ESPN is becoming something akin to television’s version of the Cleveland Browns, who won one game in the 2016 NFL season. And now, the network has removed a conservative journalist from NBA coverage.
ESPN's losing streak includes the staggering loss of 12 million subscribers since 2011, according to Nielsen. In the last two months of 2016, the subscription loss topped the one million subscriber mark.
One form of triage at ESPN is reportedly to make major layoffs in the next few months – including major faces.
As conservative sports fans know only too well, ESPN is a card-carrying member of the liberal media. With precious few exceptions, ESPN writers and broadcasters support liberal special interests in practically every social issue that arises. In the 2012 election cycle, 80 percent of ESPN employee campaign contributions went to Democrats and left-wing political action committees.
The network’s ombudsman, Public Editor Jim Brady, has previously stated, “Many ESPN employees I talked to -- including liberals and conservatives, most of whom preferred to speak on background -- worry that the company’s politics have become a little too obvious, empowering those who feel as if they’re in line with the company’s position and driving underground those who don’t.”
One obvious way to stop the hemorrhaging at ESPN and win back viewers turned-off by left-wing politics would be to eliminate fast breaks down the left side of the written and spoken lanes, to stop going political and stick to sports.
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Just this week, ESPN announced new guidelines to guide employees on what’s permissible politically for on- and off-air talent. A bullet point in the new policy says: “Those writers, reporters, producers, and editors who nonetheless publicly involve themselves in political or social advocacy may be reassigned to preserve our objective reporting on such subjects.”
The ink was barely dry on that when Sage Steele became the fall girl today. Fox News reported the conservative African-American woman has been removed from ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” and replaced by Michelle Beadle. She has been reassigned to lead the network's "SportsCenter on the Road" initiative.
Steele had previously complained about anti-Trump protesters impeding her travel. Also, she cut short an interview with singer Win Butler when he went off about his liberal views at the NBA’s Celebrity All-Star game. She took heat for stating the "worst racism that I have received ... is from black people."
Many in the Left-stream media celebrated ESPN’s decision. A British newspaper, the Daily Mail, crowed: “'Poetic justice': NBA Countdown host Sage Steele to be replaced as critics celebrate her downfall after she complained Trump travel ban protests caused her to miss a flight.”
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if the most ardent lefties at ESPN will actually be reigned in by the new policies. There is no indication that Jeremy Schaap has been told to stop advocating for the LGBT movement on his radio and TV appearances. We'll be paying close attention to see where ESPN actually draws the line on these new policies ... and if Steele re-surfaces with a meaningful role at the network.