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Last of the Redskin Lovers

The Media Research Center tries to dismiss the idea that the Washington Redskins name is offensive -- but won't tell its readers that a prominent conservative the MRC has honored supports a name change.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/5/2013

The Media Research Center is getting all huffy over the idea that the Washington Redskins is a name that is somewhere between insensitive and racist and should be changed. When the issue started to get more media attention in early October, The MRC did its best to try and shoot it down:
  • NewsBusters' Tom Blumer grumbled that the Associated Press did "an 880-word writeup on this breathtakingly important subject" of President Obama's opinion on changing the team name.
  • Matt Philbin ranted: "Well Redskins fans, it’s over. The ruling has been handed down from on high – The Washington Post and USA Today. They’ve got a foam finger for you, but it’s not the index and you’re certainly not #1 to them, and they’re the ones who matter. They’ve decided your team name will change."
  • Tim Graham complained that the Washington Post did an article on an online contest to pick a new team logo, featuring "politically correct logo designs," and that one judge for the competition was "a liberal journalist."
  • Philbin did more ranting, declaring that the Post "has dedicated at least 31,562 print and online words to its crusade" and wants to be "the paper that brought down a mascot."
  • MRC chief Brent Bozell devoted an entire column to decrying the "liberal media agitation" for changing the name, howling: "The word 'Redskins' is so apparently offensive they’ve made the team sound like a porn film. Here is the insanity: They'd be less offended -- and in some circles of the libertine community, openly supportive – if Snyder renamed the team the 'Foreskins.'"
  • Graham further complained that sportscaster Bob Costas expressed his opposition to the name, which he dismissed as "another liberal rant with no rebuttal."

But changing the name is not just a liberal idea -- but the MRC won't tell you that.

Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer opined on Fox News that while he's "in low dudgeon over this," he supports changing the name because the word's meaning has evolved: But if it were personally my choice, I think it’s over the line. I do think, because of its history, it’s something that if you can change, you would change."

Krauthammer expanded on his views in his Washington Post column:

This is a matter of usage — and usage changes. If you shot a remake of 1934’s “The Gay Divorcee,” you’d have to change that title too.

Not because the lady changed but because the word did.

Hail Skins.

Strangely, Graham has not seen fit to attack Krauthammer for this view the way he did Costas, let alone unleash his trademark Heathering against Krauthammer for deviating from the right-wing line. Then again, in late September, the MRC did give Krauthammer its “William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence,” with special praise for "his trenchant dry humor and perfectly-timed zings at various liberals in the media."

Krauthammer apparently offered none of that in his support for changing the Redskins' name, so down the MRC memory hole it went.

Krauthammer's independent thinking poses a problem for the MRC. Does it call out a conservative it has honored for staying true to conservative principles for straying from the right-wing line, or does it continue to pretend that he never said such a thing?

If you said the latter, you are correct.

Randy Hall ranted in an Oct. 21 NewsBusters post:

Just when you think you've seen it all, along comes a political cartoon in the New York Daily News attempting to change the name of a National Football League team that's not even in their city.

The illustration posted on Thursday featured three flags, the first containing the swastika symbol of the Nazis, then the star-filled banner of the Confederates from the Civil War, and finally the logo of the Washington Redskins with a caption that read: “Archaic Symbols of Pride and Heritage.”


Of course, if liberals with too much time on their hands and members of the tiny Oneida Indian Nation succeed in getting the Redskins’ name changed, what other sports teams are next? The Cleveland Indians? The Atlanta Braves? The Kansas City Chiefs? The possibilities for extracting sports fans’ fun are endless!

Hall joins with his fellow MRC critics in failing to note that one of those "liberals with too much time on their hands" isn't a liberal at all.

Meanwhile, an Oct. 20 NewsBusters post by Brent Baker highlights how Krauthammer "is capable of delivering funny lines and humorous anecdotes." No, Baker didn't mention Krauthammer's stance on the Redskins.

Paul Bremmer devoted an Oct. 28 NewsBusters post to bashing New York Times sports columnist Bill Rhoden for saying that a name change for the Washington Redskins "has to start with us in the media," declaring this to be "liberal activist journalism":

Wow. Rhoden actually wants legislation to compel the Redskins, a privately-owned venture, to change their name. That would be government coercion on the level of ObamaCare. But as it stands right now, it’s up to owner Daniel Snyder to change the name, and he has said he doesn’t want to change it.

To those who follow the liberal media, it’s not news that they are fans of political correctness. But it’s a little jarring to hear a journalist talk as if it is the media’s job to force political correctness onto one particular organization, possibly under penalty of law. What happened to just reporting on the facts?


This was not the first time Rhoden mixed sports with liberal activism. Last December, he expressed his wish that the NFL would ban its players from owning guns. In April 2011, he called for the NBA to suspend Kobe Bryant for Game 1 of a playoff series after Bryant mouthed the “gay F-bomb” at a referee.

Of course, there was no mention of Krauthammer.

Philbin returned in a Nov. 5 MRC Culture & Media Institute column to sneer at Washington Post columnist Mike Wise for his Redskins name change advocacy:

Oh look, Mike Wise is making more pronouncements about history. History, as in sports history: records, achievements, seasons, etc.? He’s a Washington Post sportswriter, after all.

No silly. The Most Important Sports Columnist in the World, Ever, is again passing judgment on anyone lagging behind history’s inexorable march into the glorious progressive future. In other words, his knickers are in a twist because the Washington Redskins are still called the Washington Redskins, despite the howling of liberal journalists like Wise and a handful of Native American activists.

No mention, of course, of a conservative so important that Philbin's employer gave him its highest honor who has cited history in support of a name change.

Philbin -- in the dickish style we've come to expect from someone who so agreed with Rush Limbaugh's denigration of Sandra Fluke that he felt compelled to expand upon it by calling her things like "horizontal laborer" and "Lincoln Tunnel Hitcher" -- concluded his column by rooting for the Redskins to ban Wise from covering the team: "When will the days of making Mike Wise welcome in the press space at FedEx Field be done?"

Philbin's column causes one to wonder: Could it be that Philbin and the rest of the MRC support the Redskins name because they like its racist, denigrating implications?

Hey, stranger things have happened.

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