ESPN has come under increasing scrutiny for the left wing politics their staff seems determined to inject into everything. Just last week, one of their hosts called President Trump a white supremacist.
Now the network chief has sent a memo to their staff reminding them that they’re supposed to be a sports network.
ESPN chief Skipper to staff: ‘ESPN is not a political organization’
Skipper’s memo came in the wake of anchor Jemele Hill’s calling President Trump a “white supremacist” in a series of tweets on Monday that triggered days of news coverage, criticism, and a presidential broadside against the network.
“We have issues of significant debate in our country at this time,” Skipper acknowledged. Yes, he said, ESPN upholds certain values about tolerance and diversity. Yes, ESPN’s employees are also citizens who have opinions about politics. But the network has social media policies for good reasons, Skipper said, because personal comments “will reflect on ESPN.”
“In light of recent events,” he said, “we need to remind ourselves that we are a journalistic organization and that we should not do anything that undermines that position.”
Skipper did not mention Trump’s criticism, but his message was clear: Let’s cover the news — sports and “the issues that intersect with sports” — and stop being the news.
“Let’s not let the public narrative re-write who we are or what we stand for,” he said. “Let’s not be divided in that pursuit. I will need your support if we are to succeed.”
It might be too late for this type of damage control at ESPN. The cat is already out of the bag.