Accuracy in Media

ESPN wants its reporters out of the political commentary business.

Speaking at “The Talent Gathering ’17,” a meeting of the 450 “forward facing” or on-air employees, executives of the sports network announced a new social media policy that seems designed to respond to viewer complaints and the sharp drop in viewership that has accompanied the network’s entrees into liberal political commentary.

“ESPN is a journalistic organization – not a political organization,” Kevin Merida, a former managing editor of The Washington Post and now a senior vice president and editor in chief of “The Undefeated,” an ESPN online offering, said as he introduced the new policy. “We should do nothing to undermine that position.”

Basically, the policy is to avoid commenting on social media on any topic related to politics, although officials made clear that if a politician wades into sports, employees are free to comment on that.

“ESPN’s focus is sports,” Merida said. “By and large, we are not experts on politics, healthcare policies, terrorism, commerce – that’s not what we do. Our audience is not looking for our opinions on the general news of the day. And believe me, I get it. It can sometimes be difficult to control impulses or ignore trolls, but that’s what we’re called to do for each other.”

Merida pointed to a clause in the social media policy where management reserved the right to take action if staffers violated it.

He said he had “spoken to on-air staffers who are active on Twitter” – including Pablo Torre, Sarah Spain and Scott Van Pelt, who moderated the event – to get feedback on their social media experiences as part of the process of revising the policy. In introducing Merida, Van Pelt had pointed to the fruitlessness of engaging trolls on the Internet.

The new policy was developed in response to a series of events in which ESPN personalities have taken to Twitter to criticize President Trump. Jemele Hill, who appears on one of the SportsCenter broadcasts,  was suspended twice in a six-week span – once for calling President Trump a white supremacist in the wake of the Charlottesville riots and once for calling for a boycott of advertisers who support the Dallas Cowboys after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he would bench any players who “disrespect the flag” during the playing of the national anthem before games.

Asked in the question-and-answer session about the sexual harassment policy, John Skipper, president of the network, said ESPN has a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment and does not to his knowledge have a major problem with sexual harassment but that employees should contact him directly if problems arise.

The first hour of the meeting was devoted to countering the notion that the social media policy and other apparent leftist political bias by the network was contributing to a decline in viewership and the financial future of the company is strong.

“At the end of the meeting, I want you to be confident about the future of ESPN. I want you to feel proud about working here, and I want you to feel that your best efforts are needed for that future and to feel that pride,” Skipper said.

Skipper said the network plans to purchase even more rights to liver sporting events, maximize distribution through traditional channels – which should involve improving relations with cable distributors – launching a direct-to-consumer service and “continuing the company’s focus on the breadth and depth of storytelling and strong journalism.”

“I want to lead an ESPN that strives purposely and confidently into a new world which is not scary but exciting.”

Connor Schell, the network’s executive vice president for content, then revealed that ESPN had produced 65,000 hours of live programming this year, covered 16,000 events, produced 98,000 digital videos, written 105,000 articles of various descriptions, posted on social media 2.6 million times and created 20,000 hours of original audio programming.

“Between live studio content and live events, we are producing 7 ½ hours of live programming for every hour in a day,” he said.

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  • Mike S.

    The only thing that ESPN (Engels Stalin Politburo Network) regrets is that the on-air bias was so blatant. They’ve learned their lesson all right: be much more subtle. So now they’ll back off … until they can get away with it again.

  • missieb2000

    Ever notice that networks only care what their libtarded personnel are saying is when it costs them money?

  • If they don’t get out of politics they are a doomed station. On Whatfinger News on the left in their favorites section is a photo linked from the text that says “This is why we stand” – the photo is of a woman at a military cemetery laying on a blanked with photos of her dead soldier husband, holding her baby. I tear up every time I see the photo and since I’m on the site daily (they replaced Drudge after Drudge went left wing lately) I click on it here and there and amazingly still tear up.
    The NFL is PC. ESPN is PC. ABC is PC and Disney that owns them all is very PC
    The American people are not.

  • newsjunkie

    I saw that photo, it is a tear jerker for sure. I come from a sports-crazy home. Insane amount of sports played and watched, but once the kneelers started, we just stopped. Now we stick to college football and never watch ESPN. EVER. Like they said on Whatfinger News by that photo mentioned on the left in their favorites section, I will never watch another game until they re all out of business first. As for ESPN, adios as well. They want to play SJW games, let them play with themselves.

