NewsBusted: The Sports Blogger Files
One recent NewsBusters sports blogger hid behind a "pen name," while the current one has no media presence outside the blog so that may be a fake-name writer too. Not that the content differs all that much.
By Terry Krepel
Over the past few years, the Media Research Center has pushed into imposing its "liberal bias" narrative on sports -- which consists mostly of complaining that people in sports are talking about things not related to sports and that those things do not advance the MRC's right-wing narrative.
ConWebWatch has previously documented the antics of its first dedicated sports blogger, Dylan Gwinn, who had a habit of venturing beyond sports to rampant homophobia -- and for getting things spectacularly wrong. His successors have similarly been prone to ranting.
Bruce Bookter is not his real name -- as we noted when he ranted about Colin Kaepernick, it's just a "pen name" the author hid behind in order to spew right-wing hate. Not exactly a profile in courage.
An example of "Bookter's" work is an October 2015 piece criticizing ESPN that degenerated into an anti-liberal rant:
Make no mistake, ESPN likely, no, ESPN definitely supports and stands behind every wack-a-doo leftist take from every one of their leftist wack-a-doo personalities. Trust me on this.
At least Kornheiser and the other targets of "Bookter's" rants put their names out there. "Bookter," meanwhile, hid behind a fake name and hurled his poo. There's no reason for any one to "trust [Bookter] on this" if he can't be trusted to stand behind his work in public.
After ESPN fired former pitcher Curt Schilling for posting an crude anti-transgender meme on his Twitter account, "Bookter" rushed to his defense:
Neither of those posts, however, reposted the offending image. Is that perhaps he knew the image did not help Schilling's -- and right-wing anti-trans activists' -- cause?
On a similar note, "Bookter" mocked transgender athlete Chris Mosier in a June 2016 post after he appeared in ESPN's Body Issue for saying that he's finally comfortable in his own skin: "It must have been truly awful for Mosier. You know, forced to occupy the same body that was apparently good enough to become one of the greatest athletes in the entire world. The horror."
"Bookter" was particularly triggered by Mosier saying that, as a member of Team USA as a duathlete, "I sort of feel like I'm representing the good parts of the country":
Take that North Carolina! Isn’t it amazing that the same people who champion individuality, and don’t want to be judged, can seamlessly “transition” out of that façade and turn into social engineering overseers? Also, completely horrifying is the idea that Mosier sees the role on Team USA, not as representing the country and all people in it, but instead sees the role as a social and cultural model for an America as it should be.
So gays are waging "jihad" and are just like Nazis and commies? No wonder "Bookter" hides behind a fake name -- if we wrote such a thing, we'd be just as embarrassed to put our real name to it.
Maxson is almost as mysterious as "Bookter." No picture, no personal information in his bio beyond a description as "Contributing Writer for MRC Culture," no presence on social media outside NewsBusters; even the writer's sex is unclear. So Maxson may not be a real person either, for all we know.
Like "Bookter," Maxson has raged against Kaepernick's activism. Indeed, Maxson's main schtick is to attack anyone involved in sports who talks about anything other than things directly applying to sports -- so aggrieved, in fact, that Maxson went back in time 50 years to rage over such activism.
Last October, Maxson fumed when Kaepernick was mentioned in the same breath as Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised a clenched fist on the podium after winning medals in the 1968 Olympics. Maxson applied the term "social justice warriors" to both of them, which is apparently the most insulting thing Maxson can think of to use:
As the 50th anniversary of the protest-marred 1968 Olympic Games nears, the New York Daily News' Carron J. Phillips and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are glorifying Colin Kaepernick, as well as the two disgraced sprinters who staged a black power salute during the national anthem in Mexico City. The International Olympic Committee stripped Tommie Smith and John Carlos of their medals and expelled them from the Olympic Village. A 1968 headline in the Evening News declared, "Games are Rocked by Black Power." Media reporting has shifted 180 degrees since then, as many reporters sympathize with radical social justice warriors.
Maxson ranted in another post from October:
October 16 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympic Games protest by U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Their black power salute on the medal stand at Mexico City angered many Americans and divided the media. But today, the united American media celebrates them as royalty. Media treat another athlete disliked by many, Colin Kaepernick, as the successor to Smith and Carlos as a social justice icon.
In February, Maxson was still ranting, complete with another SJW reference:
Former U.S. Olympic athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos shocked with black power salutes at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. They were sent home in disgrace then, but now that the media has a love affair with social justice warriors like Colin Kaepernick, Smith and Carlos are treated like heroes and adorned with honors by the progressive, social justice crowd. The Golden State Warriors saluted Smith during a game Wednesday, and visiting San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich predicted that Kaepernick, too, will become greatly admired.
And Maxson was still at in in an April 7 post:
For many Americans, social justice warriors in sports uniforms have disrespected America and turned them away from sports. The Nation's Dave Zirinhas made a slobbering career of apologizing for and glorifying these malcontents. He's written books on 1968 Olympic protester John Carlos and radical NFL player Michael Bennett. He staunchly defends Colin Kaepernick and others who politicize sports, too. Zirin is the "parallel universe," and this week he bitterly complains that Carlos and fellow '68 Olympic protester Tommie Smith are being disrespected by their alma mater, San Jose State University.
Maxson noted Zirin quoting someone saying that San Jose State University removing the track where Carlos trained and replacing it with a parking lot was "another sad day for the Spartans," Maxson huffed: "A sad day for the Spartans and a sadder reminder for Americans offended by the acts of Smith and Carlos."
You know, if Maxson keeps getting so triggered by events that happened 50 years ago, maybe he's the one in a parallel universe.
