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Thomas’s White House Snub Brings Out the Cult of Media Hypocrisy

Tim Thomas (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

This week, Tim Thomas made a choice. He chose not to join his teammates at a White House ceremony honoring the Boston Bruins for their 2011 Stanley Cup Championship. Thomas released a statement to the public stating why he did not want to attend the ceremony. It had something to do with big government, rights of the people, and property.

For the record, I think Thomas made a mistake. I think regardless of ideology, being invited to the White House is a privilege. I think meeting the President of the United States with your teammates is a pretty cool gig and I think you should go. I think THAT office deserves THAT respect, regardless of who the President is and regardless of his party. Thomas chose not to; he has that right, but I think he chose poorly. That’s where the story should end. And the coverage of the story should have ended in a sports flash on Monday night. But it didn’t, it went on and on and on, and by Tuesday, you would have thought based on the media reaction and subsequent public reaction that Tim Thomas challenged President Obama to a fistfight.

Local Sports Media’s Double Standard: Theo’s Snub of George W. Bush

So this is where the hypocrisy comes into play. In 2007, Theo Epstein, then the GM and VP of the Boston Red Sox, snubbed President Bush in the same way Tim Thomas did. Theo Epstein then was an executive representing the team, he wasn’t just a player. Theo didn’t give a big statement, and he just made some stupid excuse and didn’t go. I mean, how could he? What would Eddie Vedder have thought of him? In 2004, Theo did attend the White House ceremony, but refused to pose with President Bush for any pictures. You all remember that visceral reaction to Theo’s snub don’t you?

Oh you don’t? You want to know why, because there wasn’t a reaction to Theo’s snub. The local media didn’t seem to have a problem with that one. I invite anyone reading this to perform a Google search on articles or comments condemning Theo Epstein’s snub of President Bush in 2007. Good luck if you can find one by page 58 on Google.

Nope, you see in Massachusetts when a liberal snubs a Republican, it’s OK, but when a conservative snubs a Democrat, it’s a sin. I don’t care either way, they’re both wrong. However in Thomas’s case, it was worthy of three days of talk radio discussion, sports articles, racist tweets (did you know that Tim Thomas has 3 kids with names that begin with K), and some of the most pathetic rants by the media that made me not only question their integrity, but their sanity.

So why the double standard? Has partisanship engulfed this country so much that we can’t even separate it from the sports world? I ask that question to Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti, Kevin Paul DuPont, Joe MacDonald, Joe Haggerty and every other phony who piled on Thomas. The first mention I heard of Theo’s snub wasn’t until late Monday night when Michael Holley mentioned it on Sports Tonight. Until then, all Michael Felger could come up with was Eddie Vedder, Mark Chmura and Bruce Springsteen. What a bunch of hypocrites you all are. I confronted many of you with tweets or emails; I heard either silence or excuses like “I wasn’t on the Red Sox beat.”

F&M on Thomas

As for Felger and Mazz, well, for two guys who like to state how much they hate all the “political stuff,” they often have political opinions. Mazz has flat out said he does not like Republicans and Felger constantly mentions the “people” that watch Fox News. So it’s clear they have an ideology. That’s fine; the hosts on many of the shows on WEEI have an ideology. I don’t mind the ideology; I mind the hypocrisy behind it. Felger on Wednesday said he condemned Theo back when he was working at ESPN 890. I would love to hear the audio on that. Funny on many of my long commutes home I fail to remember any of it, but I do remember lots of Spygate talk, though.

Tuesday afternoon, the criticism became calamity when Mazz finally went off the tracks. Tony said, and I am paraphrasing slightly, ‘if you don’t like the government in this country Tim Thomas, move to Finland!!’ I guess that was because Thomas played there once?

