From CSJ Reports–
On Thursday night’s edition of “Inside The NBA” on TNT, moderator Ernie Johnson broke two major rules of sports broadcasting: he discussed his thoughts on politics and religion. It was all part of a larger post-election conversation that also included Johnson’s co-hosts Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith.
This has been the most bizarre presidential election in modern history, so it’s not a surprise that a sports program delved into such choppy waters. Johnson first started with an explanation as to why he chose not to vote for either of the two major party candidates–Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton–and instead opted to write-in Ohio governor and former GOP presidential candidate John Kasich. He then said he was hopeful that President-Elect Trump would change course from his “inflammatory rhetoric” and work to reunite the country.
“I’m hopeful,” Johnson said. “I watched the video today on CNN of what was going on at the White House with Donald Trump, President Obama. I was hopeful and I was encouraged that there will be a difference between the President Trump and the campaigning Trump and I’m with these guys. We have to give him a chance, but here’s the deal. I just hope that he’s all in on fixing the wounds in this country and the divides that separate this country and I want to be a part of that too and for me to be part of it.”
Johnson then took the conversation into a more personal direction.
“I have to look in the mirror and I have to say: ‘How am I going to be a better man? How am I going to be a better neighbor? How am I going to be a better citizen? How am I going to be a better American? How can I be a fountain and not a drain?'”
And finally, Johnson, who has been open about his Christian faith while working within the context of sports ministry but never during a live broadcast, used the poignant moment to explain why his relationship with God was so vital in a time like this.
“I never know from one election to the next who’s going to be in the Oval Office,” he said, “but I always know who’s on the throne and I’m on this Earth because God created me and that’s who I answer to. I’m a Christian. I follow this guy named Jesus. You may have heard of Him and the greatest commandment He gave me was to love others and Scripture also tells us to pray for our leaders and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to pray for Donald Trump. I’m going to pray for all those people who feel like they’re on the outside looming in who are afraid at this point. Pray for them too. In short, I’m praying for America and I’m praying that one day, we’re going to look back and say you know what? That Donald Trump presidency? That was alright, but I’m praying.”