'Boardwalk' Bet: A High-Stakes Saga From HBO The new series is set in Atlantic City in the 1920s — where corruption and organized crime run as freely as the banned booze. Critic David Bianculli is impressed by the cast, which includes Steve Buscemi and Kelly Macdonald, and says the emotionally intense drama is worth adding to your must-see list this fall.
NPR logo

'Boardwalk' Bet: A High-Stakes Saga From HBO

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/129930757/129932856" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'Boardwalk' Bet: A High-Stakes Saga From HBO

'Boardwalk' Bet: A High-Stakes Saga From HBO

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/129930757/129932856" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


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

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�freelance writer Jimi Izrael and Republican strategist Marcus Skelton. And we have not one, but two political science professors with us: Lester Spence from Johns Hopkins and Jason Johnson from Hiram College. And before I hand the shop over to you, Jimi, I just want to mention that we're going to be talking about that incident involving the New York Jets and a female reporter. So the conversation may take a turn that might not be appropriate for everybody. I don't know. I'll just mention that. But we're going to start off with a little CBC politics, right, Jimi?

Mr. JIMI IZRAEL (Writer): Thanks for that, Michel. Hey, fellas. Oh, my. We got two PhDs and MFAs. It's a lot of heavy wood up in here.

Mr. MARCUS SKELTON (Republican Strategist): Somebody's got to do it, baby.

Mr. IZRAEL: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. IZRAEL: A lot of terminal degrees up at the Barbershop. How are we doing?

MARTIN: You notice how he had to slip his degree in there?

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: And mention that it's terminal. That was very (unintelligible), Jimi. Well done. Well done. Marcus, are there any...

Mr. IZRAEL: Your boy's got to pop that collar.

MARTIN: Do you want to give us your SAT scores while you're at it?

Mr. SKELTON: No. But I do have a master's degree.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. IZRAEL: Pop that collar, pop the collar. How are we doing today?

Mr. SKELTON: Oh, we're doing fantastic.

Professor LESTER SPENCE (Political Science, Johns Hopkins University): Doing great.

Professor JASON JOHNSON (Political Science, Hiram College): Fantastic.

Mr. SKELTON: Black Republicans are taking over CBC week, officially.

Prof. SPENCE: Oh, my God.

MARTIN: All three of them.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SKELTON: Right. But it's like 300.

Mr. IZRAEL: And in other news from the dream land, we have...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. IZRAEL: After weeks dealing with one controversy after another, the Congressional Black Caucus is celebrating a 40th, 4-0 anniversary this week in Washington, D.C., which is why we're starting off with CBC issues, Michel.

MARTIN: You know, it's funny, because is a very celebratory weekend. It's the kind of - it's a weekend that people take a lot of pride in, they put a lot of energy into. There are policy forums and all kinds, you know, social events and a lot of policy events and a lot of people take a lot of pride in this weekend. But it's also taking place against the backdrop - not just of real economic stress. I mean, the poverty numbers came out this week and show, again, just how difficult the lives are of many Americans.

And then there are these ongoing reports, as Jimi alluded to, of unethical behavior by - or alleged unethical behavior by CBC members, most recently Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who was accused of steering Caucus foundation scholarship awards to her own relatives and the relatives of a staffer, in violation of the rules.

And then, of course, there's former House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, who's accused of some improprieties. And despite the ethics charges against him, by the way, as we mentioned earlier in the program, Mr. Rangel won his primary challenge easily on Tuesday. And do you want to hear a short clip of his acceptance speech? Would anyone like to hear it?

Prof. LESTER: Oh, yeah.

Prof. JOHNSON: Absolutely.


Representative CHARLES RANGEL (Democrat, New York): President Obama needs people like me more than ever.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Rep. RANGEL: I say this that during a period of fiscal crisis, the moral treatment of newcomers in this country, the wealthiest people in this country haven't been given tax cuts - that doesn't help the economy. I go back to tell the president: You don't need all those Republicans.


MARTIN: What do you say about that, Jimi?

Mr. IZRAEL: Sounds like - yeah, sounds like homeboy needs a throat lozenge. But thanks for that, Michel.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. IZRAEL: It also sounds to me like, you know, he's either begging the president to pay attention to the CBC, or he's kind of giving him what-for. Now, here's my question: With the ethics problem, and the president - his numbers are tanking - his poll numbers. Who needs the other more? The CBC or the president? Dr. Spence, get it.

