Two weeks after he was banned for life after being busted on tape saying racist and misogynistic things, Donald Sterling crawled to CNN to make his big apology/give-me-my-life-back PR tour. It didn’t go so well based on the clips made available this morning.
Sterling was steeped in self pity and entitlement, and ended up blaming Magic Johnson for not being a good role model for minorities, even saying, “I don’t think he’s a good example for the children of Los Angeles.”
OH. Okay then. Thanks for the apology?
Watch a clip released from CNN’s exclusive interview with Donald Sterling here:
The clip opens with a painful whine from Sterling, in which he moans that he should be entitled to “one mistake” (I’m sure his entitlement is baffling for some African Americans given Skittles and our justice system), “I’m a good member who made a mistake and I’m apologizing and I’m asking for forgiveness,” he said. “Am I entitled to one mistake, am I? After 35 years? I mean, I love my league, I love my partners. Am I entitled to one mistake? It’s a terrible mistake, and I’ll never do it again.”
Sterling promised he’d never do it again. BUT. Segue into how one of his victims, Magic Johnson, hasn’t done anything for minorities, so really, this is why he hasn’t exactly apologized to Johnson personally.
Asked if he had apologized to Johnson, Sterling dodged with a victim blame, “If I said anything wrong I’m sorry. He’s a good person. I mean, what am I going to say? Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don’t think so. But I’ll say it, he’s great. But I don’t think he’s a good example for the children of Los Angeles.”
The old passive aggressive bully apology “If I said anything wrong”. Yet Sterling’s entire point for being on the show seemed to be to apologize so that he would be forgiven.
Sterling is wrong about Johnson, of course. Magic Johnson started his Magic Johnson Foundation in 1991. It “works to develop programs and support community-based organizations that address the educational,health and social needs of ethnically diverse, urban communities.” In addition to AIDS education and prevention, the Foundation offers the Taylor Michaels Scholarship Program (TMSP), which “recognizes students with outstanding academic achievement, leadership and commitment to serve their community. The program empowers minority students through financial support, mentorship, and internship opportunities.”
So far, we have saving lives and offering minority students financial support, mentoring and internships, which is sort of like not being a good role model for minorities, only the opposite.
Johnson’s Foundation also does Community Empowerment Centers (CEC), which “help bridge the education gap by providing ethnically diverse urban communities access to resources and programming that educate, empower and strengthen individuals through the innovative use of technology.”
He has supported the Buoniconti Fund To Cure Paralysis, Celebrity Fight Night Foundation, Charity Folks, Keep A Child Alive, Ludacris Foundation, Magic Johnson Foundation and The Miami Project. His “top cause” is “Children” on Look Up the Stars.
Magic Johnson may be far from perfect (likely since he is human), but he has done more than his share for minority children and the children of Los Angeles. Sterling clearly speaks without knowledge, and his prejudice is becoming even more clear the more he speaks.
While Johnson has done much for minorities, we do not run around criticizing white men that have been randomly attacked based on how much they’ve done for their community. No one expects every successful white man to be a role model. In fact, successful white men have made their privilege and entitlement a national prayer.
We are all to worship at the feet of the wealthy predators like the Kochs and the Waltons, who steal from the working class majority in order to line their own pockets. But if a black person is successful, well then, he or she must be extra special and be a role model. No entitlement allowed.
There are different standards for minorities; they must give back or else somehow be deserving of Sterling’s racist comments — that was the implication, after all. Sterling wanted to smear his victim in order to excuse himself.
Cooper asked Sterling why it took so long to apologize, and he replied that he’s just so emotionally distraught, “I’m just so emotionally distraught, and the reason it’s hard for me, very hard for me is that I’m wrong. I caused the problem. I don’t know how to correct it.” That’s also known as the Ann Romney “This is Hard” defense, which Sterling’s PR people should have told him was not successful.
In case this vaguely resembles an apology, Sterling claimed he was baited and set up. He doesn’t talk like that (except when he does and it’s caught on tape?), “I was baited. I mean that’s not the way I talk. I don’t talk about people for one thing, ever… I thought she liked me and really cared for me. I guess being 51 years older than her, I was deluding myself.”
You think? Maybe it was the billionaire thing and not Sterling’s not-so-sterling character.
“I just wish I could ask her why? And if she was just setting me up, I think that people say she was taping me for 2 years.” So Sterling’s “apology” is a) he is entitled to a mistake so bite him b) Magic Johnson is bad for kids so he’s not a real victim and c) he was set up and baited; he is the real victim.
Message Sterling intended: Please unban him and let him keep his team because he is so sincere. Message received: Entitled billionaire creep busted for racism blames black people and woman for his troubles. Expects to be forgiven because see entitlement.
Watch Anderson Cooper’s full interview with Sterling at 8 p.m. ET Monday on “AC360” on CNN.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.