Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh must have felt jealous that Mel Gibson was hogging the racially insensitive spotlight so he decided to “pay tribute” to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner on the day that he died by injecting race into the mix.
Media Matters caught Rush Limbaugh using George Steinbrenner’s death as an occasion for race-baiting.
“That cracker made a lot of African-American millionaires,” Limbaugh said Tuesday. “He fired a bunch of white guys as managers left and right.”
The Associated Press notes, “Rev. Al Sharpton called Limbaugh’s statements ‘repugnant and offensive whether they were intended to be facetious or tongue and (sic) cheek.'”
“For the last 20 years I have known George Steinbrenner and we have quarreled over diversity and community programs but I always found him fair, direct, and genuinely prone to do what he felt was right,” Sharpton said in a statement. “He generated a lot of money for a lot of players as well as for baseball as a whole. … Mr. Limbaugh and his broadcasters owe his family an apology.”
Referring to the tribute sarcastically as “classy,” Chicago Now’s Aaron Lowe blogged that “Steinbrenner will always be a better man than Rush Limbaugh.”
Does the color of their skin really matter? No, it doesn’t. One cannot argue that it isn’t literally true that Steinbrenner made lots of black players and coaches alike millionaires, but Steinbrenner didn’t pay anyone anything. Steinbrenner paid people because he believed they could do a job and do it well no matter what the color of their skin. It’s sickening to have to confront this Rush Limbaugh business when what we really should be doing is celebrating the life, good and bad, of George Steinbrenner. As I wrote earlier, he made his share of mistakes, but he learned from them. Those mistakes made him a better person. I just wish Steinbrenner could be truly honored without pinheads like Limbaugh using this situation to race-bait. What a man Steinbrenner was and that kind of man Rush Limbaugh will never be.
In July of 2007, former Yankees star Gary Sheffield blasted the team and its former manager Joe Torre for perceived prejudice against African-American players, but most sportswriters noted the disgruntled player didn’t have the greatest track record when it came to veracity. And that he also told HBO that Derek Jeter, a beloved Yankee with a mixed racial heritage, “ain’t all the way black” didn’t help him score points.
ESPN.com reported, “In the interview with HBO, Sheffield says the black players on the Yankees’ roster would be ‘called out’ in the clubhouse by Torre, while the white players would be called into Torre’s office to discuss matters.”
Sheffield said he doesn’t consider Torre a racist. “No. I think it’s the way they do things around there,” he said. “Since I was there I just saw that they run their ship different.”
At that point, Kremer says to Sheffield that the Yankees most high-profile player is black. “Who?” Sheffield says.
Told Jeter, Sheffield says: “Derek Jeter is black and white.”
The Yankees were one of the last MLB teams to integrate, and critics have complained over the years that both New York baseball teams seemed to have fewer black players than the rest of the league. Some African-American stars have complained that the New York media is harder on blacks.
CC Sabathia, currently a Yankee, complained in 2007 when he was the only black Cleveland Indian, “There aren’t very many African-American players, and it’s not just in here, it’s everywhere. It’s not just a problem — it’s a crisis.”
But in Limbaugh’s worldview, such criticism is unfounded. Just like his controversial comments on former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb years ago show — which got him fired from his Monday Night Football gig and jammed up his attempt to buy an NFL team — the only racial problems that Rush Limbaugh believes exist in American society are solely the fault of blacks who racebait.
This video is from The Rush Limbaugh Show, broadcast July 13, 2010 and uploaded to the Web by Media Matters.