Two items for the “bias in the strangest places” file. First up, an article in the “Scrapbook” section of the new edition of the Weekly Standard titled “The Customer is Always Wrong,” is mostly about the Washington Post ditching the role of ombudsman. As its authors write, ” If you’re thoroughly annoyed with the people who purchase your product, really offended by them, what better way to retaliate than to kick their representative down the staircase?” But note how it concludes:
The Post, which was always famous for a certain sanctimoniousness of tone, has become a daily encyclopedia of snark, a gathering place for smirking columnists and reporters—Ezra Klein, Dana Milbank, Al Kamen, Richard Cohen, Eugene Robinson, Philip Kennicott, even the TV writer Lisa de Moraes—whose contempt for readers is nearly as great as their professional self-regard.
We found evidence of this last week in a most unlikely location: the Post sports pages. Columnist Mike Wise was writing about a Washington Redskin of yesteryear named Dave Kopay, who acquired a brief notoriety in retirement when, 38 years ago, he became the first NFL player to reveal publicly that he is gay. Kopay has complained that his aspiration to coach in the NFL was thwarted by prejudice, which may or may not be true; but he played only a single season for the Redskins (1969-70), and that was long before anyone in Washington knew anything about his private life.
Of course, all of this is natural fodder for a sports columnist, and Wise doesn’t fail us: He is livid about current players being questioned by teams about their sex lives—“stupid and criminal”—and adds, parenthetically, that during his Redskins tenure Kopay had “a sexual encounter” with a teammate named Jerry Smith, who subsequently died of AIDS.
Yes, Burgundy and Gold faithful, two of [Vince] Lombardi’s grittiest, durable players in his one season in Washington had a dalliance. Get over it.
To which The Scrapbook could only respond, “I beg your pardon?” To our knowledge, no Redskins fan or Post reader has ever publicly expressed any view on the “dalliance” of Jerry Smith and Dave Kopay, or given much extended thought to the two, or lamented that they played together during Vince Lombardi’s brief tenure as Redskins coach.
No, the presumption of prejudice, discernment of rage, the insult to character is entirely a product of the mind of the Post columnist, whose fury, sarcasm (“Burgundy and Gold faithful”), and contempt (“get over it”) are directed, typically but inexplicably, toward the sports-minded citizens of the nation’s capital who buy his newspaper and read his column.
Meanwhile, the New York Times, which has also long worn its contempt for potential readers on its bespoke sleeve, has this line:
You probably think rabid sports fans are a bunch of lonely, disoriented souls who try to fill the holes in their lives by attaching themselves to a team. And you’re probably wrong.
Sometimes I wonder why the New York Times — covering one of the most vibrant sports markets in the world — is so bad at sports writing. Perhaps the disdain for us “rabid” sports fans is part of the reason. More than that, actually, it’s that these writers apparently are surrounded by so many like-minded folks that this allegation — and its bold claim regarding probability — went straight from the keyboard to the printing press without giving anyone pause. So, so weird.
I blame the dance of the low-sloping foreheads at the Times.