Media Coverage Over Donald Sterling Scandal Is Unjustified

By Willis Patenaude
Donald Sterling
Robert Hanashiro – USA TODAY Sports

If you didn’t know who Donald Sterling was last week, you undoubtedly do today whether you watch the NBA or not. Is it a good thing that a married man’s mistress pulled an Oksana Grigorieva?

Well, it is 2014 and people have gotten creative in rooting out racism, but where’s the outrage over the infidelity? Where was the outrage and catcalls for Sterling’s removal when he was accused of discrimination against Hispanics and blacks living in his rental properties? Those must have been busier days in the news cycle, but right now it’s just the neverending NBA playoffs and unrelenting mock drafts — not exactly ratings movers.

Every news outlet discussed it. Sterling is the trend of the moment and every talking head had to have their opinion heard, even though they were all saying the same thing because defending Sterling is like playing with a grenade while drunk.

The Sterling saga is good for business, but it is reminiscent of other past ratings goldmines that were beaten into an outrage coma.

Monica Lewinsky, another mistress and a cigar kept the nation captivated for months. Were people genuinely interested in the sexual fornication habits of a sitting President? 1998 was the same year Osama bin Laden published a fatwa declaring jihad against all Jews and Crusaders, but who was paying attention? How about the war in Kosovo? Who cares, fellatio is more interesting!

During Presidential elections, the public gets more caught up on whether someone was or wasn’t praying to Satan or where they attended church. It’s a popularity contest and candidates no longer need actual positions. It’s all about the sound bite. The ratings grabbing headline for an attention deficient public who loses interest after two paragraphs. The Sterling story allows you to immediately know what’s going on and quickly tweet your opinion to the world because the headline writes your opinion for you. Sterling is a racist. Go!

It is slightly ironic that in a country that values privacy, no one has a problem with “leaked” private conversations between a billionaire and his mistress. Maybe there is a rooting out racism clause in the invasion of privacy, similar to the government’s “national security” argument that drives people into armed militia status.

Social media in general, which likes to take credit for things because people on Facebook and Twitter need to feel like they’re making a difference, is patting itself on the back over the downfall of Sterling. This wouldn’t be so repugnant if social media — the hipster way to stay involved — wasn’t at least 10 years behind the whole “Sterling is a racist” thing.

While the Sterling story deserved to be covered, it was not the Boston Marathon bombing, 9/11 or the killing of Osama bin Laden, though, you wouldn’t know it based on the insane amount of coverage it received.

Willis Patenaude is a New England Patriots writer for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google


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