ESPN host Dan Le Batard said that anyone who thinks the sports cable giant has a liberal bias is dead wrong, and that their accusations are driven by the fact that they don’t approve of the network’s diversity.
Le Batard fired back at critics on “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” on ESPN Radio:
“Many of you are inevitably complaining that we talked to a ‘Daily Show’ correspondent and we talked politics, allegedly. Just so you know though, all of you who complain that the other side isn’t represented here, we’ve talked to Geraldo Rivera a number of times. We’ve talked to Donald Trump. We’ve talked to Curt Schilling. We’ve talked to Bill O’Reilly. So, if you want to believe that, that’s fine. We just like talking to interesting people about interesting things. If you want to object to what we just did there, that’s fine that you object to it. But I’m bored by you.”
“There are more minorities on ESPN with strong voices than at any time in the history of the company,” Le Batard said. “That has evidently made some people bothered.”
As far as Le Batard is concerned, the only people who are bothered by ESPN’s diversity are white.
“I’m not saying if you don’t like us, that makes you racist,” Le Batard said. “I am saying that it is unusual, suspicious, weird, that so many of the people who want us fired tend to be white and so many of the people you want fired from ESPN tend to be the minorities who come with voices now that they haven’t had before.”
Le Batard’s viewpoint isn’t universally shared by everyone at ESPN.
When longtime ESPN SportsCenter anchor Linda Cohn was asked on 77 WABC’s “Bernie and Sid” show whether or not the network’s social or political stances contributed to the problems that led to roughly 100 employees being laid off in late April, she said, “I don’t know how big a percentage, but if anyone wants to ignore that fact, they’re blind.”
ESPN’s root problems stem from cord cutters—people who are dropping their cable subscriptions in favor of streaming services that often don’t include the network—and the fact that they have grossly overpaid for certain sporting events. The answer for ESPN would be to charge higher subscription fees, but cable operators are resisting that, resulting in less revenue. But the network is also being hurt by an abundance of political correctness—from Caitlyn Jenner winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to its support for the Women’s March on Washington—which has given viewers who don’t want to see sports mixed with politics one more reason to cancel their subscriptions.