ESPN President John Skipper is now trying desperately to tell everyone that ESPN is an entertainment sports programming network, not a political organization. Too late. He sent an internal memo to employees yesterday expressing this. In the letter, he reminded his people that: “ESPN is about sports. Last year, we broadcast over 16,000 sports events. We show highlights and report scores and tell stories and break down plays.” Gee, he might want to tell his management to stop firing talent for saying things like ‘guerrilla warfare’ and ‘chink in the armor’. Or transferring them because they have the same name as a Confederate general – Lee is also an Asian name and it was an Asian broadcaster. Idiots.
This line had me rolling on the floor, laughing out loud: “ESPN is not a political organization. Where sports and politics intersect, no one is told what view they must express.” REALLY? Then why the hell are you firing people over political stuff? He went on: “At the same time, ESPN has values. We are committed to inclusion and an environment of tolerance where everyone in a diverse work force has the equal opportunity to succeed. We consider this human, not political. Consequently, we insist that no one be denigrated for who they are including their gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs or sexual identity.” And that is subjective and if anyone, anywhere ever takes offense to one word you say, you are fired. So sayeth ESPN.
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“We have issues of significant debate in our country at this time. Our employees are citizens and appropriately want to participate in the public discussion. That can create a conflict for our public facing talent between their work and their personal points of view. Given this reality, we have social media policies which require people to understand that social platforms are public and their comments on them will reflect on ESPN. At a minimum, comments should not be inflammatory or personal.” Again, you are being a hypocrite. Jemele Hill did just that and barely got a slap on the wrist for it. You call the handling of that a private matter, yet with others who were conservative, you just fired them.
The fact that Skipper had to send this out at all tells you they are really screwed up there. When you have to remind professional sports personalities that they are journalists and not political activists, you’ve lost control of your people and your organization. This is the network that gave Caitlyn Jenner a courage award for Pete’s sake.
Jemele Hill felt empowered as a Black Lives Matter activist to tweet that the President of the United States a white supremacist. After all, her network solicited and hosted videos from anti-Trump rallies and she had watched ESPN post essays celebrating cop killers. So, you can see how she felt vindicated by her actions. It’s far too late for John Skipper and Disney CEO Bob Iger to put the toxic, activist and racist genie back in the bottle over all this. Fail.