Prof. SPENCE: That's actually an excellent question.

Mr. IZRAEL: Thanks.

Prof. SPENCE: I think - so the CBC, when it was at its best, it actually served as the moral conscience of the Congress. That's actually what they - that's kind of like their tagline, right? And I remember - well, I don't remember personally, but in the early '70s, they put forth an alternative budget to show Nixon how we might allocate resources in a different way.

I actually think Obama needs the CBC. But the CBC needs to return to that set of practices, where they're actually showing Obama and then other progressives - to the extent that we can still call them progressives - what this other world might look like. And that's what - and that - they can galvanize citizens to push for that and then create some mechanisms to un-elect people who probably shouldn't be elected in the first place within the CBC.

Mr. IZRAEL: Double J.

Prof. JOHNSON: Yeah, I got to be honest with you. Obama used the CBC more, because most of these cats, they're in safe seats. They're not worried about keeping their jobs. But Barack Obama has got be to be looking two years down the road. He's got to be looking at this Congress that's full these crazy Tea Party people. He's got to be looking at the fact that there's this sort of, you know, the Messiah belief that a lot of liberals had about him is leading to this lack of enthusiasm now. He needs the CBC to be turning out votes for this midterm, turning out votes in 2012. He needs them. They dont even really need to be talking about him right now. Their jobs are safe.

Mr. IZRAEL: Mr. Skelton.

Mr. SKELTON: Oh, I believe that President Obama needs the CBC. You just have to be realistic of how he won in 2008. If it wasnt for college students and black people, you know, he wouldnt have carried states like Virginia or North Carolina. So he's going to have to deliver on the policy side. You know, President Obama doesnt quite believe in predetermined resources and he hasnt quite - well, he hasnt articulated how his policies are going to help CBC members, and if he doesnt, he's going to have a lot of trouble generating their support in the 2012 election.

MARTIN: Jimi, can I ask you a question?

Mr. IZRAEL: Yes, sir. Ma'am. Sorry.

MARTIN: How did you - yeah, exactly. Excuse me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: I'm sorry, maybe I'm not wearing enough makeup today. I dont know. I'll try to do better. But what's the...

Prof. JOHNSON: Youre doing all right.

MARTIN: How did you read Congressman Rangel's remarks about the president? Did you read that in the way that Lester interpreted it, as to say look, you need -and the other gentleman interpreted it, to say you need me to get our folks out? Or did you interpret it on a generational thing, which is let me show you how to do it, son?

Mr. IZRAEL: Yeah. Yeah. The second. You know, the latter. I mean I took it to mean that he was trying to put the president on blast, like man, you know, you need to get on board, son. And like, as if, right? As if you can put the president on blast. As if you have it like that. As if your house is clean.

Listen, let me just say, the CBC, while youre celebrating, you need to get your house in order. That's real.

MARTIN: Well, before we let that before we let this topic go, Lester, do you mind if I ask you, we were talking about the Washington, D.C. race earlier and there was also this kind of generational question there as well, because the mayor of Washington, Adrian Fenty, the incumbent, voted out in the primary, which is generally dispositive in the city, by Vincent Gray, being the oldest -who will be at 67 the oldest person ever to run the city, and Fenty was the youngest. And I wonder, do you think that in part this is also a generational thing happening here, which is people who are, have paid their dues are not willing to cede authority to people who may - is it a question of style or is it a question of policy? What do you think it is?

Prof. SPENCE: So I was listening and it was a great bit. I'm glad I was able to listen to it. What I'd say is, it's not just style but it's about the democratic process, right? Government is about - democracy is about stuff; that is, people getting stuff from government. But it's also about the process. To that extent that there's a generational divide, I think there are some old line leaders who in some ways aren't really democratic, but who still believe that there should be at least a space for their constituents and that in this - and that Obama didnt provide it or he's not doing a good job of providing it, and Fenty didnt provide it in the D.C. case.

MARTIN: If youre just joining us, youre listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're having our weekly visit to the Barbershop with journalist Jimi Izrael, Professor Lester Spence, Professor Jason Johnson and Republican strategist Marcus Skelton.

