Due to the nation’s “intense political climate,” ESPN programming will now become even more political than it has been. ESPN went public today with a new set of guidelines on politics and elections, reassuring all that the nickname Entertainment, Sports and Progressive Network fits. Reading between and “outside the lines” of this policy, it’s clear the controversial network is throwing off the gloves and promising to swing even further to the Left.
Jim Brady, public editor at ESPN, disclosed the new policies today. He has written extensively in recent months about ESPN attempts to justify left-wing politics, and his attempt today to mask the network’s true intentions does little to reassure a skeptical public. After reviewing those policies, I’ve detected the top 10 lies about them:
Patrick Stiegman, ESPN vice president of global digital content and chairman of the internal editorial board, said: “At ESPN, our reputation and credibility with viewers, readers and listeners are paramount.” That’s Lie #1; the truth is that related to political and social issues, ESPN will continue catering to political and special interests running hard Left, not to an audience that is diverse politically.
ESPN says the two most notable changes in its policy are the “delineation of guidelines between news and commentary, and allowing for increased political discussion on ESPN platforms, as warranted and connected to sports.” Here we have Lie #2: there haven’t been notable delineations from news and commentary, and the increased political discussion ahead will continue to favor the Left.
New policy states, “Original news reports should not include statements of support, opposition or partisanship to any social issue, political position, candidate or office holder.” Lie #3: who’s foolish enough to think attacks on President Trump won’t continue, or that ESPN will stop sneaking Bill Clinton and Barack Obama into original programming?
“The one place on ESPN in which you don’t see straight opinion is on the hard news side of the operation.” Lie #4: ESPN does hard news? I must have missed it.
Commentary on political and social issues is now approved, but previous policy “suggested dipping into political waters carried more danger than reward.” Lie #5: more danger, that is, for Republicans like Curt Schilling, who was fired by ESPN. There’s been a whole lot more rewarding of PC than danger.
Opening the doors to political commentary is “a more positive, proactive stance,” and “If there’s a good reason to be discussing [politics], here’s how we can best help you do that to best help our audience.” Lie #6: a positive stance for progressives, and how you can best help our LGBT and Democrat pals.
Political topics should be related to sports and may have varying applications for platforms with broader editorial missions, like The Undefeated, FiveThirtyEight and espnW. Management must approve exceptions. Lie #7: Exceptions will be rubberstamped by management when supportive of left-wing agendas. The “broader editorial missions” have always been aligned with the Far Left; why would they change now?
Stiegman said the new policy allows “wiggle room” on politics relating to sports. Lie #8: more proof that this policy is window dressing in an attempt to provide cover for political correctness.
ESPN says: “We want to emphasize a direct connection to sports, understanding that’s the lens through which most fans view ESPN.” Lie #9: ESPN’s lens has always been directed by and aimed at pleasing the radical Left. And yet a few months ago, Brady defended ESPN’s stubborn allegiance to the Left while admitting it was out of step with many viewers.
Finally, ESPN states that exceptions with policy may occasionally be made, and it just wants to assure that in those times the discussions are thoughtful. “We should offer balance or recognize opposing views, when warranted.” Lie #10: ESPN really wants to ensure those “thoughtful” groupthink sessions reinforce preferred left-wing narratives. It will be a toasty day at the beach in the Arctic Circle when balance is warranted.
Brady doesn’t have a lot of confidence in the new policy, concluding, “It’ll be interesting to see whether this new policy has an impact.”