  • newsjunkie

    Like the bozos that get caught like in Hollywood after abusing women and children. Suddenly they need ‘therapy’ yeah right like that Wesinstein and his fast week in therapy. Sure it worked, yeah sure.
    Once their wallets are affffected they all start changing. Fakers all.

  • Slugger_McBuster

    “after Drudge went left-wing lately”

    Yep, it’s pretty obvious Drudge smells like old rotten shit these days. His change of agenda is nothing short of a paradigm shift. He went from “let the people rule” on the night of Trump’s election victory, to “make America hate again” several months later, regurgitating insane liberal race-baiting BS. He literally gloated over the results of the Alabama senate race this week.

    I pop my head over there a couple times a week out of curiosity, but now I generally go to whatfinger or citizenfreepress or straight to the sources, including RCP, Daily Caller, WSJ, Breitbart, Town Hall, etc. Not all reliable all the time, but it’s better than the tone-deaf links Drudge puts up these days.

    The day I am eager to read propaganda from WaPo, NY Times, CNN, Politico, and Business Insider, is the day I’ll consider having my head examined. But that’s predominantly what Drudge links to. And most of those sites either don’t allow comments, pre-moderate to filter out non-liberal comments, or shadow-ban comments.

  • Kenneth Lichtig

    Liberals keeping silent on politics—very funny!! Their faces will explode!!

  • Disgusted Citizen

    Former Senior Editor at Washington Post? All we need to know. ESPN can go to Hell.

  • Disgusted Citizen

    Drudge is all about the money. He will link to any crap with his BS clickbait headlines.

  • jaf1200abe

    I will never watch ESPN again. They fired Curt Shillings but kept Jemele Hill?

  • Kimberly04

    Too late, they have killed all respect for them.

  • Okieflyover

    538 just today has a lead story blaming lost NFL viewers on the existence of Thursday night games rather than the kneeling protests.

    Fiction. Every word of it folly and fiction. I know dozens of people boycotting NFL due to the kneeling. None are in the name of Thursday night games.

  • jtinevergreen

    The second I saw that I knew it was BS!

  • bruce

    Bottom line from a guy’s perspective. I watch ESPN for sports-period, not politics-period. That’s the reason we guys watch sports. We get away from the BS at the office, wife telling us to take out garbage, etc. Get’s all out of reality as well as the women in our lives. Once ESPN understands this and gets back normal men and women will tune in and watch again. If not? Goodbye ESPN.

  • Deathdefiant

    “former managing editor of The Washington Post and now a senior vice president and editor in chief”


  • Garrett Patterson

    Until they get to the place where just having a Socialistic Media account becomes and FYA offense, this mealy mouthed policy is doomed to failure.
    The ESPN amateur politicos need to cram back into the ‘closet’…

  • Haiku Guy

    Too late. The political views started years ago, all one sided, and never stopped. ESPN is (has been for 3 years) dead to me.

  • LouAnnWatson

    “Van Pelt had pointed to the fruitlessness of engaging trolls on the Internet.”
    no one would be trolling you if you weren’t such an arrogant, over the top, progressive a$$

  • Guido FL

    Too late ESPN, you made the wrong choices months ago and we the American public will not forget your rabid leftist postions ! Go down in flames like CNN to that special place in bankrupcey court !

  • Fast Freddy

    “The first hour of the meeting was devoted to countering the notion that the social media policy and other apparent leftist political bias by the network was contributing to a decline in viewership and the financial future of the company is strong.”

    So, Skipper spent the whole first hour lying to everyone at the meeting. Very productive.

  • I don’t care what the ESPN idiots do. I am done with them! After their COMPLETE DISRESPECT of the American Military and Veterans during the “Stand for the National Anthem” debacle, ESPN can suck on a Donkey’s A$$ before I will even view their whining and posturing crapolla.

    If they lose their jobs and are begging in the streets, because they have NO SALABLE SKILLS, I would not give them anything, except a dog turd in their beggar cup.

    Like the NFL, ESPN can rot on their vine, and I say, good riddance.

