‘Not surprisingly, some commentators just aren’t able to abide by such a mandate…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) ESPN, the virtue-signaling one-time sports network run by the far-left Disney corporation, has again capitulated to one of its Trump-bashing on-air personalities, despite extensive market research telling them to steer clear of politics.
The New York Post reported that radio show host Dan Le Batard—after a temper-tantrum last week over President Donald Trump’s political attacks on several far-left freshman congresswomen—had met with ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro and would return to the air.
Although neither party would comment publicly, the Post reported that the two “were on the same page following the meeting.”
Le Batard, whose salary is estimated to be around $3.5 million, last week broke the network’s recently implemented policy of disallowing political commentary unless it had a direct relation to sports.
Following a rally last week in North Carolina, where MAGA supporters initiated a “Send her back” chant in reference to Trump adversary Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., the Miami-based ESPN analyst not only took direct aim at the president but also criticized his own network for its “cowardly” policy.
Pitaro—who took over the top job at the network in May 2018—had a role in revising the policy after controversial remarks by former “SportsCenter” anchor Jemele Hill turned off many of the network’s loyal viewers.
for those wondering about ESPN’s politics data in the wake of Le Batard commentary: per the network, market research says 74% of fans don’t want to hear about politics on ESPN. that includes avid fans (85%), Republicans (84%) and Democrats (69%).
— Ben Strauss (@benjstrauss) July 24, 2019
“Without question, our data tells us our fans do not want us to cover politics,” Pitaro said upon taking over, according to USA Today.
“My job is to provide clarity,” he said. “I really believe that some of our talent was confused on what was expected of them. If you fast-forward to today, I don’t believe they are confused.”
Even after tweeting that Trump was a “white supremacist”—prompting the U.S. president to call for her removal—and encouraging NFL fans to boycott the Dallas Cowboys over their anti-kneeling policy, Hill kept her job under a reported $10-million, four-year contract.
But unable to recover from the polarizing remarks—and showing little interest in doing so—she ultimately left in September 2018, with Pitaro arranging for her to be paid out for the remaining two years of her contract.
Now writing for The Atlantic, Hill weighed in defending Le Batard over his diatribe and claiming it was the mark of true “journalism.”
“[T]he executives often seem more concerned with placating some white fans than respecting the fact that so many men and women of color are profoundly appalled by the Trump administration’s policies and the president’s hurtful rhetoric,” said the race-baiting Hill in an op-ed Thursday.
“Besides, while ESPN isn’t a purely journalistic operation—it’s partly in the entertainment business too—it does practice journalism,” she continued. “And that means there are times when the audience has to be challenged to think critically, rather than appeased.”
Contrary to Hill’s claims, many of those in the field of journalism draw a sharp distinction between objective reporting and opinion-based punditry or activism.
In Hill’s world, however, the true victims are the television personalities whose lucrative compensation packages hardly qualify as a just inducement to stay off their soapboxes.
“ESPN’s policy also backs the network itself into a corner, and asks TV and radio commentators to do something impossible: ignore anything and everything happening outside the four corners of the playing field, no matter how much it offends their basic sense of humanity,” she said. “Not surprisingly, some commentators just aren’t able to abide by such a mandate.”