Laura Ingraham’s complaints over LeBron James’ political commentary – focusing on the grammar of his statements rather than their substance – reflects a general elitism in the pundit class, Andrew Spannaus observes.
By Andrew Spannaus
Is LeBron James ignorant? Laura Ingraham seems to think so. In response to a video of the NBA superstar offering harsh criticism of President Donald Trump on Feb. 16, the Fox News host had this to say on her show:
“LeBron James is talking politics again, and this time it’s R-rated. Here’s his unintelligible, not to mention ungrammatical take on President Trump…”
Next came a clip with James saying: “The number one job in America, the appointed person, is someone who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a f*** about the people.” James then continued his criticism of Trump in a discussion that aired on The Uninterrupted (a media platform founded by James).
Ingraham clearly didn’t like James’ comments. First, she said: “Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately a lot of kids, and some adults, take these ignorant comments seriously.”
She then went on to say that getting paid millions to play basketball doesn’t mean you can talk politics, and closed with a zinger inviting James and fellow NBA star Kevin Durant, also present in the video, to stick to what they do best – basketball – rather than attempt to provide political commentary: “As someone once said: shut up and dribble.”
What’s striking about Ingraham’s reaction is that she went well beyond simply drawing a political contrast. She suggested that James’ poor grammar disqualifies him; he may be good at basketball, but given that he can barely speak in an intelligible manner – according to Ingraham – he shouldn’t be addressing a subject outside of his own area of competence.
Whether you like what LeBron says or not, there’s no doubt his sentences contain grammatical errors. Ingraham uses this to attempt to discredit James entirely. Ignore for a moment the fact that the President himself isn’t exactly a paragon of grammar, to focus on the bigger issue raised by the Fox News host: can we take someone seriously who doesn’t have a certain minimum level of academic skills as we understand them in our society today? Should LeBron James, or any other professional athlete or celebrity who isn’t “well-spoken” recognize his cultural inferiority and just shut his trap?
Education is essential to our society, and correct grammar contributes to effective communication. Yet automatically considering someone ignorant because his grammar is imperfect is more than a little bit arrogant; it’s essentially class prejudice.
Laura Ingraham is claiming that only “educated” people should talk politics. She insists that race has nothing to do with it, which is buttressed by the fact that she has used the same criticism towards others in the past. Yet this doesn’t hide the reality that her reaction is stunningly anti-democratic, especially coming from someone who has championed the “regular” people against the establishment.
Ingraham is a defender of populism, what she defines as returning power to the people. The clear contrast is to elitism, i.e. a society where experts and insiders make all the decisions. One of the most important takeaways from the 2016 election is that the judgments of “serious people” in the institutions, academia and the media, don’t hold much sway with the population if they are perceived as detached from people’s everyday problems.
How often have we heard that Donald Trump was elected due to uneducated sectors of the population, who are swayed more by prejudice than information? This self-serving narrative ignores the key failure of both Hillary Clinton and establishment Republicans, that of not recognizing the widespread opposition to the economic policies that have weakened the middle class and left power in the hands of the financial elites. In this case it took the vote of the “dumb” people to bring the problem to the fore, since the mainstream media and political institutions refused to effectively address it.
Ingraham’s denigration of LeBron James is even more ironic if you consider who he is. Apart from generally being recognized as the best basketball player in the world, what he has done beyond the court, in terms of the relationship between players and franchises, is unequaled.
James can arguably be considered “the most powerful man in the history of professional basketball.” He has completely changed the dynamic between the players and the teams that “own” them, by using free agency as a tool of power.
In 2010 James left the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he hadn’t succeeded in winning a championship, to team up with two other all-star players, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and create a super-team in Miami. Rather than allowing owners and general managers to decide the fate of players, he exploited the rules to give athletes more power over where they go.
After winning two championships with the Heat, he shocked everyone again when in 2014 he decided to return to Cleveland. Despite the fact that fans had burned his jersey and the team owner had called him a coward, he knew the franchise would jump at the chance to get him back. In 2016 he ended up bringing a championship to a city that hadn’t seen one for over 50 years.
James continues to implement his strategy of ‘power to the players’ in the way he signs his contracts as well. Each year he inks a one-year deal with a player option for a second year. That way the team has to pay him the maximum amount available under league rules, but with no guarantee he’ll be staying put for more than one season. Thus management is forced to do everything it can to put good players around their star to guarantee a winner, while other teams jockey for position just to have a chance to sign the biggest names.
James’ stature is reinforced by his business acumen as well, as his non-basketball ventures have proved quite lucrative – an outcome not guaranteed just by having lots of money.
