At the network's upfront today, ESPN president John Skipper acknowledged the gross stupidity of Chris Broussard's comments on Jason Collins's coming-out day, when the NBA reporter declared gayness an abomination unto the Lord. (No, really.) ESPN shouldn't have given Broussard that platform, Skipper said, and that's absolutely correct. Here's Skipper, via SI's Richard Deitsch:
I think we did great other than we made one mistake: The mistake was not being more careful with Chris Broussard, and there is a collective responsibility there. Chris Broussard's job was to come on and talk about the news of the league, how the league was representing it, and through a series of events he made personal comments which was a mistake.
Well, ESPN didn't do great, and "the series of events" that led to Broussard's sermon didn't come down to an anchor leading him in the wrong direction, either. It's a rotten institutional problem. ESPN encourages faux-antagonism; debate is an end unto itself in Bristol, and the result is the sort of warped view of reality that considers the opinion of a gay man preaching tolerance as somehow equivalent in moral and intellectual heft to the thoughts of a bigot pushing doctrine from the shittiest parts of Leviticus. Broussard acknowledged as much. "On ESPN, a lot of times it's giving your opinion," he said. "And that's what I did." Deitsch asked Skipper if he'd talked to Broussard and OTL producers. He had.
I had a discussion with everybody. They said, 'Look, we brought [ESPN.com columnist] LZ Granderson on to talk from a personal point of view, and we brought Chris on as a reporter and it was a mistake for him to cross the line into a personal point of view there.' We don't quarrel with his right to have any personal point of view, although we do assert as a company that we have a tolerant point of view, we are a diverse company, and that does not represent what our company thinks.
It would have been nice if Skipper had acknowledged this a couple of weeks ago (it's far stronger than ESPN's initial comment). But it's right and we'll take it.