Marilyn Writes

Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 year banking career, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, and other major industry publications. The American Bankers Association (ABA) published Barnewall’s Profitable Private Banking: the Complete Blueprint, in 1987. She taught private banking at Colorado University for the ABA and trained private bankers in Singapore.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The adage 'Don't shoot the messenger' applies here

October 13, 2003 Grand Junction Free Press Page 10

(c) Copyright 2003, Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall, All Rights Reserved
Grammy's Axioms, Special to the Free Press

By Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall

Axiom: People value truth -- but hate those who tell it. Is it any wonder we see so little of it?

     I get upset about claims of racism more easily than a lot of people. I have good reason. My son married a black woman and my beautiful granddaughters are half black.
      I must tell you that their academic achievements place them in the top 2 percent of all Colorado students. In addition, my 14 year old granddaughter occasionally writes articles that appear in The Denver Post. I must say it because I'm proud of them, not because their achievements have anything to do with this column.
     As a journalist, I have always believed it important to seek truth. I get easily upset when people play games with it... political games, racial games, any kind of game. Racism and lies are about the only two things that upset me big time.
     In my opinion, one of the greatest problems we have in the new millennium is a lack of respect for truth. It exists in all areas: Business, family, media, sports, the arts, etc. If we have come to the point where truthful statements are racist, then political correctness has gone too far. Way too far.
     Because of these two things -- racial insensitivities and lying -- I was particularly interested in the news story of last week: Rush Limbaugh Makes Racist Comments. Was it true? It doesn't have to be to achieve what those who created the story want. It just has to be able to be a catalyst in libeling the conservative talk show host.
     Limbaugh did not attack Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. He simply stated that McNabb was, in his opinion, being given unearned kudos by some members of the media who are using him to create a black quarterback hero. His negative comments were addressed at the media, not the quarterback.
     Limbaugh said -- very accurately, I believe -- that some members of the dominant establishment press are too race-conscious. He said some sports reporters wanted a black quarterback to succeed so badly, they were willing to overstate McNabb's achievements.
     If McNabb is playing like a superstar, he deserves all of the positive press he gets. If he is not, and if the media is singing his praises as if he were, then the media is guilty of reverse racism.
     I have never tried to hide the fact that I am a conservative... I believe in being truthful, remember? So you know where I'm coming from, when Rush Limbaugh first became a conservative radio talk show host in the early 90s, I listened to his program with periodic regularity. I have not listened to Rush for well over five years, however. I will also say that in the eight years I listened to Limbaugh, I never heard him make a racist comment.
     Frankly, insufficient information has been published by the media, written or electronic, to determine if a racist comment was made. It is very possible Rush just told the truth about a black athlete.
     It seems to me that fair and balanced news reporting requires research. Since the sports media seems disinclined to provide people with statistical data, I decided to go back to my days as a sports reporter for the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne (1957) and do the research myself.
     The following statistics come from the Web site of the Philadelphia Eagles. For those who are not football fans, Donovan McNabb quarterbacks for the Eagles.
     In the following data, I gathered statistics for Bronco quarterback Jake Plummer (just because he's one of ours). I also tracked statistics for each quarterback who placed first in each category, and the quarterback who placed 12th in each category. I picked #12 because it represents average performance. When possible, statistics are given by AFC and NFC performance.
     According to statistics from the American Football Conference (AFC), the highest rated passing quarterback is Tommy Maddox of Pittsburgh with 1304 yards. Bronco quarterback Jake Plummer is ranked 11th with 904 yards passing. David Carr of Houston ranks 12th with 880 yards.
     National Football Conference (NFC) statistics place Patrick Ramsey of Washington in the number one slot with 1307 passing yards. The 12th ranked quarterback is Marc Bulger of St. Louis with 734 yards. Donovan McNabb is in 14th place with 664 yards passing.
     As a passing quarterback, McNabb is below average. The statistics say so.
     Donovan McNabb is first in rushing in the NFL. He has rushed 25 times for 174 yards resulting in 7.0 yards per carry. He has fumbled the ball four times while rushing but scored four rushing touchdowns.
     By comparison, Jake Plummer of Denver -- with less time on the field for the Bronco game against Pittsburgh has rushed 18 times for 119 yards (or, 6.6 yards per carry). He fumbled twice and scored 5 rushing touchdowns.
     How many passing touchdowns have top-rated quarterbacks made at this point in the season?
     In the AFC, Peyton Manning of Indianapolis is first with 9 touchdown passes. Jake Plummer is ranked 2nd with 8, and Tommy Maddox of Pittsburgh is 12th with 5 touchdown passes.
     In the NFC, Brett Favre is #1. He has passed for 9 touchdowns. Joey Harrington of Detroit is #2nd. He has passed for 7 touchdowns. Donovan McNabb is ranked 18th with 1 touchdown pass.
     AFC overall quarterback points rank Tony Banks of Houston #1 with 104.7 points. Jake Plummer is ranked sixth with 92.5 points. Jon Kitna of Cincinnati is ranked 12th with 78.4 points.
     NFC quarterback rankings place Todd Bouman of the New Orleans Saints first with 126.0 points and Patrick Ramsey 12th with 80.9 points. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is in 22nd place with 51.3 points.
     Looking at McNabb>s statistics, if he has been praised by the media as an outstanding quarterback, Rush Limbaugh was correct. The media was trying to make a quarterback hero out of a less-than-average quarterback... though he appears to be a hell of a running back.
     Limbaugh's comments do not appear to be racially motivated -- not even racially insensitive. People who are paid to tell the truth about the performance of others are, as long as they tell the truth, not racists. Nor are they responsible for the overly-sensitive reactions of others.
     Are people who are offended by Limbaugh's admission of an addiction problem to pain medications last week showing a bias toward white people with drug problems because the truth bothered them? Of course not!
     I understand the sensitivity to skin color... I've been known to be sensitive to the shape of my skin when competing in an all male industry. I got over thinking I had snivel rights long ago, however. Others should try learning that lesson. It sets you free.
     The truth is never insulting. Neither is it racist. It is just truth.

The first newspaper article written under Marilyn MacGruder's byline appeared in the sports pages of The Denver Post in 1952. Frank Haraway was sports editor. The article gained a front page banner headline for the 16-year old. At age 15, MacGruder started the first women's baseball league in Denver. In 1957, MacGruder reported sports for the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. She was one of the first women in America to write sports under a woman's byline. When young, she was a competitive swimmer, a horsewoman, a bowler, a baseball player and general lover of sports.