It’s become a popular opinion in many circles, that ESPN has is nothing but a liberal cable news network punctuated by occasional sports coverage. However, Monday Night Football announcer Sean McDonough insists, that all that talk is “a bunch of nonsense.”
In a recent interview, McDonough waved off claims that ESPN executives have mandated that the network’s product must conform to liberal political ideals. The announcer insists that he’s never been told to inject liberal politics into his NFL coverage, according to Awful Announcing.
McDonough was also asked if he’s ever tempted to inject his personal political views into his on-air work. McDonough took that opportunity to shoot down the notion that that ESPN directs their talent to infuse politics into their coverage:
Yeah, I know there’s been a lot of attention in recent years about ESPN and the supposed political leanings of the company or the network. You know, I’ve been there for a long time and I have never been involved in any one conversation with any management person about it. Other than seminars when they’ve told us that generally good topics to stay away from are religion, politics, whatever it might be. I think most of us, you don’t want to use profanity. It’s just things that are common sense. And to me, I don’t think…people tune in to watch the game, and I think we should just stay with the game.
McDonough added that “if there’s somebody in the game who’s wife just got elected as the mayor of some big city,” then the announcers just might mention it, but that is current events, not politics. Still, he insisted that he “won’t go there” and start discussing his political views on the air.
He noted that he doesn’t think fans care about an announcer’s politics and that talking politics during a game, is “out of place.”
With that said, though, he assured fans that no ESPN executive is forcing employees to go political on the air:
But I do think the whole notion of somehow ESPN is handing down directives to those of us on the air about what our political thoughts ought to be, that’s a bunch of nonsense. No one’s ever told me ‘You need to be liberal, you need to be conservative, you need to be a moderate,’ whatever. What they would prefer is that we keep it to ourselves for the most part. And I understand that and I’m totally comfortable with that
But, do ESPN executives have to tell on-air talent to veer to the left?
How hard is it for other employees in Bristol to see, that if you say and tweet the liberal things that Jemele Hill says and tweets. You get your own special edition of SportsCenter. Meanwhile, if you say the anti-Obama things that conservative Mike Ditka said, you get taken off NFL Countdown.
Is that a hard trend for reasonably intelligent people to follow?
After all, both ESPN’s top bosses have essentially handed the network its liberal marching orders by their leadership in deeds and words.
Despite the claims that ESPN is not a place for politics, the network confirmed that it would be full steam ahead with its left-wing content when ESPN President John Skipper said the network’s politics are a “value.”
In December of last year, Skipper reaffirmed that transgender politics and other left-wing ideas are “values,” and the company is going to stay the course.
“It is accurate that the Walt Disney Company and ESPN are committed to diversity and inclusion,” Skipper said last year. “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.”
In that same December 2016, story, ESPN’s Jim Brady admitted that conservative employees “feel the need to talk in whispers” to make sure fellow workers don’t hear them espousing conservative ideas.
More recently, the network promoted Connor Schell to the number two spot in the company. Schell is a well-known Trump hater and an extreme liberal who repeatedly uses his Twitter feed to slam President Trump.
So with the two outspoken liberals running the show, and the ESPN’s president saying that the network’s LGBT stance isn’t “politics,” but “a human stance.” It stands to reason that executives don’t have to go around bullying employees to lean to the left on the air.
It is clear what the network’s top men expect of their employees. They’ve said so by implication as well as in so many words.
One of the main results of this leadership, has been that ESPN has lost millions upon millions of subscribers.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.