ESPN public editor Jim Brady published his takeaway from the Jemele Hill situation Friday, and came down firmly on the side of the corporate behemoth against an employee who tweeted opinions about the U.S. President from her private account. It was an offensive and horrifying conclusion, but in Brady’s defense, the argument was also stupid and poorly written.
For the sake of this chapter of the story of hapless Jim Brady, it behooves us to move on, because after the column ran, he received a significant amount of feedback and tried to clarify his thoughts through an even more restrictive medium. That did not help, because then Brady entrenched himself on the position that it doesn’t matter whether what Hill said was true.
It was now past midnight on Saturday, and Brady was deleting his original tweets but sharing screenshots of them in new tweets to add further context. This was some next-level shit: the pursuit of clarification somehow making the initial message even more muddled.
A sizable number of people were engaging the thin-skinned Brady while he was—by his own account—not having a nervous breakdown. One of them was freelance sportswriter Dave Lozo, who cracked a joke at the public editor’s expense and also called him the “dumbest person alive.”
As Lozo explained today—as Lozo learned today—Brady is CEO of Spirited Media, a company which owns a few local sites, one of them being Pittsburgh-based news site The Incline—which Lozo contributed to once a week during the last NHL season.
(Is it weird that ESPN’s ombudsman is the CEO of a media company? It is very weird. Perhaps it says something about why Brady’s approach to the Jemele Hill tweets was to prioritize the corporation and its executives over journalism or newsgathering or truth-telling. Perhaps it also says something that Brady insists on using the word “use” to describe what writers are for, rather than “employ” or “work with.” But again we must move on.)
Dan Levy, sports editor at Spirited Media*, said parting ways with Lozo was his call:
Brady’s first tweet about this was “who are you?”
Brady may have felt this was a good putdown, but as the public editor of the world’s largest sports media company, and as a CEO, not knowing of a popular sportswriter who writes for one of his sites is a pretty brutal self-own.
It took a few minutes for Brady to issue a more formal statement (through a tweet):
When reached by email, Lozo said that he hadn’t known at the time that Brady ran one of the companies at which he freelanced, but understood why he was kicked off the gig. “It makes sense,” Lozo wrote. “You can’t do that and not have them drop you.” Lozo’s full explanation:
So on Friday, I was like most everyone else on Twitter that saw the ESPN Public Editor’s tweets about the Jemele/Trump stuff and made jokes about those tweets. He replied to me a few times, I replied back to him a few times. He apparently felt calling him “the dumbest person alive” was a bridge too far and today, The Incline, a site in Pittsburgh I wrote for once a week during the hockey season last year of which he’s the CEO, informed me they couldn’t use me next season because of the “dumbest person alive” comment. Which I get. It makes sense. You can’t do that and not have them drop you.
But just to be clear, I didn’t realize until two hours ago who he was. It wasn’t some knowingly noble thing I was doing, going after my “boss” as it were. I thought I was just stating the obvious about some stupid takes on Jemele Hill. If they emailed me today to say, “You realize this guy is our CEO, right?” I wouldn’t have written there anymore anyway.
Brady, meanwhile, has entered the fourth day of arguing with readers. He has switched to his private Twitter account, even though last year he claimed it was against his ESPN contract to respond on anything but ESPN platforms.
He also accidentally stumbled upon a point he probably should’ve considered in the first place when he was attempting to apply a two-sided approach to a one-sided issue. Who deserves the benefit of the doubt: The employee with facts or the Twitter mob that’s out for blood?
We asked if ESPN has any comment on its public editor having a sustained meltdown over the past few days, and how that fits in with the company’s social media policy. “No,” an ESPN spokesperson told us.
It is probably an exaggeration to say that Jim Brady is the dumbest person alive. But not much of one.
Correction (7:11 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article referred to Spirited Media as owning “a few local sports sites,” when Billy Penn and The Incline are not specifically sports sites. The post has been amended.