Dan Le Batard did not appear on his ESPN radio show Monday, four days after using the platform to rant about 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.
Le Batard made the decision after speaking numerous times with ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro over the weekend, according to the Washington Post, which cited an unnamed ESPN official.
The source also told the Post that Le Batard, who did appear on his show the day after making the controversial comments, had not been suspended and is expected to appear on his afternoon TV show, “Highly Questionable.”
Although ESPN has not discussed Le Batard’s comments publicly, the Associated Press has reported that the company issued employees a reminder of its policy to avoid political talk. But the Post contacted several on-air personalities at the network and all said they did not receive such a notice and did not know of anyone who had.
Le Batard seemed pretty familiar with the company’s policy last week. He just chose to both ignore and criticize it.
“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 said Thursday on his radio show. “Nobody talks politics, on anything, unless we can use one of 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.”
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.”
A similar situation took place two years ago, when SportsCenter host Jemele Hill used Twitter to suggest that Trump is a white supremacist and a bigot. She later apologized. Soon after, then-ESPN president John Skipper issued a memo telling employees to avoid “inflammatory” comments on social media.
About a month later, Hill was suspended for two weeks for 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.