It was only a matter of time before ESPN decided to do something in response to Dan Le Batard very correctly calling the network’s anti-politics stance “cowardly,” after he denounced the “send her back” chants that Trump’s racist supporters decided to hoot and holler on Thursday. Surprisingly, however, the response was a relatively tame, and quite passive-aggressive, emailed reminder to network employees of that very policy, according to AP’s David Bauder.
Per the report:
The reminder went out Friday to all employees, including Le Batard, according to an ESPN employee who spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about personnel matters.
ESPN has not spoken publicly about Le Batard’s comments, including whether he faces any disciplinary action.
Reached on Saturday, Le Batard also declined comment.
Just like the report itself notes, Le Batard’s comments drew immediate parallels to what happened with former ESPN employee Jemele Hill late last year. In Hill’s case, the network’s PR team issued an apology for her describing Donald Trump as a white supremacist. She was suspended a couple weeks later for violating ESPN’s social media guidelines when she had the gall to mention that boycotting advertisers would be a good way to protest Jerry Jones’s comments about sitting players who don’t stand for the anthem. Hill clarified at the end of her harmless tweets that she was not, in fact, calling for a boycott.
Meanwhile, any sort of planned punishment that ESPN has for Le Batard has been far from swift. He was still on the air on Friday, and there’s been no public comment from the network about what he (again, correctly) said on his show. This is objectively a good thing, but you probably don’t have to think too hard about the differences between these two situations to arrive at an explanation as to why they’re being treated differently—Le Batard did mention Hill in his diatribe, for what it’s worth.
But maybe there’s even an optimistic explanation for this discrepancy. There’s always a chance, however unlikely, that the network whose leader said ESPN’s fans “do not want us to cover politics,” and sold out a prominent black female worker to the Big Wet President and the NFL, maybe had a change of heart about this gutless policy in recent months.
On second thought, never mind. It’s definitely not that.