Word on the street is that ESPN is planning to lay off "200 to 300" employees in the coming months.
The go-to euphemism surrounding the impending layoffs, according to Variety's Brian Steinberg, is "the changing media landscape," primarily the "cord-cutting" phenomenon. In July, the Big Lead blog, in discussing Keith Olbermann's expected departure from ESPN, explained that "millennials are eschewing expensive cable TV bills and streaming everything online." While that might explain flat viewership or even a modest decline, cord-cutting is only a minor part of the problem. Someone needs to explain why ESPN's ratings have fallen by a stunning 30 percent in the past 12 months.
For the second time in just over two months since Michael Sam joined the CFL Montreal Alouettes, he is leaving the team. This time it sounds like it’s for good.
Sam, a defensive end from Missouri, came out as gay before the 2014 NFL draft, to the triumphal declarations from ESPN and the media at large. When the confetti settled, the “Gay Jackie Robinson” was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams. Cut by the Rams without ever playing a down, he joined the Dallas Cowboys practice squad for a cup of coffee.
David Letterman couldn't resist taking a jab at the Catholic Church on Monday's Late Show on CBS. Letterman highlighted how Pope Francis recently appointed forty bishops to be cardinals, and noted how the pontiff personally calls each of the new designees. The host jokingly claimed to have video of one of the clerics receiving the phone call. He then played the much-hyped footage of former NFL player Michael Sam receiving word that he had been drafted, and then tearfully kissing his boyfriend.
Oprah Winfrey's documentary on gay NFL tryout (and washout) Michael Sam airs on Saturday night. Secular leftist journalists and gay activists desperately wanted a happier story line than the one that unfolded. What was pitched a Major Historical Moment vanished into put-on-waivers obscurity.
Bryan Curtis at ESPN's Grantland site compared the Sam kiss, carefully choreographed for the ESPN cameras by ESPN activists (what other seventh-rounder has a camera crew?), to Victory Over Japan in 1945:
With less than an hour to go until kickoff on the 2014 NFL season, NBC Sports kicked off a new season of predictably left-of-center political pontifications.
Holding that dubious honor tonight was Sports Illustrated senior writer and NBC Sports contributor Peter King, who, during pre-game analysis, insisted that the Dallas Cowboys signing rookie defensive end Michael Sam to their practice squad delivered the National Football League from a “nightmare situation” in which the first openly-gay NFL draftee failed to make a roster. No one else on the broadcast took exception to that line of argument. My colleague Curtis Houck transcribed the statement, which you can read below the page break [LISTEN to MP3 audio here; WATCH video below page break]:
Filling in for Alex Wagner on her MSNBC show Wednesday, Luke Russert had a segment on NFL player and defensive end Michael Sam, who was signed earlier in the day to the Dallas Cowboys after being released by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday. Russert opined that the reason there was a delay before Sam was signed by another team was not because of any media “distractions" or that he was not a good enough player, but it was “probably because he’s gay.”
In the first portion of the over five-minute-long segment, Russert cited reports from anonymous NFL general managers to two sports media outlets that teams wanted to sign Sam, but “fear[ed] the media attention” and “the circus coming to town” in additional media. [See video below]
Who’da thunk it? A winning Super Bowl coach and Israel combine to teach Americans a lesson in how the media’s religion bigots operate.
The coach, of course, is Tony Dungy, the now retired coach of the Indianapolis Colts, the team he led to the 2007 Super Bowl win over the Chicago Bears. And Israel? Israel is, thank God, still Israel. (Oops! Can I still say “God”?)
On the July 23 edition of The Ed Show, host Ed Schultz and guest Michael Eric Dyson took turns attacking former NFL coach Tony Dungy for stating that he “wouldn’t want to deal” with the media attention that followed the drafting of Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly-gay draftee.
While the other guest, national sport columnist Terence Moore, attempted to defend Dungy, Dyson compared his “attempt to justify prejudice and bigotry under the rubric of having questions about distractions” to the “light, racist viewpoints that were promoted by many white people who were not in the Ku Klux Klan” but still “resisted the progress of African-American people by undermining it.” Forget “light racism,” later in the interview Dyson compared the coach to an infamous Southern segregationist who employed police dogs and fire hoses on peaceful protesters. [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]
As a network, ESPN continues to propagate the bizarre idea that it’s non-ideological to celebrate the drafting of gay NFL draftee Michael Sam. ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte – a former New York Times columnist – unsurprisingly gave the network “high marks” for its promotional Sam coverage in a column posted Friday.
“I think ESPN’s point of view here is nonideological, unless you believe capitalism and proper journalism are ideological,” Lipyste claimed.
Michael Sam’s declaration in February that he wanted just to be known as a football player, and not a gay football player, started to unravel with the news that he was working with the Oprah Winfrey Network on a reality show on his "historic" journey. Who was causing the distraction now? Not the “haters.”
Sources told ESPN.com that the network's plan was to follow Sam's personal life as he tried to make the Rams, dividing the content into six to eight segments. The Rams and the NFL said they were unaware of the project prior to its announcement.
Much has been made in the liberal media about Michael Sam's NFL Draft party smooch with his boyfriend Vito Cammisano. And while there's little doubt about the emotion of the moment, it would be fair to say it was choreographed in no small part for the cameras, and not just those for news outlets.
Apparently well before the draft, Sam was working with Oprah Winfrey's producers on the filming of a reality TV program, and Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) cameras were present, naturally, for the phone call. Jessica Chasmar of the Washington Times has more:
Before I begin, I want to pose a question to the powers that control our society today: Am I allowed to comment on issues that pertain to homosexuality if I don't echo the views of our masters? Will people who read this column willingly twist what I say to justify condemnation of anyone who disagrees with them? They certainly do it to many other people.
Note to those waiting for an excuse to pretend to be offended so they can cram their views down our throats with McCarthyite tactics: Please read precisely what I say and don't draw unwarranted inferences, for there are no hidden meanings here and there is no concealed agenda.