ESPN radio announcer Dan Le Batard on Monday criticised ESPN for its policy for covering President Donald Trump’s
executive order barring immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
During his daily radio show, Le Batard said that his producer had given him a memo from ESPN explaining how to cover the executive order.
Le Batard said that the company only wanted employees covering it as it relates to sports, like covering Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr’s comments on the ban.
“I understand what ESPN is doing with these memos,” Le Batard said .”They don’t want to open the door so that everyone at ESPN is talking politics instead of sports in a way that alienates. But I think the way we are doing it is weak.”
Le Batard described the way ESPN would like its employees to discuss the issue, saying “Stay in your lane, stay in this corner as some things that are happening around American that feel hugely un-American have people protesting in the streets in a way that shuts down airports. It just feels unbelievably weak to me to only talk about this through the prism [of sports]. … This feels like the weakest possible way that ESPN can enter this discussion.”
Le Batard said that the “blanket edict” is a reaction to Bill Simmons, who famously called out ESPN for its coverage of the NFL, saying they don’t want one employee going “rogue” and making certain people feel uncomfortable.
“I feel like you gotta trust your people at some point to talk about some things in this country that aren’t sports related,” Le Batard said.
He also called out “SportsCenter” anchor Sage Steele for a controversial Instagram post on Monday. Steele criticised the crowds of protestors outside of LAX Airport, saying that while it wasn’t a big deal for her to miss her flight because of the protests, it hurt others, including immigrants.
“The genie is out of the bottle on this because we all have our own Twitter accounts and all have our own social media. This is what ESPN is trying to prevent because once one person does it, it opens the floodgates for the rest of us because of course, I, as the son of exiles, look at this and I’m like what the hell are you talking about [that] your travel plans were affected? What are you talking about? It’s the height of privilege…
“But you can’t give this a voice and then muzzle the rest of us. You can’t give Sage Steele this voice and then muzzle the son of exile.”
Le Batard referred to the issues creating “ESPN-on-ESPN crime”
Le Batard has certainly never held back on subjects, but it will be interesting to see how ESPN handles this round criticism.
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