ESPN To Host Town Hall To Address Accusations That It Mistreats Black Employees

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Well, here’s an event full of lies.

As first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro emailed his staff about steps the company has made “to improve the experiences of black employees at ESPN.”

Pitaro, who is the most powerful person at ESPN after Maria Taylor, also told employees that the network is planning a town hall to address diversity and inclusion later this month.

Here’s Pitaro’s full memo:


I am reaching out today knowing that recent events have left many of you concerned about our commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging.

We respect and acknowledge there are a variety of feelings about what happened and the actions we took. The details of what took place last year are confidential, nuanced and complicated personnel matters.

But understand this – we have a much better story than what you’ve seen this week. Exactly one year after announcing the actions of the Black Employee and Consumer Experience (BECE) initiative, we want to make sure you are aware of the critical progress we’ve made…even though we know we have much more work to do.

Before I get into the details, I do want to be clear on one thing: Maria Taylor was selected as NBA Countdown host last year because she earned it. Please know our commitment is that assignments and opportunities at ESPN are based on merit and any concerns, remarks, or inferences that suggest otherwise have been and will continue to be addressed.

With the BECE initiative – a program designed to improve the experiences of Black employees at ESPN – we promised transparency in sharing our progress. I wanted to give a quick summary on our efforts to date:

Every function developed an action plan specific to their group with concrete measures of success and timelines.

Since we began offering the Inclusion & Belonging @ESPN training last fall, we’ve had over 96% of people leaders complete it and nearly 40% of individual contributors.

Strengthening and growing PULSE membership and influence is key to the BECE’s Culture pillar, and PULSE has added almost 200 new members this past year, growing their ERG 40% year over year. That’s probably the greatest annual growth we have ever seen in an ERG. Highly-engaged PULSE ERG members also helped us pilot the new Mentoring Circles program, which we just rolled out to all ERGs.

We started our second MORE mentorship cohort this fall, meeting our goal of over-indexing on diverse talent, with 47% of the 53 participants identifying as Black or African American.

We’ve begun a deep dive into the past year of exit interviews to understand any patterns and issues we can address. 

We’re seeing progress in our hiring numbers as a result of looking closely at our talent practices. Of the 116 offers accepted year-to-date, 52% are people of color and 42% are female.

63% of our executive leadership team are women and/or people of color.
 I highly recommend you take a few minutes to watch this video (taped several weeks ago) to get the latest update.

We invested heavily in this effort and we asked every employee – from the highest levels of leadership to those just starting with the company – to back this D&I plan. Everyone owns inclusion. It’s the way you treat your colleagues, how you champion your team, how you welcome new ideas and people, and how you make others feel. Each of us is responsible for creating a culture and climate that thrives.

By being proud of this progress we’re not trying to minimize how people are feeling. If you have concerns, it is very important to raise them with your leaders, with your HR Business Partners, or with our Diversity & Inclusion team—we need your help. Our job is to support you and make ESPN the place we all want it to be – and we can’t do that if your concerns aren’t raised.

The goal of this note is to ensure everyone understands where we are at this moment and to know that we have an ongoing focus on improving, and a commitment to listening. We plan to address diversity and inclusion at an upcoming ESPN town hall later this month, and we will continue to have focused conversations with the Black and African American community at ESPN in the coming weeks. As always, we value an open and honest dialogue.

Change takes time, and I ask for your partnership on this journey. Know that our leadership is committed to accelerating our efforts and working toward a collective goal – an ESPN where everyone feels they belong.



“I do want to be clear on one thing,” Pitaro says. “Maria Taylor was selected as NBA Countdown host last year because she earned it. Please know our commitment is that assignments and opportunities at ESPN are based on merit and any concerns, remarks, or inferences that suggest otherwise have been and will continue to be addressed.”

Hmm. How exactly did Taylor, who had been covering college football, “earn” the NBA Countdown job over Rachel Nichols, who has covered the NBA for decades and had the job in her contract?

Hopefully, ESPN employees will read Pitaro’s line and laugh as I just did. He’s lying.

Pitaro’s entire memo is absurd. Black people are not held back or treated poorly at ESPN. ESPN’s highest-paid talent, Stephen A. Smith, is black. Smith makes $12 million a year.

The vast majority of ESPN analysts are black.

