Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, is one of the heroes of the hard right. Joined by reporter Tim Graham on Bozell’s media watchdog website ( it only bites liberal media, but that’s still a mouthful) Newsbusters, he provides a depressing example of how conservatives sabotage their credibility and end up crippling their ability to persuade even when they are right, which is frequently.
In a column called “America’s Wrong To Love Football?,” Bozell and Graham complain about an NPR segment that makes the exact same point Ethics Alarms has made many times.[ You want one? Here’s one.] After citing just some of the waves of evidence that professional football (and probably college football too) is maiming and, in slow motion, killing a large percentage of its players, they write one dishonest, irrelevant, fallacious and rationalized argument after another:
“Count on flower children at NPR to go over the edge with this issue..”
Conservatives used to use the ad hominem tactic of denigrating all liberals as hippies–drugged out, long hair, unwashed, funny clothes, pacifists, Communist sympathizers–in the Nixon era. It was a cheap shot even then—Counter their positions, don’t make fun of their haircuts!—but 50 years later it’s pathetic, and screams “I’m estranged from reality!” How many people under the age of 60 even know what “flower children” were?
Bozell and Graham continue..
“The problem isn’t the size and strength, and therefore power of professional football players. No, it’s — ready? — the evil game of football itself…”
This is devoid of logic. If the huge athletes and the way the game of football is played maim human beings, then the sport—game, sport, sport, game– of professional football maims human beings. No, Brent, it’s true, the rule book never hurt anyone. Nevertheless, the sport of pro football, as it is played, results in a large number of young men losing their minds before they are sixty. That doesn’t make the game of football “evil,” it makes the sport unacceptably dangerous. No, that doesn’t make the game “evil”—Deford never says it was “evil.” It makes people–like you, in fact—who pretend the game isn’t unreasonably dangerous and misrepresent the arguments that it is—complicit. It corrupts them. It corrupts society to have the culture spend so much money, passion and time on a sport once we know it kills people and ruins lives.
“Commentator Frank Deford used to love football, but now he just drops bombs on it. On Wednesday’s Morning Edition on National Public Radio, Deford’s weekly commentary was titled “What Is Football Doing to Us as a People?” He asked on air “So what is football doing to us as a people? How do we explain an America that, alone in the world, so loves this savage sport?…”
It is a legitimate and revealing question. Bozell and Graham just don’t like the answer. Yes, Deford loved football, until he learned that it was turning healthy young men into sad, tortured, middle-aged dementia victims while the NFL’s leadership tried to cover up that fact. Like any decent, ethical person, he changed his mind according to new information, something conservatives like Brent Bozell often regard as heresy. Continue reading