Are these the actions of a stupid man?
LeBron James makes grammatical mistakes, but when Laura Ingraham suggests he doesn’t have the capacity to go beyond bouncing a ball, she is obviously mistaken.
LeBron certainly isn’t a political pundit, yet he has clearly decided that he has an obligation and a desire to speak out on cultural and political issues.
He expressed this just a few days ago in responding to Ingraham, telling the press: “We will definitely not shut up and dribble. I mean too much to society, I mean too much to the youth, I mean too much to so many kids who feel like they don’t have a way out and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation they’re in.”
And it’s worth noting that these aren’t just words. James expends a great deal of energy on helping disadvantaged kids, for example through a program that will make college free for children from his home town of Akron who maintain good grades in school.
People can decide for themselves whether to listen to LeBron James’ views or not; but every American has the right to express his or her opinion. This is essential in a democracy, as there’s no guarantee that the experts will get it right, or look out for the interests of the entire population.
Andrew Spannaus is a journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He is the founder of Transatlantico.info, that provides news and analysis to Italian institutions and businesses. He has published the books “Perché vince Trump” (Why Trump is Winning – June 2016) and “La rivolta degli elettori” (The Revolt of the Voters – July 2017).
This isn’t journalism. It is of the ‘he said, she said’ clickbait mass media entertainment business. There could be a good article in here about education and class but it would take some knowledge awareness and investigative powers to produce. I am concerned that this type of article trivialises the other articles sent out today which do reflect investigative journalism.
Hey, Ingraham or whatever else they call you. Leave LeBron alone. He can dribble AND SHOOT. Ya don’t blab bout Tom Brady who likes Trump but, after all, everyone makes mistakes including a dumb broad, like ya.
Ingraham knew she would be accused of racism. You can’t express an opinion on the right, and not be accused of racism. It’s the left’s go-to accusation.
She pointed to a book she had written a long time ago, titled Shut Up and Sing, which is about people–singers were the original subject–who feel obligated by their fame to express opinions about things they know little to nothing about. It was a simple step from sing to dribble. She also pointed out that James gave up his last year of high school to pursue an NBA career, which nominates him for being ignorant of almost everything except basketball.
Laura Ingraham’s comments were most certainly uncalled for; however, I do think that over- paid athletes should stop and ask themselves if people really care what they have to say. The average person in North America doesn’t even make in a lifetime what these people do in a season… Celebrities and Athletes alike have no clue…..
Although Mr. Spannaus is correct in criticising Ms Ingraham’s classism and implied racism, he himself reveals his own classism by failing to use the term “working class” even once. Supposedly-progressive U.S. politicians reveal their own classism this same way, by eschewing the term “working class” and thus pretending there isn’t one. Everyone in the U.S. who’s not filthy rich is now deemed “middle class”! I don’t imagine the word “poor” is used very often, either. Never using the term “working class” is the U.S. yammering claque’s version of the supposed prohibition against actors saying the name of Shakespeare’s “Scottish play” and it manifests classism as well as ignorance.
This incident did a lot more harm to Ingram than it did to LeBron!
Shaming is one of the alt-right’s best tactics – attack the messenger of the relevant message, because discussing the message respectfully is far beyond their intellectual capability.
Oops! I misspelled her name! SHAME on me! :-)
Why should I care what somebody says about politics because they can get a ball through a hoop? So can trained seals.
But seals can’t dunk! And they are piss poor at running the court too.
Great reply, mike k! And they can’t send their homeys to college, either.
“However, the Report is in English, and in very special English at that. No British spelling or turns of speech here, unlike so many documents of think tanks generated on the Continent. No this is the American English of the U.S establishment in the self-satisfied and coy style of Foreign Affairs magazine. Where else would you find section headings entitled “Russia: Bearly Strong?” or “United States: Home Alone?””
Fear no Grammar.
If Pence can do it, why not Le Bron?
“Le” – Article defini masculin origin de la langue francaise; “bron” – Nederlandse – “plaats waar water uit de grond komt”: qu’est ce que c’est que le Creole.
Kaepernickus we love you.
Sports are not the answer, they are an imitation of the problem: Competition for profit.
Should of ran away! Et le participe passe n’existe plus en Anglais Americain. Sans grammaire, bonne chance dans l’apprentissage d’une langue etrangere. L’education pour surmonter son ignorance, ou bien pour savoir mieux arnaquer autrui?
Typo: “origine”; je vous prie de bien vouloir m’excuser de cette faute d’orthographe!
