ESPN Chief Claims Network is ‘Responding to Change,’ but Politics Not a Problem


ESPN’s president says that all the layoffs and retooling show that his network is addressing its problems in a “realist” manner. But, despite the recognition that the network faces major problems, none of that retooling will take aim at one of its customers chief complaints: the network’s liberal bias.

In an appearance before ESPN’s media buyers, ESPN chief John Skipper insisted that the nearly 40-year-old sports network is working hard to address its shortcomings. “The current environment forces us to be realists as well as optimists,” he insisted, The Hollywood Reporter said.

“Let me be up front at this upfront — ESPN is responding to change, and we are making changes from the most dramatic position of strength,” he added.

These admissions come only weeks after ESPN laid off over 100 on-air personalities and sports reporters in an epic move deemed “more than a bloodbath,” late in April.

The layoffs came just before Disney’s second-quarter financial report, and also on the heels of the company’s announcement of a major financial deficit due to high costs of keeping the sports cable network afloat.

ESPN has steadily lost ground and profitability over the last decade, losing over 10,000 subscribers a month while being saddled with hundreds of millions in broadcast fees levied by the various national leagues. ESPN has reportedly lost over 12 million subscribers over the last five years alone.

Many fans have said they have lost interest in ESPN because of the avalanche of liberal talking points that constantly roll out of the mouths and pens of the network’s contributors. Indeed, several new polls have shown that fans with a center-right ideology have abandoned the channel.

In one case, a recent poll of sports fans found that Republicans have lost confidence in the sports channel’s brand name, and just last week a review of viewers in a swing state market showed that center-right fans have stopped watching ESPN in large numbers.

But, Skipper made no mention at all about the network’s liberal bias problem. This may not be surprising because in the past, Skipper has promised that he won’t lift a finger to end the bias.

“It is accurate that the Walt Disney Company and ESPN are committed to diversity and inclusion,” Skipper said in an article published last year by network ombudsman Jim Brady. “These are long-standing values that drive fundamental fairness while providing us with the widest possible pool of talent to create the smartest and most creative staff. We do not view this as a political stance but as a human stance. We do not think tolerance is the domain of a particular political philosophy.”

Clearly, Skipper has no intention of putting a lid on his network’s liberal content.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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