1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Jim Litke: Did He Screw Up?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Stone Cane, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. Stone Cane

    Stone Cane Member

    In this piece -- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20874996/ -- Litke writes:

    Four years ago, Donovan McNabb got off to a lousy start and Rush Limbaugh said the media propped him up because it was “very desirous” to see black quarterbacks succeed.

    In an interview recorded almost three weeks ago but aired Tuesday, McNabb said people wanted to see black quarterbacks fail.

    Who’s right?

    From what I can tell, McNabb didn't say anything about anybody wanting African-American quarterbacks to fail. He said African-American quarterbacks are held to a higher standard than white quarterbacks. That's quite different.

    Here is a transcript of his HBO appearance:

    Subject: McNabb HBO script

    DONOVAN McNABB: Every year, I'm part of some type of criticism. So they bring that up

    HBO’s JAMES BROWN: Oh, not you. You got to be kidding me.

    DONOVAN McNABB: But you know what? In every day that we go through life, there are challenges. You're faced with a lot of adversity. Now the answer is, How do you handle the adversity? How do you respond?

    VO 1: And quarterback Donovan McNabb has had plenty of practice - the boos started the very moment the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him with the #2 pick in 1999.

    VO 2: He’s been mocked as a Mama’s Boy. And publicly called a choke-artist He’s been scrutinized by the football establishment for playing his position too blackand ripped by some the black community for playing it too white. It all adds up to one of the strangest dynamics in sports - A 5- time All-Pro who has led his team to 4 conference titles games - and been a model citizen off the field - yet can't seem to get much brotherly love in the city known for it - .

    Radio announcer Sound on tape: Donovan McNabb drives me nuts.

    VO 3: Through it all, the 30-year old McNabb has refused to strike back, choosing instead to respond the only way he knows how - with a smile on his face...

    DONOVAN McNABB: I try to handle myself with class. I try to handle myself with dignity. And I think sometimes, people look to players to, to kind of act out, speak loudly, pretty much be an idiot. And that's not me.

    SAM McNABB: The most important and most impacting lesson I was trying to teach to my boys, was don't succumb to peer pressure. Be your own man and learn how to be a leader as opposed to a follower.

    VO 3: McNabb’s parents, Sam and Wilma McNabb helped prepare their son for the harsh glare of pro footballwhether or not they knew it at the time---Lesson number one came when Sam, an electrical engineer and Wilma, a nurse moved Donovanand older brother Sean---out of Chicago and into the almost entirely-white suburb of Dalton, Illinois---where the future NFL star was first forced to deal with people who didn’t like him for no good reason at all.

    JAMES BROWN: How rude was the welcome?

    SAM McNABB: The night after we closed on the house, they broke into the house and they vandalized it. They actually urinated on the carpeting, knocked holes on the walls inside, and they actually spray painted the outside.

    DONOVAN McNABB: It went to me riding my bike and getting knocked off my bike by one of the, the neighbors, getting called the N-word, and you’re hearing people talking about you know, Why did you guys move over here?"

    WILMA McNABB: I guess after we kind of shook ourselves and got ourselves together, we thought, We're going to be here because we supposed to be here. And this is where we going to be. Nobody's going to run us out of here."

    SAM McNABB: But then I had to tell my kids, We have to find a way to defeat this thing, because if it's not us, it's going to be someone else anyway.

    JAMES BROWN: Had to be kind of tough at times to bite your lip and walk away?

    DONOVAN McNABB: Of course. Of course.

    JAMES BROWN: Were there times that you wanted to turn around and swing?

    DONOVAN McNABB: Oh, I’ve been in, in a couple of fights myself.

    JAMES BROWN: What does it take to push Donovan McNabb to the limit, where he says, It’s time to swing?"

    DONOVAN McNABB: First and foremost, you put your hands on me, I got something for you. Now, you can talk all you want to until you try me. Then we got a problem.

    VO 4: The McNabb’s family attitude was simple: don’t worry about what’s popular--do what’s right, and when Donovan first stepped on the football field, what felt right to him, was learning to play quarterback, a position that was still mainly played by whites, As he grew up-- McNabb resisted the calls to change positions--and became a budding star. He hit the national stage at Syracuse University--where he was a Heisman Trophy candidate, and continued to chip away at the stereotype notion that blacks somehow don’t have the brains to handle the position, .but McNabb has learned that old notions die hard, and says this one still lives on today, .

    DONOVAN McNABB: There are not that many African-American quarterbacks. So we have to do a little bit extra. And when we get...

    JAMES BROWN: Wait a minute, why did you have to do a little extra?

    DONOVAN McNABB: Because the percentage of us this playing position, which people didn't want us to play this position, is low.

    JAMES BROWN: So therefore

    DONOVAN McNABB: We do a little extra.

    JAMES BROWN: Based on perception, or is it real?

    DONOVAN McNABB: It's real.

    JAMES BROWN: What's real?

    DONOVAN McNABB: I pass for 300 yards, our team wins by seven, "Oh, he could have made this throw here. We would have scored more points if he would have done this."

    JAMES BROWN: But doesn't every quarterback go through that?

    DONOVAN McNABB: Not everybody.

    JAMES BROWN: You don't think that Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, the white quarterbacks, isn't the press as tough on them in those situations as, as the average black quarterback?

    DONOVAN McNABB: Let me start by saying, I love those guys. But they don't get criticized as much as we do. They don't.

