Before I get to the chilling implications for free conservative speech underscored by the vicious, public campaign to blackball Rush Limbaugh as a potential owner of an NFL team, I want to provide a little context about the pre-existing NFL comfort zone of expression.
I will start with two words: Keith Olbermann. In addition to his nightly gig on MSNBC -- a numbing blend of Leftist politics and something approaching Tourette's syndrome -- Olbermann is a co-host of NBC's "Football Night in America," the pre-game show that leads into "Sunday Night Football." Naturally, that would be Sunday night NFL football.
This job, now into its third season, makes Olbermann not a team owner, of course, but certainly a public face of the NFL. And a public face of the NFL with many filthy things coming out of it. These include, just sampling from recent days, his pronouncement that Limbaugh claiming his own success paved the way for Glenn Beck is "is like congratulating yourself for spreading syphilis." We could slap a headline on that -- "NFL talker compares star radio and TV conservatives with venereal disease" -- except that trash talk against conservatives doesn't generate mainstream media outrage.
Take Olbermann's noxious attack this week on Michelle Malkin for what he characterized as her "total mindless, morally bankrupt, knee-jerk, fascistic hatred without which Michelle Malkin would just be a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it."
Get that? Olbermann calls an accomplished and best-selling conservative author, commentator, blogger, wife and mother (who also happens to be beautiful) a "big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick," but such dehumanizing venom doesn't count as controversial, or even lightly strain his NBC-NFL connection. Why, at this rate, he could end up on a box of Wheaties. His comments certainly don't rate as "divisive" or "inappropriate" - two of the coded charges leveled at Rush Limbaugh's "public remarks" by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay that got Limbaugh's blackball rolling in the first place.
It was all over so fast. Barely a day passed between the news that Limbaugh was bidding with Dave Checketts for the St Louis Rams and the news that Checketts was dropping Limbaugh as a partner.