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As a person who dabbled with sportscasting in college, I operated under the impression that my job was sports not politics.  Sports were sports and you leave your politics off the air  It's a very simple standard.  If I want to watch football for three hours, give me football.  Unfortunately, ESPN has continuously violated this concept.  If ESPN is going to play phony tapes for politicians, then they need to be pressured off the air.  

For several years, ESPN has been manufacturing fake cheers and fake boos for politicians.  It's a very simple rule. If you are a Democrat not named Joe Lieberman, ESPN will play a tape of boos previously recorded and insert them into the audio after the Democrat is announced.  If you are a Republican and ESPN is expecting boos, ESPN will play a pre-recorded tape of cheers unrelated to the Republican.

I've witnessed for years former ESPN commentator like Chris Myers call home runs to right field "a Rush Limbaugh shot, right and fair." I've seen in studio college football analysts gush over Ann Coulter.  I've listened to ESPN constantly hype individuals who are well known figures in the Religious Right.  I've heard a basketball commentator call Jerry Falwell a good man during a basketball game.  

I have no problem with these political views being uttered during a political broadcast.  I do have a problem with hearing it during a sports show from the host.  (They did hire Rush Limbaugh for goodness sakes!)

When John Kerry was shown on screen at a Red Sox game in 2004, ESPN played a tape of boos.  It was NOT the crowd reaction.  I knew the tape was fake by that quick click that transitions from live to pre-recorded.  ESPN has done this stunt of playing fake cheers and fake boos time and time again. Last night, during Monday Night Football, ESPN did it again.  I heard that same click.

It started with right winger Mike Tirico announcing George Bush Sr. to the crowd.  Instantaneously  you could hear an echo of cheers and not a single boo from the audio.  But if you listen carefully to the audio, that audio was not live.  ESPN shut off the sound of the Superdome crowd for a few seconds and played this audio of fake cheers.  About ten seconds later ESPN had to shut their fake tape off and go to the NFL official on the field for the coin toss.  That's when you could hear the REAL crowd noise.  The audio on the field was a couple of hundred feet away so ESPN was probably thinking that crowd noise could not be picked up.  ESPN was wrong.
As George Bush Sr. was flipping the coin, you could hear a chorus of boos so loud that ESPN had its proverbial hand caught in the cookie jar.  And remember, this was ten seconds after the announcements so imagine what the initial boos sounded like.  New Orleans residents know better than anyone else how Bush 43 responded to Katrina and they know better than anyone else about Barbara Bush's comments about poor people and how sleeping in the Astrodome was "working out quite well for them."

ESPN needs to be called on the carpet for these shenanigans.

Originally posted to davefromqueens on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 05:55 AM PDT.

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