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Saturday, October 16, 2021

ESPN Warns Employees About Criticizing President Trump


Friday, ESPN reminded employees of the network’s policy to avoid talking about politics after radio talk show host Dan Le Batard criticized President Donald Trump and his recent racist comments and ESPN itself on the air this week.

The reminder went out to all employees, including Mr. Le Batard.

ESPN has not spoken publicly about Mr. Le Batard’s comments, including whether he faces any disciplinary action.

Reached Saturday, Mr. Le Batard also declined comment.

For ESPN is owned by Disney (NYSE:DIS, 80%) and Hearst Communications (Private, 20%) the episode raises comparisons to what happened following anti-Trump Tweets by its former anchor Ms. Jemele Hill nearly two years ago.

Following that case, and criticism among some conservatives about left-leaning remarks on ESPN’s air, network president Jimmy Pitaro decreed that its employees should avoid political talk unless they are reporting on issues raised by sports figures.

Mr. Le Batard spoke after the President’s rally in North Carolina, where President Trump renewed his attacks on 4 freshman Democratic congresswomen dubbed ‘the squad‘ prompting a chant from his audience of “send her back” directed at Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn).

We here at ESPN don’t have the stomach for the fight,” Mr. Le Batard said. “We don’t talk about what is happening unless there is some sort of weak, cowardly sports angle that we can run it through.”

Mr. Le Batard’s criticism of ESPN’s policy sets him apart from Ms. Hill, who in September 2017 Tweeted on her personal account that President Trump was a “white supremacist” and “bigot.” The White House called that a fire-able offense, but Ms. Hill apologized and the network accepted it.

She was suspended a month later for violating the network’s social media policy when she tweeted in favor of an advertiser boycott against the Dallas Cowboys, whose owner Jerry Jones had said players who disrespected the American flag would not play on his team.

Ms. Hill has said she regretted putting her bosses in a difficult position, and amicably left ESPN within a year.

The President’s Twitter account has been silent about Le Batard so far.

Stay tuned..

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