Seven of ESPN’s most promoted personalities under the age of 40 are black: Maria Taylor, Malika Andrews, Marcus Spears, Chiney Ogwumike, Elle Duncan, Kim Martin, and Domonique Foxworth.

ESPN is offering Maria Taylor more than three times what it pays Laura Rutledge, whose resume is similar to Taylor’s. ESPN lets Mark Jones and Jalen Rose tweet racist nonsense because the company is afraid to address them. ESPN is desperate to re-sign each black talent, while happily cutting ties with other races.

So, I ask: how are black people mistreated at ESPN?

By the way, will anyone at this town hall address that ESPN refused to bring back Mike Golic, Bobby Carpenter, Trey Wingo, and 18 others because they view white guys as expendable given the lack of coverage upon their releases.

I had a lot of respect for Jimmy Pitaro early on, as did many at ESPN. Now, he’s a frightened man who is bowing to easily debunkable lies spread by Maria Taylor, Jemele Hill, and Cari Champion.


Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics..

Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.


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  1. The target market/demographic for that channel is plainly obvious & likely the only one that watches their terrible studio shows and really anything outside of College Gameday and live events. For God’s sake just change the name and corporate branding to BESPN and GET IT THE FUCK OVER WITH.

  2. Reading Jimmy’s stats on their “inclusive” workplace and again in Bobby’s run-down on the number of black employees in high-paid and influential positions, I’m curious to know what there is to do “to improve the experiences of black employees at ESPN.”???

  3. Stephen A. Smith can make blatantly racist comments with impunity while Rachel Nichols can’t even say what’s on her mind in private but ESPN is going to address black employees being unfairly treated.

    ESPN is a total clown show.

  4. “even though we know we have much more work to do.”

    Oh, that word “work”. Scary how often that word shows up in corporate flim-flam emails these days… Enjoy your “work” in the gulags in about 20 years, people…

    “63% of our executive leadership team are women and/or people of color.”

    How could that possibly be considered ‘fair’? Clearly, their hiring practices are discriminatory.

  5. There is nothing better than 8 pages of non-sense breaking every single thing down to race and gender, and then closing with “but it will always be about picking the best person for the job.” Is that level of hypocrisy now so normal we gloss right over it?

  6. It never ceases to amaze me how absolutely terrified white liberals are of black people. What is this sissy, Pitaro, afraid of, being shot or beaten up? Those black employees won’t be satisfied until it is a completely black network with blacks owning it. I wonder how Pitaro’s penis fell off or did he have it surgically removed.

  7. I’m sorry I couldn’t finish reading through that statement without throwing up all over everything. The have disillusioned themselves into thinking this is the hill worth dying on. And their network is dying. For nothing.

  8. Is there a network on the air that panders to leftist black viewpoints more than ESPN? They make BET look like Newsmax by comparison. And THEY’RE going to have a town hall on mistreatment of black employees? DW Griffith couldn’t have come up with such clownish lunacy.

  9. This is so funny it’s almost not believable but we know it’s true. What a friggin dumpster fire espn has become. They replaced most of their white employees with racist minorities. Which is fine. If that’s what they’re going for good for them. But to pretend like they mistreat black employees is fucking hilarious. They over pay the shit out of them. And promote them over others who are more qualified. Again if that’s the direction they want to go in more power to them. But spare me bullshit. Own it. Liberals are so fucking crazy.

  10. What a bunch of hogwash. The preferential treatment of minorities and women over white people is the only reason that I seldom watch sports anymore. They obviously discriminate against white folks. I have no problems with equal footing for everyone. But, it has not been equal for many years.

  11. Couldn’t even finish the “statement”..I’m old now and I remember when sports was EVERYTHING to me but woke broadcasters/commissioners/athletes and stations like MESPN have made me turn away…Having a hard time leaving baseball, it’s in my blood, but Manfred is softening the blow..The NFL and NBA are dead to me tho I still enjoy hockey…Never thought they’d beat it outta me, I know I’m not your demographic anymore but….Congratulations Aholes

  12. cnn DOES mistreat blacks. By perpetuating and enabling the victimhood narrative, they are depriving black employees of the opportunity to work hard and be the best they can be. We’ll see how that business model continues to play out… their tanking ratings are a tell tale sign…

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