ESPN’s Dan Le Batard did not stick to sports on Thursday.
The longtime Miami Herald columnist and ESPN radio and TV host went on a rant during his Thursday radio broadcast, speaking passionately against President Trump’s attacks on four minority congresswomen, the chants of “send her back” at a Trump rally and ESPN’s “cowardly” policy regarding political talk.
“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 ...” Le Batard told his listeners. “Nobody talks politics, on anything, unless we can use one these sports figures as a meat shield, in the most cowardly possible way to discuss these subjects. But what happened last night at this rally is deeply offensive, done by the president of our country.”
Stop what you're doing and watch this.@LeBatardShow responds to the racist "Send her back" and "Go back to your country" attacks against Ilhan Omar and other congresswomen.— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) July 18, 2019
"If you're not calling it abhorrent, obviously racist, dangerous rhetoric, you're complicit." pic.twitter.com/ntOC2Seg3b
Le Batard, whose parents are Cuban exiles, added: “This is deeply offensive to me as somebody whose parents made all the sacrifices to get to this country. Send her back? How are you any more American than her? You’re more privileged? You’re whiter? You’re richer? ... You’ve had every privilege afforded to you by America, every privilege! And now what you do with that power is you go after brown people and black people and minorities? And around here we won’t talk about it?”
ESPN has not commented on Le Batard’s remarks.
Le Batard seems to know what he’s getting himself into by making such comments. He referenced former “SportsCenter” host Jemele Hill, who apologized in 2017 for using Twitter to suggest that Trump is a white supremacist and a bigot. Later that year, Hill was suspended for two weeks after suggesting on Twitter that Dallas Cowboys fans could boycott after owner Jerry Jones said players who “disrespect the flag” wouldn’t get to play.
Hill left “SportsCenter” in January 2018 and departed ESPN in September. She currently writes for the Atlantic.
ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro told The Times in May 2018: “Without question our data tells us our fans do not want us to cover politics. My job is to provide clarity. I really believe that some of our talent was confused on what was expected of them. If you fast-forward to today, I don’t believe they are confused.”
But Le Batard said Thursday his message is not political.
“This isn’t about politics, it’s about race — what you’re seeing happening around here is about race and it’s been turned into politics. And we only talk about it around here when Steve Kerr or [Gregg] Popovich says something,” Le Batard said, referring to the politically outspoken NBA coaches. “We don’t talk about what is happening unless there’s some sort of weak, cowardly sports angle that we can run it through.”
He added: “It is antithetical to what we should be, and if you’re not calling it abhorrent, obviously racist, dangerous rhetoric, you’re complicit.”