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Costas Learns Presidential Lesson


NBC’s Bob Costas this week discovered why President Obama and Mitt Romney avoided discussing gun control as much as possible during the election campaign.

Talking about guns is a lose-lose proposition.

As soon as Costas finished his brief Sunday commentary about the murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher at halftime of the Dallas Cowboy-Philadelphia Eagle game, I got a tweet from a follower saying that Costas is about to experience the wrath of the NRA and other opponents of gun control.

Bob Costas: Supports 2nd Amendment

It was the best prediction of the NFL season.

Costas has been on what Romney might label an Apology Tour ever since trying to explain what he really meant when he quoted a Kansas City-based sports columnist who suggested that Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkin, would be alive today if the linebacker didn’t have a gun.

The commentary led to some legitimate criticism and some absurd calls to fire Costas for doing his job.

The chief criticisms of Costas are a) he used the wrong forum at the wrong time to address the topic b) his commentary relied too much on the opinion of controversial sports columnist Jason Whitlock c) he ignored the idea that Belcher could have killed his girlfriend in other ways if he didn’t have a gun and d) the topic of gun control should be off-limits to a sportscaster.

Even some of Costas’ attempts to clarify his remarks on his tour have been misconstrued. I’ve read headlines that say he admits he made a mistake to do the commentary.

That’s not exactly how I read his clarification. If I read his confusing remarks carefully, he said he made a mistake in his wording and in thinking he could address the topic in such a brief time. He repeatedly has added that he supports the Second Amendment and noted he never used the term gun control in his commentary.

“My mistake is I left it open for too much miscommunication,” Costas told Dan Patrick on his radio show. He added he didn’t have enough time to discuss “the football culture, the gun culture, domestic violence.”

His clarification also noted that he wasn’t advocating gun control, but merely stating that having a gun makes it easier to kill someone. The last remark was designed to address the critics who noted that big strong athletes can kill people without needing any weapon.

The one criticism of Costas that I disagree strongly with is the idea he spoke at the wrong time. Sunday night at halftime was the right time to address the topic because that’s when people were paying attention and NBC gets its largest audience.

Costas just needed more time to do a better job and address all the things that he has since addressed on his apology tour on NBC’s cable channel and in a Wednesday night appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program.

O’Reilly was relatively gentle on Costas, who defended himself well.  He continues to say he isn’t backing off his comments and adding his “mistake” was not having enough time to say what he needed to say. Even after watching Costas’ Sunday commentary a few times, I wasn’t sure exactly what he was saying.

Clearly, Costas he has learned a lesson that he should have learned by watching the presidential campaign.

The Costas commentary isn’t the only media controversy this week. New York Post freelance photographer R. Umar Abbasi was on the hot seat Wednesday morning on NBC’s “Today” show for taking photos of a man about to be killed by a subway train rather than try and save him.

A day or so before, “Today” weatherman Al Roker couldn’t fathom why the photographer didn’t try to help rather than take the photo. The photographer was told that a poll revealed that 80 percent of people felt he should have done more to save the guy.

Abbasi calmly stated to Matt Lauer that he was too far away to save the man and that there were others nearby who might have been able to save him even though the tracks are four feet or so deep. He added he tried to warn the train conductor that a man was on the track but was unsuccessful.

I feel for the guy. We all want to believe that we would be heroes under those circumstances. However, I imagine it wouldn’t be easy to instantly react like one.

The Post’s front page use of the photo showing the victim trying to get up to avoid the train also has led to controversy. Many journalists felt it was an unnecessary depiction of horror and shouldn’t have been used. It’s a tough call. But we’re talking about the New York Post. Why would anyone be surprised that the picture was used?

On a lighter note, there is the controversy surrounding an Australian radio show’s prank phone call to the hospital that Prince William’s pregnant wife Kate was in. The call featured a personality pretending to be the Queen and asking when she could visit. Apparently, the prankster – who might have done the worse Queen Elizabeth impersonation in history — might have broken the law.

I hope nobody suggests she be fired. In fact, she should get some kind of medal for putting all the inevitable months of coverage of Kate’s pregnancy in laughable perspective. We are about to learn that Kate is the only pregnant woman in the world — or at least the most important one in the world.

Finally, there is the controversy surrounding Los Angeles Laker star Kobe Bryant. After he scored his 30,000 point Wednesday in a game against New Orleans, a play-by-play man called Bryant the greatest Laker ever.

Sports fans always feel that the players they are watching were greater than the players who played in generations before them. Bryant is a great, great player. But I saw Elgin Baylor and Jerry West play in their heyday and would still call either one of them the greatest Laker ever.


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3 responses to "Costas Learns Presidential Lesson"

  1. Rob says:

    Good column, as always, but let me add my two cents for what’s it worth while I wondering what happened to Suzie Gach.

    I agree with you that Costas didn’t speak at the wrong time, due to the fact that an NFL player killed his girlfriend then himself. What a had an issue with is if he is doing his halftime opinion piece it should be his own words and not quoting Jason Whitlock word for word. Speak from your own conviction but please spare me the statement that if he didn’t have a gun those two would still be alive today. Granted it’s easier to pull a trigger than use a knife or hands but the this guy obviously had a lot of rage and he would have found a way to kill her one way or another. Selfish and tragic.

    I never been a fan of Costas since he always acts like his opinions are always right at the expense of showing other peoples flaws. It’s a condescending way to have a thought or opinion.

    The Today show has really become a joke. It’s all about gossip and entertainment and anything deemed newsworthy always centers around NYC, coastal areas and royal babies.

    In today’s sports world everything that is the most current is always the “greatest thing” ever. Easily the most over-hyped terminology used by sports writers, broadcasters and commentators.

  2. GMan says:

    Do you mean Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the greatest QB to have ever played for the Bills????

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