'Shop Talk': Weinergate, NBA Finals, NCAA Restrictions The 'Barbershop' guys weigh-in on the controversy surrounding Rep. Weiner, who announced this week that he will not resign despite having lewd internet communications with women. The guys also discuss game five of the NBA finals. Host Michel Martin hears from author Jimi Izrael; sports editor David Zirin; Johns Hopkins professor of Political Science Lester Spence; and syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette. Discussion about Weiner may not be suited for younger listeners.
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'Shop Talk': Weinergate, NBA Finals, NCAA Restrictions

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'Shop Talk': Weinergate, NBA Finals, NCAA Restrictions

'Shop Talk': Weinergate, NBA Finals, NCAA Restrictions

'Shop Talk': Weinergate, NBA Finals, NCAA Restrictions

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/137102687/137102667" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The 'Barbershop' guys weigh-in on the controversy surrounding Rep. Weiner, who announced this week that he will not resign despite having lewd internet communications with women. The guys also discuss game five of the NBA finals. Host Michel Martin hears from author Jimi Izrael; sports editor David Zirin; Johns Hopkins professor of Political Science Lester Spence; and syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette. Discussion about Weiner may not be suited for younger listeners.

Miami Heat's LeBron James goes up for a shot during the second half of Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks on June 9, 2011. The Mavericks won 112-103 to take a 3-2 lead in the series. Mark Ralston/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

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Miami Heat's LeBron James goes up for a shot during the second half of Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks on June 9, 2011. The Mavericks won 112-103 to take a 3-2 lead in the series.


MICHEL MARTIN, host: I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

Now it's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shapeup this week are author Jimi Izrael, syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette, Johns Hopkins political science professor and blogger and author Lester Spence, and sports editor at the magazine The Nation, Dave Zirin. Take it away, Jimi.

JIMI IZRAEL: Thanks, Michel. Hey, fellas.


LESTER SPENCE: Well, hello.

IZRAEL: Welcome to the shop. How are we doin'?



NAVARRETTE: Feel good, man.

SPENCE: Cold chillin'.

IZRAEL: Well, looks like Weinergate - looks like the Weiner scandal is still boiling over. Round two. Last week the congressman said he was the victim of hacking. Somehow someone broke into his social media Twitter account and sent a lewd photo. This week, shortly after, more photos surfaced, he fessed up. The new photos are not of his below the waist, but show him shirtless and smiling. Guys, looks like Weiner's chaffing from the friction. But he will not resign.


IZRAEL: Michel, I got to hand this one over to you before I get myself in trouble here.

MARTIN: No, you're just mad because he didn't share his workout tips, right? That's what you're upset about. Hey, I tweeted that guy. I asked, how do you get those pecs?


MARTIN: Well, they are bad. This is what he had to say about his online dalliances at his press conference on Monday and I know that some people have followed this issue closely, so you might be wondering why are we talking about this again. But you have to remember, everybody hasn't followed every moment of this. So this is what he had to say.

Representative ANTHONY WEINER: I've exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years. For the most part, these communications took place before my marriage, though some have sadly took place after.

IZRAEL: Oh, man. Ouch. Man, you took those vows.


IZRAEL: You took those vows and...

NAVARRETTE: Andrew Breitbart. Andrew Breitbart, I just want to say right now.

IZRAEL: Hold on, hold on, man. He took those vows in the face of God and everybody else.

NAVARRETTE: This is all the Republicans.

IZRAEL: But now Weiner's in God's hands now.


IZRAEL: You know, I'm curious, what do you guys think...

NAVARRETTE: Right now.

IZRAEL: What do you guys think he should do? Ruben, you're champing at the bit, so go ahead.

NAVARRETTE: This is so bad. I mean, we were here a week ago and we basically said, you know, that just from his answers to these questions from journalists, something didn't look right, didn't sound right.

IZRAEL: Right. Something didn't look right.

