A Closer Look at the ‘Ignorant’ Racial Spin the Media Is Putting on ‘The Blind Side’ Controversy

AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

It’s been a month since former NFL tackle Michael Oher filed a bombshell petition in Tennessee court accusing Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy – the couple who took him into their home as a teenager – of misleading him about their legal relationship and cheating him out of royalties from The Blind Side.

It doesn’t look like there is any resolution in sight, and the media has doubled down on the ‘white savior’ narrative that began to emerge in the aftermath of Oher’s filing. On Monday’s show, Megyn was joined by Marcellus Wiley, host of Never Shut Up, to discuss the latest developments and why some in the press are putting an ‘ignorant’ racial spin on the story.

The Latest Legal Developments

In August, Oher, who is in the midst of a media blitz to promote his new book, filed a 14-page petition in Shelby County, Tennessee, probate court claiming he was tricked into signing a document that made the Tuohys his conservators (not his adoptive family) and gave them legal authority to make business deals in his name. The petition also alleges the Tuohys used their power as conservators to negotiate a deal that earned them millions of dollars in royalties from the Oscar-winning film The Blind Side.

The Tuohys subsequently hired Hollywood power attorney Marty Singer, who said the family gave Oher “equal count of every penny received from The Blind Side.” He has also claimed Oher attempted a $15 million “shakedown” before filing his petition. 

Most recently, the 37-year-old athlete’s legal team filed a motion in Tennessee probate court to compel accounting from Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy. They are accusing the couple of keeping some two decades’ worth of financial information from Oher while using him for business and marketing ventures without his fully informed consent.

While Wiley admitted “this situation doesn’t make a lot of sense” to him, he said “it’s okay to ask for full accounting from someone.” However, he would have gone about it differently. “Why do you have to combat someone who obviously opened up their heart, their home to you,” he asked. “If I had any suspicion, I would have done it privately… and you guys never would have found out about it.”

‘Ignorant’ Racial Narratives

Meanwhile, the media’s obsession with this situation has not died down. “Yet another white supremacy piece drops in connection with this whole story,” Megyn said. “These pieces are coming down fast and furious in the wake of this storm… [because] everything’s got to be racialized.”

Late last month, TheNew York Times published an op-ed by columnist Elizabeth Spiers titled “I Have a Pretty Good Idea Why Michael Oher Is Angry.” The piece, like countless others, explores the apparent “white supremacy” and “white saviorship” at play in the Tuohy’s relationship with Oher. She writes:

“…This perception of adoption as an act of altruism is exponentially more pronounced when Black kids are adopted by white parents… It implies that Black children need to be rescued by white people, and that makes white people feel good about doing it.

This is often referred to as ‘white savior syndrome,’ which makes it sound like mild arrogance or a convenient delusion. I believe that’s too generous. The idea that Black children are automatically better off with nice white parents than their own biological parents is just white supremacy, which does not have to be produced by official hate groups to be insidious…”

– Elizabeth Spiers, The New York Times, August 26, 2023

She goes on to discuss the segregated history of the school Oher attended once he moved in with the Tuohy’s as an example of how white supremacy “doesn’t always arrive wearing a white pointed hood or muttering racial slurs; it’s often just a presumption of white benevolence.”

Wiley said Spiers’ op-ed and others like it are an exercise in “pure ignorance” and part of a growing trend in which we use “the aesthetic of today’s time” to connect a situation that “looks a certain way” to something that occurred in the past without “the actual content and context” necessary. “Off a quick glimpse, ‘Hey, it’s a black guy that got adopted by white people, then we can go back 50 years when that school didn’t even want black kids there,’” he noted. “Like, are we doing this again?”

In his view, it’s an attempt by people with “an agenda and no experience” to oversimplify racial dynamics. “It’s like, you can’t just say ‘white’ and make me think something, but they want you to; and you can’t just say ‘black’ and make me think something, but they want you to,” he concluded. “If you don’t stand strong in the details of every one of these circumstances, you’ll get washed away in ignorance like that author.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Wiley by tuning in to episode 624 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.