As difficult as this may be to believe, I actually felt bad for Rush Limbaugh once. Once. A little less than ten years ago, he was hired by ESPN as an NFL commentator. If you don't remember this, don't feel bad. He had the job for all of about six weeks before the network fired him for comments he made about Eagles QB Donovan McNabb:
"Sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go," Limbaugh said. "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."
Good to know Limbaugh knows as much about football as he does about anything else. (For the unaware, McNabb was great, especially when he was young. No, he never won a Super Bowl. Neither did Jim Kelly, Fran Tarkenton, Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, or any number of other "greats".)
ESPN initially backed Limbaugh.
Earlier, ESPN executive vice president Mark Shapiro came to the conservative Limbaugh's defense.
"This is not a politically motivated comment. This is a sports and media argument…We brought Rush in for no-holds-barred opinion. Early on, he has delivered."
In other words, they brought in Rush Limbaugh to do exactly what Rush Limbaugh is known for doing. He did it, and then they fired him. The ratings for their NFL show were flagging and they wanted someone to generate some interest in it again. They hired someone for the shock factor and told him to be shocking. My point is not that what he said is defensible; the point is, the network can't act surprised that they hired Rush Limbaugh and he proceeded to act like Rush Limbaugh. The guy is not an unknown quantity. So the issue is not really what he said per se, but why ESPN would hire him in the first place.
Hypothetically, if the Oscars hired a black bear to host the ceremony, who is to blame when it turns into a trainwreck? Is it the bear's fault, or would it be more logical to ask, "What kind of moron would hire a bear to host the Oscars?"
The world was deluged with "Seth McFarlane offended everyone on Earth and is a raging asshat" pieces today. He was highly offensive, crude, and not even particularly funny (note: if you're going to be incredibly offensive you have to at least be funny). I'm reading all of this and thinking, "What exactly did they expect when they hired Seth McFarlane?" His humor is offensive, crude, sexist, homophobic, and ever since the first Family Guy cancellation, not particularly funny. He proceeded to deliver a performance that was offensive, crude, sexist, homophobic, and not particularly funny. Shocking.
The many criticisms of McFarlane read like they could have been written two weeks ago, with the specific jokes added at the last minute. That makes perfect sense, since anyone with a functioning brain stem saw this coming a mile away: the gay jokes, the awful songs, the attempts to embarrass celebrities in the crudest possible way, the bathroom humor, all of it. So the issue is not McFarlane, as he merely did exactly what could have been expected of him in that situation. I mean, the guy is not going to go out there and do PG-rated Billy Crystal humor. If he tried that, it would probably be excruciating to see. It's not what he does. No, the issue is with the Academy. They hired him. What made them think that was a good idea?
It's so much easier to blame individuals than a faceless organization. The idea that they would hire McFarlane and he would somehow censor himself or deliver a highbrow or family-friendly performance – something he has never done in the history of ever – is an effort to deflect blame from where it belongs. The Academy and the TV networks paid for shock value, they got it, and it worked (look at the coverage the "controversy" generated). So while everyone's beating the dead horse and taking a whack at the asshole who was paid to be his asshole self and proceeded to be an asshole, the bigger issue – the judgment of people who have actual decision-making power – is ignored. Again.