ESPN's Cuban Broadcast Interrupted by Dissidents; Network Calls It 'Invasion'

March 24th, 2016 1:27 AM

Bob Ley, ESPN's longest-serving commentator, was in Cuba yesterday after the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the island nation's national team 4-1 in an exhibition baseball game.

Shortly after the conclusion of that game, ESPN had Ley report from a rather nice-looking streetscape in Havana (not your typical avenue in the workers' paradise). As he did, a demonstrator interrupted him. ESPN, acting as if it believes it's a sovereign nation unto itself, headlined the incident: "Protester invades SportsCenter in Cuba."

As mostly seen in the second half of the video below, Ley reported on how this demonstrator and others were hauled away by Cuban police (HT USA Today's For the Win blog):

The full clip starts with an ESPN in-studio person asking Ley, "As we heard the President say, this was about far more than a baseball game. What do you believe this day accomplished?"

Before he could get past the first few words of his answer, a demonstrator interrupted Ley and threw pamphlets up in the air. Ley attempted to end his report and send the broadcast back to the studio. But the on-the-street camera lingered for several seconds, and the demonstrator went off-screen. Finally, ESPN cut away from the street scene, but instead of going to the studio, the next shot was of the broadcasting crew which covered the ballgame.

Karl Ravech, apparently the crew's lead announacer, then said, "Well, the safety of Bob Ley obviously is the most important thing." Well, Karl, it's not unimportant, but I would have been far more worried about the safety of the demonstrator and those who were with him. One of the other two broadcasters in the crew had a smile so wide you had to wonder if he thought that what he had just seen was somehow tremendously funny.

Here's is a transcript of Ley's follow-up report on the apprehension of the demonstrator and others with him just a short time later. Most of it is in the second half of the video seen above, but the full content is here at ESPN:

KARL RAVECH: Send it back to Bob. Bob, are you okay?

BOB LEY: Asbolutely, Karl. What we had here a few moments ago, if you were with us a few moments ago on SportsCenter, that was beginning, uh, getting the throw from SportsCenter in Connecticut, (a) gentleman jumped up next to me. I thought it was in error, because we're right here on the street, we've had no problems whatsoever, began yelling.

There were others, at least four or five other individuals clearly in the dissident class, if you will. What was amazing was the speed of the police response. There were three marked cars that came, literally out of nowhere. Unmarked, er, plainclothes policemen, those also wearing uniforms. There were a number of these pamphlets thrown up in the air here, and, astonishingly, as soon as it hit the ground, they made several arrests. They were taken off here, dragged off, one dissident was taken off, police restraining him by the neck, putting him in the car. So they've been taken away.

And then the police descended on our position right here, very politely, but immediately scooping up all of these pamphlets (Ley appears to begin reading from one of the pamphlets) for the rights and liberties, calling for a meeting, calling for reforms in Cuban law, for new laws, for amnesty, having to do with the freedoms which, which totally underscores the entire political nature under which this game took place today.

Kudos to Ley, who, at some personal risk, had the nerve to read from the pamphlets and throw at least a little cold water on the Obama administration's primary mission, namely to legitimize Cuba's brutal communist government.

Cross-posted at