How Dare “Politics Intrude” on a Sporting Event, Suggests New York Times

....unless it involves feminists protesting Augusta National Golf Club, of course.

New York Times sportswriter Jack Curry is covering the World Baseball Classic in San Juan, and the highlight of the day didn’t happen on the field between Cuba and the Dominican Republic, he explains in Tuesday’s “Politics Intrude, Again, and Cubans Falter, Again.”

“As the Cuban baseball team prepared to bat in the fourth inning Monday, 10 fans in Section 2, Row P, stood in unison behind the plate and removed their shirts. Underneath, all 10 wore white T-shirts, and each one bore a red letter. The T-shirts spelled out A-B-A-J-O F-I-D-E-L, which translated means ‘Down With Fidel.’

“The fans silently delivered their message against Cuban President Fidel Castro for about five minutes and diverted some attention from a World Baseball Classic game that the Dominican Republic won, 7-3. Other fans disapproved of the political statement, presumably because it interfered with baseball, and chanted, ‘Fuera, fuera.’ That meant they wanted the 10 spectators to get out.”

Both the headline and Curry’s tone make it seem as if the peaceful protest against the Cuban dictator is somehow inappropriate.

On Saturday, Curry talked about the protest in terms of “crowd control,” not free speech or political protest:

“It was at least the third meeting of the day that baseball officials had about crowd control at Cuba's games. The issue surfaced when two fans held up a sign that was critical of President Fidel Castro during Cuba's game with the Netherlands on Thursday. Kevin Hallinan, baseball's senior vice president for security, and Enrique Cruz, the promoter here, said the fan who took the sign into Hiram Bithorn Stadium should have been stopped. They said it violated the tournament's code of conduct against displaying signs considered offensive or political in nature.”

On Sunday, Curry wrote warned of a possible “recurrence”: “After the anti-Castro sign incident on Thursday, security officials were diligent about preventing a recurrence on Friday. Because there will be almost 20,000 fans and a rowdier atmosphere at the coming games, banning signs will remain a challenge.”

The paper felt differently after mixing political protests and sports three years ago, when crusading editor Howell Raines was trying to get the Augusta National Golf Club (home of The Masters golf tournament) to admit women as members.

On April 7, 2003, business reporter Richard Sandomir suggested CBS would be remiss in not covering Martha Burk’s feminist protest against the golf club during the tournament.

 “Only if a spontaneous protest affects play will CBS Sports take note of it, network executives said last week on the condition of anonymity. Otherwise, even on-course demonstrations might be ignored by CBS, much as networks refuse to show drunken fans racing across a football or baseball field….It will be up to CBS News, with its resources stretched to cover the war in Iraq, to cover the protests and any other possible developments. It is unlikely that CBS News will break into the sportscast with live protest-related reports, the network executives said. The Saturday protest is to end at 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, a half-hour before CBS starts that day's Masters broadcast, but in time for the networks' evening newscasts.”

For more examples of New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.

Clay Waters's picture