Rod Watson: As Fox stokes racial animosity, NFL takes the money | Local News

While demanding tougher federal gun laws, mourners and protesters also blamed the other gun at play when a gunman slaughtered 10 black shoppers at a Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue last month. : racial hatred.

Certainly, the shooting galvanized Western New Yorkers of all colors around a neighborhood targeted specifically because of its high concentration of black people. And it didn’t escape notice that the outpouring of support included the presence of the Buffalo Bills – from superstar players to senior National Football League franchise executives – as well as monetary donations from the team and of the league.

But racism is a virus as old as the nation, and one that’s become even more virulent with the rise of mainstream media — one of which is owned by the same company that airs some NFL games.

A sports fan was quick to point out the connection — and the influence the NFL could wield — after I wondered aloud that a third of American polls show belief in the so-called “white replacement theory” that’s a staple of Fox News and how to engage the two-thirds of Americans who don’t.

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Fox Corp. by Rupert Murdoch still owns Fox News and Fox Sports after his $71 billion deal with Disney in 2019. And while the news network airs thinly disguised racist vitriol, the sports channel has a deal with the NFL to air National Football Conference games — and four Super Bowls, if the Bills ever go that far — through 2033.

It’s the same NFL in which 58% of players are black and players of color make up 70% of the league, according to 2021 data compiled by the University’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. of Central Florida.

The fan, a business owner who did not want to be identified, pointed to the enormous pressure the NFL and its players could put on Murdoch by taking a stand. Even if the TV deal lasts another decade, just talking now about not renewing it — or paying whatever it would cost to get out of it — could have an impact.

Murdoch’s critic, who describes himself as a sports fanatic who learned about the Buffalo Massacre from watching ESPN, wasn’t the only one to make the connection. Buffalo Criterion sports columnist Patrick Freeman also asked if it’s “time to demand that the NFL remove its games from this network entity that contributes to the environment that puts people of color at risk?”

At the very least, he said in a follow-up interview, the league could use this threat as leverage to get Fox to demand the same type of journalistic vetting that other major news organizations require.

“They should be held at the same level as anyone else,” he said.

And how does the NFL feel about its role in dealings with a media conglomerate responsible for inflaming racial animosity and watering the seeds of white supremacy?

A league spokesperson, responding to specific questions via email, simply said “there has been no discussion of ending our partnership with Fox or any of our other broadcast partners. “.

For their part, the Bills – who share the league’s television revenue – had even less to say, declining to answer at all.

Last year, the Los Angeles Times business columnist reported that major advertisers like Disney, T-Mobile, Lexus and TD Ameritrade had already leaked Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” It’s the staple of Fox which a New York Times analysis recently concluded “may be the most racist show in cable news history” with its constant diet of anti-immigrant and anti-immigrant rhetoric. -blacks designed to stoke the fear and resentment of whites while shelling out odds.

While high-profile companies chose not to smear themselves by associating themselves with one of the highest-rated shows in cable news, the company itself had become the biggest advertiser of Carlson’s hate festival, l using it to promote other Fox offerings, according to an analysis last year by tvrev.com. The second biggest advertiser? The founder of My Pillow, Donald Trump propeller and election denier.

always according to adweek.comFox had the 10 most-watched news shows on cable during the first quarter of this year, with “Tucker Carlson Tonight” ranking second behind “The Five.”

This means that to really get Murdoch’s attention, it will be necessary to target more than Carlson’s show.

Given its influence, the NFL could make a major statement in this regard. And given the racist rampage on Jefferson Avenue, one would hope the Bills would pressure the league to do just that.

Fox’s estimated annual payment of more than $2 billion for broadcast rights is based on recouping some of that money through ads that capitalize on the popularity and prestige of professional football. The league can’t avoid the problem by drawing an artificial distinction between Fox News and Fox Sports when the two feed into the same Murdoch empire.

In another context, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that money is speech. As long as the NFL quietly accepts money from Fox while allowing hosts like Carlson to demonize whole groups of people and create an atmosphere of hate, his silence says it all.