ESPN had such a problem with their on-air talent engaging in inflammatory political rhetoric and debates, they went to the trouble of crafting a new policy regarding political comments on all “public-facing” media forums.
How have ESPN personalities observed the new political commentary guidelines? Well, as soon as someone actually observes them, we’ll let you know.
New ESPN hire Katie Nolan appeared on Viceland’s “Desus & Mero” late night comedy show, on Wednesday. During a discussion about memes and hand gestures that could be interpreted as white supremacist signs, the conversation turned to the thumbs-up symbol.
According to Sporting News, “One of the co-hosts told Nolan a thumbs-up means ‘white power,’ noting President Trump often uses the gesture.”
Nolan replied, “That’s because he’s a f—— stupid person.” Prior to saying that, Nolan referred to Trump in language that got bleeped out.
As Sporting News notes, “There’s a difference between someone criticizing the president in a dead serious tone and someone joking around on a late night comedy show. And the Emmy-winning Nolan, who joined ESPN from rival Fox Sports three months ago, was clearly having fun. (Watch the video below.) During the same bit, she joked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is probably ‘not that bright’ and that she’s on a lot of ‘meds’ for a head cold.”
However, the ESPN political commentary rules don’t make allowances for comedy shows vs. serious shows; or whether the personality made the political comment with a smile on their face, or a sneer.
To refresh our memory, here’s what the revised ESPN rules regarding political commentary actually say:
Commentaries on relevant sports-related issues are appropriate, but we should refrain from overt partisanship or endorsement of particular candidates, politicians or political parties.
The presentation should be thoughtful and respectful. We should offer balance or recognize opposing views, as warranted. We should avoid personal attacks and inflammatory rhetoric.
Communication with producers and editors must take place prior to commentary on any political or social issues to manage volume and ensure a fair and effective presentation.
It’s hard to see how Nolan’s characterization of Trump as a “f*ck*ng stupid person,” is in-line with any of those rules. In fact, Nolan’s statement appears to violate all three clauses in part, or in full.
And, as Awful Announcing notes, “…the ESPN policy makes it clear it applies to ‘any public-facing forum.’” Despite the fact it’s a comedy, the Viceland show would certainly qualify as a “public-facing forum.”
Will ESPN actually discipline Nolan for her outburst? Probably not. However, if an ESPN employee can call the president of the United States “a f*ck*ng stupid person” without consequence; then what’s the point of having a political commentary policy?