NBA on TNT analyst Charles Barkley is diving into the Alabama political waters. With much of the country watching the lead-up to the special U.S. Senate election between Democratic candidate Doug Jones and Republican candidate Roy Moore Tuesday, the Jones campaign announced that Barkley will appear at their final pre-election rally Monday night in Birmingham. And in comments to AL.com’s John Archibald, Barkley said he doesn’t know “a ton” about Jones, and is mostly there to campaign against Moore:
“It can’t be Roy Moore,” he said. “To me it’s silliness that this guy’s trying to win.”
…Because he believes Moore’s history – before or after the allegations from women who say he approached them as teens – is too outlandish to comprehend.
“This is unbelievable to me,” said Barkley, who grew up in Leeds but spends much of his time in Arizona. “You couldn’t make it up. If somebody sent you a script, with all he’s done and said, you wouldn’t believe he could still be in the race.”
Barkley said a lot of Alabamians have been “brainwashed” to support Moore.
“All you have to do is talk about God and say you don’t like homosexuals … and abortion,” he said.
He said people talk in code, about liberals and conservatives and other ways to label, but they “never talk about the factual stuff.”
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This does also perhaps show that Barkley has a little more freedom to express his political thoughts than many sports commentators. Barkley hosted a four-part American Race talk show on race and politics on TNT this spring, interviewing such controversial figures as white supremacist Richard Spencer, and he’s also used his Inside The NBA platform to touch on social and political issues, (in particular, he spoke about support for the LGBT community on air in 2011).
Barkley’s known for saying what he thinks on a wide range of topics, from the NHL to immigration and President Trump’s travel ban, so it’s not particularly surprising that he’s making political comments again, but it’s notable that he’s actually endorsing a candidate at a campaign rally.
That’s something that wouldn’t fly at all at, say, ESPN, where the new social media policy bans those involved in hard news from taking political positions at all. It also says that analysts should “refrain from overt partisanship or endorsement of particular candidates, politicians or political parties.” It looks like Turner is a little looser on that front, at least when it comes to Barkley. It will be interesting to keep an eye on what he says at Jones’ rally Monday night, and in his TV appearances afterwards.