Because it's apparently an MRC job requirement to hate President Obama, there's a June 2017 post by Maxson complaining about a Politico article on former President Obama's closeness to pro athletes. Maxson dismissed the article as "Kool-Aid" being dispensed to a "politics lite audience" and huffed that the article "demonstrates how Obama used jocks to further his agenda. And the gullible athletes were all too willing to be used."
Maxson's contempt for Obama and the pro athletes who like him drips from every word of his post:
Bryant says the ex-prez helped make locker rooms more “politically aware” (worth a separate wing in the Obama Presidential Library?) and he “did help athletes progress beyond just asking questions or just being angry, and asking why something is the way it is.” It’s unsaid in the article, but Obama unwittingly taught athletes the art of the boycott. At times Obama spent more time with them than meeting with his President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which he boycotted for at least a year.
By contrast, Maxson will defend athletes whose political views align more closely with that of he/she and his/her employer. We've documented Maxson's love for former pro football star Ray Lewis' self-proclaimed family values -- which conveniently ignored Lewis' less-than-family-friendly connection to a double murder.
A January 2018 post stated of tennis player Tennys Sandgren:
Tennys Sandgren, the 97th-ranked men's tennis player in the world, just pulled off the greatest victory of his life in the Australian Open. He took out No. 5 seed Dominic Thiem in five sets Monday. The huge upset moved Sandgren into the quarterfinals with some of the great names of tennis, including Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. That alone should have been the big story, but instead liberal media checked out his social media, branded him "alt-right" and ganged up on him.
Maxson, however, was a little on the vague side about exactly what Sandgren tweeted that made the media (correctly) think he's alt-right, stating only that his Twitter account had "numerous links to right-wing ideologues" and that he "had engaged with people spreading misinformation portraying Hillary Clinton as a Satan-worshiping occultist, and 'Pizzagate, a similarly baseless conspiracy theory hoax that Clinton was connected to a pizzeria child sex ring.'"
In fact, Sandgren said in a tweet that he had read "everything" about Pizzagate -- the notorious far-right conspiracy theory claiming that a child-sex ring involving prominent Democratic officials was being run out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria -- and concluded: "It's sickening and the collective evidence is too much to ignore." And he went far beyond merely "engaging with" people spreading occult-related stuff about Hillary Clinton (which may be the first time the MRC admitted something bad about Hillary is "misinformation"); he effectively endorsed it by claiming that people don't know what to do with it. Or they are concocting a way to make it sound not so bad."
Instead of reporting the full details of Sandgren's tweets, Maxson whined that he was "ambushed" with questions about it and that one blogger "is now labeling Sandgren a 'Pizzagate Truther' and castigating him for believing in 'fake news'"-- a contention Maxson never actually disputes as inaccurate.
Maxson also holds special contempt for ESPN -- so much so, in fact, that in a July 2018 post, he portrayed ESPN's website discontinuing the comments section as proof of anti-conservative bias:
Progressives from Berkeley to Bristol would rather shut down a debate than stomach opposition views. Fascists at California and other universities have perfected the strategy of shutting down free speech. No longer willing to endure conservative opposition to its progressive social and political posts, ESPN.com has just joined the club by shutting down its comments section.
Hilariously, Maxson quoted someone predicting his freakout: the Awful Announcing website noted that "To some people, predictably, this move is a sign of something much more sinister: censorship of a free-flowing conversation where people weren’t afraid to call out ESPN on their obviously over-the-top liberal agenda."
Surely Maxson is familiar with website comment sections, and how they're not exactly repositories of well-reasoned thought. One has only to look at NewsBusters' own comments section, which is all about taking mean-spirited potshots and nothing about robust debate. Indeed, as we know from experience, NewsBusters makes sure the latter never happens by working to ban anyone who tries to engage in one -- making Maxson's complaint about ESPN utterly hypocritical.
Maxson has despised longtime ESPN commentator Jemele Hill for tweeting that President Trump is a "white supremacist." For example, Maxson raged when Hill received an award from a group of black journalists that she didn't deserve it after a year of "failure, suspension and demotion."
So when Hill announced she was leaving ESPN, Maxson couldn't be happier. Maxson ranted in an August 2018 post that Hill is a "bombastic race-baiter" who "talked, tweeted and finally bought her way out of ESPN."
"Bought her way out of ESPN"? Actually, according to the Sports Illustrated article (Maxson falsely stated it's from the Sporting News, making this the second error in his/her piece) from which Maxson quoted, Hill's departure from ESPN "includes a buyout" of her contract. Typically, that means ESPN paid Hill an agreed-upon amount to be released from her contract -- not that, as Maxson appears to assume, Hill paid ESPN for the contract release. Indeed, ESPN reportedly paid Hill $6 million.
Maxson is not the sharpest knife in the MRC's blogger drawer. In a September 2017 post, Maxson went off on "Slate's John Legend" for arguing that the National Anthem protests by Kaepernick and other football players were patriotic. But Legend is a not a Slate staff writer; as the bio link to his name states: "John Legend is a 10-time Grammy Awards winner, an Academy and Tony awards winner, philanthropist, and founder of the FREEAMERICA campaign."
If Maxson can't figure out something as basic as who John Legend is, feel free to assume that the rest of his/her hateful ranting is just as ignorant.
Can one be an effective and viable media critic when all one has to offer is hate and contempt? The MRC needs to ask this question about Maxson. And while they're at it, they should also make public information about Maxson to prove he/she is an actual person and not a coward hiding behind a fake name like "Bruce Bookter."