Reid, Hill Smear America As Racist For Caitlin Clark Popularity

News & Politics

When MSNBC’s Joy Reid plays the race card, it is usually over typical progressive grievances, but on Friday, the eponymous host of The ReidOut came up with a new one: men’s favorite women’s basketball players. For her and The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill, nobody is jealous of Clark’s popularity because she is white and straight, but it is why America likes her.

The genesis for the segment was a week-old controversy over a cheap shot foul from Chennedy Carter on Caitlin Clark. Reid was not pleased with the discourse that followed, “It’s a misogynistic and race-based tale as old as time. Men picking sides for no reason … Jemele, okay, which is it, it is hateration or a legitimate beef by black players, black women players?”

One of the men Reid was denouncing was Charles Barkley, who is black. Speaking of narrative busters, after the game, Carter went on an immature Twitter-liking spree where she liked posts applauding what she did.

As it was, Hill began, “the hateration part has been completely blown out of proportion. And just because you bring up inequity, that doesn’t mean you’re saying you’re jealous of the person who is receiving maybe a lot of the attention.”

She further claimed, “I don’t like about how many of the men with these platforms are ‘shaping’ the conversation is they’re reducing it to pettiness, to jealousy, they’re playing on stereotypes and tropes that are said about women in general, but especially black women. And this is a black women-led league, and to me, that has really devalued the conversation we need to be having.”

Reid agreed, “You know, somebody very smart said to me recently the challenge with women’s basketball is most of the stars are black, but — I mean most of the great players are black, but most of the stars are white. Whether it’s who’s getting awarded by the ESPN, who is getting noticed by the magazines and like you said, if there were charter flights, Brittney Griner would not have ended up in a gulag, right?”

Griner was in Russia to make more money, how charter flights would suddenly raise WNBA revenues to remove the need for that was not something Reid was willing to explore.

Moving on from Clark’s fellow players reaction to her fans, Reid wondered, “How much of this do you think, though, is the marketing potential of a Caitlin Clark? Because quite frankly, this is a league that is largely, as you said, largely black women. It’s largely also LGBTQ. She’s a white heterosexual woman and so if you’re trying to get white dads to go spend their money and buy season tickets, she seems like a marketing opportunity.”

Hill didn’t see what the big deal is, “I don’t know why people find that to be controversial to think about that. We know that marketing is about ability, talent, all those things. And nobody is saying that Caitlin Clark doesn’t have those things. She’s incredibly talented. She’s broken records, she’s playing a playing style that people love that is very representative of what we see today particularly on the men’s side. But yes, it helps that she’s white, straight, and from Iowa in a league that has faced marketing challenges throughout the history over the last three decades that it’s been in existence.”

In conclusion, Hill recalled that in the NBA, “You had a predominantly black league that had white fans or more importantly, white people who wanted to invest in that league, so they had to quote ‘clean it up’ by making the players look a certain way so they could market and appeal to everyone so when you say that Caitlin Clark’s whiteness and the fact that she’s straight plays a role underline ‘a role’ in her popularity, that’s not a diss to Caitlin Clark, it’s just simply America.”

Meanwhile, in baseball, the most popular player is Japanese, in men’s basketball and football, the most popular players are black. There was a long time when the main reason people watched golf on TV was a black man, the most popular Olympic gymnast in America is a black woman, but none of that will stop Reid and Hill from smearing their fellow Americans as racists for having a particular favorite women’s basketball player.

Here is a transcript for the June 7 show:

MSNBC  The ReidOut

6/7/2024

7:35 PM ET

JOY REID: It’s a misogynistic and race-based tale as old as time. Men picking sides for no reason. I’m joined now by Jemele Hill, contributing writer at The Atlantic and host of the Jemele Hill is Unbothered podcast and my friend. Jemele, okay, which is it, is it hateration or a legitimate beef by black players, black women players?

JEMELE HILL: Well, I don’t think it’s – the hateration part has been completely blown out of proportion. And just because you bring up inequity, that doesn’t mean you’re saying you’re jealous of the person who is receiving maybe a lot of the attention, a lot of the fanfare, endorsement deals, but through Caitlin Clark, we are able to get a lens and a window into how this majority black woman-led league has been treated over time. 

I mean, case in point, the charter flight issue which has been in the media. You know, this was an issue that the players have been raising for years, and there have been incremental steps along the way. You know, first it was for the playoffs. Now, then it was for the playoffs and back-to-back games. And there was this sense that the next collective bargaining agreement, that charter flights all the time would be in there. 

Well, all it took was a video of Caitlin Clark being harassed in an airport by somebody in the media, and then all of a sudden they are charter flights now for everybody and it begs the question that you could have been doing this all along, and what you find is this systemic pattern in women’s sports in particular that often women are treated that way because people can get away with it and there is no system of accountability.

Just as a quick example, a couple years ago, a lot of people caught wind of the fact there was disparate treatment between the men’s and women’s college basketball players when everyone was in the bubble. You saw the women, Sedona Prince, TikTok, and pointed this out as did others in women’s college basketball, they gave, basically, women a couple yoga mats, some dumbbells that looked like they got them at a garage sale.

Meanwhile, men have all this equipment, very pretty looking stuff. And it wasn’t that they couldn’t afford it. It’s just that because they knew they could get away with it, and no one shine a light on it and so what you’re finding now is through Caitlin Clark, we’re able to see how they have been treating these women up until this point and that’s created a lot of conversation and frankly what I don’t like about how many of the men with these platforms are “shaping” the conversation is they’re reducing it to pettiness, to jealousy, they’re playing on stereotypes and tropes that are said about women in general, but especially black women. And this is a black women-led league, and to me, that has really devalued the conversation we need to be having.

REID: You know, somebody very smart said to me recently the challenge with women’s basketball is most of the stars are black, but — I mean most of the great players are black, but most of the stars are white. Whether it’s who’s getting awarded by the ESPN, who is getting noticed by the magazines and like you said, if there were charter flights, Brittney Griner would not have ended up in a gulag, right?

These ladies are flying commercial and they’re not treated like the men are. How much of this do you think, though, is the marketing potential of a Caitlin Clark? Because quite frankly, this is a league that is largely, as you said, largely black women. It’s largely also LGBTQ.

She’s a white heterosexual woman and so if you’re trying to get white dads to go spend their money and buy season tickets, she seems like a marketing opportunity. How much of it is that?

HILL: I don’t know why people find that to be controversial to think about that. We know that marketing is about ability, talent, all those things. And nobody is saying that Caitlin Clark doesn’t have those things. She’s incredibly talented. She’s broken records, she’s playing a playing style that people love that is very representative of what we see today particularly on the men’s side. But yes, it helps that she’s white, straight, and from Iowa in a league that has faced marketing challenges throughout the history over the last three decades that it’s been in existence. It’s faced marketing challenges because of the things you mention.

Because seventy percent of the players are black women. Because a third of them identify as LGBTQ+. Yes, it has faced challenges and by the way, the NBA went through the same thing. You know, before Magic and Bird arrived and took the NBA finals off tape delay, the NBA was in a very vulnerable spot. It was a black-led league, there were drug problems, there were a lot of issues and then you fast forward to the 90s and 2000s where there was the merge with hip-hop. That’s how you got the dress code because you had the same issue. You had a predominantly black league that had white fans, or more importantly white people who wanted to invest in that league, so they had to quote “clean it up” by making the players look a certain way so they could market and appeal to everyone so when you say that Caitlin Clark’s whiteness and the fact that she’s straight plays a role underline “a role” in her popularity, that’s not a diss to Caitlin Clark, it’s just simply America.

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