Remember the Keith Olbermann-as-Tupac video? It was a bit of a thing a couple of weeks ago. We posted it; so did the The Big Lead and Complex and Awful Announcing. Apparently the guy behind it—Will Schleichert—worked for ESPN. He was a PA. Emphasis on the was. He was fired last week.
Here's the story of what went down with Schleichert, as we've heard it. The video was uploaded to YouTube on Nov. 14 and soon spread to other sites. The PA was called into HR shortly thereafter and asked if he had leaked it to Deadspin. (He hadn't; we'd seen the video posted elsewhere and put it on the site a day later. We had no idea the guy who'd made it worked at ESPN.)
ESPN wasn't happy because he'd used video from the network without permission and uploaded it to his personal YouTube account. This is a transgression. A "fireable" offense, in the words of one employee, who added that it was nevertheless "unnerving to see him disposed of so quickly and unceremoniously." Another ESPN source said "they'd have to cut a majority of the PA's and AP's at the company if they were to enforce that rule" since plenty of them have "a personal clip reel on Vimeo and YouTube." ESPN has a long history of dispensing punishment unevenly.
Schleichert was initially suspended and then fired right before Thanksgiving. Earlier this week, he sent a mass email to his former colleagues to say goodbye. It's, as one ESPN employee put it, a "middle finger to ESPN suits." It's unclear whom exactly he emailed, but it apparently went out to a bunch of PAs and associate producers, according to a person who received the email. Here's his farewell note:
Subject line: goodbye
From: William Schleichert
To: William Schleichert
My fellow Americans,
I recently made a video mashup of Keith Olbermann rapping the Tupac classic "Hit 'Em Up."
Deadspin said it was "brilliant."
Complex Sports (lost credibility when they) called me a "genius."
BSO claimed it "won the internet."
and ESPN told me to GTFO. The Worldwide Leader is not #BoutDatLife
I need to thank some people for making my 3 years here possible, because it was 3 years more than I deserved. So in an attempt to adhere to the formulaic goodbye email structure of your long-winded former colleagues, here are some shout-outs:
Garrett aka "G-Money"
Will "The Thrill" Robertson
whoever cut that John Beck broil
Tommy the Green Ranger
CT from The Challenge
R.L. Stine's Goosebumps
The Taco Bell $5 Buck Box
Ball So Hard University's Foreign Studies Program
The Peter Griffin Sideboob Hour
and last but not least…you. Yes, YOU, the person reading this right now. I'll never forget the time when__________(<— insert time that we interacted). It was, like, totally OMG LOL AMIRITE!?!?
I suppose there are worse things to be remembered for than the "Olbermann Rap," and "Terio Ultimate Highlight." Pour one out for me…
Schleichert and an ESPN rep both declined to comment.