Rob Parker has survived.
That's the first takeaway from ESPN's announcement this afternoon. The controversial debater/controversy-igniter has been given a 30 day suspension by the network. I had thought Parker's job was in serious jeopardy before seeing his apology being read on SportsCenter this morning. That was a major sign ESPN's investment in Parker wasn't coming to an end.
However, perhaps the more interesting nugget from the ESPN statement is that there have been additional disciplinary measures taken against personnel at First Take and there will be "enhanced editorial oversight" for the widely criticized show:
“ESPN has decided to suspend Rob Parker for 30 days for his comments made on last Thursday’s episode of First Take. Our review of the preparation for the show and the re-air has established that mistakes both in judgment and communication were made. As a direct result, clearly inappropriate content was aired and then re-aired without editing. Both were errors on our part.
“To address this, we have enhanced the editorial oversight of the show and have taken appropriate disciplinary measures with the personnel responsible for these failures. We will continue to discuss important issues in sports on First Take, including race. Debate is an integral part of sports and we will continue to engage in it on First Take. However, we believe what we have learned here and the steps we have taken will help us do all that better.”
We reached out to ESPN wondering what exactly the enhanced editorial oversight meant and asked about specifics regarding those additional disciplinary measures. ESPN's response was "We have nothing further to add to the statement."
There are several layers to these two paragraphs:
1) In spite of perhaps the most visceral backlash to an ESPN commentary since Rush Limbaugh, Rob Parker has kept his job. But when he returns, whatever little credibility he had left as a pundit/instigator will have been thrown out the window. After this firestorm, either he will have truly changed for the better or he'll go back to the same old Rob Parker and the next time he goes way out of bounds to create controversy he will be fired. Given Parker's history, the latter is most likely, and ESPN will suffer a tumult of negative press once again.
2) ESPN is regretful about Parker's comments airing initially, but perhaps an even bigger mistake is allowing them on the First Take re-air. Earlier this year, a certain word Stephen A. Smith may or may not have said was scrubbed from the First Take replay. For it to not happen with Parker's inflammatory words was a stunning lapse in judgment. Then again, you should say the same thing about it airing in the first place as well. The fact that nobody initially saw a problem with Parker's comments at First Take to allow it on national television twice is a major cause for alarm.
3) Good news - this is a wake up call to ESPN's debate style programming. A significant line was crossed and there's hope in ESPN publicly declaring the First Take leash will be tightened. It's embarrassing for everyone associated and responsible for that circus to be dressed down in this very public way. ESPN is basically admitting the show cannot be trusted on its own anymore and will take steps to attempt to ensure this kind of race-baiting and stereotyping doesn't happen again. Maybe this means Skip Bayless will stop with his sideshow antics and name-calling and demeaning punditry, but I have my doubts.
4) Bad news - ESPN's commitment to debate style programming is stronger than ever. "Debate is an integral part of sports and we will continue to engage in it on First Take" does not give me great hope for the future.
There will be scores of individuals unsatisfied with ESPN's actions. Many have lost their jobs for saying much less offensive things than Parker. I have a difficult time calling for anyone to be fired, but it is somewhat encouraging that ESPN hasn't just disciplined Parker, but taken a public stance with regards to First Take.
How sincere ESPN is about making those changes and the "enhanced editorial oversight" for First Take will say a lot about Bristol as a whole moving into 2013. If the show devolves into the same charade we've seen for the last year, we'll know this was only a temporary move done to appease and fend off critics. If there is real change at First Take and beyond, we'll know ESPN is serious about preserving their own integrity.
Any person who will state that they don't believe Rush is a racist...well, I think it's pointless to continue this conversation. I appreciate the exercise in someone voicing an opinion. But, Rush...C'Mon Man!!! If Rush is not a racist than the word doesn't exist. Thanks for the conversation though. Take care!!!
@kdun461 Then the word does not exist, you can not name a single place or time that Rush Limbaugh uttered a single racist word. To critize a person of color that is incompotend , over rated or useless is not racist sometime it is just plain true, for you to call someone racist when you probably never listened to him even once , and call him a racist because you want him to be makes you ether a Racist or an idiot.
Now on this point however I disagree...his reference as I recall was at it relates to "black" quarterbacks. Don't recall what he said but I do remember i was offended...and Tom Jackson was extremely offended and upset. Again, I did not agree with the comments RP made, but I don't believe he should have been fired is all...If Rush didn't have a history of those types of racially dividing comments, I would have said the same for him...
@kdun461 Well, if Tom Jackson was extremely upset they should have just strung Rush up right then and there. Tom Jackson is a horse's ass. Who gives a shit how he feels? And as far as Rush's "history" of divisive comments, that's really up to the person listening. Many people think his comments were true, though not particularly popular. He never said anything that could be construed as racist; people just didn't want to hear it.
