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Sports media, bias and activism come to an insufferable head





“There was a time when America’s pastime showed a weariness of Florida’s hostile approach to inclusiveness, which in some ways is being reconstituted by its current governor, Ron DeSantis.”

That was the argument from Washington Post sports columnist Kevin Blackistone this week, who proceeded to offer his solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

“If baseball is still concerned with as much, its 15 franchises that started spring training last month in Florida should consider making the annual exercise an all-Cactus League affair as long as [Gov. Ron] DeSantis commands an attack on diversity.”

You read that correctly: A sports columnist is suggesting that a professional sports league uproot 15 teams because he disagrees with a Republican governor’s stance on education.

Forget what such moves would do to spring training towns and cities economically. Because Blackistone, also a regular pundit on ESPN, really wants to teach the governor a lesson regarding his state’s decision to modify certain elements of an advanced placement high school course on African American studies.

For their part, DeSantis and the state’s nonprofit College Board have determined that parts of the course constitute “indoctrination.”

This is beyond misleading. Because the course Blackistone cites is not your standard teaching of African American studies.

“This is a course on black history—what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory. Now, who would say that an important part of black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids,” DeSantis recently explained.

Another part of the course that DeSantis and the College Board took issue with was its inclusion of Black Lives Matter — a toxic political organization that has little to do with Black history.

Because, as you may have heard, BLM has seen a serious drop in public approval thanks to internal scandals related to allegations that some of its leaders have spent millions in donations on million-dollar mansions while facing a lawsuit alleging that one of its executives had “syphoned” more than $10 million from donors.

Note: The AP course still includes actual Black history, including lessons on the transatlantic slave trade, the 13th Amendment and Frederick Douglass.

“We proudly require the teaching of African American history,” Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. tweeted. “We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.”

Blackistone’s suggestion is reminiscent of the sports journalists who demanded that the Major League Baseball All-Star game be moved out of Atlanta because new voting laws would, it was asserted, suppress minority voters in future elections. MLB complied, moving the game to Denver.

“By making this move, [MLB Commissioner Rob] Manfred has put other leagues on notice as long as Georgia insists on standing by this bill,” USA Today sports columnist Bob Nightengale wrote at the time.

“The NFL surely can’t give Atlanta another Super Bowl,” he declared. “Same goes for the NBA and its All-Star Game. And the NCAA and the Final Four.”

The move by MLB caused local businesses in Atlanta, many minority-owned, to lose up to $100 million in revenue, according to the Job Creators Network. Oh, and despite the claim that voters would be suppressed under the new law, Georgia has easily broken voting records in two major elections held since.

Another example of sports media being profoundly political involves transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, the one-time biological male who dominated women’s swimming at the University of Pennsylvania after transitioning. Thomas, as a male, was ranked 462nd in the country at Penn. Thomas jumped to #1 on the women’s side in winning a national championship.

“She should be embraced in the history of progress that sports represent and recognized as the trailblazer that she is,” NBC’s Cheryl Cooky swooned after Thomas’s victory. Cooky went on to compare Thomas to Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947.

What is hard to find in archives surrounding Thomas’s rise is the biological advantages she possesses over other female swimmers. Here’s an exception, per Swimming World magazine’s John Lohn.

“What we are stating is this: The effects of being born a biological male, as they relate to the sport of swimming, offer Thomas a clear-cut edge over the biological females against whom she is competing. She is stronger. It is that simple. And this strength is beneficial to her stroke, on turns and to her endurance. Doping has the same effect.”

The advantages Thomas enjoys are similar to those provided to athletes who take steroids or human growth hormones. But because so many sports columnists are woke or are afraid of being attacked by the woke mob, almost all have avoided weighing in.

Finally, there’s ESPN, which has taken a big turn to the left in recent years, prompting a loss in viewers. In recent months, viewers have been subjected to anchors fighting back tears while talking about the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and pundits calling players who refuse to wear pride flags bigoted.

“ESPN is a journalistic organization — not a political organization. We should do nothing to undermine that position,” Kevin Merida, ESPN senior vice president, once told staffers in an internal meeting. “ESPN’s focus is sports. By-and-large we are not experts on politics, healthcare policies, terrorism, commerce — that’s not what we do.”


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Gautam Adani acquires 49% in Quintillion Business Media for Rs 48 crore



Billionaire Gautam Adani’s AMG Media Networks has acquired about a 49 per cent stake in Raghav Bahl-curated digital business news platform Quintillion Business Media Pvt Ltd for about Rs 48 crore.