I couldn’t believe it. A career newspaper writer and media personality advocating AGAINST free speech! What a complete joke. (Tony has since apologized for the comment). Felger was no better in some of critiques of Thomas. He stated that because Thomas was earning a living playing a “game,” he should be more thankful to his country. It’s comments like that one, which really makes me wonder if Felger has ever read an American History book. If every affluent person didn’t exercise their right of free speech, what type of country would this be? So, if your wealth is from a “game,” your opinion matters less than someone’s who gained wealth through manual labor? What about the talk show hosts Mike? Don’t they deserve their free speech? Should they not be allowed their First Amendment rights? It’s entertainment, I heard John Henry say so. Thank you to Toucher and Rich for being the voice of reason on this topic from the beginning. They actually had to comically call out their fellow colleague at 98.5 to make the point clear.

So by Wednesday, I thought this story would finally have died down. It didn’t, it evolved. Michael Felger, citing articles written by Joseph Haggerty and Fluto Shinzawa, discussed the possibility that this would lead to Tim Thomas being traded because he was not popular in the locker room. Felger, then asked his listening audience what they thought of the possibility of trading Tim Thomas.

For the small percentage of Bruins fans that would even consider this, let me enlighten you. Without Tim Thomas, you would still be staring up at that 1972 Stanley Cup Championship banner. Don’t let the media sway you into running the best player on your team and maybe in the league, out of town.

The Witch Hunt

This was a witch hunt, an ideological witch hunt. Because, as I said before when Theo Epstein and Michael Jordan snub Republicans it’s not even discussed, but Tim Thomas, well he’s enemy number one. As I said before, I didn’t agree with Thomas’ decision, but at least he did back it up. He didn’t hide away under media cover like the Boy Wonder Theo Epstein.

I can’t tell yet if this is just a Boston problem or it’s symptomatic of the negativity that is encompassing the entire world including sports. I hope this issue is finally coming to an end, but let’s not forget, Thomas is just the latest to fall under attack in his own town. I was conflicted writing this column, because I believe sports is the one place where politics has little place. At the same time, I can’t just sit by and listen to the media pick and choose who they get to stone.

Super Bowl Malaise

There’s still about a week until the Super Bowl hysteria really takes off, so I found it interesting that the #1 Sports talk show in Boston chose to spend half its show focusing on Patriot cheating allegations. Felger and Mazz have clearly decided that they want to live in the world of tabloid, and their minions are there to follow them. But, on the flagship network of the New England Patriots, Felger is still talking about Spygate. He is talking about an article citing them for cheating in 2007, he is talking about corrupted scoreboard operators and even talking about the Patriots being involved with sideline headphone communications. Of course, Felger says he doesn’t BELIEVE any of these allegations, but I then wonder, why discuss them?

So let me enlighten you, in a down week when there is no football game, no baseball season, a struggling basketball team and a hockey All-Star break, Felger is returning to his contrarian roots and he knows calling the Patriots cheaters brings anger and ratings. Just like bringing up the Jets, firing Claude Julien (last year) and trading Tim Thomas.

It’s all about getting the radio listener outraged enough that he’ll keep listening. Felger actually had the audacity to threaten not to take calls this week because they were not up to his liking. It’s funny how the local media king whose popularity was built on his listening fans is now above them.

Well, the Super Bowl can’t come fast enough. Media day should be fun next week, when I am sure Felger will mention Spygate, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady’s declining game and the Patriots’ “value” proposition. This will all take place next to his buddies at WEEI on Radio Row. He will then go on to praise the Patriots and then pick them to win the Super Bowl. As for Tony, well he’ll probably be on the lookout for any rebels speaking out against our great government.

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16 comments for “Thomas’s White House Snub Brings Out the Cult of Media Hypocrisy”

  1. George,
    I respect your opinion but the difference between Theo not going and Thomas not going is the statement. You said show me and article calling Theo out. I ask you to show me a statement from Theo saying it wasn’t political when we all know it was. If Thomas were truthful he would have been better off. Bottom line is he is an employee of the Bruins. They wanted him there he should have gone. He issued a statement stating this was the only time he was going to talk about it leaving his teammates to answer for him. He made a decision answer for it. Man up. I think that is the bigger issue and why people are upset. He threw his teammates under the bus and won’t answer for it. Cowardly if you ask me.

