Charles Barkley's eternal frankness makes him one of the most beloved media personalities in sports. His comments about the George Zimmerman trial, specifically in regards to the media's "hidden agenda" and the "racist views" spouted by "black or white" observers, are certainly frank.
Barkley was on CNBC's Closing Bell on Thursday, and spoke with Maria Baritromo about the case.
Here's a partial transcript, via Newsbusters.
MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Any thoughts on the George Zimmerman verdict?
CHARLES BARKLEY: Well, I agree with the verdict.
BARTIROMO: You did.
BARKLEY: I feel sorry that young kid got killed, but they didn't have enough evidence to charge them. Something clearly went wrong that night. Clearly something went wrong, and I feel bad for anybody who loses a kid. But if you looked at the case and you don't make it — there was some racial profiling, no question about it. But something happened that changed the dynamic of that night. And I know, and that's probably not a popular opinion among most people, but just looking at the evidence I agree with the verdict.
I just feel bad because I don't like when race gets out in the media, because I don't think the media has a pure heart, as I call it. There are very few people have a pure heart when it comes to race. Racism is wrong in any, shape, form. There are a lot of black people who are racist too. I think sometimes when people talk about racism they act like only white people are racist. There are a lot of black people who are racist. And I don't like when it gets out there in the media because I don’t think the media has clean hands.
BARTIROMO: I think you’re right. I’m glad you made that point.
BARKLEY: I don’t think the media has clean hands. And, like I said, I feel sorry that young kid got killed, but just judging by the evidence, I don't think that guy should have went to jail for the rest of his life, because something happened bad that night obviously.
BARKLEY: And let me say, Mr. Zimmerman was wrong to, he was racial profiling.
BARKLEY: But I think Trayvon Martin, God rest his soul, I think he did flip the switch and start beating the hell out of Mr. Zimmerman. But it was just a bad situation. And like I said, the main thing I feel bad for, it gives every white person and black person who is racist a platform to vent their ignorance.
BARKLEY: You know, that’s the thing that bothered me the most because I watched this trial closely, and I watched all these people on television talking about it. A lot of these people have a hidden agenda. You know, they want to have their racist views, whether they are white or black.
BARTIROMO: The bias comes out.
BARKLEY: The bias, it definitely comes out. It was a bad situation. We all lost. And I feel bad for his parents. You don't ever want to see anybody lose a kid.
Newsbusters wants you to believe the important takeaway here is Barkley criticizing the liberal media's role in the case, of course, because it's Newsbusters—but there's more interesting, nuanced stuff around the scary "hidden agenda" line.
In two minutes, Barkley insists that racism can come from white and black people (far from rare in a time of perceived black racism, though weird as ever, especially after a time of whining about "cracker"), that Trayvon Martin "did flip the switch" on George Zimmerman on the night of their fatal encounter, and that the worst thing about the trial was giving people a chance to vent racist ignorance, as if every day of American life isn't equally rife with chances. The complaints about "the media" having a "hidden agenda" are garden-variety frustrations, by comparison, little different from complaints about something like Barkley's own repeated insistence that the Heat and Thunder add post players to conform to his ideal of a great team.
Barkley's oft-rumored dream of running for office has been dead or on hold for years now, but here, his views beholden to no one but himself, we find him in full-on pundit mode. It's a pity that he's only offering specious critiques; Barkley's honesty is best when it is detailed.
Photo: Erik S. Lesser/Associated Press