I don't blog much about Mark Belling. He has said and done things which I think make my side look bad and I don't much appreciate it. I rarely hear him (I must admit that, if I am in the car at that time, I am a bit more partial to the "Big Show" on 1250 AM) and did not hear the show in which he commented on the way in which certain powerful business people in Milwaukee "band together" to look out for one another. In commenting on the efforts of Steve and Greg Marcus and David Uihlein to block the Marriott Hotel project, he observed that members of this "old boys network" are friends and belong to the same country club. Inexplicably, he also noted that "[T}he fact that the majority of them are Jewish may be neither here nor there.”
My first reaction to this was that it is just screwy. Putting aside the Marcus' opposition to the Marriott (of course, they don't want a new competitor downtown anymore than the Packers welcomed the Bears' signing of Julius Peppers), I think it's safe to say that there is an old boys network (although it is less strong than it used to be). But it is also safe to say that it is predominantly not Jewish. To the extent that Belling's comments reflect bias, it is this weird trope that Jews have much more power than they do.
Perhaps Belling has imbibed that and it lead him to say something that is, at best, curious and, at worst, sort of ridiculous. But, having listened to the remark, I don't know that he consciously intended to express anti-semitic sentiment. He did present the (false)"fact" that a majority of the local power structure is Jewish as sort of a throwaway that didn't mean anything. While we could assume bad faith from the fact that he mentioned it at all, I'm not sure that accomplishes anything and may well be inaccurate. I don't know what's in his heart and I'm not going to presume that it includes anti-semitism.
By way of full disclosure, I am not Jewish in the sense that my Mother was a gentile and I was raised as a Catholic. But my father's family were ethnic German Jews. I would not have survived Nazi Germany and I suspect I have many unknown relatives who did not. My daughter-in-law is Jewish and my grandsons are being raised in the Jewish faith and tradition. So I don't take anti-semitism lightly. I'm just not willing to play that card here.
But my final reaction is that, if he's just can the distracting comment, this is what Belling does best - although I don't hear much of him doing it anymore. He is very good when it comes to sports and the inner machinations of power in the region. He is, I think, really a better reporter than an opinion guy. If he's do more of it, I might spend less time with Gary, Sparky and the gang.