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Phil Mushnick is a sportswriter for the New York Post. His column "Equal Time" concentrates on the sports media and appears three times a week on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays. He also provides a weekly column on the media in general on Sundays for the entertainment section of the paper. The columns—written in a highly personal, muckraking style—cover numerous subjects that attempt to expose hypocrisy in sports, criticize exploitation of sex and "attitude" in sports programming, advocate on the behalf of ticketholders, and expose ignorance and/or inaccuracies perpetrated by broadcasters.
Mushnick has criticized the lifestyles portrayed by World Wrestling Entertainment, both in their storylines and the performers' personal lives. In 1997 he implied that WWE chairman Vince McMahon's perpetration of steroid use for his performers led to wrestler Brian Pillman's early demise. McMahon responded (on an episode of WWE Raw) that Mushnick was a "self-righteous, egotistical, miserable son of a bitch." Mushnick then criticized the industry as a "death mill," citing several wrestlers who had died before the age of 45. Although the majority of the performers (including Miss Elizabeth and Davey Boy Smith) died after retiring from the WWE, Mushnick attributed their early deaths to their lifestyle while employed by Vince McMahon. Other media outlets have likewise provided statistics showing the high number of wrestlers who have died young from car crashes, suicide, homicide, heart failure and steroid-related health problems. On the October 13, 1997 episode of Monday Night Raw, James Cornette addressed Phil Mushnicks` article referring to Brian Pillman`s death by telling him to "go to hell".
Mushnick often criticized the hosts of WFAN's Mike and the Mad Dog, the #1 radio talk show in New York City for most of the 1990s. Mushnick has acknowledged an initially close friendship with Mike Francesa, championing him to have his own show, but that the relationship soured when he felt Francesa began exploiting him. In a March 2008 column, he compared Mike Francesa to the Wizard of Oz stating "Francesa's self-importance is so advanced that when the [traffic] light turns green, he thinks it's because he knows people down at the [Department of Transportation]." He often criticized Francesa's partner, Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo, for his frequent malapropisms, mispronunciations, and grammatical errors, and his perceived inability to accurately recall sports facts and scenarios.
Mushnick frequently criticizes the sports network ESPN, accusing their coverage of sports of promoting and permeating a mean-spirited attitude in the athletes they cover and the broadcasters who cover them. He singles out ESPN's Stuart Scott for appearing more interested in being friends with athletes than being critical of their subpar performances. He has specifically labeled ESPN's ESPY Awards and their "Who's Now" segment in the summer of 2007 as "pathetic" self-promotions, and accused it of ignoring second-tier sports in their highlights—such as the Arena Football League—until they are broadcast by ESPN. He often targets Stephen A. Smith, writing: "Could it be that Smith’s urban street-hip brotha yak—which he seems able to turn on and off with the drop of a Kangol—is supposed to appeal / pander to young, urban, street-talkin’ sports fans?—a description that was felt to have racist overtones.
Mushnick often singles out sports play by play announcers and color commentators when they commit factual errors or miscall a play. Particularly controversial was a July 2007 column ("Had Our Phil of Morgan") that criticized Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, color commentator for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, for inaccurately recalling a game he played in 1964. Soon thereafter "An Open Letter to Phil Mushnick and Other Critics of Mine" was posted on the Internet decrying Mushnick's interpretation, curiously positing that Morgan's mis-recollection was less important than his ability to enhance the game for the viewing audience. The controversy quelled when it was revealed the post originated from a website well known for parody.
Mushnick frequently criticized WFAN's popular Imus in the Morning program for its off-color humor and shock jock mentality, citing its cast calling Mother Teresa "a no-good bitch" and sportscaster and former WFAN host Len Berman as "Lenny the Jew" among other examples. He accused staff members Bernard McGuirk and Sid Rosenberg in particular of persistently crossing the line between crude humor and total inappropriateness. He insisted that if Rosenberg—often fired from WFAN for inappropriate remarks, continued absenteeism and bad public behavior—continued on the program, it would ultimately lead to the show's downfall. Prophetically, it was McGuirk and Rosenberg who were the main instigators of Don Imus's remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team that eventually resulted in WFAN's parent, CBS Corp, canceling Imus in the Morning. in retrospect, Mushnick wondered rhetorically why people were surprised by Imus' "nappy-headed-ho" comment.
On Friday, May 4, 2012, Phil was criticized for a piece which has been labeled by some as racist. In the article, Phil attacked rapper Jay-Z and his marketing in regards to the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. In the column Phil states, "As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots -- what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new "urban" home -- why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?" It wasn't until he added the next part which includes the N word that got the majority of people up in arms. "Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N------s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B----hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!" Presently, many are demanding Phil be fired over this racist tirade.
Mushnick responded to the criticism to the popular sports and pop-culture website Bob's Blitz: "Such obvious, wishful and ignorant mischaracterizations of what I write are common. I don't call black men the N-word; I don't regard young women as bitches and whores; I don't glorify the use of assault weapons and drugs. Jay-Z, on the other hand.....Is he the only NBA owner allowed to call black men N---ers?
Jay-Z profits from the worst and most sustaining self-enslaving stereotypes of black-American culture and I'M the racist? Some truths, I guess, are just hard to read, let alone think about.
(Same column I provide support for Amar'e Stoudemire at a time when everyone in town is ripping him to shreds. That was my LEAD, too, but what does that matter?)"
Mushnick intermittently injects levity into his otherwise serious writing. Occasionally he publishes from reader submissions the photographs of a celebrity and an athlete who look alike (e.g. actor Martin Mull and Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren). In one of his columns, Mushnick related to his readers a piece of advice from actor Jerry Orbach: "Never be photographed with an alcoholic beverage in your hand."