And the once great sports network has sunk even lower this week.
As most everyone knows by now, the ultra Liberal ESPN sports network’s anchor Jamele Hill, who is a Detroit Michigan native, and a former Detroit Free Press sports writer, took it upon herself to post a series of Tweets calling Trump “the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime” and called his election the “direct result of white supremacy.” To top off her blatant ignorant statements she made them on the 16th anniversary of 911.
Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 11, 2017
And this is ESPN’s weak reply:
ESPN Statement on Jemele Hill: pic.twitter.com/3kfexjx9zQ
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) September 12, 2017
A TV network is accused of political bias: hardly a surprise in 2017. But what if the network is a sports broadcaster?
An unusual strain of partisanship — at least in the sports corner of the news media — emerged last week after ESPN announced it was laying off dozens of employees. The public reaction included jeers toward the network for what some viewers perceived as a leftward slant in ESPN’s coverage, a reflection of how the country’s raw political nerves and cultural divisions have spilled over into a world that many value as a pristine redoubt from worldly concerns: sports.
“It’s a sign of the times,” said Neal Pilson, a former president of CBS Sports who is an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies. “I think people are looking for bias, and opinion, and information that in some way involves some hidden signal or indication that there’s a political bias in one direction or another.”
It is not as if American sports and politics have never intersected. From Jackie Robinson’s breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier to Billie Jean King’s fight for gender equality in tennis to John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s black power salute at the 1968 Olympics, many moments and figures in sports history mark social mileposts.
And ESPN has had no shortage of political story lines to explore lately, after quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem in protest of what he saw as widespread American racism, the United States women’s soccer team and women’s hockey team raised issues of equal pay in labor disputes, and several members of the New England Patriots declined an invitation to the White House.
In some cases, ESPN has been accused of putting a thumb on the scale of social debates that are not settled. A galvanizing incident for critics was Caitlyn Jenner’s winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs, ESPN’s annual award show, in 2015, after Ms. Jenner, an Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, announced she was transgender.
In other cases, conservative writers like Ben Domenech have cast ESPN’s perceived political approach as flawed simply for the network’s willingness to mingle politics and sports rather than preserving its TV channels and digital platforms as sports-only zones, an escape from society’s headier issues.
The claim that the layoffs somehow resulted from disenchantment with political bias is most likely untrue. Industry analysts have tied ESPN’s job cuts to radically shifting habits of media consumption — notably the fact that millions of people are turning away from cable TV, which for decades has been ESPN’s mother lode for revenue — and to other business-related factors.
“I’m not aware of a tangible connection that has expressed itself through any data,” said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research, in reference to theories that a political slant helped cause layoffs. He added, “There are much more obvious things to point to.”
Still, some viewers seized on a rare moment of public vulnerability for ESPN to air their grievances, an echo of Gamergate, a heated dispute that escalated a few years ago when video game reviewers were accused of inappropriately infusing politics and biases on other subjects into their work, leading to a campaign of harassment against those who were derogatorily called “social justice warriors.”
(It is difficult to discern, of course, whether the complaints lodged against ESPN on social media and other digital platforms represented a small or large portion of the network’s viewership.)
In The Ringer, the writer Bryan Curtis recently concluded, sympathetically, that sportswriting had become “a liberal profession.” In debates such as whether the Washington Redskins’ name and imagery are offensive, he said, most sportswriters consider there to be only one right-thinking side.
The conservative writer Michael Brendan Dougherty responded in The Week that the sports media’s “hegemonic liberalism” put it “in an antagonistic position not just with fans, but with the entire sports culture beyond journalism.”
ESPN’s president, John Skipper, told the network ombudsman last year that ESPN and its parent company, Disney, were committed to “diversity and inclusion,” and that they “view this not as a political stance but as a human stance.”
But conservatives might disagree with Mr. Skipper’s parsing, and Bob Ley, one of ESPN’s longest-tenured anchors, perhaps hinted at one byproduct of ESPN’s “diversity and inclusion” when he told the ombudsman, Jim Brady, in reference to gender and racial emphases in personnel: “We’ve done a great job of diversity. But the one place we have miles to go is diversity of thought.”
An ESPN-commissioned study last October found that 28 percent of the network’s consumers believed it was politically biased, according to figures provided by ESPN. Of that 28 percent, 56 percent believed the network was biased in a liberal direction, while 37 percent said it was biased in a conservative direction.
Two events in particular polarized viewers against ESPN, according to the study, which was conducted by Langer Research Associates: Ms. Jenner’s receiving her award, and the firing of the analyst Curt Schilling after he ridiculed transgender people in a Facebook post in response to North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill. The two incidents made 16 percent and 12 percent more viewers, respectively, feel worse about ESPN than better (the majority’s views were unaffected).
By contrast, coverage of Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an N.F.L. team, and a town hall event in October with President Barack Obama both resulted in slightly more ESPN viewers feeling better about the network than feeling worse, according to ESPN.
Clay Travis, a Fox Sports contributor and editor of the website Outkick the Coverage, has labeled the network “MSESPN,” a reference to MSNBC, the cable news channel that frequently skews liberal in its analysis. Giving the courage award to Ms. Jenner, he said in an interview, smacked of “social engineering” on behalf of ESPN. He has also criticized what he called the “lionization” of Mr. Kaepernick.
Mr. Pilson said he believed that amid the present political deluge, even sports media outlets could not help but get wet.
“People are either anticipating, expecting or microwatching sportscasters to see if they can detect any bias,” he said.
Barry Blyn, ESPN’s vice president for consumer insights, noted in an interview that ratings for CNN, Fox News and MSNBC had not fallen off since November.
“The election isn’t over,” he said. “And because it isn’t over, everything is political.”
But not everyone in sports, or African-Americans, agree with this geniuses assessment of President Trump and his supporters. The four-time World Series champion Darryl Strawberry who joined FOX Business on Wednesday morning to discuss the ESPN anchor’s outburst on social media about President Trump made it very clear that he wants no part of this far left vitriol.
He clearly states that no one should call anyone anything and he added that President Trump is a great man to him. He also claimed that every time he has been in the presence of President Trump he has always gracious to him and respectful in every way possible. He later added that he really loves the president and his family, who he said have always been kind to him.
But perhaps the best thing he had to say was the advice he gave to those ungrateful ball tossers who have taken to not standing during our national anthem.
‘I wouldn’t do it and I’m not against guys that are doing it, but we have a problem in America, and we need to come together as people, not color but as people,’ Strawberry said. ‘And we need to understand that God has a perfect plan for all of us to come together and love each other and really work together. And I think when we work against each other, it separates us.’
Strawberry decided to make his feeling known after Michael Bennett, from the Seatle Seahawks, accused the Las Vegas Metro Police Department of profiling him for being black, and in doing so violating his civil rights. The rich ball tosser stated that officers pointed their weapons at him and threatened to blow his f****** head off. Wonder if anyone saw this?
Please share if you agree Strawberry is a class act…
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