    I would tell you how I really feel, but that would get my post banned.

  • And what other BS is the “Advisor to Jeb Bush” selling to the WaPo now? Maybe it’s a complete Dossier on how the entire Trump family spent the last Summer in Russia as guests of Putin?

    Even the WaPo wouldn’t fall for that! Or would they?

  • I’m about to turn 60. I have never had forced sex with anyone. I am a happily married man.

    F them ALL! Lying sack of schlitz Democrats! I hope that the ones doing the abuse get testicular cancer and endure the pain!

  • They Doubled-Down on the Double-Standard. Does that make it a Quadruple-Standard?

  • I too, am done with ESPN, and the rest of the NFL network affiliates. If the NBA goes stupid, I will live without African Roundball, too.
    Please, MLB, don’t go stupid!

  • Taquoshi

    With a hat tip to Carly Simon…

    ….And it’s too late baby, now it’s too late

    Though they really did try to make it

    Something inside has died and they can’t hide it and they just can’t fake it

    Oh, no-no-no-no…

  • Taquoshi

    Ancient Chinese proverb say…when one finds oneself in deep hole, stop digging…

    Found in Fortune 500 cookie…

  • Taquoshi

    Ooooh, Engels Staling Politiburo Network! I like it, I like it. My favorite up til now has been Especial Stupid Political Network, but yours will give mine a run for the money.

  • Adam

    I am a HUGE sports fan, I never watch ESPN, ever.

  • Adam

    Drudge links almost exclusively to NYT, Wapo, Politico and other leftwing sites, there is no reason at all to go to that site anymore, Better to got to, the new Drudge

  • jg collins

    Yeah, seeing the Wapoo connection made me shake my head. But wait and see. You know the new policy is their only hope. Their leftist people can just grit their teeth and keep their mouths shut on politics. That will be fun to watch.

  • jg collins

    The article says: “…senior vice president and editor in chief of “The Undefeated,” an ESPN online offering…” I don’t see that as having any connection to the Wapoo, now.

  • jg collins

    Yeah, it’s especially fruitless when the trolls know more than the ESPN staff do.

  • thesafesurfer

    ESPN is like the Titanic, they are doomed to sink no matter what they do.
    There are not enough brain dead politically correct liberals to pay their bills and everyone else is sick of ESPN’s liberal political correctness.

    I cancelled my subscription to ESPN the Magazine and quit watching the network 18 months ago, and won’t be back.

  • thesafesurfer

    Hear! Hear!

  • thesafesurfer


  • thesafesurfer

    It’s in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the story bozo.

  • TomBradyHasFiveRings

    LOL…too late. I gave up on ESPN many years ago. It has turned into MTV minus the music.

  • HML

    I hope they go broke………….

  • Jerrod

    Same here, he’s no longer my home page. I’m glad everyone else sees it too.

  • jamcar

    That is the heart of the matter right there. They believe that no real person could disagree with them, so any dissention at all would have to be from some “troll”. They are the authority, their talking points come attached to their paystubs. Any other opinion has to be just someone trying to goad them.

  • jamcar

    The most reviled name in sports. They should change their name to ESPN*

  • jamcar

    …the nfl is pc. ESPN* is PC…fixed it for ya.

  • jamcar

    ESPN* can go to Hell. (they need the *).

  • paul

    I am also officially done with Sports Illustrated mag. These scums worship Kapernik and his flag-disrepecting millionaire lowlife thugs. As a libertarian I do not oppose their right to protest, but as an American I will have nothing to do with any team or league that accepts or condones unpatriotic displays before, during or after games. If any of the NFL players were to celebrate with non-sense in the end zone after a touchdown the refs would cancel the score – – why should the National Anthem and the flag be treated with less respect?

  • contact officemanager

    Thugs on drugs on the feild
    Thugs on drugs on the mike
    Thugs on drugs in your home Not!

  • samo war
  • timamac

    Thank you, looks a great site. Whatfinger, Citizensfreepress, and now the Liberty Daily!

  • bieler

    At the end of the day, Drudge is all about his gay butthole and his wallet. He will will support the any party that makes him money, but if you start attacking his disgusting sexual proclivities, he will turn on you. Moore is a great example, since he basically (and correctly) says that homosexual filth like Drudge should be considered outlaws.