I wonder who among the political elites he thinks does care. The bipartisan consensus is still for what Ali denounced.
America has become a nation of folks who don’t care about the truth, or much of anything except money.
“And it’s worth noting that these aren’t just words. James expends a great deal of energy on helping disadvantaged kids, for example through a program that will make college free for children from his home town of Akron who maintain good grades in school.”
James wastes a great deal of money. Most Black kids are disadvantaged by genetics.
“Most Black kids are disadvantaged by genetics.”
Are you seriously making this claim?
Laura Ingraham responding to the outrage:
She explains that her “shut up and dribble” line was not racist. She then references the book she wrote 15 years ago entitled “Shut Up and Sing”, and then played clips of her past criticism of Jamie Lee Curtis and others and tells them to shut up and act, etc. She says she is equal opportunity. She was objecting to the poor grammar, as well as the swearing. Not to mention what was said.
She then showed Lebron James at the 2016 championship parade and pointed out his swearing, when young families were in attendance.
She then said: “If you were a white NBA player and you said that stuff that he said about Obama, you’d never play again.”
Laura hates Lebron. I wonder why? He’s too deplorable? He seems like a pretty OK guy to me. I am proud that he stands up for his ideals.
Because President Obama was presidential and his presence alone commanded respect. Let us not forget the racial slurs and hatred he endured for just being black. When your are black you dont play the race card, you are the race card. #45 has disrespected the entire world, the White House, democracy, cia, Fbi, the Military, an entire Continent, many countries,(except Russia) an entire race of people, children, his wife and himself! He gets no respect!
President Obama was a slick narcissist who sold out to the Deep State, who never would have gotten anywhere in politics if he didn’t. He was a “no one” from “nowhere” who was exactly what the Deep State needed at the time: someone who read a good teleprompter and did what he was told to do.
President Trump certainly is not polished, but it’s about time someone – anyone – is drawing the public’s attention to the rot in the system, someone who by his very presence is exposing the lies and corruption
First off there is absolutely no evidence that Ingram’s comments and retort to another over paid athelete was due or influenced by LeBron gramar errors, the author of the article made that connection. This is not about class or race, if it were Ingram would be on the losing end of that stick as LeBron had made millions more over his lifetime. LeBron should be congratulated for recognizing that in the eyes of some disadvantaged kids in the world he may hold sway as a role model. To bad he didnt think that way when he crafted his response, which really exposes the fact that he doesnt give a damm what some poor kid thinks about him. He has his First Ammendment Rights as does Ingram. And in the famous quote, “Your freedom to be you includes my freedom to be free from you.” Just as another group of highly over paid atheletes have a Right to kneel when the National Anthem is played, we have a right to not buy your tickets, boycott your advertisers, and not watch TV shows that carry your games. The NFL has learned a hard lesson in their decisons surrounding their decisions not to enforce their own regulations. Maybe LeBron will get a dose of the same medicine. Im pretty sure he would not care one bit. He’s made his millions.
I wonder why Mr. War God hates equality and justice?
How much do you reckon one should be paid for their skills? Curious, how much should Athletes be paid for viewing pleasure? How come no one ever mentions the Higher paid owners and coaches?
I would reckon they are all overpaid. Owners are slave holders and coaches are thier task masters.
I still would take Jordan with the game on the line and 2 min to go. There is no other player in history who you would want handling the rock in that situation but Jordan. Lebron is close though, very close. In third place I’d have Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Looks like Bird gets the bird!
First off I personally would have never heard of LeBron’s remark if this Laura Ingraham report had not been all splattered through out the news. When I finally did watch Ingraham at her nastiest I thought to how clever of her, because Laura is going to catch flake for the racist undertones but in her world ‘so what’ because there’s someone out there for everybody, so why not attract the racist viewer …Lee Atwater, would be so proud of Laura, or maybe he’d be sorry, depending on the day, and mood Lee’s in.
Ingraham on that elitism stuff is right behind Andrew Sullivan when he starts with his Plato’s Republic passage essay….book, and to how he thinks white trash shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Read the provided link, and I will see you next year.
Where are you going Joe?
Crazy Annie ya want a come along? We used to say that as kids.
Seriously I don’t know where I’m going with this, because to me what Ingraham did is what our no so intellectual national group think has become used to listening too…big deal, a opinion jockist goes low, and then elitist. I mean everybody’s doing it, read if you have the time to Andrew Sullivan go on about dumbass mentality voters…talk about elitist, he quotes Plato. I wouldn’t doubt that there are plenty in fly over Trump America who would know all about not only Plato have also met Pluto, but don’t tell Sullivan that.