NAVARRETTE: This is not how people answer questions. We had no idea just how not right this was. And in seven days it's just so much worse.

IZRAEL: Sure we did.

NAVARRETTE: No, I did not.

MARTIN: So is it the lying?

NAVARRETTE: Not even my worse nightmare.

MARTIN: Or is it the behavior itself? That's what you've, yeah.

NAVARRETTE: It's the behavior itself. I mean, if you really take the time, I would hope you don't, I hope you have other things to do with your time, but if you read the transcripts, for instance, that were released by one of the women who kind of interestingly enough felt scorned because when the Twitter scandal broke, he left her, he stopped talking to her, so she got mad and she retaliated by releasing nine month's worth of transcripts, right?


NAVARRETTE: So incredibly explicit. And explicit doesn't even get there. It's just raunchy stuff. This is how he talks. And so then there's the pictures. And there's the pictures that have been sent out and they are beyond explicit. We're talking about pornography. We're talking about just really inappropriate stuff that should never go out on the Internet. And you wonder what's wrong with somebody like this that he sends this stuff out and he thinks it's never going to come back, it's never going to come to light, nobody's ever going to call him on it.

There's the infidelity questions for sure and all this other stuff. Try convincing your wife or your girlfriend that this isn't cheating when you're sending X-rated pictures of yourself to some stranger you don't even know. There is something seriously wrong with Anthony Weiner. But I'm just amazed that it could've gone so badly in just the last seven days. Seven days ago we were willing to entertain the idea that maybe this was some sort of right wing plot. I mean, this is...

IZRAEL: Oh, man, I wasn't. Are you serious?

NAVARRETTE: Yeah, no. But some people were. Some people were.

MARTIN: Yeah, sure. I mean, you know, because with Photoshop...

IZRAEL: No, no, no.

MARTIN: No, really, seriously, with Photoshop people can do anything. I mean it's just - you know, just because we've heard so many...

IZRAEL: R. Kelly. Right.

MARTIN: Listen, the fact is there have been - whoa. This is a serious thing because a lot of private citizens have been caught (unintelligible) with people hacking into their accounts and sending out salacious messages and things of that sort. And it just, and if you are - think about it, if you're a private person and you don't have access to the media and all these other things to fix your reputation.


MARTIN: I mean so that is a possibility.

NAVARRETTE: I agree in theory. Because he - yeah.

MARTIN: But for anther thing. But...

IZRAEL: OK. So, but the question still is should he resign? Should he resign? Now if he was my boy...

NAVARRETTE: Oh, absolutely.

IZRAEL: If he was my boy. No. No. If he was my boy...

NAVARRETTE: Absolutely.

IZRAEL: ...I'd tell him to stay and fight. I tell him to stand fast, and I'm going to tell you why. He should not have lied, right? But this matter is between - largely between him, his God and his wife. You know what? It's not like he sent notes to underage pages were getting it on with the interns.


IZRAEL: As far as we know...


IZRAEL: ...these are adults engaged in adult behavior. His behavior...

ZIRIN: But, Jimi?

IZRAEL: Hold on. To be clear, to be clear now, his behavior was reprehensible.


IZRAEL: And it's kind of funny but, it's really, at the end of the day, it's none of our business.

ZIRIN: Jimi?

IZRAEL: Dave, you want to jump in here?

ZIRIN: Yeah, I do because I disagree with you pretty strongly on this one. I mean when this started I had your opinion, Jimi, that this is between him, his God, his wife and his wiener. But...


ZIRIN: I've shifted. I've oh, come on. Like, like come on. But I shifted on this.

NAVARRETTE: And let's be clear about who his best friend is in that whole litany of people.

ZIRIN: Yeah. I've shifted on this.

IZRAEL: OK. Hold on. Hold on, Ruben. Hold on, Ruben. Go ahead, Dave.

MARTIN: What does he have to say. Yeah. It's interesting to me.

