We don't usually cover sports stories, but some controversies have a cultural and societal impact that extends well beyond the game. The Ray Rice story
, for example, is about far more than one athlete caught on film in an incident of brutal domestic violence.
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL and terminated by his team after the celebrity gossip website TMZ released disturbing new footage Monday of the star player striking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in February. This unprecedented move by the NFL and the Ravens comes just weeks after the league instituted a stronger policy to combat domestic abuse by personnel on and off the field.
The public was already aware of the incident, though up until very recently, the available video had previously only shown the aftermath of Rice's assault. The NFL, for example, issued a brief, two-game suspension for the player in July in response to footage of Rice dragging this unconscious girlfriend out of an elevator.
The tepid response from the league drew widespread condemnations and caused the NFL to increase the penalty and overhaul its approach towards players accused of domestic violence.
The newly released video, however, was so shocking that the previous reactions were immediately deemed inadequate all over again. It led Rice's team to cut him this afternoon, an announcement that coincided with the indefinite league suspension.
There's no shortage of questions that still deserve answers. Did the NFL see the entire video sooner than league officials now claim? Why was the initial video not sufficient for a meaningful response from the league and the Ravens? By what justification was the NFL largely indifferent towards domestic violence up until very recently?
And while we're at it, what in the world was Fox News thinking this morning?
Whatever the appropriateness of Rice's penalties, the video itself is disturbing in the extreme. It brings domestic violence graphically right onto your computer screen. It shows a woman assaulted, unconscious, defenseless and degraded, lying motionless on a hotel floor while her fiance appears to be little concerned about the situation.
But at least the folks at "Fox & Friends," easily cable news's most idiotic program, can mine it for a laugh or two. After running through the details of the assault this morning, co-host Brian Kilmeade joked, "I think the message is, take the stairs." [...]
Unwilling to be outdone when it comes to laughing about graphic images of domestic violence, co-host Steve Doocy responded, "The message is when you're in an elevator, there's a camera."
Remarkably, it really was that bad.
I can appreciate why the Ray Rice video might make someone uncomfortable, but if your first instinct is to make a joke after watching a woman getting knocked literally unconscious in an incident of brutal violence, it's probably time to reevaluate your standards for decency.
Not to be outdone, Fox News' Andrea Tantaros apparently thought the discussion of the incident needed a partisan twist
"I wanna know, where is the President on this one?" Tantaros asked, after a brief throat-clearing about the NFL's obligation to react to the tape. "My question is -- and not to bring it back to politics but -- this is a White House that seems to bring up a 'war on women' every other week. A White House that's very concerned about the NFL, concussions, etc., prescription drugs in locker rooms," she said. Tantaros went on to demand action from Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL).... "Debbie Wasserman-Schultz should come out and condemn this, and if she doesn't, she's an apologist for domestic violence," the Fox host said.
Look for more on the Rice story on tonight's show.