Donald Sterling's Claim of "One Mistake" Is Hard to Believe

Donald Sterling's Claim of "One Mistake" Is Hard to Believe
Lucy Nicholson for Reuters/Newscom

Donald Sterling finally apologized for the racist rant heard around the world.

But it's hard not to doubt his sincerity. Much of what he said as part of the apology was hard to believe. He said, for example, that the comments caught on tape and broadcast two weeks ago constituted "one mistake," a claim longtime readers of L.A. Weekly would surely question.

See also: Donald Sterling's 6 Other Greatest Hits

Only one mistake, Donald?

His apology was made to CNN's Anderson Cooper, in an interview set to air on the network today.

Sterling's assertions include:

-"When I listen to that tape, I don't even know how I can say words like that. ... I don't know why the girl had me say those things ... I was baited."

-"I'm not a racist. I made a terrible, terrible mistake."

-"Am I entitled to one mistake? It's a terrible mistake, and I'll never do it again."

-"The reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I'm wrong. I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it."

But keep in mind a few things about Sterling and his past. More than 10 years ago tenants of properties his company owns accused their landlord in court of attempting to exclude African American and Latino tenants in favor of Korean Americans and whites.

Witnesses said Sterling himself moaned that "Hispanics smoke, drink, and just hang around the building." Sterling's company settled the suit and paid $5 million in legal fees.

Guess we know how he could possible "say words like that" then.

And a guy who has repeatedly made claims of charitable action that never took place got baited into saying things that he would not have said otherwise? 

In the late '00s Sterling was a master bait-and-switcher when it came to advertising his forthcoming, $50 million Donald T. Sterling Homeless Center in Skid Row. It was never built.  

In 2010 he was sued unsuccessfully for alleged discrimination by former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor, who said that Sterling had a "vision of a Southern plantation-type structure" for the team.

But not before the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division scored its  "largest monetary payment ever obtained by the department in the settlement of a case alleging housing discrimination in the rental of apartments." The 2009 case again involved Sterling's properties in L.A. and again alleged discrimination against Latinos and African Americans.

So don't blame us if we find it difficult to fathom that Sterling was baited and then made one rare mistake here. And when he says, "I don't know how to correct it," wonder along with us if he's surprised that he can't make this go away with a cheesy newspaper ad or small-time charitable donation.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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