April 27, 2014

NAACP-LA Names Clippers’ Owner Donald Sterling 2014 Lifetime Achievement Honoree, Despite His Housing Discrimination History

Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Donald Sterling, owner of the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Clippers, was allegedly caught on tape chiding a person who is apparently his girlfriend for “taking pictures with minorities” and “associating with black people.” He also tells her that she is a “delicate” “Latina or white girl,” and because of that doesn’t understand why she would “associate with black people.” He doesn’t want her bringing black people, including NBA legend Magic Johnson, to games.

It turns out that Sterling must be known in liberal and politically correct circles for far more than the few small political donations from two decades ago identified in last night’s post. The Clippers owner is scheduled in less than three weeks to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP at its 100th anniversary event, where Al Sharpton and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti will also be honored as persons of the year (HT to a NewsBusters commenter):

SterlingLIfetimeAwardNAACP0514

The lifetime achievement award decision should already have been highly questionable before Sterling’s alleged race-based rant.

NewsBusters’ late Noel Sheppard, in a 2009 post, noted that shortly after the PC crowd expressed horror at the prospect of conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh having partial ownership of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams (Limbaugh was dropped from the ownership group after likely pressure from the league and/or the players union, i.e., the intimidation campaign against him worked), Sterling was settling a government lawsuit relating to … wait for it … race-based housing discrimination — the second such settlement in less than five years.

Noel linked to a Yahoo Sports item by Dan Wetzel which is still accessible. Wetzel raked the NBA over the coals for its non-reaction to Sterling’s $2.73 million settlement with the government (bolds are mine):

Sterling suit seems to fit NBA just fine

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling agreed to pay $2.73 million this week to settle a federal case alleging he discriminated in the rental of apartments he owns with his wife in Southern California.

The settlement is “the largest monetary payment ever obtained” in this kind of case by the U.S. Justice Department, according to a news release from the organization.

It stems from allegations Sterling’s company targeted and discriminated against blacks, Hispanics and families with children in renting apartments in greater Los Angeles. The settlement must still be approved by a federal judge but should also resolve two additional tenant-filed suits alleging racial discrimination.

“The magnitude of this settlement should send a message to all landlords that we will vigorously pursue violations of the Fair Housing Act,” said Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Perez is currently President Barack Obama’s Labor Secretary.

Continuing:

What the magnitude of this settlement should have done is create a wave of questions and condemnations of Donald Sterling from across the NBA.

Instead, most incredibly, there hasn’t been a lick of public discussion.

The NBA said it has no plans to investigate or comment, according to a spokesman. Other owners have been silent. The NBA Player’s Association has had no reaction and did not respond to messages. The players themselves have, best I can find, said nothing.

The media, which just last month went full force on the story of Rush Limbaugh becoming part of a potential NFL ownership group, has mostly ignored the deal.

… This also isn’t a new issue for Sterling. Four years ago (i.e., in 2005 — Ed.) his company agreed to settle a similar 2003 racial discrimination suit for an undisclosed sum

Despite the housing discrimination cases, Sterling was apparently enough of a fixture (read: likely donor) at LA’s NAACP that he was a member of the group’s Honorary Dinner Committee at its 97th anniversary event in 2010.

As to the NBA, previous league commissioner David Stern, a heavy-hitter Democratic Party donor himself, appears to have dumped a humdinger of a festering problem on his successor Adam Sliver.

It can be inferred from what Wetzel noted that the league’s players, given Sterling’s housing discrimination history, are being more than a little disingenuous in their outrage if they claim that they had no idea that he might hold the attitudes he allegedly has displayed.

The reaction to all of this from those who have been playing the guilt-by-association game with Republicans and conservatives who have expressed support for Nevada’s Cliven Bundy in his grazing rights dispute with the federal government’s Bureau of Land Management dispute — an issue which, unlike Sterling’s race-based remarks, is completely separate from whatever Mr. Bundy’s racial views happen to be — should be fascinating.

Though the NAACP-Sterling connection is gaining significant traction in the press, searches at the Associated Press’s national site on “Sterling NAACP” and “Sterling colored” (not in quotes) each returned no results. I scanned the four stories on Sterling currently carried at the AP’s site, two of which have time stamps later than the earliest related coverage I could find, and found no mention of the NAACP connection. (I haven’t linked to any of AP’s stories because they are typically updated; when that occurs, older versions usually disappear and become inaccessible.)

Apparently, the wire service is awaiting coverage instructions from on high, or to see which way the wind is blowing, or both, before deciding how to handle the NAACP’s convenient blinders and the NBA’s hands-off treatment of Sterling until now.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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