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November 17, 2016

ESPN's Public Editor: Why Yes, ESPN Does Seem To Be Injecting Itself Into Politics A Lot, and Its Political Leanings Have Become a Little Too Obvious

If you're a business selling a non-political good, you should talk to me about your political preferences to the same extent my parents talk to me about their favorite sexual positions: not at all.

Now, he gets back to peddling the Company Line by the end (as he must), but before he gets there, he offers some truth:

For most of its history, ESPN was viewed relatively apolitically. Its core focus was -- and remains today, of course -- sports. Although the nature of sports meant an occasional detour into politics and culture was inevitable, there wasn't much chatter about an overall perceived political bias. If there was any tension internally, it didn't manifest itself publicly.

That has changed in the past few years, and ESPN staffers cite several factors. One is the rise of social media, which has led to more direct political commentary by ESPN employees, even if not delivered via the network’s broadcast or digital pipes. Another is ESPN's increase in debate-themed shows, which encourage strong opinions that are increasingly focusing on the overlap between sports and politics.

There have also been concrete actions that have created a perception that ESPN has chosen a political side, such as awarding Caitlyn Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPYS despite her not having competed athletically for decades, the company’s decision to move a golf tournament away from a club owned by presidential candidate Donald Trump and a perceived inequity in how punishments for controversial statements were meted out.

I asked ESPN President John Skipper whether the perceived political shift many ESPN employees and consumers have felt is real and, if so, whether it was a conscious decision on the network’s part.

"It is accurate that the Walt Disney Company and ESPN are committed to diversity and inclusion," Skipper said. "These are long-standing values that drive fundamental fairness while providing us with the widest possible pool of talent to create the smartest and most creative staff. We do not view this as a political stance but as a human stance. We do not think tolerance is the domain of a particular political philosophy."

Inside ESPN, however, some feel the lack of tolerance of a particular political philosophy is a problem.

"We've done a great job of diversity," said longtime ESPN anchor Bob Ley. "But the one place we have miles to go is diversity of thought."

Many ESPN employees I talked to -- including liberals and conservatives, most of whom preferred to speak on background -- worry that the company’s politics have become a little too obvious, empowering those who feel as if they're in line with the company's position and driving underground those who don’t.

"If you’re a Republican or conservative, you feel the need to talk in whispers," one conservative ESPN employee said. "There’s even a fear of putting Fox News on a TV [in the office]."

Read the whole thing. By the way, he looks into the numbers and ESPN personnel who donate to political causes split 80/20 in favor of liberals.

Boycott 'em. To hell with them all.

And that's not a conservative imperative -- that's a human imperative.

Once again: #ThatsHowYouGotTrump.


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posted by Ace at 05:41 PM

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