It appears that Fox News’ Laura Ingraham has radically different opinions on athletes discussing political issues depending on who the athlete is. In February 2018, Ingraham went on a widely–criticized rant about NBA players LeBron James and Kevin Durant commenting on President Donald Trump, saying “Must they run their mouths like that?” and “Keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.” But with New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees under fire (from everyone from teammates to fans) after his “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” comments about NFL kneeling protests to Yahoo Finance’s Daniel Roberts Wednesday, Ingraham defended Brees Wednesday night in very different terms than how she described political comments from James and Durant. Here’s a clip from Acyn Torabi showing the two segments in question back-to-back:
Laura Ingraham’s comments on LeBron James Vs. Laura Ingraham’s defense of Drew Brees pic.twitter.com/Ki3uvK02o2
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) June 4, 2020
Here’s a transcription of what Ingraham said Wednesday night:
“Well, he’s allowed to have his view about what kneeling and the flag means to him. I mean, he’s a person. He has some worth, I imagine. I mean, this is beyond football, though. This is totalitarian conduct. This is Stalinist. And by the way, on the streets of New Orleans, we’re looking at live pictures, they’re shouting ‘F Drew Brees.’ That’s what this moment has done to the beautiful team spirit of the New Orleans Saints.”
And here’s what she said about James and Durant:
All right, we’re gonna create a new banner: “This is a dumb jock alert.” NBA superstar Lebron James is talking politics again and this time it’s R-rated. Here’s his barely intelligible — not to mention ungrammatical — take on President Trump in a new ESPN podcast.
…I’m numb to this commentary, “like.” Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately, a lot of kids and some adults take these ignorant comments seriously. Look, there might be a cautionary lesson in LeBron for kids. This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA. And it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball. Oh, and LeBron and Kevin, you’re great players, but no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.
(For the record, Ingraham even failed basic research there; those comments were not on an ESPN podcast, but on a podcast from Uninterrupted, LeBron’s company.)
So it’s a “dumb jock alert” when James and Durant criticize Trump, and “it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” but Brees is “allowed to have his view” and “is a person.” Uh huh. It’s quite something to see the difference in Ingraham’s takes on athletes and politics when she’s talking about black NBA players who disagree with her politically and when she’s talking about a white NFL quarterback’s stance on black NFL players protesting police brutality. For the record, here’s what Ingraham said on that front while those protests were going on in 2017:
Part of me is like, a lot of these guys are punks. I mean, that’s part of me, like, that’s the old-fashioned Connecticut Yankee in me. It’s like, you’ve got to be kidding me, you guys are like — you guys are the elite of the elite. You make millions of dollars to play a game, you’re like — can’t stand for the National Anthem? You’ve got to be kidding me. Like, that’s part of me.
Also for the record, Brees offered an apology on Instagram Thursday, but one many still found lacking. But it’s really remarkable to see Ingraham defending his initial comments, and doing so in a way that stands in such sharp contrast to what she said about James and Durant.
Update: James has responded:
If you still haven’t figured out why the protesting is going on. Why we’re acting as we are is because we are simply F-N tired of this treatment right here! Can we break it down for you any simpler than this right here???? ????????♂️. And to my people don’t worry I won’t stop until I see https://t.co/e4pJ0PvwJj
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 4, 2020
[Acyn Torabi on Twitter]