Nearly two weeks ago, ESPN President John Skipper shocked the media world by suddenly resigning from his position at the “Worldwide Leader.”
At the time, Skipper said he needed to resign to deal with substance abuse issues.
In a statement, Skipper said:
I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.
I have disclosed that decision to the company, and we mutually agreed that it was appropriate that I resign. I will always appreciate the human understanding and warmth that Bob (Iger) displayed here and always.
I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down.
As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.
To my colleagues at ESPN, it has been a privilege. I take great pride in your accomplishments and have complete confidence in your collective ability to continue ESPN’s success.
This explanation seemed rather suspicious. Since Skipper had just signed a major contract extension the month before his resignation.
At the time, Breitbart Sports noted:
The timing of Skipper’s resignation seems a bit of a mystery. Skipper had just signed a multi-year contract extension in November. How does one develop a long-term substance problem in a month? Perhaps ESPN just became aware of Skipper’s issue in the last month, though, that too would seem unlikely. Moreover, it’s likely that ESPN would at least attempt to offer some kind of counseling as opposed to compelling Skipper to resign, if they just found out about Skipper’s issue after signing him to a brand new deal.
Could there be something another, bigger story behind this announcement?
Well, Clay Travis of Fox Sports Radio and Outkick the Coverage reports that there is something bigger indeed, behind Skipper’s resignation. Travis reports that in the days following Skipper’s announcement, several reports came to him offering a much different explanation for Skipper’s immediate departure.
“In the next couple of days I was told by multiple sources I trust inside ESPN that the reason for Skipper’s “resignation” was because of sexual harassment issues inside the company. In the wake of the Boston Globe story about sexual harassment I was told Skipper’s own issues suddenly emerged and that was why the resignation happened so abruptly.
And ESPN decided to blame substance abuse issues instead.”
Travis also poked a hole in Skipper/ESPN’s “substance abuse” claim by tweeting photos from a tipster, which appear to show Skipper and ESPN radio host Dan LeBatard at a bar in North Carolina:
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) December 30, 2017
As Travis writes:
A trip out to have a couple of drinks with your friend would all be perfectly normal and a total non-story except for the fact that Skipper just resigned from ESPN 11 days ago citing his struggles with substance addiction and his desire to get help for that addiction.
Now maybe Skipper wasn’t addicted to alcohol — and it was some other drug instead — but if you have such an issue with substance addiction that you need to immediately resign from ESPN should you really be out drinking 11 days later with one of the most prominent employees at your former company? And if you’re Skipper’s good friend, Dan LeBatard, would you let your friend go out drinking with you if you knew he had a true issue with substance abuse and you were crying about it on your radio show 11 days ago?
That seems highly unlikely.
That does indeed seem unlikely. ESPN wouldn’t be unique among major media and entertainment organizations, for forcing out high-profile executives or performers over sexual harassment charges. After all, the last few months have seen dozens of actors, journalists, comedians, politicians, and others, face removal for some form of sexual misconduct.
So why lie about it? If in fact, ESPN is lying about the reasons for Skipper’s resignation?
The answer may be found higher up the food chain. Disney CEO Bob Iger is a rumored 2020 Democrat presidential candidate. Considering how crucial the female vote is, especially in a Democratic primary, one would think that Iger would move aggressively to quash any potentially damaging sexual harassment scandal at one of his larger networks.
Would Iger engage in that type of politically-calculated micromanagement?
Well, he’s done it before.
In the weeks after Jemele Hill called President Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter, Iger personally intervened to prevent Hill’s suspension. Now, why would Iger do that?
Could it be because of Iger’s concern that the optics of suspending Hill, who is black, for criticizing President Trump; could be interpreted as Iger siding with Trump against a black female employee? Which would leave his Democrat primary opponents with a strong and heavy argument that he’s not the right candidate to protect black people from the “cruel and racist” Republicans?
That seems like an extremely plausible theory.
And if that seems like a plausible theory, is it so far-fetched that Iger would concoct a story about substance abuse to conceal a high-profile sexual harassment scandal, which may or may not extend far beyond John Skipper?
Doesn’t seem like that big of a stretch at all, does it?