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Political Pundits, the Media and Mike Krzyzewski

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Recently on April 17, 2015, Western Journalism, a conservative media journal, published an article, “Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski Blasts Obama for Inept Foreign Policy.” Prior to that on April 8, 2015, The Conservative Tribune published an article, “Duke’s Legendary Coach Wins National Championship-Then Says THIS About Obama….” These articles are prime examples of the headline trickery used by many online media outlets.

The stories published by these online conservative media sources gave the impression that Krzyzewski recently criticized the POTUS.  Many political pundits and readers looked at the headlines failing to read each article in its entirety. This made it much easier to manipulate readers. Also this stragedy allowed their content to go viral much quicker.

Although Coach Krzyzewski did appear to make statements critical of President Obama’s proposed plans for handling ISIS, he delivered them after receiving the George Catlett Marshall Award on October 15, 2014.

His controversial remarks were overlooked until the mid-term elections on November 04, 2014. On election night after Duke’s 115-58 exhibition win over Livingston College at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Coach K responded to questions about those remarks and he quickly pointed out that he never mentioned ISIS or President Obama!
He also said, “I do not hate saying the other word because I love President Obama. It’s amazing that it happened 3 weeks ago and on Election Day something is brought up and said in a way that I didn’t say. So be it.”

It was clearly evident back in November that Coach Krzyzewski didn’t want anything to do with conservative media plans of distorting his words for political gain. 

Over the years there has been this love-hate relationship by conservative and liberal media outlets towards Coach Krzyzewski. In 2002 liberal news outlets in NC, including The Duke Chronicle heavily criticized Coach K and his wife Carol “Mickie” for hosting a political fundraiser for U.S. Republican Senatorial candidate, Elizabeth Dole. This event took place at the Duke University owned, Washington Duke Inn.

Obviously this caused some friction between Krzyzewski and his employer, Duke University. Also some in the liberal media felt that he did this only because former UNC head basketball coach, the late Dean Smith supported Dole’s opponent U.S. Democratic Senatorial candidate, Erskine Bowles. Smith was a prominent Democrat and the conservatives claimed Krzyzewski. This wasn’t about UNC versus Duke but prominent Democrat versus prominent Republican!

Over the years Coach Krzyzewski has made some facetious remarks in reference to President Obama but nothing serious. Most taken out of context by conservative media putting a political spin on things.

Prior to The NCAA Final Four weekend in Indianapolis, the four coaches participating: Krzyzewski (Duke), Ryan (Wisconsin), Calipari (Kentucky) and Izzo (Michigan State) made joint statements in reference to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They each supported their respective institutions position on the matter that discrimination of any kind shouldn’t be tolerated, but that wasn’t enough for some in the liberal media.

Some liberal media outlets wanted Coach K to elaborate more on the subject of RFRA and he refused. So of course he was criticized for remaining silent on the issue. Krzyzewski stated, “I’m only going to talk about my team and basketball in the Final Four. That’s what I’m going to talk about.”

In all fairness to Coach Krzyzewski, he wasn’t in Indianapolis to play the role of a political activist, but as the head basketball coach of the Duke Blue Devils. He went there on a mission to lead his Blue Devils to their 5th National Championship title in school history and they successfully accomplished that by defeating Wisconsin in the NCAA finals 68-63.

It’s clearly evident that many in conservative media are trying to capitalise on the success of Coach Krzyzewski in Indianapolis by using statements he made about President Obama back in October. This will certainly motivate Republican candidates to solicit political support from Coach Krzyzewski for the upcoming 2016 Elections.

It's very unfortunate that Coach Krzyzewski’s political affiliation is being exploited by some, but you can’t really knock the conservatives hustle for trying to gain a political advantage.

Even though Coach Krzyzewski is visibly the face of basketball in America, I think he learned a vital lesson back in 2002; politics and coaching doesn’t mix very well. 

It appears that Coach Krzyzewski has chosen not to become the official spokesperson for any politically motivated agenda and I certainly applaud him for that. That’s a choice that all political pundits and the media should recognize and RESPECT!



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