Secret Recordings Reveal Rot in Public Figures

In the past week, two news stories about leaked secret recordings have further underscored the disease that those in power have: that they can do and say whatever they want and not be punished.

First, there was the leaked video of a Golden State Warrior basketball practice.   For those who don’t follow the sport, the Warriors have been one of the top teams in the sport for nearly a decade, winning another championship four months ago.  So one would think when such a happy group reconvened for practice to begin a new season, there would be a lot of love passed around.


At the practice, the video shows Draymond Green methodically walking up to teammate Jordan Poole who pushes Green who reacts by punching him in the face, landing Poole on the ground.

Someone was high up in the stands videotaping the encounter, then leaked it to the press.

Green has a history of losing his temper so the assault wasn’t that surprising.  What was surprising was the team’s reaction to it.

Management was more upset at the person who taped it and leaked it than Green assaulting a teammate.

What?  More anger towards someone recording an attack than the attack itself?

Think about this.  Green makes $25 million a year.  That’s more that almost all Americans.  Yet he can’t control himself and punches a teammate in front of the rest of the team as if it’s no big deal.  Just what’s wrong with that guy?

Read what he said back in May when the NBA fined him $25,000 for flipping off fans:

“I’ll do an appearance and make up the money. It felt really good to flip them off. … I make $25 million a year. I should be just fine.”

Just another example of how money does not make a person more mature or decent.

Several sports commentators shrugged their shoulders at the whole thing, saying that such infighting happens all the time on teams; it’s just this time it was recorded on videotape.

Nearly a week later, the NBA still hasn’t taken disciplinary action against Green for something much more serious than showing his middle fingers.  Pitiful. 

When I saw the video, I couldn’t help but think about the last time I saw a prominent Black man hit another and that was back in March when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on the live Oscar telecast.  In both cases, no charges were filed against either man.  What’s troubling, though, is that these privileged entertainers don’t seem to care about the ugly stereotype they drudge up about Black men being violent.  They should be smarter than that.

Next, let’s look at the leaked audio recording of three members of the Los Angeles City Council, President Nury Martinez, Kevin de Leon, and Gil Cedillo, and the L.A. Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. 

In a closed-door meeting last year, the four of them were talking about how to chop up the Los Angeles area into districts along ethnic lines that would most benefit their re-election.  During their conversation they end up offended most ethnic groups.

What’s worse than the racist language and laughter heard on the tape is how comfortable these four people felt insulting their colleagues and people of a different heritage.  You would think that they would have been smarter speaking this way at home on their personal cell phones, not in a boardroom doing official city business.  By the way, these were Latino leaders on the council who should know better than insult other minority groups.

Once this story broke over the past weekend, all four individuals heard on the tape released watered-down apologies.  Even Mayor Eric Garcetti’s statement condemned the remarks but stopped short of asking for them to step down.  It was only after the social media storm blew over like Hurricane Ian with several voices crying out for them to leave did Garcetti release a stronger statement calling for their resignations.

Just as with the Warrior situation, the immediate outcry centered on the recording having been done illegally without the consent of those present.   You mean the legality of the recording is the more crucial issue than the knowledge that L.A. City Council has elected officials who have racial animus towards their own colleagues?  This isn’t some small town in the Ozarks, this is the second largest city in America with dozens and dozens of different ethnic groups.

In both of these cases, powerful people felt safe to show an ugly side of themselves to those they work with, without fear of approbation or consequences.   It is no surprise these privileged people act way; the only surprise is that someone recorded it and caught them in the act.

Smart police officers have to do their job expecting that their every moved could be captured on a cell phone.  The same approach should apply to anyone who interacts with the public.

Surely that wasn’t the first time Green punched a teammate.  Nor was it only one meeting where councilmembers insulted thousands of Angelenos.

It took two days for labor leader Herrera to resign, five days for Martinez to resign.  What about the other two?  Ultimately, they, too, will be forced out.  Yet the prejudices cannot easily be erased.