Bryan at Arguing with Signposts makes an interesting point vis-a-vis the Easterbrook flap:

[Y]ou can be a Jew and also an atheist. You can also be a Jew and a Palestinian. Confusing? Sure. But that’s a trait that’s unique to the term Jew. Oh, sure, some people use it about Christians, or Muslims or Hindus, but that’s a problem definitionally. It is categorically impossible to be a Christian and an atheist at the same time. Or a Muslim and an atheist at the same time.

But it’s NOT categorically impossible to be a Jew and an atheist, because ethnically, Jews are people who claim descent from Isaac. You can be a Jew and an atheist just like you can be an Irishman and an atheist (I’m Scotch/Irish – Black Dutch myself).

That’s confusing because there is also the religious practice of Judaism, which seems to include a belief in God. The religious practice of Judaism is not confined to people who claim descent from Abraham and Isaac. You can be a Jew who converted to the faith, and also happen to be an Irishman. (I’m not a Jew – either one, btw).

So how does this relate to Easterbrook? Well, he seems to be holding Eisner and other Jewish Holywood executives up to a higher moral standard because of their Jewishness. But he doesn’t ask himself what kind of Jews they are? Are they cultural Jews? or religious Jews?

True. But, apparently, they aren’t the kind of Jews that worship money above all else.

Update (0910): Glenn Reynolds notes that there has been essentially no coverage of the Easterbrook flap outside the blogosphere. Which, of course, is good and bad. One wonders whether Easterbrook would have been fired from ESPN were it not for bloggers fanning flames.

One bit of misperception that keeps popping up, though, is the idea that the ESPN gig was Easterbrook’s primary source of income. I don’t know the level of compensation he gets/got from his various gigs, but the TMQ column was essentially a hobby. He’s a Brookings scholar and otherwise publishes quite widely. He’s not a professional sports writer.

Update (1343): As a commenter notes below, Meryl Yourish has talked to Easterbrook and reports that TMQ was “a huge chunk of his income.” That’s truly a shame.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Rick DeMent says:

    I think you’re ascribing a lot more influence to the old blogosphere then might be true. We are assuming that there wasn’t some completely unrelated issue at work that we don’t know about that caused the firing and in media that is a dodgy assumption. I’m not saying that’s what I think happened, just that it’s well within the realm of feasibility.

  2. James: Meryl Yourish says that Easterbrook tells her that the TMQ column represents a huge chunk of his annual income, so it is not just a hobby.

    BTW, I’m surprised to see Glenn Reynolds mentioned by some as being excessively critical. It seems to me that all he did was note who was saying what and where. I guess just a link from Instapundit is now supposed to mean wholesale endorsement. Do you think this is this some new rule of blogging?

    FWIW, other than Easterbrooks unfortunate words themselves, I think the real damage was done by a Tim Rutten column in the L.A. Times, which probably would have been written even without all the hoopla in the blogosphere.

  3. James Joyner says:


    Interesting. Since there were only a few TMQ columns a year, that would be surprising.