    VO 5: When McNabb first entered the NFL in 1999---the Eagles were one of the worst teams in the league---and on many Sundays McNabb could be found running for his life---often making more big plays with his legs than with his arm, .But over time he developed into one of the league’s most polished passersturning the sorry Eagles into perennial contenders, but with the success came yet another complaint---McNabb was now overrated it seemed, getting too much credit for the team’s success. In 2003, Rush Limbaugh even offered a theory as to why:

    Rush Limbaugh sound on tape : I don’t think he’s been that good from the get go. I think what we have here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.

    JAMES BROWN: You had to ask yourself, all these many years after moving into a suburb of Chicago and dealing with what you dealt with there, you had to be thinking, When does this stop?"

    DONOVAN McNABB: Well, I mean, I think the first question was, Wow. Why me? But, you know what? I wasn't trying to dig deeper to find answers.

    Sound on tape PRESS CONFERENCE (McNabb): You guys make the decision if you feel if it was racist or what should happen to him. I’m a football player and I will continue to play football.

    JAMES BROWN: Many people wanted to see Donovan fire back. Show some passion, if you will.

    TROY VINCENT: He did exactly what he should've done. He was poised, he was patient in his thoughts. Everything was very well thought of.

    VO 6: 15 year NFL veteran Troy Vincent was a teammate of McNabb’s in Philadelphia when Limbaugh’s comments were made, .

    JAMES BROWN: Why was that the right reaction, Troy?

    TROY VINCENT: Because those are the signs of a great leader. Everything's not always going to be the way we want it to be. I mean, reality's reality. There's highs and lows in professional sports, in life. And he handled it the way you would want your leader to handle it. With patience, again, with poise. Saying the right things. Team always coming first, organization always coming first. That's what we ask for out of our leaders.

    VO 7: The season after Limbaugh’s comments, McNabb gave his critics almost nothing to work with, he threw 31 regular season touchdown passes and teamed with newly acquired wide receiver Terrell Owens, to lead the Eagles to only their second ever Super Bowl appearance, But once again, on the heels of great success came a bizarre string of criticism. It began when the Eagles narrowly lost the Super Bowl and Terrell Owens blamed McNabb, saying the quarterback wore down at the end of the game --and then came the shot that no one saw coming, The president of the local chapter of the NAACP publicly ripped McNabb ---as a traitor to his race, writing that McNabb’s evolution into a traditional pocket passer was a breach of faith that belittles the real struggles of black athletes.

    DONOVAN McNABB: It bothered me, because here we are, you know, trying to work together in some, in so many ways. And then, when you're going out and, and showing that, you know, we can run the ball, but we also are passers. We're also leaders. And we win. We're winning quarterbacks. You would think that you would have the support at least from the African-American community, who understand, at least, 85 or 90 percent of what you're going through.

    VO 8: When McNabb started his 9th season in the NFL , he was right back in the crosshairs, his most recent naysayers have zeroed in on McNabb’s surgically repaired knee and wonder if it’s strong enough to carry the Eagles back the Super Bowl, but McNabb knows that even if he does lead his team to its first ever title---it won’t be enough to finally silence all the critics, one struggle he’ll probably never overcome.

    DONOVAN McNABB: You can't focus on the way somebody may look at you or don't like the way you play. They don't like that person you are. Whatever it may be. You just go out and you just play the game and enjoy it.
  2. steveu

    steveu Well-Known Member

    Personally, nothing would please me more than to see Jim Litke fall flat on his face.

    And no, I'm not one of his enemies. :)
  3. Dangerous_K

    Dangerous_K Active Member

    Well, as someone who feels indifferently toward Litke I can say that's a very erroneous sentence. McNabb doesn't say anything that can make Litke's lead anything more than personal inference.
  4. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    He's a columnist. He's getting paid to make inferences. And it's the reader's job to buy into it or not buy into it.
  5. Dangerous_K

    Dangerous_K Active Member

    True, but there's a difference between making an inference and paraphrasing a quote that doesn't exist.

    And he didn't say that. To me there's a difference between making an inference for the sake of the column's argument and using paraphrase to make up a quote.
  6. CarlSpackler

    CarlSpackler Member

    That's too bad. He's one of the nicest guys I've met in this chode-filled business.
  7. Bruce Leroy

    Bruce Leroy Active Member

    Yes. He screwed up.
  8. Dan Rydell

    Dan Rydell Guest

    And why is that?
  9. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    He had a bad take. So?

    Skip Bayless can paper the walls of his house ten times over with bad takes and he's still pulling a paycheck somewhere.

    Even with this, Jim Litke still has a pretty high batting average.
  10. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    It's not a bad take. It's basically a fucked-up fact. He said McNabb said something he didn't say. Even if he's paraphrasing, you can't misparaphrase and then chalk it up to, "Oh well, he's a columnist. He can say what he wants."

    Litke might as well have wrote "McNabb said he plans to murder the next white man he sees in his sleep." It would have been as accurate as what Litke actually wrote.

    I like Litke. He does have a high batting average. I'm not saying he should be fired or anything like that. But he did screw up here, and you can't defend it with, "oh, it was just a bad take."
  11. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    I still think Litke and Stefan Fatsis of the Wall Street Journal have the best sportswriting jobs in the known universe.
  12. Dangerous_K

    Dangerous_K Active Member

    I'm not comparing Jim Litke to Skip Bayless. Litke's writing is good and I can read it, for Bayless I can say neither. What he's batting is irrelevant, because the question is in this one particular instance did he screw up. I think the answer's yes, because like Some Guy said, it's a factual error. It's misleading use of paraphrasing, which is supposed to be a no-no. Like Some Guy I don't think he should be fired or even reprimanded. That's ridiculous. But did he screw up? Absolutely. And every sportswriter screws up, so it's not like I'm coming after him with the pitch fork and torch.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page