The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

ESPN Guest apologizes for inappropriate comments


ESPN and Dr. Bonnie Bernstein acknowledged that a comment made referencing Palestinian suicide bombers (below) was inappropriate and they took immediate action to correct it by apologizing. I think the Arab American community has a right to protest such remarks, but we also have an obligation to acknowledge when someone in the media does the right thing and clearly both ESPN and Dr. Bonnie Bernstein have done the right thing in this instance and they deserve our respect.

Ray Hanania
NAAJA Coordinator

Email to ESPN Producer/Bernstein

Hi Scott

The National Arab American Journalists Association believes your apologya nd Dr. Bernstein's apology are genuine and sincere and we have immediately removed you from the Watch List and because of your prompt attention to incidents like this, we have placed both on our Honor List which reflects journalists or media who make an extra effort to clarify remarks and display sensitivity.

Thank you for your attention.

I know you recognize how painful these things can be but also how important it is to listen to your audience and respond to their concerns. I think your response and Dr. Bernstein's response were very responsive and respectful and complete.

Ray Hanania
on behalf of NAAJA


From: ESPN Morning Show [] Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 5:31 PM

The comments made this morning by Bonnie Bernstein were inappropriate. We expressed that to Bonnie who has since apologized for her remarks. Please feel free to click on the link below to access Ms. Bernstein's apology.


Producer, "Mike & Mike in the Morning" ESPN Radio & ESPN 2 ESPN Plaza Bristol, CT 06010 860-884-5355 612-816-3057 (cell)


NAAJA has acted on a complaint involving an ESPN radio show syndicated through Chicago called "Mike and Mike" in which a guest slammed Palestinians as raising their children to be suicide bombers. I guess every Palestinian is in the same boat in the eyes of the guest, which is what racism and stereotyping is all about, generallizing in a derogatory manner against another people, especially if someone has an interest in such racism.

NAAJA issued a letter asking that the host acknowledge the racism. Below is the information including one of many protest emails from NAAJA members in Chicago, information about the show and hosts and guest and also the letter NAAJA sent by email several hours after the incident.

Ray Hanania

Mike & Mike in the Morning
Host(s): Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg
Weekdays 5:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.E-mail:

One of several email complaints received
This morning at 8:15 a.m. Chicago time, I was shocked to hear an analogy by Dr. Bonnie Bernstein on how NBA hopefuls are programmed to "just make it to the NBA." Her analogy pointed to how Palestinian children are programmed to be suicide bombers was disgusting!!!! She claims she read it so I guess she expects that your listening audience will buy it. Dr. Bernstein seems to suggest that because people enjoy sports they are ignorant to the happenings in the world they live in.

Her assumption does not give her the right to assume sports fans can be "programmed" to think that a people, namely in this case Palestinians, is synonymous with suicide bombing and terrorism. She is out of line. Does she even understand the situation in the Middle East? Mike and Mike's silence when she said it spoke volumes too. People listen and enjoy sports as an escape. That woman is a hatemongerer with a personal agenda. Had she have been talking about any other ethnicity, it would be equally shameful and ESPN should never have her on again and should make a public statement on the radio saying that her comment was inappropriate and apologize if it offended anyone!!!

I am personally offended as an American of Palestinian heritage that works with Jewish Americans and Israeli's to help foster peace and reconciliation between the two people, I am sickened. Mike and Mike should offer a comment immediately. I am not hopeful that Dr. Bernstein will retract her statement but it would be nice. SSChicago

=================== ===========

ESPN Radio Network
545 Middle St
Bristol, CT 06010

Roberts, Jim Affiliate Relations Executive Director (972) 776-4613 (860) 766-2213
Walsh, John Executive Vice President (860) 766-2323 (860) 766-2213
Goralski, Keith Operations Director (860) 766-2000 (860) 766-2213
Generic email:

Background on the GUEST
Bonnie Bernstein
ABC Sports
c/o Bonnie Bernstein
47 W. 66th Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10023

With 15 years in broadcasting, Bonnie Bernstein is one of the most recognizable and highly respected journalists in her field. As a reporter and host for ABC Sports and ESPN, she has a wide range of responsibilities. During the college football season, she serves as the sideline reporter for the Brad Nessler/Bob Griese/Paul McGuire announce team on ABC and hosts "Countdown to the Heisman". She is also part of the hosting rotation for "NFL Live" and "Jim Rome is Burning" and has covered Major League Baseball for the Network. Additionally, Bernstein covers the NFL for CBS/Westwood One Radio.

NAAJA Letter sent Wednesday 10:32 AM by email
Hi Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg:

This morning, Dr. Bonnie Bernstein, a veteran sports reporter and radio reporter, made a very racist comparison between NBA players and Palestinians who raise their children to become suicide bombers. I am writing on behalf of the National Arab American Journalists Association asking that you address the issue.

I think it was very inappropriate for Bonnie to use that racial stereotype of Palestinians as an example to back up her comments that NBA hopefuls "are programmed" to make it in the NBA the way Palestinian children are "programmed" to become suicide bombers ...

I don't need to explain that suicide bombers are not a race or ethnicity, or that there are 7 million Palestinians and have been only 50 suicide bombers over the past 15 years, or that suicide bombers come from all walks of life (in the film Pearl Harbor, the character of Jimmy Doolitle said that if his plane ran out of gas while bombing Tokyo and couldn't make it back to the states during World War II, he would simply crash his plane into a Japanese building -- making him, a typical American, a suicide bomber, too) ...

It is not about being politically correct. If you wanted to have a discussion about suicide bombers in the Middle East and Iraq and their ethnicity and the act of terrorism, you could probably fill five hours easily on radio. But that wasn't the point of Bonnie's comments, but rather a gratuitous slam against Palestinians.

I know you guys are pros when it comes to sports and I would hope you might make mention that the comparison was inappropriate and in fact is racist. In this day and age of understanding how easily minorities and ethnic groups are defamed by casual racist comments and especially how easily it happens on radio -- Don Imus is a good example -- we should try our best to be respectful.

I think Bonnie should address the issue also.

Thanks and best regards
Ray Hanania
PO Box 2127
Orland Park, IL., 60462

cc: Jim Roberts, ESPN, Affiliates Relations Exec. Dir
John Walsh, ESPN Exec. VP
Keith Goralski, ESPN, Operations Manager

Ray Hanania
Ray's Political Cartoons

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