Back to you, Jimi.

Mr. IZRAEL: Thanks, Michel. All right, fellas, as most of you know, the New York Jets football team has gone on the defensive for apparently offensive actions toward a female sports reporter, Michel.

MARTIN: You know, they - have you all followed this story?

Prof. JOHNSON: Oh, yes.

MARTIN: You followed this story?

Mr. IZRAEL: Somewhat. Mm-hmm.

MARTIN: Okay. So the reporter is Ines Sainz of the Spanish language network, TV Azteca. She was there to interview Mark Sanchez, who's of Mexican heritage. And you know, it's exciting for a lot of people to kind of see another figure in the sport who represents kind of a different profile. She attended the practice. She was working, as so many reporters do, all reporters do - and it's also worth mentioning that male reporters work in the female locker rooms as well. So now apparently she was subjected to catcalls. There was just juvenile behavior, people throwing footballs at her and all this mess and looking at her butt - I'll just say it - and, you know, there are some people say that she was dressed inappropriately. I saw that she was wearing a white shirt - a white dress shirt and some jeans. I dont - I dont know what - so anyway, this is what she told CNN. Here's what she had to say.

(Soundbite of CNN broadcast)

Ms. INES SAINZ (Journalist, TV Azteca): I don't believe that my dress is the point of the discussion here, because I done - do not anything to provoke it...

Ms. JOY BEHAR ("The Joy Behar Show"): Right.

Ms. SAINZ: ...the teams or the players. I only go to work my job...

MARTIN: And just to emphasize, English is not her first language, obviously. She works for Spanish language network. Her primary language is Spanish. So I dont know, what do you think about this?

Mr. IZRAEL: Well, we should mention also that the Jets owner did call Ms. Sainz to apologize for his players. But you know, I take your point, Michel. But I want to put this out there and get some feedback. You know, I think some women have kind of a strange dichotomous relationship with what feminist Laura Mulvey, she called the male gaze. It's a cinema term, actually, about how male directors kind of direct cameras to look at the - to kind of, you know, linger on the female form. I think some women - some women court the male gaze on one hand and then are kind of stymied and repulsed by what that courtship brings upon them.

And you know, not for nothing, Ms. Sainz is a self-appointed, the self-described sexiest woman in sports news. So...


Mr. IZRAEL: I dont - no, and there's nothing wrong with that.

MARTIN: I mean was she wearing a bathing suit? I dont think so.

Mr. IZRAEL: No. No. But if you put it out there and if it comes back, you can't be surprised. I'm sorry. Dr. Spence.

Prof. SPENCE: No. No, that's not - that's common sense, but that's not right, right?

Mr. IZRAEL: Oh, its common sense but it's not right?

MARTIN: Go ahead. Go ahead.

Mr. IZRAEL: Okay.

Prof. SPENCE: I mean inasmuch as...

Mr. IZRAEL: Okay. Okay. Bet. Bet.

Prof. SPENCE: Right? I mean harassment in the workplace is wrong.

Mr. IZRAEL: It is wrong. Right.

Prof. SPENCE: And that's where you stop.

Mr. IZRAEL: Okay.

Prof. SPENCE: So what we're saying is, well, you know, harassment is wrong, but man, she shouldnt be like working it like that, man. Like no, you stop by saying harassment is wrong. You stop there, right?

Mr. IZRAEL: Wait a second.

MARTIN: What should she Jimi, do you know what she was wearing? Have you seen the pictures of what she was wearing?

Mr. IZRAEL: I've seen the pictures of what she's wearing. I've also seen pictures of other pictures of her wearing other outfits.

MARTIN: But she wasnt wearing pictures of herself in other outfits in the locker room. She was wearing a shirt and some jeans - a long-sleeve shirt, so...

Mr. IZRAEL: Okay. Okay.

MARTIN: Well, I mean just to Jimi's point...

Mr. IZRAEL: I'm not trying to say - I'm not trying to say that she deserved it. I want to be clear about that. I'm not trying to say that she deserved it, but what I think is, sometimes you have to you've got to dress for the job, you know what I mean? And you can't dress for the club for the job.

MARTIN: All right.

Mr. IZRAEL: I mean everybody knows that.

MARTIN: I think the other gentlemen want to speak on it.