In a stock exchange filing, Adani Enterprises Ltd said its subsidiary AMG Media Networks Ltd has completed the acquisition which was originally announced in May last year.

The transaction was completed on March 27 for “Rs 47.84 crore”, it said.

Quintillion Business Media runs the news platform Bloomberg Quint, now called BQ Prime.


Adani group had set up AMG Media Networks for its foray into businesses of “publishing, advertising, broadcasting, distribution of content over different types of media networks”.

In May last year, it had signed a shareholders’ agreement with Quintillion Media Ltd (QML) and QBML.

In September 2021, it hired veteran journalist Sanjay Pugalia to lead its media company Adani Media Ventures.



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Twitter source code partially leaked online, court filing says



GitHub removed code shared without permission after request by social media giant, court filing says.

Twitter’s source code has partially leaked online, according to a legal filing by the social media giant.

Twitter asked GitHub, an online software development platform, to remove the code after it was posted online without permission earlier this month, the legal document filed in the US state of California showed on Sunday.

GitHub complied with Twitter’s request to remove the code after the social media company on March 24 issued a subpoena to identify a user known as “FreeSpeechEnthusiast”, according to the filing with the US District Court of the Northern District of California. San Francisco-based Twitter noted in the filing that the postings infringe on the platform’s intellectual property rights.


The filing was first reported by The New York Times.

The leak of the code is the latest hiccup at the social media giant since its purchase by Elon Musk, whose tenure has been marked by mass layoffs, outages, sweeping changes to content moderation and heated debate about the proper balance between free speech and online safety.

Musk, who bought Twitter for $44bn last October, said recently that Twitter would open the source code used to recommend tweets on March 31. Musk, who also runs Tesla and several other companies, said the platform’s algorithm was overly complex and predicted people would find “many silly things” once the code was made public. It is not clear if the leaked source relates to the code used to recommend tweets.

“Providing code transparency will be incredibly embarrassing at first, but it should lead to rapid improvement in recommendation quality,” he wrote on Twitter. “Most importantly, we hope to earn your trust.”


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Utah is first US state to limit teen social media access



Child on phoneGetty Images

Utah has become the first US state to require social media firms get parental consent for children to use their apps and verify users are at least 18.

The governor said he signed the two sweeping measures to protect young people in the state.

The bills will give parents full access to their children’s online accounts, including posts and private messages.

The move comes amidst heightened concern over the impact of social media on children’s mental health.


Under the measures enacted on Thursday, a parent or guardian’s explicit consent will be needed before children can create accounts on apps such Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

The bills also impose a social media curfew that blocks children’s access between 22:30 and 06:30, unless adjusted by their parents.

Under the legislation, social media companies will no longer be able to collect a child’s data or be targeted for advertising.

The two bills – which are also designed to make it easier to take legal action against social media companies – will take effect on March 1, 2024.

Governor Spencer Cox, a Republican, wrote on Twitter: “We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth.

“As leaders, and parents, we have a responsibility to protect our young people.”

Children’s advocacy group Commons Sense Media welcomed the governor’s move to curtail some of social media’s most addictive features, calling it a “huge victory for kids and families in Utah”.

“It adds momentum for other states to hold social media companies accountable to ensure kids across the country are protected online,” said Jim Steyer, Common Sense Media’s founder and CEO.

Similar regulations are being considered in four other Republican-led states – Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana – and Democratic-led New Jersey.

But Common Sense Media and other advocacy groups warned some parts of the new legislation could put children at risk.

Ari Z Cohn, a free speech lawyer for TechFreedom, said the bill posed “significant free speech problems”.

“There are so many children who might be in abusive households,” he told the BBC, “who might be LGBT, who could be cut-off from social media entirely.”

In response, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said it has robust tools to keep children safe.

A spokesperson told the BBC: “We’ve developed more than 30 tools to support teens and families, including tools that let parents and teens work together to limit the amount of time teens spend on Instagram, and age verification technology that helps teens have age-appropriate experiences.”

There has been other US bipartisan support for social media legislation aimed at protecting children.

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in February called for laws banning tech companies from collecting data on children.

Last year, California state lawmakers passed their own child data law. Among other measures, the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act requires digital platforms to make the highest privacy features for under-18 users a default setting.

The passage of the Utah bills coincides with a bruising congressional hearing for TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew.



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