ZIRIN: I've shifted on this pretty strongly because following it as I have, I've noticed that a lot of times this is a case of younger women getting in touch with him and saying things like hey, I'm interested in what you have to say about health care. I like that debate you did on Fox. And then him responding like, what are you wearing?


ZIRIN: And there's something - I mean to me this is, this is postmodern misogyny and I think we got to take a stand for all women who get drawn into relationships that they think are about their minds but end up being about exploitation and power.

SPENCE: But this is...

IZRAEL: Well, I'm sorry. I'm sorry...

SPENCE: Wait a minute.

IZRAEL: Go ahead, Dr. Spence. Get in this.

MARTIN: Well, it's interesting. Yeah.

SPENCE: But this is where it becomes complicated, though. So one is that 50 percent - 56 percent of registered voters in his district think he should stay.

ZIRIN: Right.

SPENCE: But more importantly, if you look at his ratings on the issues that this thing even links to, he's got like almost 100 percent ratings as far as his legislative behavior. So if we're going to start going after people for postmodern misogyny, we're going to have to start going after every single male in the Congress and in the Senate.


IZRAEL: Right. Right. I have kids (unintelligible).

NAVARRETTE: No. No. That's not about misogyny. He lied to his constituents.

ZIRIN: I have no problem.

SPENCE: Lied - just wait a second.

NAVARRETTE: He lied to his constituents.

SPENCE: Wait a second. Lying to your constituents...


IZRAEL: Go ahead, doctor. Go ahead, doctor.

SPENCE: ...is like, is saying that we are a few seconds away from not having a free economy, right?

NAVARRETTE: No. You're not getting it.

SPENCE: Right?

NAVARRETTE: No. You're not getting it.

SPENCE: Lying is saying OK I didn't take a picture of my thing.


IZRAEL: Hold on.

NAVARRETTE: You're not getting it.

SPENCE: Is a different analytical thing.

NAVARRETTE: No it's not. It's...

IZRAEL: Ruben, go ahead.

NAVARRETTE: You're not getting it. and you know who is getting it? Those nine members of Congress who are Democrats who came out and said, as Democrats, he should resign. And it was Nydia Velazquez who said in The New York Times when she was asked, she sort of ducked the question about the resignation. But she said all we have in this business is our credibility.

Here's my thing. If you go to Congress, OK, and unlike the people who are on this call, you get a federal pension of $100,000 when you retire, and you get...

ZIRIN: Damn.

NAVARRETTE: ...free medical, OK, at Walter Reed, and you get it all covered and you're all good for life, all we ask is that you sign this little pledge - this ethics code. He violated the ethics code. He turned around and he lied to the people who elected him by virtue of lying to these reporters who act as the vessel to the people who elected him, and then we want to say hey, it's just none of your business, it's all about sex. It's not like that.

SPENCE: Fifty-six percent of his registered voters.

NAVARRETTE: In this business that he runs in...

MARTIN: Well, that's interesting.

NAVARRETTE: This is like...

MARTIN: This is really interesting. I wonder if the - I'm curious how this is going to play out, because all of you are making compelling arguments. And I think it's fascinating that this is really - that you guys are split two-to-two on this and this is not at all lining up the way that I would have walked in here thinking it was going to. The only thing I would say, just to sort of tie a bow on it because there are other things I know you guys wanted to talk about is, when does he have time to read legislation?


MARTIN: I mean because he's spent a lot of time. See, when does he have time to read his briefing book?

SPENCE: Right.

IZRAEL: My boy is totally on the Internet.

MARTIN: I mean I'm sitting here...


MARTIN: ...late at night, sweating, like when am I going to get dinner on the table and I've got to check the kids' homework, and I wish I would...

IZRAEL: And he's on there now sweating for other reasons.

MARTIN: I wish I could get to the gym. But if I can get to the gym between taking my kids to ballet and soccer and blah, blah, blah. And I'm thinking OK, when does he have time to do all this?

