Friday, September 19th, 2014

Political pundits err in talk about Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. (AP)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. (AP)

Political pundits turned from health care to basketball last week to discuss news surrounding racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

But they didn’t always have their facts straight.

When Sterling was outed for making racist comments, conservatives leapt to dig deeper and came up with a surprising find. Sterling is a Democrat.

Or so they claimed. Matt Drudge tweeted to more than 264,000 followers: "NYT informed the unwashed how Bundy is a Republican. Leaves out NBA Sterling is a Democrat."

A recording of Sterling telling his girlfriend not to bring African-American friends to basketball games came on the heels of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy suggesting blacks would do better as slaves. Hence, Drudge’s tweet comparing the two men.

But Sterling is a registered Republican, according to the Los Angeles County voter registry. We rated Drudge's claim Pants on Fire.

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh also accused Sterling of being a Democrat before discussing how things generally are going for African-Americans in the United States. Limbaugh’s diagnosis: pretty darn good.

"You've got a black president. You've got a black attorney general. You've got the wealthiest TV performer in American history is a African-American woman. That would be The Oprah," Limbaugh said. "Some of the wealthiest Americans are African-American now."

That last line is quite incorrect. We rated it False.

The go-to source to learn about the wealthiest Americans is Forbes, which tracks the fortunes of the world’s elite. It publishes an annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans and a list of the world’s billionaires. The most recent Forbes list was released in March 2014. (Bloomberg also publishes a less expansive list of the world’s billionaires.)

For some perspective, the folks at the bottom of Forbes’ wealthiest Americans list are worth an estimated $1.3 billion. At the top is Bill Gates, who is worth an estimated $72 billion.

How many African-Americans make up the American Top 400?

One, according to Forbes.

Oprah Winfrey is worth an estimated $2.9 billion -- ranking her 184th on the list.