Fox News host Laura Ingraham went after LeBron James on Thursday night.
In defending President Donald Trump, Ingraham told James to “shut up and dribble.” She questioned James’ intelligence, his grammar and his education.
The fuel for Ingraham’s fire was a new segment of Rolling with the Champion, which was posted Thursday on James’ Uninterrupted website (www.uninterrupted.com). The segment featured host Cari Champion driving James and fellow NBA superstar Kevin Durant around snowy Akron.
It had the feel of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke. But instead of singing, the three discussed a series of wide-ranging topics. It was taped Jan. 14, the night before a Cavs-Warriors game in Cleveland.
Ingraham opened her segment on The Ingraham Angle by saying, “This is a Jumb Dock Alert.” She meant to say “Dumb Jock.”
She went on to criticize James for criticizing Trump.
“Here’s his barely intelligible not to mention ungrammatical take on President Trump,” she said, before cutting to a brief clip of James saying Trump did not care about people, which included an expletive.
After the clip, Ingraham reappeared and, her voice dripping in derisive sarcasm, said. “But wait.” Pause. “There’s more gripping insight.”
In the full segment on Uninterrupted, Champion had actually asked James what the climate was like in the Trump era to be an athlete with a platform.
“The climate is hot,” said James. “The No. 1 job in America, the appointed person is someone who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a (expletive) about the people.”
When James was growing up, he continued, “there was like three jobs that you looked to for inspiration or you felt like these were the people who could give me light. It was the president of the United States, it was whoever was the best in sports, and then it was, like, whoever was the greatest musician at the time. You never thought you could be them, but you could grab inspiration from them.
“At this time right now, with the president of the United States, it’s at a bad time, and while we cannot change what comes out of that man’s mouth, we can continue to alert the people that watch us, that listen to us, that this is not the way.”
Ingraham referred to James and Durant’s remarks as “ignorant comments.”
She added: “Must they run their mouths like that?”
Ingraham came across sounding like an old, angry racist sitting on a porch shooing a couple of black kids off her lawn.
The clip she showed on Fox was also out of context.
If Ingraham, or her minions, had bothered to watch the entire 16-minute and 44-second drive-around, they would have learned that very little of it was about politics or Donald Trump. Topics included when the two men were first introduced to basketball, the NBA All-Star Game, racism, the contributions of Muhammad Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., growing up fatherless, being good husbands and good parents, as well as good-natured childhood memories, which for James represented the sights and sounds of Akron outside the car window.
Ingraham also jumbled some facts.
• She called the segment “a podcast on ESPN.”
It was not a podcast. It was not on ESPN.
• She said James makes $100 million a year to “bounce a ball.”
James’ Cavaliers salary for the 2017-2018 season is about $33.3 million.
• She said James should be a cautionary tale for kids, because he left high school early to play in the NBA.
James graduated from Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in 2003.
The lack of an education charge is especially galling. Are you not entitled to an opinion if you did not attend college?
And by the way: The LeBron James Family Foundation and its I Promise programs have committed millions of dollars to helping elementary and secondary school students to learn, focus and move on to college. James also teamed with the University of Akron to provide four-year scholarships for students who complete the I Promise program. The price tag is around $90 million.
The foundation just sent a group of “LJFF 330 Ambassadors” to Los Angeles for the NBA All-Star weekend. The ambassadors are Akron teens who mentor young kids. On Friday, they were scheduled to plant trees in an area devastated by wildfires.
Ingraham’s questioning James’ right to speak out is bizarre. James has delivered thoughtful remarks in recent years about racism and social injustice issues. He does not go off half-cocked.
Apparently, Ingraham was not watching Uninterrupted when Champion asked James and Durant about some people’s discomfort with, and often toxic response to, black men with money, black men with a voice.
Ingraham pulled off a double-double. She managed to miss the point and prove the point.
Clint O’Connor is a columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal. View. His column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the The Lima News editorial board or Aim Media, owner of The Lima News.