Bryant Gumbel Injects Race Into the Olympics

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 17, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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TONY SNOW, GUEST HOST: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight, as you know, the Winter Olympics are underway in Torino, Italy. The U.S. so far has 10 gold medals, six of them gold. Congratulations to all.

And not everyone is a fan of the games. Explaining why he won't be watching, Bryant Gumbel of HBO's "Real Sports" said, "Try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention," end quote.

Joining us now from Pittsburgh is FOX Sports' Paul Alexander.

Paul, you weren't so happy about the comments.

PAUL ALEXANDER, FOX SPORTS: Well, it's just a matter of, you know, it was this little "And finally..." segment. You know, the Olympics are struggling enough to get viewers. Why do you have to take a shot at the athletes that have dedicated much of their lives to being that they can be in their sport, just because you don't like it?

I mean, political correctness rears its ugly head again. Obviously, if he had gone a different way or if a white person would have said quite different about what's going on this weekend with the NBA, there'd be an outcry.

I think everybody is a little tired of what's OK as opinion. For example, Rush Limbaugh, when he made his statements on ESPN, hired by ESPN for his opinions, when he talked about the media being desirous of a black quarterback doing well, well, not only was he told that they didn't like what he said, he was fired.

So the fact that maybe some people don't like what Bryant Gumbel said, I don't think there will be any ramifications. I don't think there will be anything that he has to answer to.

I just don't understand why he took this shot. Why bring race and politics into the Olympics? Granted, race and politics are everywhere, but can't the Olympic Games at least be about sport for a little bit?

SNOW: You mean all the black ski jumpers who were left out?! I mean, it's the Winter Olympics, for God's sake. The places, you know, Norway, Finland. I mean, I suppose I look at the comment, too, and think, what was he thinking? Was he bored, thinking about, "What the heck? I'll say there aren't enough black guys in here"?

ALEXANDER: It's very strange. And there are a lot of sports where there aren't enough African-Americans. I don't think we take anything away from Lance Armstrong because there weren't a lot of African-Americans in the Tour De France.

This guy is answered one of the best athletes of all time. I hope Bryant Gumbel doesn't take a shot at him.

There's a lot of sports where African-Americans don't excel. There are others where they dominate. That's simply the way it goes. And to make some sort of point — make a point about race in this situation, again, it takes away and diminishes what many of these skiers and many of these other fine athletes have spent most of their life trying to be as good as they can be.

Now granted, curling and some other sports, I'm not sure we do have the greatest athletes in the world over in Torino right now, but again, to bring race into it, I think, is kind of an unfair shot that he took.

SNOW: You look at some of the relief pitchers in baseball, you don't have the greatest athletes in that sport either.

It's interesting, though, because I've noticed — look, I'm a political guy — I see sports guys doing political commentary all the time. Your profession has a fair amount of political correctness going on right now.

ALEXANDER: It's very scary. In fact, I'm a little nervous right now, because I might go somewhere where I don't want to go. I want to continue in this business. And we've all seen, with the likes of Jimmy the Greek, Al Campanis and others who have said some things that, again, that you don't agree with, but I take it to Rush Limbaugh. He was brought on ESPN to express his opinion. He did so. It was politically incorrect. He was fired. I mean, where's the freedom of speech there?

SNOW: Well, there wasn't, but you know, a lot of people said — surely you don't think Gumbel should be fired. You just think...

ALEXANDER: No. And again, I want it to go completely the other way, Tony. I want people to be able to express their opinions freely. Last time I checked, this country was kind of based on that format and that formula. And it's become ridiculous now that people just sit around. They must monitor everything that's written, everything that's said. And they can't wait to be offended in some way or the other. And then they go after that person with a vengeance to get them off the air.

SNOW: All right. Paul Alexander, thanks for joining us.

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