ESPN Warns Against ‘Political Bias’ With Social Media Policy Update, Violates Policy on Same Day

Getty Images Laura Cavanaugh
Getty Images/Laura Cavanaugh

ESPN has often warned employees against displaying political bias on social media, but rarely enforced the rule expect against its conservative employees. Now the network is again reiterating its warning about bias in an update of its social media policies.

After several high profile cases of liberal bias by employees, ESPN has again noted its desire to have employees avoid exhibiting bias on social media. In a note to employees, the network warned its journalists to “refrain from discussing politics when using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”

“Our engagement on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram should be civil, responsible and without overt political or other biases that would threaten our or your credibility with the public,” the policy says according to Fox Business Network. “Do nothing that would undercut your colleagues’ work or embroil the company in unwanted controversy.”

The updated social media policy is not much different than past proclamations against bias on social media, a policy that many ESPN employees have ignored with impunity.

Most recently, ESPN host Jemele Hill ignored the past proscriptions two times in a matter of only a few weeks. Early in September, Hill jumped to Twitter to call President Donald Trump a “white supremacist,” a posting that earned her some criticism but no action at all by her employers.

In fact, not only did Hill receive no punishment from ESPN for breaking the company’s social media bias policy, the CEO of ESPN’s owner, Disney chief Bob Iger, intervened to make sure she got no punishment.

Only weeks later, Hill was at it again posting a series of tweets essentially calling for a boycott of ESPN’s advertisers to facilitate more NFL national anthem protests.

For the second violation, ESPN levied a short two-week suspension of the host.

In fact, Thursday evening, the same day the network announced the new policy, day ESPN host Sarah Spain took to social media and called the rogue Twitter employee who temporarily shut down President Trump’s account, “Hero.”

Still, all these liberal ESPN journalists have received favorable treatment, indeed, compared to how the network treated several conservative employees over the last year or so.

Last year, for instance, former Chicago Bears great Mike Ditka was removed from ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown after he said that Barack Obama was the worst president in history. And former Boston Red Sox star Curt Schilling was similarly dismissed by ESPN’s bosses after several conservative-minded posts to social media, the last one concerning the debate over transgenderism.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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