Sportswriter on the Brink

John Feinstein owes Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan and apology. It’s one thing to criticize Shanahan for his—to put it kindly—inconsistent explanations for pulling quarterback Donovan McNabb in the waning minutes of the Redskins loss to the Detroit Lions.

However, it is something else entirely to accuse Shanahan of using “racial coding,” as Feinstein put it, in dealing with McNabb. It’s called crossing the line. Even if Shanahan was the source—a gutless move to be sure—for ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen’s report that Shanahan had to cut the playbook in half for McNabb, it’s a bridge too far to play the race card. Shanahan has denied he was the source for Mortensen’s story saying it is “totally untrue.” Shanahan is no angel, and McNabb certainly deserves better from his head coach, but Feinstein insinuating racial undertones to Shanahan’s explanations is beyond the pale.

Before the benching, Redskins fans were just settling in to some sense of normalcy given the rank incompetence of the previous management regime fumbling the legacy of a proud franchise. Shanahan’s bonehead benching of McNabb reopened that wound, but Feinstein’s irresponsible comments poured salt on it.

However, Feinstein didn’t stop there. On WTEM AM 980, Feinstein doubled down on the race card by slandering millions of American voters.

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A lot of the people who voted the way they voted last Tuesday didn’t do it because they thought Barack Obama was a terrible president. They did it because he’s an African American president, and because he didn’t fix George Bush’s mess in 13 minutes, ok? That happens in this country. There are a lot of angry white people in this country who can’t deal with the idea that we have an African American president

Really! Did the 83,000 people in the congressional district next to Feinstein’s cushy Potomac, Maryland address vote for Charles Lollar, the African American challenger to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, because they bore some racial animosity against Barack Obama?

No, they voted against Hoyer because he was part and parcel of an arrogant majority party, that thumbed it’s nose at a majority of the American people.

Is Feinstein so insecure about defending his own political beliefs he has to accuse millions of his fellow countrymen of being racists? His rant—worthy of an unhinged MSNBC host—insults the intelligence of much of the electorate, and takes away from the seriousness of real racism.

It now appears that playing the race card is the new, last refuge of scoundrels.

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