Prof. JOHNSON: Yeah, I got to be raw about this. Number one, if you watch HBO's "Hard Knocks," which is the sort of documentary about the Jets, and you see how Rex Ryan behaves and how obnoxious and abrasive he is, it's not that surprising that these guys would act that way, so that's the first thing. The second thing, though, to remember, and I'm going to go there, from a racial and cultural standpoint - this woman works - she's been doing this for eight years. She does European players, she does Mexican players. I dont know that this didnt have something to do with getting that attention from the kind of men who make up an NFL football team.

Mr. IZRAEL: Whoa.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Prof. JOHNSON: Because you can't tell me - you can't tell me that the behavior of Mexican football players and European football players isn't just as obnoxious.

MARTIN: When you say she does, what do you mean? You mean she interviews.

Prof. JOHNSON: Yeah, she interviews.

MARTIN: Okay. Okay.

Prof. JOHNSON: Yeah, she's been doing this for eight years.

MARTIN: Well, what are you saying? Youre saying that she's courting controversy in order to advance her...

Prof. JOHNSON: No. No. No. No. What I'm suggesting is that they were wrong and I'm suggesting that her reaction stems from some bias against the people who may have been directing the attention at her. I think they were both wrong. They're like...

Mr. IZRAEL: Young black men as opposed to...

Prof. JOHNSON: Exactly. Exactly.

Mr. IZRAEL: Wow. That's deep.

MARTIN: They should be throwing footballs at her? I'm sorry.

Prof. JOHNSON: No. No. No. That's what I said. They're obnoxious. I watch "Hard Knocks." I mean I think Rex Ryan is a jerk.

MARTIN: He's the coach.

Prof. JOHNSON: Yeah. So I...

MARTIN: For those who dont know.

Prof. JOHNSON: So you know, I dont find it surprising that they were - I think they were both wrong.

MARTIN: Marcus?

Mr. SKELTON: Yeah, I can use my one little baby degree in human resource management to kind of comment on that one right here.

MARTIN: That's it. That's it. Well, you know, my man slipped in his human gaze...

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of crosstalk)

Mr. IZRAEL: The male gaze. The male gaze.

MARTIN: The male gaze.

Mr. SKELTON: (Unintelligible) human resource degree and this...

MARTIN: Thank you. Thank you, sir.

Mr. SKELTON: This is just prototype case study of hostile environment, sexual harassment, where most of the articles you read, no one addressed her directly but it's kind of if an attractive woman walks past and then me and my buddies walk over to the water cooler and talk about how hot she is, somebody else heard it and said you offended me. And this is the thing that we need to teach everybody, that you can get in trouble not for addressing this lady directly.

It seems like there's a tape out there. They haven't showed the tape, but you can hear these guys in the background kind of talking in the corner, giggling to themselves. And I think if I want to go to the other point of kind of having the gaze, I think people dress for a comfortable amount of attention. Now, it depends on you how much you dressing and when it becomes uncomfortable to you.

You know, she might feel comfortable with a certain amount of, you know, attention towards her, but then she doesnt want a guy to jump out and tackle her on the field, you know, and that's not...

Mr. IZRAEL: But that didnt happen though.

MARTIN: But we talked about the whole - the dress thing. Well, just to clarify, the Jets say they're reviewing the matter and they - it was described as a coach - the coach was throwing passes in the direction of Ms. Sainz, so there's that piece. But this whole question of what people are wearing and so forth, there's the whole locker room piece.

And this is Clinton Portis speaking about this. He got some trouble for this. He's a player for the Washington Redskins, a running back, and he was on a radio show - a station in D.C. called The Fan, and this is what he had to say.

Mr. CLINTON PORTIS (NFL Football Player): You put a woman and you give her a choice of 53 athletes, somebody got to be appealing to her. You know, she's going to want somebody. You know, I don't know what kind of woman won't, if you get to go and look at 53 men's packages.

Mr. IZRAEL: That's ignorant. That's ignorant.

Prof. JOHNSON: Yeah. Let's just say that first, that's stupid.

Prof. SPENCE: Well...

MARTIN: Go ahead. Lester Spence.

Prof. SPENCE: This is Lester. So real quick. Speaking to the race-culture thing...

Prof. JOHNSON: Right.