SPENCE: He is on a different kind of time.

MARTIN: What is the time to do all this?

NAVARRETTE: Apparently, he has a lot of time on his hands because...

MARTIN: Evidently. Exactly.

IZRAEL: He's got something on his hands.


MARTIN: OK. We'll leave it at that. I think now it's time to go.

ZIRIN: Watch the language.

MARTIN: Now it's time to move it along.


MARTIN: If you're just joining us, you're listening to our weekly Barbershop segment. We're talking with author Jimi Izrael; syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette; Political Science Professor Lester Spence and sports editor Dave Zirin. Back to you, Jimi.

IZRAEL: Thanks, Michel. All right, guys. The Dallas Maverick's got the Miami Heat sweating. Yup. They took game five and now lead the NBA Finals three games to two. So much for the underdog.


IZRAEL: Dave, Nowitzki dropped 29 points last night. Flu symptoms in all, man. Michel...

ZIRIN: Yup. Well, last night...

MARTIN: I'm not objective on this. I'm not objective on this.


IZRAEL: Yeah. Yeah. Were you hoping the Heat...

MARTIN: I'm not a part of this.

IZRAEL: ...would the Finals clean and easy?

MARTIN: Kind of. Yes. Kind of. Yes.


MARTIN: You want to play any of it? Just, if you missed the game, the people who missed it, do you want to play just a little bit?

IZRAEL: Yeah. Absolutely. Go ahead.

MARTIN: All right. All right. This is game five. This is from game five. Here it is.


MIKE BREEN: Terry, a long three. Bam.


BREEN: Jason Terry gives the Mavericks a seven-point lead with 33 seconds remaining.

SPENCE: Balling.


MARTIN: This was so exciting.

SPENCE: Balling.

IZRAEL: Yeah, it has been. Ruben?

MARTIN: I've been trying to ignore it. Well, no. How about Dave, though? Dave's the sport dude.

IZRAEL: OK, yeah, Dave?

NAVARRETTE: Yeah. Absolutely. Go ahead, Dave.

MARTIN: Come on. Dave, tell us why it's been so great.

ZIRIN: Yeah. The story last night - well, why it's been so great, I mean this has been as the Lebron turns. I mean this has been the kind of compelling theater.

MARTIN: Oh, he's a hater too, right.

ZIRIN: No, it's a compelling theater that brings in the casual fan. What is Lebron going to do tonight? Will he show up in the fourth quarter? This is the most talented player of my lifetime. He scored 11 fourth-quarter points in the games so far. Nowitzki by contrast has scored almost 60 points in the first five games. So it's thrilling. But we've got to be clear about this. As much as this has been about Lebron, this is about Dallas taking these finals. Lebron didn't allow 112 points last night. It was the Mavericks who shot 13 for 18 from three-point range. The Mavericks are taking this series and taking the Heat's heart.


IZRAEL: Lester. Lester?

SPENCE: If Dirk...

IZRAEL: Let Lester getting here. Go ahead.

SPENCE: If Dirk wasn't top 50 before, he's definitely top 50 now. I've been - I mean 25 and 11 and throughout the playoffs, like 11 straight seasons, 20 three points...


SPENCE: ...eight rebounds. He is killing them. He is killing them.

MARTIN: Who did you like before? Were you who were you for?

SPENCE: Before I just wanted a good series and now it looks like I'm getting it.

MARTIN: You'll get that. Yeah.

ZIRIN: Oh, yeah.

MARTIN: Ruben, who are you for?

NAVARRETTE: You know, I said before, I said last week that since I lived in Dallas, the condition having lived in Dallas, to think of the Dallas Mavericks as the Chicago Cubs of the Southwest.


MARTIN: Oh, snap.

SPENCE: Oh, wow. Yeah. Yeah.