    Posted by Jason Kohm | January 26, 2012, 6:21 pm
  2. I give you credit for showing the difference between the issue with Red Soxs and Tom Thomas.Tim stood up for his beliefs-isn’t that what initially made up the people who landed at Plymonth Rock
    Let’s be honest – most of the issue is with thejournalists who need to just speak up for the sake of speaaking up and most won’t support anything but the “democrats”. You at least acknowkedge that each has a right and the hypocrisy.

    Posted by ak | January 26, 2012, 8:46 pm
  3. Jason,

    I think you’re blaming Thomas for some things that weren’t entirely under his control. My understanding is that he was simply planning to avoid the White House visit. The statement only came about after word got out that he wouldn’t be at the White House and there was some media and Twitter excitement about his choice.

    And while you may criticize him for understating his reasons for not being there, I think that was an effort to avoid adding more fuel to the firestorm and creating additional problems for the team. I also think it was truthful, as far as it went.

    So what point do you think it would serve if he had blasted President Obama in his explanation? Would you now be calling him courageous and defending him against detractors? Or would you instead be criticizing him for being so blunt, for his rudeness to the President, and for giving the team a black eye?

    I think Thomas, once he decided not to attend, was in a no-win situation with a lot of his critics. There would always be something about his handling of the situation for them to complain about. He probably would have been better off if he had just gone. But perhaps he thought that would be cowardly.

    Posted by Steve Angers | January 26, 2012, 10:49 pm
  4. Yeah, going out on a limb here but maybe it is because rational/sane/logical non-partisan people realize that Bush was the worst president in this country’s history and Obama is a halfway decent one? Could that have ANYTHING to do with it???

    Posted by Todd | January 27, 2012, 9:42 am
  5. Jason – are you really saying that Theo has not made negative comments about George Bush while he was president? He did – numerous times publicly.

    You say the “bottom line” is that he’s an employee of the Bruins – yeah he is – and the Bruins did NOT require him to be at the event – Peter Chiarelli made that clear. Based on his performance and his part in adding significant value to the franchise – I am pretty sure that the management and ownership overall are pretty happy that Thomas is on their team – no?

    You say “he threw his teammates under the bus”? His teammates are amazing supportive of Tim Thomas – you may not understand how professional sports work but playing on a Stanley Cup winning team increases the earning potential of every player – significantly. For some players winning a Cup is the difference between a Hall of Fame career or not. His teammates have absolutely NO DOUBT about the fact that without Tim Thomas they do not win the Cup -that’s why he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Trust me – his teammates LOVE Tim Thomas – and they will support him no matter what function he decides to skip.

    Posted by David Gallo | January 27, 2012, 3:26 pm
  6. Very well said. Felger is a gutless coward.

    Posted by jo | January 27, 2012, 3:32 pm
  7. Todd…did you just claim Obama is a half way decent PRESIDENT? Ha…ha. The deposit my dog made in the yard this morning would be a better President than the stuttering mouth breather currently holding that title.

    Posted by scott | January 27, 2012, 9:47 pm
  8. David,
    I have been around pro sports teams and watched a team almost get into a fist fight after a practice over who’s wife sat next to who. It was crazy. I have no doubt that the team likes what TT has to offer on the ice but do you honestly think they wanted to answer for what he did. I heard Neely’s interview and he was clearly annoyed by the whole thing. Save the lecture on how pro sports work. You are accountable on and off the field, court, ice whatever. Thomas made a team issue about him and that is just wrong.

    Posted by Jason Kohm | January 28, 2012, 10:07 am
  9. See, Scott, you make the comment about Obama and turn the comment into the usual nonsense.

    Thomas is a cowardly bum like you. You just hate any America that doesn’t agree with you 100 percent.

