So, people are still talking about what the president said about Don Lemon and Lebron James.
But mostly Lebron James.
In case you missed it, here is what the president tweeted:
“Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
The “Mike” he was talking about is Michael Jordan, the former NBA great wjo is often compared to James.
Jordan came out and defended James, saying the superstar does a lot of good in his community.
This is not the first time we have seen a controversy involving Lebron James and a right-wing figure.
Several months ago, here is what conservative firebrand Laura Ingraham of Fox News had to say about the basketball star:
“It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball. Unfortunately, a lot of kids and some adults take these ignorant comments seriously. Look, there might be a cautionary lesson in LeBron for kids: this is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA. Why must they talk like that? Keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.”
There are those who claimed the radio and television host was using a racist dog whistle, but those people clearly know little about Ingraham or the things she has said throughout her career.
Ingraham has made similar comments about musical artists like the Dixie Chicks and numerous actors over the years.
Likewise, we are hearing the same “dog whistle” claims because the president insulted the intelligence of two black men.
However, much like Ingraham, this ignores the president’s history of calling virtually any high profile person who criticizes him names — including insulting their intelligence — with prime examples being John Brennan, James Comey, James Clapper, George W Bush, Karl Rove, and Glenn Beck, all of whom are white.
At the time, some questioned Ingraham’s comments about James not going to college when some of her talk radio colleagues — chief among them Rush Limbaugh — likewise did not attend college.
The reason is ideological: Limbaugh agrees with Ingraham and James does not, so she attacks one and says nothing about the other.
This is the same with President Trump — he attacks those who attack him and praises those who praise him.
It really is that simple.
But really, all of this was straight out of Ingraham’s standard playbook and the president seems to be following it as well.
The conservative commentator has made telling celebrities and athletes to keep their political opinions to themselves a staple of her “Middle America vs the cultural elites” routine.
She even built a book around the concept about 15 years ago called “Shut Up and Sing.”
The president appears to be echoing those comments, but of course, as with Ingraham, they only apply to celebrities who do not see eye to eye with him as he is perfectly fine saying nice things about those who like him (ie: Kanye West).
As for Lebron James himself, the reality is that when it comes to political opinions, celebrities are no different than the average person.
Knowing and understanding these complex issues takes a lot of hard work and thought.
Some put in that work and most do not.
Think about all of the times in your life you have had political conversations with friends, family, and neighbors.
How many times did you walk away impressed and how many times did you walk away shaking your head at their ignorance?
The same ratio is likely when it comes to celebrities.
Nobody should ever be told they cannot hold an opinion merely because of their profession.
That is obviously ridiculous.
But so is assuming that just because a person is famous means they know anything.
They may, they may not.
But just like lawyers, plumbers, doctors, waiters, etc…. it is on a case by case basis. Some celebrities will prove to be smart and well-versed on the issues and others will sound like shallow talking points.
That’s really the way things are for anybody of any profession.
And while a famous person has the ability to express his opinion to a massive audience due to the loud megaphone fame provides, that also comes added scrutiny.
If my neighbor has an opinion that would upset some people, nobody knows about it except for the people he interacts with.
But if a worldwide icon like Lebron James says something similar, virtually everybody is aware.
So, he should be prepared to face intense scrutiny and pushback from those who disagree with him politically.
But he should never be told he isn’t “qualified” to speak about politics because everybody has that right.
That said, regardless of Lebron James’ political opinions, trying to hold him up as smart or informed only works if it is true.
I do not now Lebron James well enough to now the level of his intelligence or how much he truly knows about policy.
But what I do now is the people claiming he is smart and informed because he donated some money to a public school in Akron are completely missing the point.
It is nice that James is trying to help children in his community, but being a humanitarian does not necessarily mean anything as far as your intelligence.
There is no law that says you cannot be both ignorant or dumb and generous at the same time.
I am not saying this is true of James, I am merely saying his generosity does not prove that he is a genius.
That said, instead of telling James to “shut up and dribble,” maybe next time Laura Ingraham could try addressing him and attempt to persuade him by providing a convincing counter-argument.
Maybe the president could try that, too.
Heck, maybe the president could even offer an olive branch and invite James to the White House to discuss an initiative that would involve famous athletes gathering together to contribute money to schools in economically disadvantaged areas the way the NBA star did.
Call me crazy, but I think that might be a slightly better strategy and a tad more mature than just calling James names in-between commercial breaks or tweets about tariffs.