by Doug Brown
One of the consequences of our daily newspaper going #DigitalFirst is more posts where they have to pretend like the internet commenters matter, like their opinion is valued and deserves a forum to be heard, to show readership for potential advertisers when circulation figures are no longer what they highlight. Sometimes that's ok — some reporters get it right — and then sometimes they explicitly ask anonymous internet commenters to come up with baby names for the unborn daughter of LeBron James and his wife.
The headline is "LeBron James and wife Savannah Brinson are expecting a baby girl: What would you name her?"
Let that sink in: they are actually prompting notoriously racist and ignorant anonymous internet commenters to come up with a baby name for a black man they hate.
It was published at 9:13 this morning. As I was writing this post (and not long after it was criticized it on Twitter) cleveland.com took it down some time before noon.
The story was five paragraphs, explaining Pat Riley (spelled "Pat Rily" in it) announced the couple are expecting their first daughter at an unnamed date and that the couple have two sons already after having been together for more than a decade. But then the final paragraph, bolded and italicized, asked: "So if you had the right to name LeBron's new baby, what would you name her? Voice your best baby names in the comments section below."
Time to go over some issues with this.
1. No byline.
The creator of the post is just listed "cleveland.com." The fact that the author's name is not listed means the publication is at least semi-aware that it's an embarrassing thing to write. Nobody personally wants to take ownership of the bullshit. The fact that it's now down proves it.
2. Pandering to idiots and racists.
A better headline to the piece would have been "The guy you once adored but then chose to passionately hate is raising a family in a stable and loving environment: What overtly racist insults can you come up with to disrespect his unborn daughter? (Bonus points for implying Delonte West fucked his mother and his wife, too)"
Their original is probably more SEO-friendly, but whatever.
The outcome of it is obvious. it had more than 20 comments by the time I stumbled on it, and most had to do with racial stereotypes or Delonte West. One of the first comments embedded a video called "Top 60 Ghetto Black Names" where the people in front of the camera mockingly rattle off names like "Fo'Landra," "Sha'Nay Nay," "Elephantisha," "Koolaidria," "Watermelondrea," and "Fri'Chickenisha." Top quality entertainment there.
Other suggestions from the commenters — preserved from the since-deleted post thanks to screenshots — include "Alimonee," "LeGitimate," "Mi-lion-alrequa," "Gloria-Delonte" and "Le'Traitor." One rattled off five: "Tameeka," "Moeesha," "Lexus," "Mercedes" and "LeQuanza."
LeBron's two sons are named LeBron Jr., and Bryce. But, because he's black, cleveland.com commenters, the people they specifically prompted for their thoughts, think his daughter should be named "LeQuanza" or "Alimonee."
3. The answers to the question they posed have zero value to anybody.
It's one thing to create a post asking for people to write their favorite ice cream shops in Cleveland — sure it's fluff, cheap and lazy, but maybe a reader will see a place they didn't know about and decide to check it out. But this, asking people who hate LeBron James to come up with a name for his daughter, is just creating an an echo chamber of uselessness that matters to literally zero people.
Even if there were non-joke, non-racist comments, LeBron James isn't going to read it. He's not going to talk with his wife and say "I know we decided on a thoughtful name for our first daughter that is meaningful to us and our families, but I decided to check out this cleveland.com article and somebody suggested 'Karen'? What do you think, hunny?"
It's just not going to happen.
Most comments, even the one or two that may trickle in for this piece from people who didn't read beyond the headline, are completely useless.