Phil Mushnick is a columnist for the New York Post.
Professional Wrestling and its fans
Mushnick is a vehement, longtime detractor of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF/now WWE). He has criticized the lifestyles portrayed by the company, both in their storylines and the performers' personal lives. In 1997 he implied that WWF chairman Vince McMahon's perpetration of steroid use for his performers led to wrestler Brian Pillman's early demise. McMahon responded (on an episode of WWF Monday Night Raw) that Mushnick was a "self-righteous, egotistical, miserable son of a bitch." Mushnick then criticized the industry as a "death mill," citing several wrestlers who had died before the age of 45. Although the majority of the performers (including Miss Elizabeth and Davey Boy Smith) died after retiring from the WWF, Mushnick attributed their early deaths to their lifestyle while employed by Vince McMahon. Other media outlets have likewise provided statistics showing the high number of wrestlers who have died young from car crashes, suicide, homicide, heart failure and steroid-related health problems. On the October 13, 1997 episode of Monday Night Raw, WWF writer Jim Cornette addressed Phil Mushnick's article referring to Brian Pillman's death by pointing out the crusade against wrestling, citing Mushnick's claim that rather than the WWF or WCW donating money they should stop business altogether, and the hatred he harbors towards wrestling fans and using the newspapers and magazines he writes for to attack those who watch wrestling.
Mike and the Mad Dog
The day after the September 11 attacks, Mushnick claimed that Mike and the Mad Dog had stated, on-air, that all Jewish Americans should take a loyalty oath to the United States. Mike Francesa denied ever making such comments, prompting further criticism from Mushnick. In April 2017, Deadspin reported that a recording of the show from September 12, 2001, had been located in the 9/11 archives of the Paley Center for Media. Deadspin writers listened to the episode, and noted that while Francesa and co-host Chris Russo had argued with an American citizen caller about his loyalty to Israel taking precedence over his loyalty to the United States, the broadcast was not "the Jew-bashing trainwreck that New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick described."
ESPN and Stephen A. Smith
Mushnick frequently criticizes the sports network ESPN, accusing their coverage of sports of promoting and permeating a mean-spirited attitude in the athletes they cover and the broadcasters who cover them. He singles out ESPN's Stuart Scott for appearing more interested in being friends with athletes than being critical of their subpar performances. He has specifically labeled ESPN's ESPY Awards and their "Who's Now" segment in the summer of 2007 as "pathetic" self-promotions, and accused it of ignoring second-tier sports in their highlights—such as the Arena Football League—until they are broadcast by ESPN. He often targets Stephen A. Smith, writing: "Could it be that Smith’s urban street-hip brotha yak—which he seems able to turn on and off with the drop of a Kangol—is supposed to appeal / pander to young, urban, street-talkin’ sports fans?—a description that was felt to have racist overtones.
Mushnick often singles out sports play by play announcers and color commentators when they commit factual errors or miscall a play. Particularly controversial was a July 2007 column ("Had Our Phil of Morgan") that criticized Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, color commentator for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, for inaccurately recalling a game he played in 1964. Soon thereafter "An Open Letter to Phil Mushnick and Other Critics of Mine" was posted on the Internet decrying Mushnick's interpretation, curiously positing that Morgan's mis-recollection was less important than his ability to enhance the game for the viewing audience. The controversy quelled when it was revealed the post originated from a website well known for parody.
Mushnick criticized WFAN's Don Imus for calling Mother Teresa "a no-good bitch" and for referring to sportscaster and former WFAN host Len Berman as "Lenny the Jew". When WFAN's parent, CBS Corp, canceled Imus in the Morning after Imus made racist remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team, Mushnick wondered rhetorically why people were surprised by Imus' "nappy-headed-ho" comment.
On Friday, May 4, 2012, Mushnick made comments regarding rapper Jay-Z and his marketing in regards to the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. In the column Phil states, "As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots -- what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new "urban" home—why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?" It wasn't until he added the next part which includes the N word that got the majority of people up in arms. "Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N------s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B----hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!"
Mushnick responded to the criticism to the popular sports and pop-culture website Bob's Blitz: "Such obvious, wishful and ignorant mischaracterizations of what I write are common. I don't call black men the N-word; I don't regard young women as bitches and whores; I don't glorify the use of assault weapons and drugs. Jay-Z, on the other hand.....Is he the only NBA owner allowed to call black men N---ers?
Jay-Z profits from the worst and most sustaining self-enslaving stereotypes of black-American culture and I'M the racist? Some truths, I guess, are just hard to read, let alone think about.
(Same column I provide support for Amar'e Stoudemire at a time when everyone in town is ripping him to shreds. That was my LEAD, too, but what does that matter?)"
Chance the Rapper
Mushnick went after White Sox ambassador Chancelor Bennett a.k.a. Chance the Rapper, citing the lyrics to Chance's song "Smoke Again" and labeling the Rapper as "a young man who publicly and professionally refers to black men as N—-s, and young women as easily discarded sexual junk..." in an April 11 column. Mushnick rhetorically asked his readers if Chicago's mayor Rahm Emanuel, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, and Chicago's Reverend Jesse Jackson would publicly recite Chance's lyrics, presuming Chance to be a negative influence on the community, especially the youth of that community.
In August 2019, Mushnick wrote an article attacking the baseball IQ of New York Yankees catcher, Gary Sanchez. In the article titled “Gary Sanchez doesn’t know a thing about baseball”, He attacks Sanchez for a mistake made on the basepaths in a previous game, and for his defensive effort. He received much criticism for this article over the Internet including from Sanchez’s teammate Masahiro Tanaka on Twitter.
Ronald Acuna Jr.
In October 2019, Mushnick wrote an article titled “Braves Ronald Acuna is Doing His Part in Ruining Baseball”. In the piece, Mushnick blasts the MVP-caliber player for being “selfish” after he went into a home run trot on a ball that would end up hitting the wall. Despite the fact that Acuna has done this a couple times before. The article received much criticism within from other members of the baseball media and baseball world