Prof. SPENCE: ...I actually thought you can(ph) go in a different direction. So what I didnt - what I haven't heard is the Latina thing, where she's actually Latina. So there's this whole set of stereotypes we have about Latino women that also come into play here.

Prof. JOHNSON: Right.

Prof. SPENCE: Right? But speaking of Clinton's statement, that's just a case of somebody who shouldnt be before a mic.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Prof. JOHNSON: Right.

Mr. IZRAEL: Right. Exactly.

Mr. SKELTON: Exactly.

MARTIN: Right.

Prof. SPENCE: I mean so we just...

Prof. JOHNSON: Or play the offensive line.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Prof. SPENCE: Yeah. We teach him how to act in a locker room and this doesnt happen. Again, harassment is harassment.

MARTIN: I'm going to throw out my graduate studies in theology.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: And I will say that one of the things that fascinates is why do we continue imbue athletic ability with moral authority.

Prof. JOHNSON: Yeah. Right. Right.

MARTIN: You know, why do we imply that because people are athletically gifted that they have some moral authority...

Prof. JOHNSON: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...that we should and then attend to? I find - I just - it's like -because they should be better people than that because - why?

Prof. SPENCE: Why?

MARTIN: Relevance, please. Relevance.

Prof. JOHNSON: Yeah, youre dealing with a locker room of 23 to 25-year-old millionaires, you know, who've been pretty much praised since they were 15 or 16 years old, so like I said - and they have a coach, Rex Ryan, who has not demonstrated any degree of restraint or maturity, of responsibility in his public appearances. So like I said, I'm not surprised that this happened, and I do think there should be some reprimand. But I also think - I have had difficulty, again, with my experience. If I go to - I've been to Mexico several times, I watch, you know, Mexican football - I have trouble thinking that this behavior is in any way demonstrably worse than what - when she probably experiences down there.

MARTIN: I see what youre saying. I see what youre saying. Okay, but we're not in Mexico and workplace standards vary from place to place and...

Prof. JOHNSON: True.

MARTIN: ...you know, the fact is, you know, Americans have the right to set whatever standards they consider appropriate and those are the ones that have -but Marcus, you know, bringing out the human resources question - one of the questions I have is, the whole locker room thing. As a - I - why do we interview people in the locker room anyway? I dont understand why...

Mr. SKELTON: Well, you know...

MARTIN: Do men want to be interviewed with...

Mr. SKELTON: I mean it's...

MARTIN: ...I dont - by anybody while they're wrapped in a towel. I just dont - I dont...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SKELTON: I can throw out my, you know, past old days as a college football player. You dont want nobody coming in there seeing you, you know, half clothed. But the thing is, the media wants access and you might catch these guys saying off-collar remarks, because youre in their place of comfort. You know, if I'm in a locker room joking around with the guys or you catch me at any bar, I may say something that's off the cuff, and this is where youre in their environment saying - trying to catch them relaxed, to get a good quote, and you get something wrong.

MARTIN: So is this a game changer or not to throw out a clich�? Do you think that this incident will have any lasting effect on it?

Mr. IZRAEL: Nope.

Mr. SKELTON: I think it will. I think NFL's is going to limit the access to locker room, and it's going to be you just come out and do a...

MARTIN: Everybody else is saying no.

Mr. SKELTON: ...staple press conference.

MARTIN: Everybody else is going no. Everybody else shaking, no. Jimi, what do you think, yes, no, game changer or not?

Mr. IZRAEL: Nope.

MARTIN: Okay. Thank you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Jimi Izrael is a freelance journalist and author of the book "The Denzel Principle." He joined us from member station WCPN in Cleveland. And here with me in our Washington, D.C. studio, Lester Spence, associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University. Jason Johnson, he was also just hired as political editor and blogger for The Source magazine. He's a political science and communications professor at Hiram College in Ohio. And Marcus Skelton.

Mr. SKELTON: Yeah.

MARTIN: Republican strategist and Grants Program Advisor for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Thank you so much.

Prof. SPENCE: Peace.

Mr. SKELTON: All right. See you.

Prof. JOHNSON: See ya.

Mr. IZRAEL: Yup-yup.

MARTIN: And that's our program for today. Im Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

Lets talk more on Monday.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.