NAVARRETTE: Because they, and I said this before, I said they will in the end, watch what will happen, they will clutch the feet from the jaws of victory. However, what you're talking about is something else, that these guys have worked long and hard over long period of time, and what you're seeing here is what makes sports great: the fact that someone who is an underdog could come in here and beat, and it happens in every sport you can think of. There's always that unpredictable factor of the one who is supposed to win doesn't, the one who isn't supposed to win somehow pulls it out and it makes it exciting to watch, and it's been a great series from looking at it.

MARTIN: Jimi, who do you like?

NAVARRETTE: It's a lot of fun and I think Dallas.

MARTIN: Jimi, would you like? I forget. Are you a...

IZRAEL: Well, I...

MARTIN: ...kind of Cleveland...

ZIRIN: Oh, come on.


MARTIN: No. Remember? Are you like, you were down with Lebron, right because he's from Cleveland, right?

IZRAEL: I am down with Lebron.

SPENCE: Oh, cool. Yeah.

IZRAEL: No, I mean rarely in the history of sports have we seen a young black man have this much agency over his career. He made this choice. He should live with it and he should fight for it. You know, and I'm pulling for him because, you know, he's from Cleveland. and in Cleveland, we start losing when we start to get vicious so be careful out there. Be careful out there, Dallas, because, you know, he is - you guys have kind of fired him up and historically when, he comes back, you know, historically. You know, and he really, he's good under pressure, so...

ZIRIN: But last night - but, Jimi, but last night was supposed to be his...

IZRAEL: Go ahead, Dave.

ZIRIN: You know, last night was supposed to be his comeback game. He tweeted now or never beforehand. Put all the pressure on his shoulders.

MARTIN: See, that's that Twitter again. OK. See.

ZIRIN: In the last six minutes. It's that Twitter. No, you're right about that.

MARTIN: That Twitter will mess you up.


ZIRIN: You are right about that. People with impulse control, politicians...


ZIRIN: ...athletes, Twitter is not their friend.

MARTIN: That's right...

ZIRIN: In the last six minutes...

NAVARRETTE: Actors. Right.

ZIRIN: Actors, yeah. In the last six minutes of last night's game, Lebron James, two points, zero rebounds, zero assists.

NAVARRETTE: Jimi, do you think in Cleveland there's a lot of...

SPENCE: But he had a triple double..

NAVARRETTE: Listen, Jimi, do you think in Cleveland there's a lot of..

ZIRIN: The fight is double-double.


MARTIN: I think...

NAVARRETTE: Jimi, do you think that there...

SPENCE: Be quiet.

NAVARRETTE: Jimi, do you think in Cleveland there's a lot of those folks who are still resentful and they're cheering for Dallas because they want out of spite, they want Miami to lose? Do you think that's fair?

IZRAEL: Honestly? Honestly?


IZRAEL: I'm glad you asked. I think that constituency is really divided by race.

SPENCE: Yeah. Right.

IZRAEL: I think black people really want to see Lebron thrive and do well. And I think the white people here really feel - and I can't speak for either race. I can't speak for, hey, I can speak for myself, my observations, but my observations are such that I think the white people here really resent the idea that he went and he looked out from his own future and the future of his family and pursued a goal that he had personally. So I think it's divided right down the middle. Right down the middle.

NAVARRETTE: To the point where they're rooting for Dallas right now...

MARTIN: Well, that's not - I mean that happens. People do that.

IZRAEL: Right.

MARTIN: It's like the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I mean that's not, you know, I mean that's social (unintelligible) .

NAVARRETTE: But it would be a little weird if you were driving around...

MARTIN: But there's no weapons involved. Come on, you all. It's a...

IZRAEL: Right. Right. Not anymore. Not anymore.

MARTIN: All right. But before we go, before we go we want to go...

IZRAEL: Right.

