In a shocking move, Jason Whitlock is leaving Fox Sports and will return to ESPN. The move was first reported by Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead.com.
The move is surprising on several levels as ESPN appears to be trying to strengthen its lineup prior to the debut this weekend of Fox’s ESPN killer, Fox Sports 1.
Whitlock previously worked with ESPN and was fired in 2006 after critical comments of the network during an interview. Whitlock has also been very critical of ESPN in the years since.
Back in February, ESPN fired an editor that used an offensive headline for a story about Jeremy Lin. Some thought ESPN overreacted to something that may have been an honest mistake.
Meanwhile, as AwfulAnnouncing.com was quick to point out, Whitlock has a history of making offensive comments, including a tweet about Jeremy Lin that read “Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight.” In another incident, while working for the Kansas City Star, Whitlock held up a sign during a Patriots game that read “BLEDSOE GAY? PATS SUCK.”
Even if you think the headline writer should have been fired for being bad at his job, it is easy to see that Whitlock’s comments were at the very least as offensive, and arguably much more hurtful, as they were written with offensive intent.
In defence of Whitlock, he has owned up to the mistakes even if it took a while. In recent years he has become a supporter of gay athletes and gay tolerance. And earlier today he referred to the Lin tweet as a “meltdown” and thanked Fox Sports for sticking by him.
But while he may have learned from those individual incidents, there is no guarantee that there won’t be more. Whitlock is a writer who is best known for being able to push the emotions of the readers. He does this by often toeing the line between what is offensive and what is not. ESPN is hoping that will mean ratings gold even if he might occasionally go over the line.
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