My petty response to Keith Law’s petty email

Let’s just clear up one thing before this gets started: ESPN’s Keith Law is one of my favorite human beings on the planet. I love the guy.

I loved it when he cracked down on Curt Schilling over Creationism. I loved it when he was the only major ESPN writer to take a stand against MLB players like Aroldis Chapman and Jose Reyes who beat their wives. I love that he consistently champions liberal principles at a time when so many under the corporate juggernaut umbrella of ESPN use tepid language to describe despicable things players say and do.

But let’s start at the beginning. On March 10th Keith “liked” a Keith Olberman tweet that was in response to Jill Stein, and it went like this:

Yes, some Democrats are still shaming the fraction of voters who chose Jill Stein for president. They are still blaming Bernie Sanders supporters who didn’t toe the line and coalesce behind Hillary Clinton. They are still blaming Russia.

Basically anything to distract from the idea that Clinton was an awful presidential candidate, or from having to face facts that the Democratic Party abandoned its working class base. The media have gone to great lengths to continue the Russian conspiracy simply so they don’t have to dive into the real reasons why the Democrats were wiped out from every level of government.

But Keith Law’s endorsement of what Olberman wrote on Twitter wasn’t it. He doubled down in an email I saw a couple days ago (that he actually posted the day of, on the 10th). The opening paragraph:

I commented on something Keith Olbermann said about Jill Stein’s candidacy hurting HRC in the election, and even though I didn’t dot-reply, my timeline has been filling up with angry Stein and Bernie voters, many responding in profane fashion, all rationalizing away any arguments that Stein siphoned votes from Clinton. (For the record, I’ve said I don’t think she unilaterally cost Clinton the election, but I think she was one of many factors involved.) I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see this kind of thinking – rage without reason –  from the same end of the political spectrum where many anti-vaxxers and most anti-GMO folks reside, along with the five people in the world who still think Marxism represents a viable economic model, but I’m more used to being yelled at by people clinging to pitcher wins, RBIs, or homeopathy. 

Keith Law is extremely smart, but this is probably the stupidest shit I have ever seen him write. And I sort of know, because I’ve paid for ESPN Insider since 2012, or so, strictly to read what he has to say about baseball. This has been a guy I’ve followed since he was a weekly guest on ESPN News’ The Hot List back in 2005, or whatever.

I was a Bernie Sanders supporter who inevitably voted for Jill Stein in November, and my logic was basic: I live in California — which is going to vote blue, anyway — and I’m in favor of seeing a third party get federal funding. Stein didn’t make it to 5% of the vote so that’s not going to happen, but I don’t regret my vote… not even knowing the tragic result of the election.

Keith Law isn’t only disparaging me here; he is putting down roughly half of the Democratic Party as we know it. Sanders hauled in 44 percent of the pledged delegates during the primary season, which makes Law’s “5 people who still think Marxism is a viable economic model” all the more asinine. It is beneath him to paint with such a broad brush over the most liberal segment of the party that he supports.

Truthfully, Keith and I (as well as most of the people he is shitting on in this email) agree on 95 percent of social issues. We believe in the same liberal principles. He’s not my enemy; he’s just wrong about this.

And it surprises me in the worst way that someone who is so smart, and so well-informed about every topic with which he throws his hat in the ring, can be so dull and so intellectually lazy about Sanders and/or Stein supporters. At the same time, if all he is reading is the Washington Post or New York Times, and if all he is watching is MSNBC — institutions that hold water for the corporate wing of the party, who trash Progressives at every opportunity — then his stance makes total sense.

It’s disappointing, because I would have thought Keith Law would be the type of person to go the extra mile with gathering his information. No, not everyone who voted for Jill Stein did so for some vaccination comment she made (that was quickly proven to be a smear job by the media), and not everyone who voted for Sanders is just some loon who believes communism is the way to go.

In fact the opposite is true. Bernie’s supporters were the most pro-science of all the voters, because Sanders himself the most vocal about climate change. We were the ones who actually believed fracking was a bad idea, while Law supported a candidate who was in bed with big fracking and both the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines.

No, we’re not crazy. This isn’t conspiracy bullshit and everything I have written in this article can be substantiated with real evidence. The irony of this is just bonkers. It’s people like Keith Law who consistently made me want to become a better writer, and to get all the facts straight so that my opinions are as informed as they can possibly be. So why isn’t he holding himself to the same standard?

Here’s what I want to believe: if Keith had all the information — and not just the media bubble he’s stuck in — he wouldn’t be criticizing Bernie supporters in a petty email. He also wouldn’t pretend that there are only like 12 of us in existence. Again it’s amazing that someone so smart can, on the one hand, label half the party as some form of stupid, and on the other (at least partly) blame them for why Hillary Clinton lost in the general election.

Keith Law’s presidential candidate was a loser. The party she and her husband and Obama have built over the last 20 years is a total and utter failure. They were destroyed up and down, from the White House to the Senate to the House to City Councils and School Boards. It’s over, baby. And rather than welcoming Bernie’s wing of the party and turning the Democrats into a powerhouse, the corporate message is that we should be compromising with them.

Until they adopt a more Progressive platform — such as medicare for all, an increased minimum wage, free public college, and stop taking money from corporate donors — the compromise will not happen.

So I urged Keith in an email to get off the train going nowhere and join those of us who are on the right side of history. Did he even read it? Probably not. But if he is as serious in real life as he claims to be on Twitter about defending the poorest and most powerless people, about gay and transgender rights, about women’s rights, and about the environment, then he should be supporting the wing of the party that is most active in helping those causes.

And I’m sorry, but the Hillary Clinton side is not it.

UPDATE (3-31-17): At about 7:30 (PST) last night, Keith personally responded to my email. It’s brief enough so I’ll just post it below:

You made a fundamental error here. I didn’t “check out” on Jill Stein because she pandered (repeatedly) to vaccine deniers. She’s a loon. She opposes GMOs and proposes a ban on new GM crops, despite a lack of any research showing harm from such products. She proposed a student loan forgiveness program with zero idea how to fund it. She has repeatedly defended Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing a cop because the evidence was strong – and there remains no evidence at all he’s a political prisoner. I never checked in, because she stands for all manner of bullshit and her platform was nonsense. Voting for her, campaigning for her, supporting her was all a waste of time, and one of many factors that went into HRC losing an election she should have won.

As for “intellectually lazy,” I won’t dignify that with a response.

Keith

Listen, I appreciate the response. For a guy with thousands of newsletter subscribers who are probably emailing him all the time with baseball disagreements and all other types of nonsense, I think it’s big of him to push back at what I consider a thoughtful email that I gave him.

Was it too aggressive? Probably. I’m not in the habit of accusing people of being intellectually lazy. Usually I just use the word “stupid”.

But if it isn’t aggressive then it’s boring. If it doesn’t offend in some way, then it isn’t worthy of the thought or the response. This was always the Christopher Hitchens blueprint when he argued about religion (or anything else). You have to strike a nerve — not for the purpose of forcing a change on someone, but to get them to challenge their own beliefs.

I think along with the Facts vs. Alternative Facts split between the Democrats and Republicans, there is a similar Corporate Media Facts vs. Independent Media Facts split between the establishment Democrats and Progressives. In turn Keith Law, at least right now, will not draw the same conclusions I have, because he and I don’t agree on what the facts are.

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