Let's stop calling Jose Canseco a "whistleblower." The term whistleblower implies someone courageously sacrificed one's own well-being and risked his or her safety, way of life, and even death to expose a hidden, dark secret. Jeffrey Wigand was a whistleblower, as was "Deep Throat" W. Mark Felt. Canseco did not deny his steroid use, and went on to accuse just about every prominent MLB player of the era of using it too, whether or not he had facts. His motivations were clearly for self-gain: book sales, movie deals, speaking contracts, all of which he shamelessly demanded with conditions and asking prices beyond all reason. In fact, he has been repeatedly accused of extorting players for money to withhold their names.
So let's see, we have a manipulative self-aggrandizing public figure taking advantage of a witch-hunt like phenomenon where even an accusation of guilt is enough to taint your professional career forever. Does this sound familiar? It should, because it eerily parallels arguably the 20th century's most shameful act of American thought-policing.
Jose Canseco is to American baseball players from the 1990s and 2000s what Joe McCarthy was to American liberals from the 1930s, '40s and '50s. If someone had any allegiances to the Communist party, its sympathizers, or its ideology at any point, regardless of what they felt in the 1950s, they were seen as tainted from any job or achievement past, present, or future. And all McCarthy had to do was threaten someone to get people to sell their beliefs or actions short out of fear.
Less players are willing to cave to Canseco, because he's more interested in their money than anything political. In the case of the recent Alex Rodriguez scandal, it became personal due to his accusation of A-Rod hitting on his wife (from what we know about A-Rod, this is probably true as well). But even before Roger Clemens said it, we all know it's pretty damn impossible to prove a negative. We know this because that statement was heard widely in the era of blacklisting and McCarthy. But the people who are supposed to be fighting, strong-arming, and bullying — the media — are in fact giving Canseco more respect than anyone, simply because he does the work and says the things that they can't say without losing respect of the locker room.
There a two major differences between Canseco and McCarthy. The first, which probably has Canseco fare favorably to McCarthy, is that drug use was, in fact, so widespread in the 90s, that he's going to be right more often than he is wrong. Do we know that Canseco knew definitively that A-Rod used steroids? No. But we wouldn't have been that surprised if it was revealed, whether or not Canseco told us first. Even if he has no basis for what he's accusing a player of, he's more likely to be right about a guy with unnaturally huge muscles using steroids than an avowed leftist in the 1930s being a secret Communist. The second difference, which arguably makes Canseco worse than McCarthy, is that he was a rampant steroid user as well. McCarthy, was never a communist, and he at least somewhere, sometime, maybe early on, sincerely believed that fighting Communism was a good thing.