The Fresno Grizzlies, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, showed what can only be called a political propaganda video to fans during a Memorial Day tribute on Monday during a doubleheader against the El Paso Chihuahuas. Carmen George of the Fresno Bee tweeted about it at around 7:30 PM PDT:
I was just watching a really moving #MemorialDay tribute video at the @FresnoGrizzlies game until they got to a part about America’s adversaries and showed a photo of the @AOC between images of Fidel Castro and Kim Jong-un. That was some seriously offensive editing.
— Carmen George (@CarmenGeorge) May 28, 2019
The video, which George linked in a subsequent tweet and will not be linked here, can be found on YouTube. It mostly contains standard images and symbols of military pride, but about three minutes into the three-minute, 35-second video, the voiceover of Ronald Reagan talks about “the enemies of freedom” while images are shown of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Fidel Castro and . . . Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Someone, apparently a protesting American, wearing an Antifa hat is also shown.
It’s one thing to take political issue with a sitting United States Congresswoman, of course. Many people do, especially with this Congresswoman. But by casting her as an “enemy of freedom,” the maker of that video, whoever it was, is, by definition, engaged in political propaganda, portraying a merely dissenting viewpoint as a threat to America. By showing that video, obviously, the Grizzlies gave fans the impression they were weighing in with that viewpoint.
After receiving much-deserved criticism, the Grizzlies issued an apology shortly after midnight Tuesday morning. The team said:
We are aware of the problem with the Memorial Day tribute video shown in the ballpark between games of Monday’s doubleheader.
A pre-produced video from outside our front office was selected; unfortunately what was supposed to be a moving tribute ended with some misleading and offensive editing, which made a statement that was not our intent and certainly not our opinion.
We apologize to our fans and to our community for the error and for not properly vetting the video. We also apologize to those who have served and are currently serving the country for the undue distraction on such a solemn day.
That apology was lacking in specificity. In a follow-up tweet posted about 40 minutes later, the Grizzlies said, “We’re embarrassed we allowed this video to play without seeing it in its entirety first. We unconditionally apologize to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) in addition to our fans, community and those we hurt. It was a mistake and we will ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.”
I subscribe to Hanlon’s razor, a philosophy that roughly suggests we not attribute to malice that which can more easily be attributed to ignorance. The likeliest scenario seems to be that a Grizzlies employee put in charge of this little project was scrounging around the Internet for a Memorial Day tribute video to show on the big screen for the fans and chose the aforementioned video without watching it all the way through. Especially in the minor leagues, these employees — like their baseball player counterparts — are overworked and underpaid. This is not to excuse that the video was played; this is simply to provide a likely context. The Grizzlies should still check to see if there was intent behind what otherwise appears to be a mistake borne out of laziness or hurriedness, though.
So much for “stick to sports,” huh?