I guess we should talk about we Americans and how we should conduct our overall discourse, and our avenues to it, but enough with this ‘guess what she said, guess what he said, and let’s get down to talking about what is getting legislated under our noses, and where our ships at sea are heading, and the important stuff, like military parades.
We are living inside of ‘American Reality TV’ and with Ingraham & Sullivan & others like them they distract and turn our reality into a cartoon reality tv show… but programming loves it… so let’s continue with our show. Joe
Joe, my response referred to your comment, “Read the provided link, and I will see you next year.” Personally I don’t like all the Trump bashing and those that engage in it, and felt that way from the beginning. Deal with his policies, and I’ll listen. During Clinton’s 2nd term it was all about the Monica Lewinsky affair, and then he passed policies like NAFTA and the overturn of glass steagall, then his affair and the threat of impeachment slipped away. When Bush was elected he would get bashed in the press, and I didn’t like that either, but they changed their tune as soon as he started his war. Then there was Obama bashing, not only about his birth certificate, but he was an elitist, another Stalin, a socialist. Of course that type of rhetoric stopped as he dealt with the 2008 recession, and bailed out the banksters and no criminal charges brought. I never get into this type of discourse, because it’s all insignificant in the scheme of things, and diverts people’s attention away from important issues. I’m sure that is what it’s intended to do. It also draws in a crowd who don’t really want to talk politics, but want to be entertained. With the multiple news channels running 24/7 that’s what you’re going to get for the most part, entertainment. Everything, and anything becomes news.
Oh…I thought you were wondering where me head was on the topic. I meant Andrew Sullivan’s article is that ridiculously long. Also, I see you figured out the method to their madness with these scandals and them passing awful bills. See you Annie on another article. Joe
I pretty much agree with you all the time and often don’t comment because you’ve beaten me to it. Your comment to Robert Schwartz was perfect. Thanks. As for barry k., he makes me wonder how one comes to think that “there’s no such thing as ‘proper’ English,” when there is. You are right, too, that these petty spats distract from the shenanigans commencing behind the scenes that will adversely affect us all.
I think it important to point out that James’s eloquent and spot-on comments are NOT marred by bad grammar. He is using, correctly, as any linguists would tell us, the English dialect he has acquired; just as we all do. The days of “prescriptive grammar” have-thankfully-been abandoned, except by those like Ingraham who wish to use it as an elitist bludgeon and a not-so-subtle racist dog whistle in order to quash intelligent dissent from the “lower castes.” It’s unfortunate that Andrew Spannaus accepted the grammar canard without challenge.
I couldn’t disagree with you more Robert. Try getting into college, getting through college, without appropriate grammar skills, spoken or written. Would you encourage such a belief if you were a teacher, a parent? In no way am I referring to your comment in regards to Mr. James, just your assessment that good grammar no longer counts. To speak proper English, does not make one an elitist.
I couldn’t disagree with you more Robert. Try getting into college, getting through college, without appropriate grammar skills, spoken or written. Would you encourage such a belief if you were a teacher, a parent? In no way am I referring to your comment in regards to Mr. James, just your assessment that good grammar no longer counts. To speak proper English does not make one an elitist. Interesting that Trump has been attacked by many because he doesn’t speak the King’s English, and I suspect you’re point of view on that account might be quite different.
Nah, good grammar no longer counts. Apparently, you can now become president of the U.S. knowing only 30 grammer school words! If you can’t find the right word,
you can avedently, just make one up!
However LeBron said what he said, his message was clear and understood. It obviously cut Ms. Laura like a razor. Her comments oozed angry racist hatred. Where did she find that “coon” to back her up?
I’m afraid you miss the point, Annie. I should have been clearer. I am not arguing against having “standard” language skills when needed to function in those institutions that require them—business, education, etc. And in response to your comments, I say all this as a retired English and Education teacher with a Masters in linguistics and a doctorate in education and 20 years experience at the Secondary level and 15 at the University.
There are many “Englishes” in the world and each can claim its version as the standard. The trick is to conform yours to the dominant standard when you desire to. James is clearly not looking to do so. He uses his own English and simply asks for us to address his arguments and observations and not our prejudices and mistaken assumptions.
Robert: Retired English teacher who begins a sentence with “And” and ends another with a preposition. Yes. Nuff said.
Spot on Robert. No such thing as “proper” english. Or maybe americans should start speaking with a “proper” english accent , ala British aristocracy. The grammar Nazis need to read some real linguistics from black american professor John McWhorter.
