Curt Schilling – After the Tweets
We’re here to listen to Curt Schilling in his first interview since being cashiered from sport-TV titan ESPN. Curtis Montague Schilling, long loved as a former Major League BoSox rightie pitcher and a baseball color analyst for ESPN, universally known as “Curt”, is also a former video game developer, and sometime entrepreneur.
“I think I've earned a certain level of respect, based on my accomplishments and my consistency.”
Speaking inside a literal glass cage with two interviewers from Breitbart and 24 press in chairs facing Curt, with a dozen press sitting off to the side of the glass cage on actual metal bleachers, is interviewed for his first major talk to the public after his brouhaha firing earlier in April.
The two Breitbart men interviewing him in rat-a-tat fashion are Breitbart staffer Stephen K. Bannon and Breitbart News Network editor-in-chief Alex Marlow. Bushy-haired Bannon approached me after the interview, having heard – somehow -- that I thought their questions unduly harsh and perhaps delivered too rapidly, aimed at unmanning the interviewee. “So you thought we were too mean?” He spoke under his eyebrows and with lowered head.
Actually, thinking a bit more about it, they were doing their jobs, not giving anyone a free pass, considering the floodlit attention this sports great had gotten in the preceding few weeks.
Full disclosure: I have to admit, knowing almost nothing about sports, this man, Curt S., is immediately likable. What he says has the ring of authenticity and simple truth. (Probably because I agree with everything he says -- and it’s plain refreshing to hear in public.) And what he says makes sense in a world of crazy-making bafflegab nonsense that we all know is rubbish.
Schilling sat in a relaxed blue and white checked shirt and jeans on a stool, as he was interviewed for “Breitbart News Patriot Forum.” This was on the 46th floor of the McGraw-Hill building on Avenue of the Americas, at the broadcast center for Sirius XM radio.
ESPN’s real problem with him, he said, was not that he commented on politics, but that his political comments, now as in the past, went the wrong way out loud, expressed the unfavored ideology.
“They called me a racist, a bigot and a “transphobe” -- whatever that is -- and I am none of those things.”
His point, made repeatedly throughout the hour and some we sat listening to the questions peppered on him by Bannon and Marlowe of Breitbart, was that -- as on American campuses for the past decade and some, and elsewhere in U.S. culture, you can believe what you want, but you can’t say what runs counter to the prevailing leftist/radical Democrat politicking that prevails wherever you look.
Schilling, a tall, genial man with a bear-grip handshake and an affable attitude to pestilential questions from strangers, was accompanied by his wife of 24 years, the gorgeous Shonda, a petite blond who smiled throughout the interview, and especially when one of the interviewers suggested she get the Best-Wife Award for the year, after all the PR brickbats thrown at her family, and their three children, following her husband’s public firing.
“That’s OK,” Curt laughs, “she’s earned that award 12 years in a row.”
They both have a tolerant, what-can-you-do attitude to the little minds of most of the media community. Shonda has the same easygoing attitude her husband manifests.
“Is what they did to you at ESPN fair?” One of the two Breitbart guys asks.
“Fair?” Curt explains. “After you leave high school, the word 'fair' has no more meaning, frankly. Nothing in life is fair, so I don’t even think in those terms.”
He explains that his remarks and tweets were not only mischaracterized, they were whole-cloth misconstrued. “I said nothing at all about transgender anything. I was speaking about the functionality of female bathrooms versus male. ESPN then cast me as a transphobe. One of my sons is in a group that supports LGBT people, so I have no feeling at all in that direction. But they made me into a racist, bigot, and transphobe -- whatever that is -- I am none of those things.”
“Racists? ESPN employs the biggest racists in sports commentating.” And he said it more than once.
“Inside the Green Room,” he admits, anything goes, but it doesn’t get outside the room. It’s the same in the locker room: remarks are all off-limits. That’s true, he says, of both men and women in there, where racist jokes and unacceptable talk flies around in good-humored bonhomie. He calls the unwritten rule to keep whatever’s said in there an “unbreakable bond between the men and women” sharing these moments.
When he’s about to say something he thinks will injure the delicate sensibilities of listeners or watchers, he shouts “Trigger Warning! Look for your Safe space, everybody!”
Everyone, including the two interviewers, laughs.
Schilling calls the actual arena of broadcasting “a gulag,” lowering his voice. And answers that in terms of the actuality of politics at ESPN, Schilling said “In eight and a half years at ESPN, I met exactly four people who voted for Obama.” And in contrast to what some at the station might have hypothesized, he “doesn’t hang with any crowd at all.”
Did he realize he was “going off the reservation” when he wrote what he did and said what he did in his blog re urinals and absurdity? Truth is, what he said wouldn’t have been a problem for liberals -- but it was only because he’s a known conservative that there was a problem. Straight face, he says: “Bigots were calling me a bigot!”
Adding, “They aren’t really liberals -- they’re just no-free-speechers.”
“The hypocrisy is mind-boggling,” he remarks, bringing up the extensive carbon-energy-wasting footprint of the multimillionaire actor, Leo DiCaprio, who touts global warmism while he jets off in his private fuel-burning aircraft.
“Some of the biggest racists in sports” [are in ESPN], he says, without a snark anywhere to put the secret I-don’t-really-mean-this on what he’s just said.
“We’ve got to make sure we don’t trample on the Middle East, which tosses gays off roofs, and cuts people’s heads off,” he says. Following that with a slam against unreasoning PC behavior pods: “So we gotta like Barry Bonds, ‘cause he’s black, right? Why?”
With regard to the bathroom open-sesame for pervs, rapists and regular men who feel like “today, they are a girl," he notes plaintively, "I’m upset that the government thinks it can tell us how to think about peeing..!”
Carefully, he adds: “But being in a girl’s bathroom does not automatically make a guy into a pedophile.”
He leaves the arena of front-mic politics to address an issue that bothers him in the current campaign blah by some frontrunners: “Y’know you talk about John McCain, and people say they think people like McCain are “warmongers.” But I’ve been over there many times, and spoken with these men, and none of them are warmongers. John McCain is not a warmonger. War is by no means something glamorous, and I don't think that should ever be forgotten.” And: “The top issue facing the country is Security. The only way not to have war is by appeasement.”
He emphasizes that it is a “crime” that our vets, who risked their lives for us, can come home and be homeless.
Did this correspondent enjoy the heck out of hearing, and talking with (and taking photos with) this storied sportsman and cool announcer?
In the immortal words of the former candidate for veep, Sarah Palin: "You betcha."