Matt C. Abbott
Brent Musburger and 'the masculine aspect of sports'; When 'pretty' gets you fired
By Matt C. Abbott
January 11, 2013

(The following commentary originally appeared on the blog of American Thinker.)

Talk about going overboard!

No, I'm not referring to Brent Musburger's on-the-air fawning over the attractive girlfriend of Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A. J. McCarron during the BCS national title game on ESPN.

I'm referring to the reactions of the female journalism professors quoted in The New York Times:
    ...In the first quarter, ESPN showed McCarron's girlfriend, Katherine Webb, who was sitting near his parents. Musburger called the 23-year-old Webb, a former Miss Alabama USA, a 'lovely lady' and 'beautiful,' and said to his broadcast partner, Kirk Herbstreit, a former quarterback at Ohio State, 'You quarterbacks get all the good-looking women'.....

    'It's extraordinarily inappropriate to focus on an individual's looks,' said Sue Carter, a professor of journalism at Michigan State. 'In this instance, the appearance of the quarterback's girlfriend had no bearing on the outcome of the game. It's a major personal violation, and it's so retrograde that it's embarrassing. I think there's a generational issue, but it's incumbent on people practicing in these eras to keep up and this is not a norm.'

    Carter was among those who said she thought Musburger should be reprimanded. 'I think because sports has been such a male-dominated domain, he obviously felt license and privilege and he's been able to do that for years,' Carter said. 'But the masculine aspect of sports is changing.'
The Times then quotes another female journalism professor:
    'Football is a male domain,' said Jennifer Greer, the chairwoman of the journalism department at Alabama. 'And the role that women play even in the journalistic respect is in the supportive role, the mom, the hot girlfriend, the sideline reporter. They're accepted in this world, but in particular roles. It reinforces this stereotype of the hot model girlfriend attached to a quarterback and the maleness of sports that is hard for serious female athletes.'
Sheesh. Sounds like sour grapes to me. Or perhaps it's just radical feminism once again rearing its ugly head.

I suppose Musburger did get a bit carried away in that short time span (although, in fairness, Ms. Webb was certainly more pleasant to look at and talk about than the game itself). Still, it's downright silly to suggest he should be reprimanded merely for saying Ms. Webb is a "lovely lady," "beautiful" and "good-looking." Yes, he was redundant, but it's not like he was making lewd comments about her.

I don't know what Musburger's political leanings are, yet I can't help but wonder if, say, Bill Clinton had made a guest appearance in the broadcast booth and made those same comments about Ms. Webb, would Ms. Carter and Ms. Greer have the same reactions? For that matter, would The New York Times be even the slightest bit interested in covering the so-called controversy? Would the editorial page take the former president to task for complimenting the looks of a young woman? I doubt it.

Not surprisingly, the uber-politically correct ESPN apologized for Musburger's — how shall we say? — verbal malfunction.

The lesson to be learned in all this: Radical feminism and extreme political correctness are a clear and present danger to our society.

Oh, one other thing ... aspiring journalists would do well to be very selective in where they choose to go to school, lest they succumb to the disease of liberalism.

(The following commentary originally appeared on the blog of American Thinker.)

An interesting court case came to a controversial conclusion on December 21.

    The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday that employers in the state can legally fire workers they find too attractive. In a unanimous decision, the court held that a dentist did not violate the state's civil rights act when he terminated a female dental assistant whom his wife considered a threat to their marriage.

    The assistant, Melissa Nelson, who had worked for James Knight for more than 10 years and had never flirted with him, according to the testimony of both parties, sued, saying she would not have been fired if she were a man.

    The seven justices, all men, said the basic question presented by the case was 'whether an employee who has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction.' The high court ruled that bosses can fire workers they find too attractive and that such actions do not amount to unlawful discrimination.
The legal aspect aside, was it morally justifiable for the dentist to fire his assistant because she was too much of a temptation for him? (And he apparently feared the wrath of his wife.)

I say no.

Now, I do believe there could have been scenarios whereby he would have been morally justified in doing so. For example, if Mrs. Nelson had been blatantly trying to seduce Mr. Knight, then yes, he would have been morally justified in firing her. But such wasn't the case. In fact, according to the article excerpted above, both parties agreed that Mrs. Nelson never even flirted with Mr. Knight.

Actually, it was Mr. Knight who made sexually-suggestive remarks to Mrs. Nelson, at least one of which was included in an exchange of texts between the two. When Mr. Knight's wife found out about the texting, she demanded her husband fire Mrs. Nelson because she considered Mrs. Nelson a threat to their marriage. Granted, we don't have a copy of the texts, but if the article at is accurate, Mrs. Nelson's texts apparently didn't constitute flirting.

It was also reported that Mr. Knight repeatedly complained to Mrs. Nelson about her workplace attire, which he claimed was inappropriate and too revealing. She denies the allegation, saying she wore scrubs. (Source) Thus, unless she insisted on showing up to work dressed like, say, Lady Gaga during a performance, I don't see her workplace attire as a legitimate reason to fire her.

After being fired, Mrs. Nelson sued Mr. Knight, which she had a moral right to do in this particular case. Obviously, the courts decided that Mr. Knight was legally justified in firing the dental assistant.

I guess sometimes it pays to be ugly — literally.

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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