    Posted by NSR | January 28, 2012, 7:13 pm
  10. A a registered Independent Massachusetts voter and fan of both the Red Sox and the Bruins, I say that both Theo and Tim Thomas should have appeared with their teams. However Theo’s behavior was far worse in that he said highly derogatory things about Bush, whereas Thomas said nothing at all derogatory about O’Bama. Furthermore Theo did it twice and he was the GM, not a player. The bottom line is that the media is almost totally biased and that is why Theo got a free ride and why Thomas is getting fried.

    I agree that Felger is a left leaning bomb thrower but am glad to hear Mazz apologized. Sorry I missed it.

    Posted by Dave Park | January 28, 2012, 8:00 pm
  11. Everyone has a real short memory.

    After the 2008 visit, it was a huge controversy that Manny didn’t go. Mainly because they also went to Walter Reed. This overshadowed Theo not going, but that was talked about, including the likely reason, very heavily on the radio airwaves. I’m pretty sure not being a player has something to do with it too.

    Just because the Boston Herald only carried an AP article that didn’t mention Theo, doesn’t mean the firestorm didn’t happen.

    Cain’s desperate attempt to come off as objective misses the boat here.

    Posted by Dan | January 28, 2012, 11:21 pm
  12. And if you don’t agree that being a player has something to do with it, versus being a GM, when was the last time a President humorously called out a General Manager or any other executive in one of those White House ceremonies? No one cares about a GM.

    This was an episode of Conservative and Liberal asshats and wannabe uber-objective journalists making a huge deal out of equivalence that doesn’t exist…..

    Posted by Dan | January 28, 2012, 11:30 pm
  13. lol @ the uppity Bostonian brownshirts who think it’s okay to snub Bush but not the Dear Leader Obamao. There’s nothing more pathetic than worshiping a failed politician.

    You people have chugged so much koolaid you are beyond help.

    Thomas didn’t go and that’s his right. Or maybe you’d like him stalked and slandered for the rest of his life like the left did Palin for being a conservative. Maybe one of you deranged foaming out the mouth liberals with daggers in your eyes over this can move in next to Thomas’ house and spy on his children like you did Palin.

    After all–he must be punished for daring to exercise his first and fifth amendment rights.

    Because that’s what you do to people who dare disagree with you. You punish them in every vile way you can within the confines of the law. Good for you you are all real patriots to your country.

    Posted by Walker | January 29, 2012, 11:32 pm
  14. See,NSR, you make the knee jerk comment on my response to a…nonsense comment concerning another…President of the US. Apparently your feelings only get hurt when it’s your partisan ideology taking the hit. Follow the yellow brick road in your fantasy land and ask the wizard for some courage…and a brain. Unlike you I think both TT and Theo Epstein should have gone to the White House when invited.

    Posted by scott | January 29, 2012, 11:33 pm
  15. I hope you’ll pardon me for going a little OT, George, but I’m struck by the irony of the reactions to Thomas’ decision to decline his White House invitation. Those on the Left, which pretty much invented and supported this type of behavior during the Sixties- and the presidencies of Nixon, Reagan and Bush- are now quite outraged that someone would so disrespect the office of the President when one of their own is in that position. The Right, which condemned this sort of behavior on prior occasions, is now justifying Thomas’ decision and disparaging those who would criticize him.

    Couldn’t we all agree that it would have been more appropriate if Thomas had accepted his invitation, but that it’s also not that big a deal that he didn’t? He’s still doing a pretty good job in net, stopping pucks and helping keep the Bruins one of the best teams in the NHL. And isn’t that what we really expect of him?

    Posted by Steve Angers | January 30, 2012, 10:09 am
  16. And I too have made a choice…I’m not waching any more Bruins games.
    I actually saw Bobby Orr’s famous flying goal and cannot imagine him snubbing the President of the United State…no mater what his skin color was.
    Timmy Thomas is a boy in a man’s body and he should be cut from the roster and unitl the Bruins are Thomas free…I will not watch them anymore!!!

    Posted by Bob | March 12, 2012, 2:39 pm

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