Nothing to see here, move along, says Jack Moore writing at The Guardian in his article espousing that “the shift to the left of sports media is vastly overblown.”
Moore argues that, “If ESPN is pivoting leftward, it’s mostly about trying to differentiate itself from Fox Sports 1, and trying to capture a sports audience that is making it clear that it doesn’t just want apolitical sports coverage.”
That argument doesn’t hold much water considering that ESPN hit the airwaves in 1979, a whopping 34 years before Fox Sports 1 was formed in 2013, with Fox’s purchase of broadcast rights to NFL games.
As Breitbart Sports Editor Dylan Gwinn said to me recently, “The idea that FS1 forced ESPN to pivot to the left is like saying a minnow dragged a whale into the ocean.” The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network has infinitely higher viewership than FS1, and through the Rush Limbaugh saga, Duke lacrosse, and other events ESPN clearly was liberal way before you could find FS1 on your cable guide.
Arguing on top of that, Moore suggests that although, “ESPN may alienate some white sports fans by acknowledging uncomfortable political realities, like the sexual assault problems in sports, or Colin Kaepernick’s protests against social injustice,” it is welcomed by other fans who “see a space in the sports world where somebody cares about them and their concerns.”
Though, where is the evidence that ESPN’s leftward-lurch is being welcomed by anyone? According to a recent survey by sports media analyst Jason Barrett, nearly 61% of respondents described the political influence of ESPN’s programming as “left-leaning.” Moreover, when asked about the current state of ESPN’s TV programs, over 97% said they feel less enthusiastic about it with 69.9% saying that they either hate the TV lineup and don’t watch anymore, or consider it weak and have lost interest. It will be difficult to make the case that there’s a market for leftist politics in sports, when the vast majority of people identify your product as liberal and a crushing majority think your product is unwatchable.
Moore refutes Fox Sports 1’s broadcaster Clay Travis’ recent assertion that, “full three-quarters of ESPN’s sports audience either doesn’t care or is actively opposed to the intermingling of leftwing politics and sports.” Moore points to a 2015 Gallup Poll which showed “60% of Democrats and 58% of self-identified liberals consider themselves to be sports fans. And, critically, 51% of women and 62% of non-white respondents said they consider themselves sports fans.” Moore concludes that you can’t come up with “75% of ESPN’s core sports audience,” without taking these fans into account.
Yet, what Moore fails to recognize is that just because there are large percentages of sports fans who claim political affiliation, it doesn’t mean that they want someone else’s politics, or even their own, intermingled with their sports coverage. Someone might think blacks are treated unfairly by law enforcement, but it doesn’t mean when he turns on a football game he wants his escape time spoiled by endless commentary on how Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem leans more patriotic than treasonous, or whatever else is the social justice warrior item of the day.
Perhaps the most idiotic claim of The Guardian writer is that Skip Bayless, Jason Whitlock, and Colin Cowherd are actually conservatives. Moore contends that though they may have reputations for being mavericks and anti-political correctness, by no stretch of the imagination are they conservative.
Jason Whitlock is a staunch critic of the Second Amendment. The Fox Sports 1 so-called conservative journalist said in a podcast in 2012, “You know, I did not go as far as I’d like to go because of my thoughts on the NRA and America’s gun culture — I believe the NRA is the new KKK. And that the arming of so many black youths, uh, and loading up our community with drugs, and then just having an open shooting gallery, is the work of people who obviously don’t have our best interests [at heart].”
Whitlock was the inspiration for Bob Costas’ infamous halftime anti-gun rant. Does that sound like a conservative to you? Gun rights expert and avid Second Amendment defender, AWR Hawkins, would tell you conservatives believe that taking guns from law abiding citizens make the vulnerable more vulnerable, not less.
Moreover, Cowherd once said HBO wasn’t a liberal network, and claimed the only reason why people enlist in the military is because they have no other options. Americans who enlist, according to Cowherd, don’t enter for reasons such as family history of service, a desire to give back to their country, or to gain life experience or training. Cowherd sized up the most patriotic decision a young person can make in his life by saying, “We know most people that go into the military in this country — they need the military often to pay bills. That is is almost a federal safety net financially, and by the way, you’ll take shots. You’ll be sent two or three times to a raging inferno in the Middle East. That stuff scares me. That stuff I’m worried about. There’s loss of life there.”
So, the idea that FS1 poached these guys to be the conservative alternative to ESPN is absurd. In fact, even Clay Travis, whom the Guardian describes as if he’s the demon spawn of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, is no conservative. Clay Travis has spoken openly about supporting Bill Clinton, voting for Obama twice, as well as voting for Gary Johnson in the last election. Voting for Gary Johnson might make you a conservative at The Guardian, but it does not anywhere else.
Try again, Guardian. Or don’t.