DeVos-ed From Reality: Why I Was Booted From the Pat Williams Show

The e-mail was as curt as it was disturbing.

 

"I have been advised that it would not work out well for us since our owner, Rich DeVos, and Pat himself are portrayed in a negative light in the book…”

 

I had been disinvited from appearing on the WORL-FM radio program of Orlando Magic Vice President Pat Williams to discuss my new book Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love. In the book, I write about how Orlando Magic owner Dick DeVos, has for four decades been the fundraiser-in-chief for the right-wing edge of the Republican Party. I write about how his nonprofit, the DeVos Foundation, has pumped millions into groups that support radical reparative gay therapy, anti-evolution politics and other "traditional" family values. The organizations they support include Focus on the Family, the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Media Research Center among many others.

 

I write about DeVos’ own history as a founding member of an organization called the Council for National Policy (CNP). The CNP is a secret organization that makes the Masons look like paparazzi-hungry starlets. Formed and launched by the elite of the John Birch society, Dick DeVos is a two-time CNP President. Another leading member of the CNP was a fellow Michigan-based billionaire by the name of Edgar Prince. In what can only be described as a royal coupling, Edgar Prince's daughter, Betsy, married Dick's son, Dick Jr. Edgar Prince's son, Erik Prince, would become CEO of the infamous Blackwater corporation. Blackwater is the company of private mercenaries, hired to help occupy Iraq, Afghanistan, and even post-Katrina New Orleans. Famous for rolling through Baghdad in black SUVs, rock music blaring, and making 100 times the pay of a US soldier, they are the outsourced army as rampaging fraternity. Since 2000, Blackwater had received $505 million in government contracts, two-thirds of which came in no-bid contracts. This isn't a vast right-wing conspiracy: it's been an openly incestuous and highly beneficial coupling between the DeVos/Prince clan and the Republican Party.

 

Of course, DeVos has every right to support whatever organizations he wishes. But maybe we should be concerned that DeVos is also receiving hundreds of millions in corporate welfare to open a new $480 million home for the Orlando Magic that will be at the heart of a $1.1 billion Orlando mega-entertainment complex. Maybe we should be concerned that millions of our public tax dollars go into Dick DeVos's hands, and that money is then used to underwrite organizations many taxpayers, not to mention sports fans, would find noxious.

 

I was excited to go on Pat Williams' show and discuss these issues. Honestly, I was shocked—and impressed—that they asked me on in the first place. But alas that will never be. Instead, a critique of DeVos I made on the radio and television program Democracy Now, was seized upon by DeVos’ media gutter fighters at Newsbusters and Red State.

 

These radical-right websites bravely stepped forward to protect the integrity and good name of pro sports owners. Yes, billionaires getting billions more in public subsidies are the real victims in twenty-first-century America. I thought this crowd was against pork projects and bloated deficits. But when the "welfare queens" in question are their billion-dollar sugar daddies, they courageously rise in anger.

 

The post titled "NBA Fans Shouldn't Back the Blackwater Magic? Zany Zirin's Sports Analogies" reads, "Do the Orlando Magic, support war in Iraq? That's what MSNBC's favorite leftist sports guru, Dave Zirin of The Nation magazine, argued on taxpayer-subsidized Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now on Friday. Blackwater CEO Erik Prince is the brother-in-law of Magic owner (and conservative funder) Dick DeVos. So Zirin thought NBA fans ought to think twice.… His Pacifica interviewers weren't going to ask about leftist sports team owners using publicly funded stadiums for fundraisers. Does Zirin really believe that's never happened?" This is stupidity masquerading as journalism. Forget that Price isn't DeVos's brother-in-law. In the book I go through chapter and verse, the political contributions of owners. And no, there is no billion dollar sugar daddy in an owner’s box funding The Nation the way Lakers minority owner Phil Anschutz underwrites his money-hemorrhaging operation at The Weekly Standard.

 

So to sum up: I thought I was going to appear on Pat Williams show to have an honest debate about the ethics of Dick DeVos's operation. Instead I was "breitbarted" by his apparatchiks on the radical right. I am still open to having that discussion with Pat Williams at the time and place of his choosing. Until that time, you'll forgive me for assuming that Dick DeVos is far comfortable doing his business in the shadows of American politics than exposing them to the light of day. Sports fans of the Orlando Magic and taxpayers in the state of Florida deserve far better.

 

[Dave Zirin is the author of the forthcoming “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love” (Scribner) Receive his column every week by emailing dave@edgeofsports.com. Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com.]

15 Reader Comments | Add a comment

What a drag

Hi, Bruce.

Did ya know there are now harnesses you can buy to keep your knuckles from dragging on the sidewalk?

Legal Advice

Bruce:

I wanted to warn you that there are several people who are making a fortune off of your philosophical musings - Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Sean Hannity. These three plagiarists are widely considered to be the most trenchant political thinkers of our time. What most people don't know is that they are apparently stealing your ideas and passing them of as their own. I hope you confront these fakers and claim your rightful place as the new-millennium Founding Father we need if we are to reclaim our America from the likes of Obama and Zirin. Keep up the good work, my brother. Keep up the good work.

sad

Bruce do you have a job? I ask because you seem to have all this time to post on this website during work hours, does your employer know that you are stealing from them?

