Media Watch: MSNBC’s Harsh Criticism of MMA
By Jesse Heitz
As our nation remembers those lost and injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, MMA of all things has entered into our collective reflection on the tragedy. To be fair, only one media personality has thrust MMA into this discussion. By no means was it a member of the MMA community either, but rather a political pundit.
The rather disgusting remarks were made during a segment on MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow Daily which implied that there was a link between the Tsarnaev brother’s twisted actions on April 15th, 2013, and MMA. In the segment, which was posted on News Busters and NBC News, Farrow and his unnamed field reporters stated the following,
First, Farrow led off by stating, “Before he died, Tamerlan paid a visit to their native Dagestan. Tamerlan, like many young men there in Dagestan, studied mixed martial arts. It’s a robust martial arts culture there, and that’s part of what drew him into the scene there. We’re going to take a closer look at the collaboration with the data mining start-up Vocativ.”
An unidentified Vocativ reporter followed-up by stating, “In America kids play basketball, football, and baseball. In Chechnya and Dagestan, where Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent part of their childhoods, they wrestle and do martial arts. Fighting is a way of life. For few people here so is extremism.”
She continued by stating, “It was in Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s blood as he trained to box. Named for the infamous conqueror who killed millions in the 14th century, Tamerlan allegedly descended into radical Islam after his Olympic dream ended. Was one outlet replaced by the other? We don’t know. What we do know is for many people here, MMA is a religion.”
First off let me state, that this is not at all a politically-inspired commentary. I do not condemn MSNBC, nor do I praise News Busters. That’s not what this piece is about. Heck, I don’t frequent either media outlet, so one could imagine my surprise when I was sifting through MMA news stories and saw this ridiculous item.
So what irks me about this story has nothing to do with political partisanship, but rather having yet another influential member of the media opting to engage in sloppy journalism, forgoing any sort of due diligence. To make such an unfounded assertion, essentially condemning an entire sport and its millions of practitioners for the sake of grabbing a headline, strikes me as a dreadful ethical failure.
I’m not sure what motivates people to say such atrociously false things, although my guess is unadulterated ignorance. To give such a baseless and absurd idea any air time, on national television no less, is the definition of irresponsible. Someone must explain to me how studying MMA, or any martial art, something that instills discipline and respect, can plausibly be identified as inspiration for religious fundamentalism and murder.