I think this is much to do about nothing. Laura Ingram, whom I don’t like, is always sticking up for Trump, it’s her duty, her job, it’s what she’s paid to do. Mr. A.’s initial statement by Mr. James is, “The number one job in America, the appointed person, is someone who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a f*** about the people.” Well, I don’t like the F word being used in this context, and he does slam Trump. What is so surprising that she counters his assessment of things? She always has a nasty retort when someone attacks Trump, and I certainly don’t think it’s based on an underlying racism in his case, and she attacked him on his English, so what? The discourse on both sides is pretty nasty.
The establishment fears athletes who speak out about injustices, because they have the ears and hearts of a wide public. Takes you back to the fist salutes on the podium at the Mexico Olympics, or Ali, or now those taking a knee. Just like Hillary calling common folks deplorables, these attacks only boost the impact among those who their message is intended to reach.
James may not have the grammatical skills that Laura seems to arrogate for herself, but his successful management of his own career indicates that he has much better analytical skills than Ingraham.
He doesn’t manage anything.
If you can’t shut up, don’t drivel. Even full-dress, Sunday-best grammar can’t cover up ignorance.
Laura Ingraham was clearly click-baiting. Labron, being a US citizen has the right to say any dopey thing he wants to just like the rest of us (Ingraham included). But he also seems lately to be in the process of embellishing his brand with outspoken political inarticulateness and has kinda gone to his own head. With the Trumps and the Oprahs and the Kardashians and the cable news chowderheads (and Labron) we are now in deep media drivel. I fear there is no going back from this noisy public narcissism.
You seem a little ignorant because you didn’t spell LeBron’s name right. Where did you go to school?
Not the first time this has happened…
mrtmbrnmn — And now we could start talking about her interview with Putin. We could compare hers to Oliver Stone’s. (Does anyone have a link to the latter?)
Another elitist exposed.
Excuse me, have you heard your president speak?
That’s what they said about Ali when he came out against the VN war.
Ali was right, the media elite were wrong.
I will never forget how the media swarmed Shaq, and tried to get him to endorse war/destruction of Iraq.
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?
No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end.”
Muhammad Ali! Can’t help but admire a soul like that! And spot on intelligence! Thanks, Gregory. Any more like that?
Beautiful speech to power! Ali was the greatest……..
Preach ! White is no longer right. BLACK, BROWN and some Whites are starting to realize this. We the people no longer have to shut up!
The younger generations are no longer buying into the “The Great White Supremacy lie” The election of #45 shot that lie down. Does one need a degree, to see that he is illiterate and incompetent? His policies prove he doesn’t give a F! about America let alone the people.
They, the white so called elitist are being seen for what they truly are: raceist, liars, thieves, morally bankrupt hypocrites. Poor Ms. Laura, you f’d with the wrong basketball player. You were dead wrong and your intent was racists and malicious. Take your own advice, shut up and do what you do best, report the FAKE news!
YES! thanks for publishing quote by MOHAMMAD ALI who’s fight in LIFE for right was even greater than his fights in the boxing ring
The thing I loved most about M.Ali was that he always spoke without prevarication, said what he felt and didn’t waver. I saw him drop William F. Buckley like a stone.
Good one, l like how your memory works. Joe
James should be well educated,coming from a school with real educated scholars(snark).Everybody can admit the Trumps faults.but admit their own?
Given that James went through the US education system you’d think Ingraham would be embarrassed that the richest country on the planet can’t provide their kids with the basics of a decent education.
You can’t fix low IQ.
James played high school basketball at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School- a private Catholic school. I admire James: he cares for his community and those most vulnerable. I’m tired of pundits blaming public education when the root of many problems is poverty, income and inequality, and lack of affordable health care.
It seems like Mr James is in a position that can add to the perspective of, and I’m assuming here because I don’t follow pro basketball, a lower class background which makes him very qualified to stand up for the little guy. The hubris alone of these well paid TV folks and their condescending attitude toward someone as James should give many viewers the same bleak view of these ‘pundits’. At least treat these figures with a degree of humanity and learn something in the process.
When ever these sewer rats from the media elite start picking on someones short comings you know they’ve lost the argument. The MSM drones who have the audacity to call themselves journalists have been making fun of Trump’s appearance since he first came into politics. What the man looks like ( looks fairly ordinary to me) is irrelevant, its what he has to and the political decisions he makes that matter. The same applies to LeBron.
This is the exact attitude that lost the election for both “elite” democrats and “elite” republicans..The arrogance, that the taxpayers of this country hate…
LeBron has said a lot of ignorant stuff about NBA, but he has been mostly spot on about Trump.