WorldNetDaily has announced that it has hired former baseball player John Rocker as an "exclusive weekly columnist." If that name sounds familiar, WND is eager to explain it away:
A fierce defender of conservative values, Rocker says his book, “Scars and Strikes,”is a wake-up call to those who base their perception of him on the Sports Illustrated article that led to a 14-game suspension from baseball in 2000. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig assigned Rocker to mandatory “sensitivity” training as part of his “sentence.”
Jeff Pearlman was the Sports Illustrated writer whose report sparked a media firestorm aimed at Rocker.
Commenting on ever playing for a New York team, Rocker told Pearlman: “I would retire first. It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you’re [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing.”
Rocker’s teammates and friends in Major League Baseball rushed to defend him, but the damage was done.
That's right -- a guy best known for making numerous insensitive racial remarks now writes for WND.
WND softened up its readers toward Rocker in a May 29 profile by Michael Thompson, who described Rocker's racially charged rhetoric as merely "politically incorrect" and claimed that "Rocker was the first victim of many shots in the politically correct war waged against patriotic Americans."
Thompson also helped Rocker get back at Pearlman, calling him "notorious" and claiming without evidence that Pearlman "goaded" Rocker "into saying controversial things." Thompson uncritically quoted Rocker saying that Pearlman penned "eerily similar hatchet jobs to dozens of other subjects during his 20 year career."
Thompson made no apparent effort to contact Pearlman for his response to Rocker's attacks.
Thompson did further sucking up to Rocker in an accompanying article recounting how Rocker once went "an incredible 21-and-a-half innings without giving up a run in the playoffs."
After getting such fawning, uncritical treatment in which his every personal attack on Pearlman is treated as the gospel truth, why wouldn't Rocker want to write for WND?