According to reports from a private employee meeting held in Los Angeles on Wednesday, ESPN President John Skipper fired back at those he views as ESPN’s detractors. Specifically, Skipper harshly criticized President Trump, rival media boss Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, and Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage.
According to Travis, ESPN employees in attendance at the meeting informed him of what Skipper said at the meeting. The gathering of over 100 ESPN employees began with Skipper addressing the Jemele Hill controversy. Skipper, reportedly, led off by saying that despite his fondness for the outspoken host, she was suspended for urging a boycott of ESPN’s advertisers.
Skipper also attacked Clay Travis by name. Travis is a radio host, writer, and owner of the website Outkick The Coverage. It was Travis, who broke the story of ESPN pulling Asian-american broadcaster Robert Lee from a college football broadcast in Charlottesville. Because he shared the same name as non-Asian Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Without giving any specific examples, Skipper insisted that Travis spreads “misinformation devoted to destroying ESPN,” Travis reported in his coverage of the leaked meeting.
Skipper also went on to slam Fox Sports 1’s Jason Whitlock, Fox News host Tucker Carlson and made the claim that Fox News is losing more fans than ESPN. Skipper also told employees that he thinks there is a conspiracy between President Donald Trump and Fox News to harm ESPN all because Fox owner Rupert Murdoch is friendly with Trump.
The network chief also reiterated the standard ESPN proclamation that the network is “not a political organization.” Adding that he has the network on all day and never sees any on-air personality getting political. Sadly, with Skipper having either fired or demoted all overt conservatives at ESPN, he has no one there to tell him how biased his network is.
“More than half of the meeting and the question and answer session that followed,” Travis wrote of his insider’s report, “was about the political atmosphere at ESPN, and according to Outkick sources much of it completely endorsed left-wing politics and suggested anyone who didn’t have those same values was deserving of ridicule. In fact, Skipper made multiple jokes about Fox News and people in the audience laughed when those jokes were made.”
The contentious meeting featuring Skipper’s belligerent comments seems to show that the pressure is getting to the ESPN chief.
Meanwhile, the loss of subscribers the network is suffering is becoming epic. A year ago it was reported that ESPN lost over a million subscribers in just a two-month period. The report also noted that during that same period ESPN2 and ESPU had lost over 500,000 and 700,000 subscribers respectively.
By this year it was reported that ESPN lost over 13 million subscribers in the last six years due to a variety of reasons.
According to a July report at the Comeback, “ESPN declined 9 percent in prime time from 2016 (1.386 million vs. 1.526 million) and was the cabler’s least-watched second-quarter in four years.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.