  • Lisa Smith

    The switch toward political content came from the top at ESPN. The on-air staff were responding to their employers’ lead. And at the very top, ESPN is owned by Disney, which has become an extremely liberal, anti-Christian company. Personally, I stopped watching ESPN long ago, and doubled down when they chose a tranny for Most Courageous Athlete.

  • marty martin

    You have to give ESPN some credit, as they have realized their error. On the other hand the NFL rehiring Goodell doubled down on how stupid can you be!

  • Smergy

    Can a leopard change their spots? When someone does make their liberal vomit speech for the day, what will they do? Right.

  • Smergy

    Drudge has smelt bad since 2011 maybe even further.

  • TED

    Social media, like much of the internet, is a sewer. Any professional-type with a high-profile job or highly visible occupation should avoid it like the plague. For the most part … it’s just Simpleton La-La-Land!

  • peg_c the Deplorable ??????

    This right here is proof their “goals” are empty:

    “The first hour of the meeting was devoted to countering
    the notion that the social media policy and other apparent leftist
    political bias by the network was contributing to a decline in
    viewership and the financial future of the company is strong.”

    They don’t and won’t ever get it. Many of us consider them wedded to the NFL that we will never patronize again. I live for the day that ESPN is no more.

  • peg_c the Deplorable ??????

    They refuse to admit this is why people are cutting the cord in record numbers. ESPN and the NFL are as responsible as any for the death of cable (which can’t come soon enough).

  • peg_c the Deplorable ??????

    Had to delete all Drudge bookmarks and apps a few months ago. All his links are to Fake News and he thrives on nothing but chaos and anarchy. It’s obvious who he’s in bed with.

  • peg_c the Deplorable ??????

    Didn’t know about Liberty Daily – thanks! I use Whatfinger in place of Drudge and frequent Breitbart, Sundance, GP, True Pundit, ZH, etc. Always happy to add a new one to the stable. 🙂

  • peg_c the Deplorable ??????

    Wow, already love TLD! Links go to real news sites!

  • StarvetheBeast

    Drudge is in the same boat as ESPN, exposed as a sell-out and SHILL for the Establishment the viewers aren’t coming back – too bad, so sad.

  • JJ

    So Skipper thinks more LIVER sporting events, and increasing distribution through better cable relationships are the answer to ESPN’s problems…when people are tuning out more and cutting the cord more, but sexual harrassment, locker room culture isn’t one of those problems. Yup, another few points down in stock prices with this type of leadership….and it only took ESPN years to figure out people tuned in for sports not politics. Who says jocks are dumb.. LMBO

  • Kate

    It is too late ESPN.

  • motorcyclerider

    What can you say but …. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    One of the legacy’s of the Obama years is people are sick of leftist politics everywhere.
    Suspect it’s too late for ESPN.

  • Adam

    You might like this as well Some Crap like Weekly Standard and NRO but pretty good all around

  • Dick Hardigan

    Too late.

  • Richard Schmidt

    What’s this “trying” BS?

  • J.French R******

    ESPN’s app is pathetic as it will freeze numerous times. Their online service is worse.
    Once ESPN decided to voice their Liberal politics openly & frequently online, when I do view programming on that network it is with the sound set to Mute.

  • peg_c the Deplorable ??????

    Thanks, adding this to my bookmarks bar with the others! Some of the blogs linked are ones I read constantly, some rarely, and a few I was addicted to for years and wandered away from but might check from time to time now. I did read even sub to the mags of) the Weekly Standard and NR but never again! NeverTrump = NeverforMe. 😉

  • Deert

    I never understood why guys with Metabolic Syndrome would pay money to sit on sofas eating junk food watching other people get exercise.

  • jg collins

    In your country they apparently don’t know what “former” means, wazoo. “…a former managing editor of The Washington Post ” means he no longer has any connection to the Wapoo.

  • thesafesurfer

    ….. you have my pity for being so lifeless on Christmas Eve….

  • jststric

    If EVERY business would do this, we MIGHT have a chance of regaining a modicum of balance. Hollywood sticks with entertainment. All sports teams and media… about SPORTS. Coffee houses……COFFEE. No POLITICAL statements, banter, policies.