Accuracy in Media

ESPN, which is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, fired Curt Schilling, a former All-Star pitcher and a conservative Republican who has often unabashedly expressed his private opinions on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter. In a press release, ESPN said:

“ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”

However, ESPN has a biased, politically correct culture of its own. Previously, at the ESPYs (which is similar to the Oscars, but for athletes), ESPN awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Caitlyn (previously known as Bruce) Jenner, a transgender former Olympic athlete of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” reality TV fame. But ESPN ignored the courageous story of Lauren Hill, a female athlete who had an inoperable brain cancer tumor and played college basketball until she was too sick to play. Hill was able to raise millions of dollars for cancer research, rallying her community, family and friends, and was a force for good despite her prognosis. She passed away before the ESPYs in April of last year (the ESPYs took place in July), and would have been a better choice. Although Hill received the “Best Moment” Award, ESPN missed a great opportunity to give the Arthur Ashe Courage Award posthumously to Hill to further champion cancer research and the fight against cancer.

Also, ESPN extensively covered the domestic violence cases of Ray Rice and his then-fiancé (now his wife), and Greg Hardy and his ex-girlfriend. But, ESPN’s own Adam Schefter interviewed Greg Hardy one-on-one and Hardy proclaimed his innocence. Schefter did not say much to the contrary during the interview, although the public record on Hardy’s domestic violence dispute is well-known (he was charged and arrested on domestic violence charges, but his accuser failed to appear in court so the case was dropped). Schefter said, of the interview and the backlash of his light treatment of Hardy:

“Well, look, we’ve all seen the persona of Greg Hardy on the sidelines and in games. That’s what I expected. OK. I should have been more precise in how I described it. That was a mistake on my part. I regret not making that more clear. But I’ve got no regrets about the interview or the questions we asked — we went at him. And, again, to me, that was the situation as it went down. I should’ve been more clear, and I wasn’t.”

Also, ESPN has had some of its own employees engage in domestic violence. Howard Bryant, a baseball writer, struck a police officer and assaulted his estranged wife in 2011, and he is still employed at ESPN. Another, Jay Mariotti, was arrested and charged on felony charges related to stalking and assaulting his ex-girlfriend in 2010. He was fired soon after the news broke.

ESPN currently employs former NFL linebacker and Super Bowl champion Ray Lewis as part of their NFL coverage, even though Lewis was charged with double murder in 2000. Lewis was accused of murdering two men, Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker, outside an Atlanta nightclub on January 31, 2000. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, which is a misdemeanor charge, and testified against two of his friends at the nightclub. The white suit that Lewis wore that night was never found, and he was heard telling witnesses to keep their mouths shut and that this wouldn’t end his NFL career. But Lewis never implicated his two friends directly and they were acquitted, which upsets the murdered men’s families to this day.

Granted, Curt Schilling shared controversial memes on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, ranging from retweeting (or re-sharing) a meme on Nazi Germany and radical Islam and one on transgendered men in women’s bathrooms. While it is Schilling’s right as a citizen to do so, ESPN also has a right to fire employees who step over the company line. Yet, to absolve ESPN of all guilt and blame is far from being fair and truthful.

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