MARTIN: ...talk a little bit about Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor announced he's skipping his senior year to go to the NFL. And this is after he and his teammates were allegedly caught violating NCAA rules, giving autographs and their jerseys in exchange for - you'll love this - free tattoos and other favors. And then after this scandal, the coach, Jim Tressell, resigned. And now the Bowl Champion Series revoked the University of Southern California's 2004 national championship because of the infractions a former star running back Reggie Bush, who's now of the New Orleans Saints. And so Dave, I just got to tell - we only have about a couple of minutes left. But I just want to know what do you think of this? Is it...

ZIRIN: The college game has changed so dramatically over the last 30 years. Woody Hayes, the great Ohio State coach, at his peak made 41 grand a year.


ZIRIN: Jim Tressell was making $3.5 million base salary and had the use of a private jet and had all kinds of other bells and whistles. Everything has changed about the game, except for the fact that the players don't see any of the money.

MARTIN: And what you think about that? What is your take on it? Do you have a specific idea of what should happen?

ZIRIN: Oh...

MARTIN: I mean it does seem strange that some of these kids really come out of real deprivation and you can't buy them a pizza. But then the colleges and universities make millions.

ZIRIN: But they're selling - yeah.

MARTIN: But then the other side of it, that they say well, yes but you're getting a free education, which is of significant value so that's what your getting.

ZIRIN: Yeah. I would say that they're scholarships, you know, only get renewed on an annual basis. So even the education itself, and given the amount of time they have to put into practice...


ZIRIN: ...is highly, highly, highly devalued. So I think the system is rotten to its core and it needs massive overhaul.

MARTIN: Lester, what you think? You're a university professor. You're a...


MARTIN: ...I mean not, you know, Hopkins isn't exactly an athletic powerhouse, but you kind of...

ZIRIN: Hey, Lacrosse.

MARTIN: Lacrosse, of course.

SPENCE: Well, well, no, no. First I have to say go Blue because I'm also a Michigan guy. So and the highlight goes out for the day.

MARTIN: Exactly. Of course.

SPENCE: But, but...


SPENCE: It's unfortunate. I think that...

MARTIN: You dropped to one knee on that.


SPENCE: I think that the kids should be paid. That's the bottom line. The - Ohio State made $64 million in revenue over football last year. That's how much they reported.


SPENCE: A college - Ohio State tuition package, it might be four years, it's like $67,000, right? So you think about all that money that's being made off the bodies of those kids and that they're not seeing the dime, it's wrong.

MARTIN: Ruben quickly.

NAVARRETTE: No, don't pay them. Don't pay them. They're going to make plenty of money. If they're that good they're going to make plenty of money eventually in the pros. This is the one time when what they do is pure. Let it, keep it pure. Leave it the way it is for them.


IZRAEL: Right.

NAVARRETTE: It's about them. It's about them, OK? The universities, they make money from a variety of different things. A variety of different things. You don't start paying students to participate in school activities just because you make money from them. It's not right.

MARTIN: I think I might have to revive the Lester. I might have to call in. Jimi, really fast, what do you think?


IZRAEL: Pay those kids so they don't have to do crazy stuff...

NAVARRETTE: Pay those kids.

IZRAEL: ...like that dude.


ZIRIN: Well said, Jimi.

NAVARRETTE: Yeah. Just ignore it. OK.

MARTIN: OK. Jimi Izrael is a freelance journalist and author of the book, "The Denzel Principle." He joined us from member station WCPN in Cleveland. Ruben Navarrette is a syndicated columnist who writes for the Washington Post Writers Group, Latino magazine and Pajamas Media. He was with us from San Diego. Dave Zirin is a sports editor for The Nation. He also hosts a podcast at ProPlayerInsiders.com. He was with us from the studios of XM Sirius in Washington, D.C. Lester Spence is a blogger and political science professor at Johns Hopkins University. His new book is just out. It's called "Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics." He was here with me in our Washington, D.C. studios. Thank you all so much.

ZIRIN: Thank you.


SPENCE: Thanks.

IZRAEL: Yup-yup.

MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more on Monday.


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