Mushnick defends controversial passage; NSJ columnist says it was wrong

Phil Mushnick still hasn’t addressed the harsh reaction to his controversial column in a follow-up column in the New York Post. But he did defend himself in an interview with Eric Deggans of the National Sports Journalism Center.

In case you forgot, here is Mushnick’s passage that caused the uproar:

As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their  marketing shots — what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team  colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new “urban” home — why not have  him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?

Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The  cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with  hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the  way!

Mushnick has taken considerable flak for referring to the N-Word and stereotyping Jay-Z and his fans. Previously, his only response was in a couple of confrontational emails to his critics.

In Deggans’ column, Mushnick was more restrained, but no less apolgetic for using the controversial reference. He said:

I’ve been condemning it’s return, it’s mainstreaming…I was raised in a household that never heard the word. It was clearly a matter of pointed sarcasm. But the most difficult thing to defend in our business is condemnation as an anti-black racist.

Later, there is this passage:

Mushnick blames coverage on the Internet and in rival publications such as the New York Daily News for much of the criticism he’s received.

“People took this second hand,” he said. “How do I control what people get second hand and third hand and run with it? Nobody who reads me regularly thinks I’m a racist. This is more about the Internet than me.”

Deggans thinks Mushnick was wrong to use the reference, even in sarcasm. He writes:

Still, I think there’s a big difference between quoting someone else’s use of such a jarring racial epithet and a columnist using the word himself, especially in a sarcastic line stuck inside a column largely focused on other topics.

Much as the columnist says he hates the term and wants to constantly point out the Nets’ association with a man who he feels is mainstreaming the word, Mushnick does a bit of that himself by tossing off the word so casually.

Later Deggans concludes with an excellent point:

Defiant as Mushnick remains, I left our conversation hoping he might have learned that lesson at least.

Because, what good is it to deliver a lesson about the danger of mainstreaming one of the worst racial epithets in America, if your language angers everyone so much they never get the message?

Totally agree with Deegans. Mushnick had good intentions, but his message got lost.






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