Fox Sports personality and Speak For Yourself co-host Jason Whitlock is known for his button-pushing takes, but his Twitter comments Sunday on American media ownership stood out even for him. In conversation with someone who thinks “95 per cent of media [are] nothing but a Democrat advocacy group,” Whitlock decided to drop some truth bombs about how American media has been ruined by “communist money”:

Deadspin then published a piece laughing at Whitlock’s takes Monday, and Whitlock responded by saying their mockery of him is “approved” by a Russian billionaire who owns part of Deadspin parent company Gawker Media:

It’s unclear exactly how a minority investor like Vekselberg is dictating Deadspin’s coverage, or why he even would have heard of Jason Whitlock, but it must be part of the global “communist money” (never mind that Russia’s current oligarchy of billionaires is incredibly far from most definitions of communism) plot. You can’t trust that “Marxists movement.” (As opposed to the correct “Marxist movement,” we have to wonder about “Marxists movement.” Is that a movement of Marx Brothers fans?)

How silly are Whitlock’s accusations here? Well, he doesn’t provide a list of media outlets fully influenced by “communist money,” so let’s take a look at the ownership of some of the biggest ones. NBC is owned by Comcast, which is publicly traded, but has its controlling interest owned by chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts, an American. CBS is controlled (for the time being, anyway) by Sumner Redstone, an American. ABC and ESPN are owned by Disney, which is publicly traded and spread out, but has its largest stake owned by Laurene Powell Jobs, also an American. CNN and the rest of Turner’s properties are owned by Time Warner, which is mostly spread amongst mutual funds; the largest holding is from an American mutual fund, The Vanguard Group (which also has a big stake in Disney). The Washington Post is owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, an American. The New York Times is controlled by the Ochs-Sulzberger family (despite Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s investment, he doesn’t control the board).

In fact, the most significant major foreign media ownership in the U.S. probably comes from Whitlock’s company. 21st Century Fox and News Corp (publisher of the Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and more) are owned and controlled by Rupert Murdoch, an Australian who’s about as far from communist as you can get. It’s also interesting to note that the two biggest recent controversies around ownership’s political interference in media both come from the right wing, with Sheldon Adelson’s secretive purchase of The Las Vegas Review-Journal and subsequent interference in its operations and Jared Kushner (Donald Trump’s son-in-law)’s work as publisher of The New York Observer. Where are the complaints about those ones, Whitlock? Of course, ownership isn’t advertising, but even the limited advertising we do see from Chinese companies has been much less “join the glorious revolution” and much more “please buy our products,” which sounds pretty capitalistic from here. If that “Marxists movement” is really corrupting American media, we’d expect to see it have picked up better ownership stakes by now. Or at least advocated for more Marx Brothers reruns.

Fortunately for Whitlock, he’s no longer at a company that doesn’t want a lot of political commentary. He’s at a company that’s provided him a platform (albeit one not updated since April) to call police brutality “a false flag,” criticize those who criticize Greg Hardy, call Concussiona mediocre piece of propaganda” and insist that he sees football as “a life-saver, not a destroyer,” rant about millennials and the Missouri protests and go off on Deadspin and its “token black mascot” (Greg Howard, now writing for The New York Times). He’s at a company that decided to hire him and give him a prominent spot despite the public disaster he brought on ESPN with his mismanagement of The Undefeated, which went so poorly that ESPN was better off paying him not to do anything. Now he’s the co-host of an endlessly-promoted hot takes show in a prime slot, and has had that spot and its accompanying lucrative contract given to him despite a seeming lack of merit or qualifications. Hmm…now that sounds like a lot of the criticisms of communism.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.

Comments are closed.