Information

I appreciate your work Dave. I have read all your books. What's next? Maybe an article on how the Heat season ticket agents were alegedly let go after the season tickets were sold out!

thought police

It is unfortunate that this group of zealots managed to dissuade mr. williams from engaging in a lively and civil conversation (i know of no debate in which mr. zirin has been involved in which did not exhibit these qualities) with dave on these issues. Evidently it hit a little too close to home for their liking. What really annoys me though is the sheer intellectual cowardice of such a position. One would think dave was being accused of making ad hominem attacks against mr, devos, whose honour must then be defended by an act of censorship. In reality the problem is that a difference of opinion on political, social, and economic issues is enough to bar entry into the lofty symposium that is orlando sports talk radio. They reveal the weakness of their convictions when they silence an opposing view rather than contest it.

thought police

It is unfortunate that this group of zealots managed to dissuade mr. williams from engaging in a lively and civil conversation (i know of no debate in which mr. zirin has been involved in which did not exhibit these qualities) with dave on these issues. Evidently it hit a little too close to home for their liking. What really annoys me though is the sheer intellectual cowardice of such a position. One would think dave was being accused of making ad hominem attacks against mr, devos, whose honour must then be defended by an act of censorship. In reality the problem is that a difference of opinion on political, social, and economic issues is enough to bar entry into the lofty symposium that is orlando sports talk radio. They reveal the weakness of their convictions when they silence an opposing view rather than contest it.

Brilliant

Bruce is either a clinical moron or a brilliant troll. I still can't decide which, although in any case the schtick is almost getting to the point where it's effortless to ignore.

But not yet!

Keep pounding those keys laddie!

Bruce the Plumber

Bruce:

You remind me of another nitwit whose claim to fame was being a nitwit - Joe the Plumber. We'll call you Bruce the Speller.

I think you should write a few posts blaming Jackie Robinson for introducing Affirmative Action to pro sports or maybe blaming player's unions for stealing from owners.

Only 5 hours till Beck. Hope you can wait that long.

TEFLON TROG CAN SPELL?

... though what the donkey party and its suit have to do with the word that "begins with a S ends with a T" is beyond me.
Like my students it seems that the TEFLON TROG has no idea what the word that "begins with a S ends with a T" actually means.
But I guess anything that tweaks the status quo in this very right-of-center country is fair game for the term that "begins with a S ends with a T".
Foolish me... as DZ points out, the closest we get to "begins with a S ends with a T" is in the so-called pro sports as they are presently constituted (tax payer funded stadiums for all rich folk, I say... cosy antitrust laws anybody? Soccer leagues the world over can only wish that they had as much control over their players... something about "human rights" in the EU... but I guess "human rights" are a "begins with a S ends with a T" issue).
Does the TEFLON TROG propose the disbanding of these leagues that seem to live off of their "begins with a S ends with a T" tendencies?

I am smart

Bruce:

Like you said, the pro sports teams rely on corporate welfare (from the government) to build stadiums. Thanks for pointing that out.

Like you said, conservatives really do care about the middle- and lower-classes which is why their only economic policy is to cut taxes for the wealthy. Thanks for the enlightenment.

Like you said, racism is a big problem in this country and us white folks better start standing up to the man and demand our rights. This was our country before they stole it from us.

Thanks bruce you am smart and we got it ok :)!?

Bruce, where can I get my check?

Bruce wrote:

"thanks to Obama

I can sit home and collect a govt check."

Funny, I've never gotten one of these checks, and neither has anyone I know, and we're talking people of all races. Where can I get this magic Obama check his critics keep talking about?

A weak diversion

I go to the Edge of Sports website because I really enjoy Dave Zirin's writing and analysis. I read the reader comments because I like the exchange of thoughtful ideas.

But then there is all this recently increased bruce polution.

His postings aren't thoughtful, aren't clever, and seem to rarely, if ever, have anything to do with the actual Dave Zirin column that they follow.

If anything, it's like enduring Beavis and Butt-Head hijacking NPR's On The Media or Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Sensible and engaging commentary followed by a monkey throwing feces. The two really do not go together. Town hall versus Freak show. Is either audience really satisfied?

I don't have any useful solution. It just seems that when adults talk, well-raised children wait their turn, and bruce can't manage to do that.

So, Bruce, again, where's my check?

Never answered my question, Bruce. Where can I get my check? I still have to go to work. You said that you can just sit back and collect a check from Obama now. I don't know where to get one of these checks. The only check i know of is the one I get from work, and I have to show up there 5 days a week and work to get it.

My 2c

As a college prof and genius, I would like to provide a summation of the current argument occurring on this post... Bruce = Douche Bag. Class dismissed.

P.S. - Yes Bruce, I WILL be teaching your children. Evolution! Darwinism! Same-sex marriage! OH MY!

My only hope is that your children grow up hating your intolerant vitriol...

Thanks

"ciriculum"

"hypocrit" (three times at least)

"whiney"

Thanks for the laughs Bruce.

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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