@kdun461 Limbaugh said that he thought McNabb was over-rated (not racist unless you're not allowed to criticize a black player). He said that he thought the press was over-hyping him because of their desire to see a black quarterback succeed. Again, is that racist? He didn't say black quarterbacks can't play in the NFL, or he can't play because he's black. He said the press wanted him to succeed. Yes, Tom Jackson was offended, but he's not the arbitrator of what constitutes racism. I think most people wanted McNabb to succeed. He was a good guy, and a good quarterback. I'm pretty sure you know very little about Rush Limbaugh other than what you've heard other people say. He is not a racist. One of his best friends (the guy who performed his wedding) is a black guy who used to play for the Dallas Cowboys. He has never made a remark even close to what Rob Parker said. He pushes people's buttons and is not a fan of President Obama, but that doesn't make him a racist. Limbaugh is not the issue. He made a remark on ESPN that offended some people , and he was fired. He was not suspended or given another chance. Rob Parker said far worse. He should have been fired. There is clearly a double standard here. Why?
That's a valid argument...so, although I don't think he should be fired, the standards set should be fair across the board...
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@Cobbler I still maintain if a white person said what Parker said he would never be on the network again. The double standard is obvious.
@gavinwca I agree that when everything is referred to as racist the word loses its meaning. I was unaware that Limbaugh left on his own, but I have no doubt that, had he not voluntarily quit, the Worldwide Leader would have fired him. When the AG of the U.S. maintains that blacks can't be racist and whites can't be the victim of discrimination something is seriously wrong with where our society is headed. Jimmy the Greek was fired for pointing out genetic differences between the races. A decade later a black athlete said essentially the same thing and people nodded in agreement. All I'm saying is if people, black and white, want a colorblind society then they should punish people equally for what they deem offensive. Excusing one person for saying the same thing someone else said just because they have a different skin color IS racism.
@TonyStanley @kdun461 @Cobbler Rush had his own show a long time before he took the gig on ESPN, ESPN wish they made his kind of profit, he was not fired at ECommie network he quit when he realized they did not want honest sports analysis. They just wanted a liberal kiss a$$ fascist to agree with the idiots on the program. Limbaugh tells it like it is, he does not lie, or cow cow to anyone, the only reason he took the position was he loved football so much and knew he had something to add to the program. When he realized how unprofessional, Racist and idiotic that channell had become he cut ties with them. And never lost a nights sleep over those small minded people calling him a Racist or worse. The word racist has been so misused in the last century that it no longer has any meaning, and everything has become racist. Any word so miss used no longer has any meaning or standing I just laugh at the small minded people who continue to call everything spoken by some as racist , even saying the name of a city can be racist. Ha ha ha
The "exampe" was not whether Rush was fired. It was the fact that his statements were far more offensive and he should have been fired...espec considering his history of making those types of statements...as far as him firing himself, if 3 million folks didn't tune in, he wouldn't have too...
@kdun461 @TonyStanley @Cobbler Yes, Limbaugh was let go by ESPN immediately and what Rush said pales in comparison to the words of Rob Parker. If I recall correctly, Limbaugh pointed out that the media was maybe to hastily falling all over themselves by anointing Donovan McNabb as a young, elite QB before he had proven too much in the NFL. I believe Rush did not criticize McNabb's abilities that were still in a formative period for Donovan but did question why the media was going all gaga about the young QB - this was back in early 2000s. People went apesh*t over Limbaugh's remarks and he was gone immediately. Of course, he really didn't need the gig - he just loves NFL football - or did. No he's always commenting about how pro football is no longer as much to watch and get excited about.
For the record, Robert Griffin III is no more African-American than I am European-American. He was born in America, thus he is an American. The same goes for me. This hyphenated American status is divisive and unnecessary. If people want to make a positive change in race relations they'll stop separating themselves with these ridiculous hyphens.
I've been a fan of a couple of the morning shows, including First Take ... until they went from discussion to the argument format. Most of the time it seems to me they just keep raising their voices to talk over each other, to the point that it is neither entertaining or informative. I don't ever watch it any more, despite liking to hear the opinions of both Smith and Bayless. The show devolved from a discussion between two informed sports reporters to something more like Jerry Springer.
@Texas-Writer Stephen A. Smith is a hypocrite who knows next to nothing about sports and uses his air time to stir the racial pot. He talks over everyone on the show, and they sit there like blithering idiots taking his verbal abuse. I can't speak for the last few months because he made me so nauseated I stopped watching. But I'm willing to bet he hasn't changed a bit.
I quit watching First Take long ago. I couldn't stand Skip Bayless' OH-SO- EARNEST demeaner any longer.
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@gavinwca It makes ESPN a hypocritical network. Any white reporter/commentator that said what he did (Skip Bayless included) would no longer be employed by ESPN.
