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Whitlock: Weak men embolden Mina Kimes and Maria Taylor to play the victim and undermine honest debate

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Yesterday, Mina Kimes nailed herself to the same Twitter cross that transformed sideline Barbie Maria Taylor into a multimillionaire NBC broadcaster.

Kimes, an ESPN NFL expert, posted a disparaging email she received from an alleged sports fan questioning her qualifications to discuss male sports, particularly football.

“Mina, stop embarrassing yourself and pretending to actually know anything about male sports,” the email read. “The only reason you’re at ESPN is due to affirmative action. Jeff Saturday must privately feel so emasculated having to pretend to have an intellectual back and forth about professional football with someone wearing lipstick and high heels. Viewers see you as a bad joke that they’re forced into enduring.”

Kimes claimed she posted the email to enlighten female sports broadcasters about the nonstop harassment they will receive.

“I understand that ‘Don’t amplify’ argument, I really do,” she wrote on Twitter. “But I get asked by women every day whether it’s normal, and I want people to see: It never ends and it has absolutely nothing to do (with you).”

No. Here’s what Kimes understands: Using Twitter to play the victim is an easy route to advance your personal brand and leverage TV executives into promoting you into a position you don’t deserve.

It worked for Taylor. In September 2020, an inconsequential Chicago radio host tweeted criticism of Taylor’s style of dress. Taylor and her then-ESPN colleagues Jalen Rose and Jay Williams leaned into the criticism, hosting an on-air pity party for Taylor that included the presentation of a flower bouquet. Over the next year, Taylor pretended that co-worker Rachel Nichols’ private remarks about Taylor’s meteoric rise at ESPN were the near-equivalent of Emmett Till’s murder.

Taylor demanded a salary equal to Stephen A. Smith’s. When ESPN balked, Taylor bolted to NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast team. She’s overpaid and far out over her skis at NBC.

Kimes is laying the groundwork for TV networks to reward her victimhood. Yesterday, verified Twitter exploded with notes of sympathy and support for Kimes. Jeff Saturday and Dan Orlovsky, former NFL players turned ESPN football experts, played the same roles for Kimes that Jalen Rose and Jay Williams played for Maria Taylor. Saturday and Orlovsky stepped into Twitter phone booths and donned Superman capes.

Saturday claimed he frequently consults Kimes on the use of analytics in football. Orlovsky testified to Kimes’ general “brilliance.”

Kimes hit the Twitter/social justice jackpot. She increased her personal brand by pretending to take a courageous stand for women. She offered weak men the opportunity to improve their social media/social justice credit score. Her bait was irresistible.

The blind ambition, greed, and lack of integrity are obvious.

But this is larger than an individual woman using unethical measures to advance her career. Men and women do that equally. Kimes is no different from the male sports writers who dominated sports journalism in the 1990s and 2000s by writing Tuesdays-with-Morrie, perfect-quote hagiographies about every athlete and executive who gave them access. Kimes and Taylor are the Mitch Albom and Joe Posnanski of the 2020s.

Kimes and Taylor are exploiting a system primarily run by weak men with no respect for truth. The weak men running the system are the real problem. They have allowed the feminization of male spaces.

I don’t have a problem with Mina Kimes or Maria Taylor talking about male sports as long as they’re willing to abide by the pre-existing rules. Angry emails questioning the qualifications of the writer/broadcaster are the fair price of stating an opinion on a large platform.

As a columnist at the Ann Arbor News, the Kansas City Star, ESPN.com, and FoxSports.com, as a radio and TV host, I received an endless supply of angry, disparaging emails and letters that questioned my qualifications and aptitude. We used to publish some of them in the newspaper.

I wasn’t a victim. I was a voice that mattered.

Today, via Twitter and Instagram, I’m the constant target of malicious and threatening tweets and direct messages as a result of the opinions I state publicly. My voice still matters.

Mina Kimes isn’t special. She’s weak. She accepted the paycheck and the position but wants to be shielded from the price. Criticism, much of it mean-spirited, is the price men and women must be willing to pay to espouse opinions on large platforms.

The marketplace of ideas is a high-contact area. It has to remain that way if we want to seek uncomfortable truths. It’s a mistake to feminize debate. It compromises truth. We can’t treat the debate of ideas like it’s football and make rules to eliminate head trauma.

If you can’t shake off unfair personal attacks from strangers without nailing yourself to a cross, you’re not man or woman enough for the job.

Kimes isn’t woman enough for the position ESPN placed her in. She’s not qualified. ESPN is trying to pass her off as an NFL expert able to debate football at the same level as former players. That’s a space meant for former NFL players and coaches. Adam Schefter, ESPN’s top football newsbreaker, isn’t debating football with Marcus Spears, a former NFL player. Schefter provides information and leaves the football debates to players and coaches.

Weak men, in the name of diversity, put Kimes in position to fail. The consequence of the emasculation of debate includes the perversion of sports debate. It’s why so much time and energy are now wasted on analyzing fashion, dating lives, emotions, and social issues attached to sports.

Maria Taylor can talk for hours about how football players should feel about the death of Saint George Floyd. Taylor can offer a credible opinion on whether LeBron James likes Kyrie Irving. Should Tristan Thompson break up with Khloe Kardashian? Was Drew Brees racist for defending the national anthem? Is Colin Kaepernick a hero for kneeling?

Women can talk about all of this stuff. Some of it is interesting. But is it truthful? It can’t be when many of them spend every waking moment in fear of receiving angry emails or tweets.

As men, we’ve adopted the female standard that words break as many bones as sticks and stones. This is why so many male broadcasters on ESPN have resorted to crying on air for no good reason. Randy Moss, Ryan Clark, and Kirk Herbstreit.

Weak men turn incredibly phony, dishonest, and weak around women, particularly attractive women. We’ll do almost anything to please a woman. Lying and crying are easy.

Pretending that Mina Kimes is a football expert? We can do that all day and twice on Sundays.
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