Yesterday Cam Newton, who never seems to be in the good graces of the often hypocritical and ever-criticizing media, fanned the flames of their strained relationship by abruptly walking out of a press conference.
I must admit, I cheered Cam’s departure from that podium like a Blue Devil fan watching Austin Rivers’ buzzer beater in 2012 or a Tar Heel fan watching Luke Maye take down Kentucky last March.
Cam’s treatment by the media has been unrelenting since day one:
- Treating him like the Panthers’ consolation prize after Andrew Luck elected to stay in college.
- Criticizing him for putting a towel over his head and not losing more graciously as a rookie.
- Finding displeasure in his reveling in on-field achievements by criticizing his first down gesture and superman pose.
The media seems to always find something to denounce the Panthers’ quarterback about. The Observer’s mishandling of the Jourdan Rodrigue drama is just another branch on Newton’s media relations tree rooted in distrust and hypocrisy.
Let me start by saying Cam’s comment to Jourdan Rodrigue was stupid and sexist. There should be an assumption that a female beat reporter would have advance knowledge of the sport she’s covering, up to and including routes, but I don’t think he was trying to be malicious or offend.
The problems started with how the Observer and its reporters handled the situation afterward. Media members left that presser thinking the comment was a “non-story.” It was only after many took issue with the remark, once it went viral on social media, that Rodrigue played perfectly into the role of victim and fellow Observer writers strapped on their superman capes in order to be champions against sexism.
Rodrigue played up the incident by saying she spoke with Newton about the comment “and it was worse.” How do we know it was worse? Because she said it was? Newton has said nothing about that interaction, but I have spoken with someone who witnessed the conversation and said that they walked away from each other smiling.
Rodrigue then, seeing all the social media warriors and instant rise in following, ignited the fire by tweeting “I don’t think it’s ‘funny’ to be a female and talk about routes. I think it’s my job.” Meryl Streep couldn’t play this damsel in distress role better. Insert the Richard Gere-like male Observer writers ready to save Rodrigue and defend her against Big Bad Cam’s sexist remarks.
Scott Fowler wrote a piece criticizing Newton and Joe Person tweeted that Cam’s reply to Rodrigue was “uncalled for.” Everyone was eating off this story – especially at the Observer. No one could predict, while outrage swirled over Cam’s sexism, the Sixth Sense type plot twist.
The same medium used to spark criticisms and accusations of sexism against Newton unearthed Jourdan Rodrigue’s own “ism.”
As a black woman who has experienced her own share of racism, joking about it is never funny and I honestly have to question the morality of someone who was raised by man who thinks it is.
Newton and Rodrigue both apologized for their remarks, but other than posting a story reporting the existence of Jourdan’s tweets ,which included a comment from Observer Editor Sherry Chisenhall calling them “regrettable”, none of the supermen who were champions against sexism, denounced racism. They were silent. Deadly silent. Offensively silent. No one said racism or making light of racism was “uncalled for.” No one said joking about racism “wasn’t one bit funny.” They acted like it didn’t happen.
Jourdan subsequently pulled an abrupt departure of her own, going missing from pressers, games and social media for two weeks before returning to the Panthers locker room the week of October 16th. During that time there was nothing mentioned about a suspension or hiatus. Not even an acknowledgment of her departure.
There is no coincidence that the week she returned, Cam went missing. For the first time in his NFL career, Carolina’s QB1 declined to speak with the media. THIS WAS NEWS and anyone with cursory journalism knowledge would know it. Did the Observer reporters mention the correlation? No.
From the fake outrage over sexism and complete disregard of racism, to the clearly biased and incomplete reporting of the story, the Observer’s handling of this situation has been bad journalism at best, completely severing what was already a strained relationship between them and many in the Panthers locker room.
So I applaud Cam as he unapologetically gives the media the same nasty treatment they’ve given him.
Somewhere along the way the media got things twisted. Somewhere along the way a sense of entitlement seeped in. Somewhere along the way media started believing the athletes they interview owed them something. Somewhere along the way the media started believing athletes should feel privileged that they were interviewing them. Somewhere along the way media starting caring more about being the story than telling them.