White reporters have made statements like this...for over 60 years of TV...RP was wrong. He should never have said that. I am black and it made me very uncomfortable. I believe those types of statement are never good, for any race on any level. I don't think it was for shock value. It was him really believing that, but unfortunately stating it on national TV...
If he were white, this would be a no-brainer - he'd be unemployed. You can't convince me that there isn't a double standard.
@TonyStanley If he were white that thought would not have entered his cerebrium Only black ppl think of Successful black ppl that way. Im black "Aint that some sh!t"
@23rd_December @TonyStanley It's not what he actually said. It's the context. Black commentators should be held to the same standard as white commentators. Racially inappropriate speech is wrong for blacks just as it is wrong for white commentators. Or not. The point is to be consistent across the board. If you let it slide because a black person said it, then you should let it slide when a white person says it. Isn't that what a coloblind society is all about? Equal treatment?
parker got off too easy. he apologized to save he job,fire the dude,why are some people like sacred cows
The debate style format is not the problem. Rob Parker is the problem. He should have been fired, not suspended. What he said goes so far beyond what others have been fired for saying it's not even close. His apology was meaningless. It doesn't change who he is. Maybe he will be more careful about revealing his true opinions, but is this the only guy available? ESPN should do the right thing and cut this guy loose. I know I don't want to hear from him again.
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I don't think these types of comments (yours) are helpful. I agree on the part about the black athlete...I always thought that was ridiculous...too many beautiful black women in the world. But, "Cracker"...C'Mon Man!!! Those words are dangerous and not fair to the millions of white americans who voted for the Prez!!! Just be careful with your words is all...not knocking you...just conversating is all!!!
@bdb1958 Not surprised you approved. I don't know why you believe the term 'cracker' is any more acceptable than the "N" word. Color doesn't make a person a racist. Attitudes like yours do. Why don't you express your attitude to one of these athletes in person? It's a lot easier to do it on the internet where you can remain anonymous. It doesn't take balls to be a racist or to express opinions like those given by Rob Parker. It takes balls to be your own person, think for yourself, and not find it necessary to fit into stereotypes invented by people who want to live in the past and make everything about race.
30 days in the penalty box and an insincere press release drafted by the p.r. department are small prices to pay for ratings. Parker did what he was paid to do. First Fake will roll on.
RP is a typical brotha stirring the racial pot just because he can. A 30 day suspension for him is a notch in his belt. ESPN is playing the typical politically correct way of dealing with this idiot. Scared to really deal with him and fire hits black ass !!!!!!!!
Rob Parker better spend the remaining three plus weeks of his suspension faxing his resume out to any sports network willing hire a man who preached his racial hate on Robert Griffin III. If he finds work, he should have the class to leave ESPN and the nation would never have to hear his voice again.
It's impossible to infer anything from Parker's comments except for anti-white racist bigotry. Seriously, what else can be inferred from his assertion that RG3 might well be black, but still not the type you'd want to hang with? That's as flatly racist as it gets, bar none, & there is no excuse for his continued employment at ESPN. If he had been a white man, making analogous comments about a white celebrity -- imagine, for example, a white reporter questioning whether or not Justin Bieber is "white enough" -- he'd be fired. ESPN, in the interests of consistencey, needs to fire Parker immediately.
With that in mind, his comments on RG3 were impossibly clownish. What, the fact that RG3 has a white girlfriend now makes his "true blackness" questionable? What sort of utter nonsense is that? Precisely who is the "everyone" Parker claims to have been raising this issue in the first place? So he managed to insult both black & white, yet remains employed? No wonder I never watch ESPN any more.
@LiveJazz What was worse, that RGIII has a white gf or that he possibly might be a Republican/conservative? Oh God, the horrors!
ESPN is clearly not going to change anything about First Take. They're not sorry that Parker transgressed his limitations as a journalist or talking head; everyone on First Take does that daily. They're sorry that they were called out on it for once. Skip Bayless has been trying to create a race war in Washington between Cousins and RGIII since Draft Day; that's what ESPN means by "talking about race." They said they'll continue it in the name of "embracing debate" as they always have, so I don't understand people's optimism here. http://www.spinitreacts.com/2012/12/rob-parker-will-return-to-espn-to-talk.html
If I remember correctly (too lazy to look it up) wasn't First Take just a segment on Cold Pizza? I remember watching Skip and Woody argue about everything. Entertaining then, not so much now. Wonder what the ratings are for this show? Probably wouldn't be missed if cancelled.
@Chuck Schick Just like I didn't miss Cold Pizza. ESPN needs a new Programming Director. Their filler shows are deplorable.
If they're going to make them do a retake every time they say something stupid, there will be no show and only commercials in that time slot.