ESPN TV and radio host Dan Le Batard is not happy with his network’s policy on political discussions in the wake of the “send her back” chant that erupted during Donald Trump’s campaign rally this week, which was an attack on Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
On his radio show Thursday, Le Batard, who is the son of Cuban immigrants, condemned the network’s “cowardly” policy limiting on-air personalities from engaging in political discussion.
“What happened last night, this felt un-American. It’s not the America that my parents aimed to get for us, for exiles, for brown people. There’s a racial division in this country that’s being instigated by the president and we here at ESPN haven’t had the stomach for that fight because Jemele [Hill] did some things on Twitter, and you saw what happened after that and then here, all of a sudden, nobody talks politics on anything unless they use one of these sports figures as a meat shield in the most cowardly possible way to discuss these subjects.“
Former ESPN SportsCenter anchor Jemele Hill criticized Trump on Twitter in 2017, calling him “a white supremacist.” She was suspended for her comments and has since left the network.
Le Batard continued:
“It is so wrong what the president of our country is doing, trying to go down getting reelected by dividing the masses, at a time when the old white man, the old, rich white man, feels oppressed being attacked by minorities. Black people, brown people, women: That’s who we’re going after now. Black people, brown people, women: Let’s do it, as the platform.
That’s what you’re seeing. And the only way we can discuss it around here- because this isn’t about politics, it’s about race – what you’re seeing happening around here is about race, and it has been turned into politics. And we only talk about it around here when Steve Kerr or [Gregg] Popovich says something. We don’t talk about what is happening unless there’s some sort of weak, cowardly sports angle that we can run it through – when sports has been a place where this stuff changes.”
Le Batard believes it is a duty of sports broadcasters to comment on race relations. He also spoke about athletes like Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali and Colin Kaepernick, who have used their platforms to address race and other social problems in the United States.
LeBatard was absent from the first hour of his show Friday. Some speculated that he might have been suspended.
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