President Donald Trump campaigned on a platform to Make America Great Again, but he evidently was unable to score many points in that regard with U.S. sportswriters.
According to a survey conducted by The Big Lead, in which the responses were kept anonymous, journalists who cover sports for a living voted overwhelmingly in Election 2016 for Hillary Clinton, the standard-bearer for the Democrats, assuming the validity of the findings.
Perhaps this explains why Trump’s victory came as a shock to the poll-driven, New York- and Washington-centric media industry, the pundits in that orbit, and the political establishment of both parties.
Data was derived from the responses of only 51 sportswriters, however, and that “We presumed liberals, less fearful of being outed, would be more likely to fill out the survey,” the sports-oriented website owned by the USA Today parent company, Gannett, explained, which is telling about the sports media in and of itself.
The results indicated that in the November election, 80 percent of the sports media voted for Clinton and just about 4 percent for Trump, a former Democrat and independent who ran for president on the Republican ticket. A longtime sports fan, Trump owned the New Jersey Generals in the XFL, an NFL competitor which folded after its 1985 season.
The Trump preference was even less the share going for third-party candidates or those who didn’t get around to voting at all. About 75 percent responding to the same questionnaire voted for Obama in 2012.
Senator Bernie Sanders was the second choice of most respondents.
“Survey results showed that 58 percent consider themselves Democrats and 36 percent said they were politically independent. The number that said they were Republican was but a sliver of 6 percent,” Breitbart noted. Among Americans generally, the two major parties are about even split in registration, while increasing numbers of voters are signing up as independent/unaffiliated.
Approximately three-fourths of the respondents described the sports media as an institution as either liberal or very liberal, and 90 percent described sports media Twitter as liberal.
In addition to the sportswriters, a poll of about 300 website readers indicated strong support for Clinton.
In an essay last month for The Ringer, Bill Simmons’ new sports and pop culture website, Editor-at-Large Bryan Curtis conceded that contemporary sportswriting has morphed into a politically liberal profession “practiced by liberals who enforce an unapologetically liberal code.”
“In the age of liberal sportswriting, the writers are now far more liberal than the readers. In the new world of liberal sportswriting, athletes who dabble in political activism are covered admiringly,” Curtis, who describes himself as a liberal sportswriter and likes the direction the industry is going, suggested.
Reacting to the Curtis story, TheWeek senior correspondent Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote that “The liberalism on offer on sports pages is rather infatuated with the norms and aspirations of the class of people from which journalists are drawn. And this narrowness usually puts them in an antagonistic position not just with fans, but with the entire sports culture beyond journalism.”
Some argue that political ideology is why many baseball writers are omitting ex-Red Sox star Curt Schilling from their Hall of Fame ballot.
Insofar as activism is concerned, several players on the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots who are less than enamored with President Trump have vowed to boycott the traditional White House visit, while several NBA players have announced they may avoid meeting with Trump should their team win the world championship. The potential boycott has prompted much favorable media coverage. The sports media was also almost uniformly praiseworthy of Colin Kaepernick’s take-a-knee national anthem protest during the NFL season.
As to the politics of sports journalism, Clay Travis of Fox Sports Radio has argued that ESPN is bleeding subscribers and facing another round of layoffs in part because it has become the full-on social justice warrior network, thereby alienating a large portion of its viewership.
FS1 host Jason Whitlock, formerly of ESPN, has expressed similar sentiments about politically correct content on the the self-named Worldwide Leader in Sports. Last December, ESPN’s public editor acknowledged his network’s leftward movement.
Other survey findings by The Big Lead indicate that respondents are overwhelming pro-choice on abortion and strongly believe in man-made climate change. Only 6 percent indicated that they were gun owners, far less than the population as a whole.
Perhaps most unsettling, regardless of one’s political views, is that nearly 70 percent of the writers admitted to Twitter self-censorship of a political or social opinion “for fear of backlash.”
“The sports media clearly leans left,” The Big Lead concluded, but that could be partially a function of most them working in big cities and/or on the east or west coast, which have become liberal Democrat bastions, it added.
Donald Trump fans have bristled at the way the media in general has covered the new president. As recently chronicled by the Inquistir, a separate survey by the Media Research Center claimed that 88 percent of mainstream news media coverage of the Trump administration’s first month has been hostile.
[Featured Image by Paul Sancya/AP Images]