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As critics attack Bob Costas' gun control rant, I'm more interested in what he didn't say



20121202-144710.jpgIn addition to all the fun work I do here and for NPR, I also occasionally write columns for the Sports Journalism program at my alma mater, Indiana University.

And this week in that space, I couldn't help weighing in on NBC sports anchor Bob Costas and his comments on gun control at halftime during Sunday night's football game.

Sparked by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher's horrific decision to shoot his girlfriend and then himself after an argument Saturday morning, Costas' commentary drew barbs from critics who insisted he shouldn't have brought up something that had nothing to do with football.

Former GOP candidate Herman Cain called it "sanctimonious dreck," while a Deadspin writer assailed it as "horses---."

Daily Beast/Newsweek/CNN media critic Howard Kurtz noted what I did about Costas' comments; he mostly quoted another columnist, Kansas City-based Fox Sports analyst Jason Whitlock.

costas-500x281.jpgI have no problem with Costas' commentary, though I wish he would have used his own words. But I'm more interested in what he didn't say.

Because the meat of Whitlock's column wasn't about gun control; it was a heady criticism of the NFL for not canceling the Kansas City Chiefs game on Sunday in the first place.

When I brought this up during a radio interview Monday, USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan, who admitted she was a friend of Costas, replied that he wasn't doing a "book report" on Whitlock's speech when he chose to focus on gun control.

But given that NBC is a deeply involved corporate partner with the National Football League in putting on football games -- and those games are a big reason why the network finished in first place among viewers 18 to 49 in November's "sweeps" period -- I can understand why it might seem easier to take on the NRA than the NFL.

Hear the radio interview on Minnesota Public Radio below, along with Costas' original commentary.


[Last modified: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 8:13am]


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