Last Thursday, ESPN’s Dan Le Batard found himself in national headlines when he deviated from sports talk to discuss the Donald Trump rally that took place in North Carolina, the one where supporters chanted “send her back” in regard to Somali-born Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
That was in direct defiance towards the network, which has a no-politics policy in place. Le Batard did appear on his Friday show but apparently is not going to be on the air today, according to the Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand:
Le Batard and ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro were in contact much of the weekend. Sources said Pitaro would not waver from his policy of no pure-play politics. Le Batard told Pitaro that he was not in the right frame of mind to do his radio show Monday.
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) July 22, 2019
That seems very strange to me, the idea that Le Batard would be “not in the right frame of mind” to do his radio show, but that he’d be back for “Highly Questionable” in the afternoon. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall, listening to that Le Batard/Pitaro conversation.
I wrote last week that I was very interested in seeing how ESPN would respond to this. If they had suspended Le Batard, they probably would have stirred up a bit of a frenzy on social media and among left-leaning anti-Trump folks. If they had not suspended him, they would have been basically admitting that the “no politics” policy is flimsy and pointless.
On Friday, ESPN apparently sent out a memo to all employees, reminding them that they are not to talk about politics unless there is an appropriate intersection with sports (i.e., Trump tweeting at Megan Rapinoe, or something along those lines).
We’ll see what happens next! Can’t wait.