Dan Le Batard used a portion of his Thursday show to denounce the scene at Donald Trump’s rally in North Carolina Wednesday, when the racist president stirred the racist crowd into a racist euphoria that featured chants of “send her back” directed at Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Le Batard called the chants “un-American” and correctly described the president’s deliberate “instigation of racial division,” citing a tweet from FS1's Nick Wright:
Le Batard’s commentary about President Trump and his supporters was very clearly and unapologetically afoul of ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro’s shameful stick-to-sports mandate. Le Batard confronted that, too, head-on and in unambiguous terms, decrying the company’s position as “cowardly” and a “weak-ass shield.” Here’s the video:
Here are the portions having to do with ESPN’s pivot away from discussing politics, which I have lovingly transcribed for you, because they rule:
“We here at ESPN haven’t had the stomach for that fight, because Jemele [Hill] did some things on Twitter and you saw what happened after that, and then here all of a sudden nobody talks politics on anything unless we can use one of these sports figures as a meat-shield in the most cowardly possible way to discuss these subjects.”
“The only way we can discuss it around here—because this isn’t about politics, it’s about race; what you’re seeing happening around here is about race and it’s been turned into politics—we only talk about it around here when Steve Kerr or [Gregg] Popovich says something. We don’t talk about what is happening unless there’s some sort of weak, cowardly sports angle that we can run it through, when sports has always been a place where this stuff changes.”
“We won’t talk about it unless Russell Wilson is saying something about it on his Instagram page. Then we have the power to run with it. Weak-ass shield. It is antithetical to what we should be, and if you’re not calling it abhorrent, obviously racist, dangerous rhetoric, you’re complicit.”
It’s a great and angry and righteous monologue. By ESPN’s definition it is surely “pure politics” before you even get to the part where Le Batard all but explicitly calls Pitaro a coward and accuses him of complicity in a campaign to foment racial hostility toward black and brown people. It seems inevitable that Le Batard will now be suspended for saying true things on the air.