Sportswriter who libeled Thomas Sowell offers lame excuse


Jan. 7, 2013

By Chris Reed

Last week, a prominent Los Angeles-based sportswriter for Fox Sports libeled California’s leading African-American libertarian/conservative thinker, Thomas Sowell of Stanford’s Hoover Institution. This wasn’t just another stupid media flap to me. When I read Sowell’s work in high school, it changed how I thought about the world. Here’s what I wrote about the bizarre cheap shot on this blog:

tom_4bA high-profile Los Angeles-based African-American sportswriter took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon to compare Thomas Sowell of Stanford’s Hoover Institution to the house slave character in Quentin Tarantino’s new film “Django Unchanged.” Sowell, 82, is a leading African-American libertarian-conservative intellectual who won the National Humanities Medal for his wide-ranging work, which blends economics, history, sociology and other scholarly fields in sophisticated fashion.

Jason Whitlock, the Fox Sports writer who made national headlines last month when NBC’s Bob Costas quoted his anti-gun views on Sunday Night Football, mocked the idea that Sowell was brilliant, saying he was admired because he told people what they wanted to hear, like Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Whitlock has nearly 155,000 followers on Twitter.

whitlock.hboThe comparison struck those familiar with Sowell’s long academic career as odd. His views about welfare causing dependency and about the value of free markets were forged 50 years ago while getting a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. They weren’t conjured up in recent years in a bid to become a media star. Sowell is low-profile beyond his syndicated column.

The comparison is also odd given Whitlock’s own views. He was one of many who rebuked ESPN’s Rob Parker for questioning whether Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was authentically black. The link to Whitlock’s post on the Fox Sports site was headlined “ESPN and Parker not elevating conversation about race.”

Beyond that, Whitlock shares Sowell’s passionate disdain for the drug war. Whitlock wrote in the Huffington Post that “America’s war on drugs is a scam to lock up poor people, a prop to advance political careers and an easy way for corrupt police and politicians to funnel millions of untraceable dollars into their own pockets.” Sowell has been ripping the war on drugs since Whitlock, 45, was a child.

Whitlock did not respond to my Twitter remarks to him.


Now, finally, Whitlock has responded (see picture of exchange at top of this item), and it is pretty pathetic: He suggests that it is acceptable to libel people on Twitter if you don’t do it in a print column.

Wow. He really should be embarrassed.

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