The Giants issued the following statement this afternoon in response to the news that the team’s majority owner, Charles B. Johnson, contributed money to a political action committee named Black Americans for the President’s Agenda, which produced and aired a racist radio ad:
The Giants’ reputation as one of the most inclusive and socially engaged professional sports teams in the nation speaks for itself. We are unaware of Mr. Johnson’s political donations because they are entirely separate from his stake in the Giants ownership group. In no way do the Giants condone this disturbing and divisive political activity.
You can click the above link if you really want to hear it, but it boils down to being a call to action for conservative white voters utilizing racial and social justice stereotypes that are typically used to “fire up the base.” The super PAC in question includes a healthy number of non-Black American backers.
It’s tough to not make this a “political post”, because here we have the literal owner of a baseball team in the middle of a political matter. Why have racism and politics become intertwined? Because racism wins. Skin color is the home team. The Supreme Court has ruled that money equals speech. Therefore, you cannot say that Charles B. Johnson did not engage in racist speech.
There’s no picture of the Giants’ majority owner Charles B. Johnson in SB Nation’s photo database and that’s mostly because he has traditionally been someone who prefers to keep a low public profile. Unfortunately, his $5 billion personal net worth and stake in one of the most prominent sports franchises on planet Earth means he won’t always be totally anonymous and, therefore, there will always be a part of him known to us.
I worked for a media buying group during the last election cycle and can assure you that none of this happens by accident. The people who solicit and manage PAC money tell the donors what the PAC and its “issue ad” strategy is all about. The people who contribute millions of dollars over the course of several decades (Johnson contributed $1 million alone to Jeb Bush’s ill-fated presidential bid) also know what they’re getting into when they give money to these PACs.
Here’s the separate statement issued by Johnson:
I had absolutely no knowledge that this donation would be used in this manner and I, like the Giants organization, strongly condemn any form of racism and in no way condone the advertisement that was created by this entity.
Charles Johnson was not in the room when the audio finished exporting. He wasn’t there at the script stage. He might not have even heard the ad until today. But he knew what the PAC was about, he knows the research shows that “conservatives” are “highly motivated to vote” when they are alerted to “liberals” possibly showing up in large numbers to the polls.
His statement doesn’t do anything to distance himself from this particular committee, the words hop across lily pads of key terms, and there’s no sense that he finds the association troubling for himself or the team. In fact, “I, like the Giants organization,” is a passive way of letting the business entity take the lead — he’s just echoing what the rest of the group says.
Thing is, they’re saying this because of what you did, Charles.
Nobody invests in a baseball team for the public good — they do it to make money. Nobody contributes thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of dollars to political campaigns and action committees for the public good — they do it to make money. The cynicism is built right in so you don’t have to work very hard to assume the worst.
It’s very tough to not consider someone’s motivations and personal beliefs separate from what they say and do (the act of giving the money that is the speech is what they “do” in this case).
We care very much about how the Charles Johnson manages his great sums of money when it comes to the Giants. When it comes to other matters that concern the public trust — in particular, our representative government — he deserves the same level of scrutiny. As much as people might want to rationalize this out, they can’t.
Fans have to decide: either you’re okay with the majority owner of the San Francisco Giants having racist politics or you’re not.