American presidential candidate.

Within hours, we were besieged with questions from the media. At each stop on the media tour, I tried to explain the context of the remark, but the only reporters or pundits who believed me were those with no desire to punish Obama. It was the lead story that night on “The O’Reilly Report,” “Hannity & Colmes” and countless other right-tilting broadcasts.

CNN provided the most revealing moment. My WIP co-host Al Morganti agreed to make an appearance via satellite, which included a telephone pre-interview. When asked how he felt about Obama’s remark, Morganti said he didn’t think it was a big deal at all. The woman on the other end of the phone said that opinion would not fit well into the broadcast. He was never called back.

So what did I learn from this surprise visit to the world I left three decades ago? I learned I’m probably not much better than these media leeches seeking the daily blood of controversy. In many ways, I do the same thing. I come up with a strong opinion, and then I look for facts that will support the bias — discounting contradictory evidence.

The difference is, I’m commenting about sports. My opinion may be uncomfortable for a coach, player or owner, but no one is going to raise taxes or go to war because of it. I’ve never been more relieved at my career decision 30 years ago than I am right now.

It’s pretty clear I never fulfilled that promise to my advisor. I have bridged no new paths. Sports has become nothing more than my shelter from a real world that is too real.

The story had one final twist a day after the interview, when we learned that Obama had booked his appearance on our show because he wanted to make his picks in the NCAA Tournament.

There I was, obsessing over a visit to his ruthless world, and all the senator really wanted was a few minutes of refuge in mine."

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