Could Crane Be The Next Donald Sterling?

added 5/1/2014 by Bob Hulsey

In their never-ending quest to ignore the failures of our first black president, Sunday's once-honorable "Meet The Press" political show on NBC covered the story you could not escape, the high-tech lynching of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. His crime was to make senseless and racially-insensitive comments to his mixed-race mistress in private phone conversations last September that she happened to be recording and leaked to gossip site TMZ as part of her revenge for being sued by Sterling's wife.

If you are looking for heroes in this sordid mess, you won't find any.

Sterling's outdated and bigoted views were already widely known but largely ignored yet, somehow, the tar-and-feather political correctness crowd, fresh off their dethroning of a Mozilla CEO for the offense of making a political contribution against gay marriage, demanded ouster and soon had another skin to tack to their bloody wall.

"Meet The Press" had among their guests former Today Show host Bryant Gumbel. Once a pioneer in sports broadcasting, Gumbel's single act nowadays is to paint the word "racist" on as many people as possible. That's why NBC News had him on - because having Al Sharpton on to cry "racism" wasn't enough overkill.

Since piling on to Sterling was too ridiculously easy, Gumbel (who, let's not forget, dumped his black wife for a white mistress) decided to tar all sports owners and singled out Astros owner Jim Crane as having "the same kind of tortured history" on race relations.

The Astros, of course, could not let that whisk by uncommented although, given the miniscule ratings of "Meet The Press", perhaps they should have. Weaker audiences than "Meet The Press" can only be found on Astros telecasts.

The Astros' crack PR team made the typical types of rebuttals. Crane has black friends. His team has a black manager. He has black players. He gives to the inner cities....

Uh, but so did Donald Sterling. How many Lifetime Achievement Awards from the NAACP does Crane have? Sterling was about to receive his second when all this blew up in his face. None of that saved him.

That's the problem with lynch mobs. They have incredibly short memories. It makes no difference how many times you have bent over to kiss the ring of political correctness and it makes no difference how sincere you are in your desires for equality. One ill-timed slip and your pelt is on their wall.

Why does Crane play golf with and donate money to our first black president? Is it because he thinks it will insulate him from old EEOC lawsuits? I hope not or he's a bigger fool than Drayton McLane must have pegged him for.

Major League Baseball also came to Crane's defense, which is comical because they were the ones who stirred all this up during the sale process in 2011. Crane had a deal to buy a National League baseball team at a certain price. Bud Selig insisted it would be an American League team and Crane, knowing the blowback this would cause, hemmed and hawed about agreeing to it.

Voila! Out comes Maury Brown and the Chronicle's Richard Justice with stories about what a racist and sexist Jim Crane is and how MLB needs to do a thorough vetting before approving the sale. These smears went on for months.

Crane was not a newcomer to all of this. He tried to buy the Cubs and the Rangers before buying the Astros and had a handshake deal to buy the team from McLane in 2008 that he later backed out of. He did not need to be vetted. The race card was played during the sale process by MLB to pressure Crane to agree to changes he was disinclined to make.

Most telling to me was an interview Crane gave to the Chronicle in September, 2011, during the sale fiasco in which he denied being abusive to his children. What caught my attention was that nobody in the media was yet making this claim. But, to say that, Crane clearly thought it was coming. Why would he think that?

Because MLB was feeding this to Maury Brown and Richard Justice (whose reward was a subsequent job with Major League Baseball) who must have had their hit pieces ready to go if Crane had not capitulated to Bud Selig's demands.

Kiss the ring and all those stories just vanish. Jim Crane, racist sexist child abuser overnight becomes Jim Crane, respected businessman, lover of the Designated Hitter, the inner cities and golf buddy of our failed president.

See how this works? Bryant Gumbel didn't get the revised memo.

Don't think for a moment, though, that any of this will save Crane's hide the next time his mistress records him making a seemingly racist, sexist or anti-gay remark she leaks to a website. Don't think for a moment that any of us are safe.

It's exactly how fascism works: to make us all afraid to say things, even in private, that might ignite a firestorm of protest lest our pelts be nailed to their walls. Bryant Gumbel was merely reminding Jim Crane of that on national television. Message sent.