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The Ringer Says ESPN Discriminates Against Black People

In a 4,000-word profile about failed TV and radio host Bomani Jones, The Ringer claims that ESPN is racist against black people.

“There are detailed accounts of the discrimination black employees have experienced at ESPN,” said some guy writing for The Ringer.

“Some of the network’s most high-profile black talent—Jemele Hill, Michael Smith, Cari Champion, Maria Taylor—has left in recent years. Because even though the network presents great opportunities (i.e., you can get paid), it can be restrictive to the point of exhaustion. ‘They sign my check, so I can’t just go open fire on ESPN when they do something I don’t like,’ Jones [said].”

This entire paragraph is dishonest and uninformed. Let’s take it step by step:

The Ringer hyperlinks to Maria Taylor’s contract negotiations to give a “detailed account” of discrimination against black employees. Well, if Taylor’s situation is an example of discrimination, everyone should hope ESPN discriminates against them next. The hyperlink does not demonstrate discrimination but privilege.

ESPN offered Maria Taylor $5 million a year, $4 million more than any competing network had offered her. Taylor turned down this offer because she wanted $8 million a year, equal to Stephen A. Smith. Plus, ESPN had forced several talents to take a pay cut during the pandemic, so it was already making an exception by offering Taylor a significant raise.

Taylor’s team tried to extort money from ESPN by releasing a year-old audio clip of Rachel Nichols saying ESPN picked Taylor to host the NBA Finals over her because she is white and Taylor is black.

ESPN is so racist that it chose Taylor, a black woman, over Nichols, a white woman, and then fired Nichols for noticing. That’s The Ringer’s first example of the discriminatory practices at ESPN.

Though The Ringer also draws attention to other “high-profile black talents” who have left ESPN, it doesn’t mention the 30+ white on-air talents ESPN has released over the same time period, including Mike Golic, Trey Wingo and Ron Jaworski. And ESPN didn’t even cut Hill, Smith, Taylor and Champion anyway. They each left of their own accord.

Taylor left ESPN to host Football Night in America and the Olympics at NBC. Poor her.

Hill refused to stop injecting politics into her commentary on ESPN and then decided she wanted out of the network altogether. So she agreed to a buyout worth more than $5 million.

Hill knew she could make more money shaming major corporations into paying her, as she’s doing now at CNN, The Atlantic, Spotify and ironically, The Ringer.

For his part, Hill’s former SC6 co-host Michael Smith refused to appear on ESPN programming after the network canceled his show for very low ratings. Anyway, Smith also got around $5 million in a buyout.

ESPN planned to keep Cari Champion, despite her notorious mistreatment of producers, but Champion declined an extension offer in 2020.

So none of the talents The Ringer lists are victims. They all chose to leave ESPN after making millions of dollars for content no one consumed.

The whole piece reads as a favor to Bomani Jones. ESPN is paying Jones a lot of money to host a podcast while he works for HBO simultaneously. His ratings on HBO have been a disaster thus far, but our focus here is ESPN. Jones is not producing material worth seven figures. This is why he must issue veiled threats at ESPN executives instead.

The more that outlets like The Ringer make baseless accusations of racism against ESPN, the better the chances that ESPN continues to pay Jones well above his worth. The Ringer published this puff-piece not only to distract from Jones’ failures but to assist in his next negotiations with ESPN.

This piece puts ESPN on notice. Pay Bomani Jones, regardless of his ratings or performance, or risk further claims of racism.

Everybody knows ESPN does not actually discriminate against black employees. All it takes is one glance at its list of hosts and analysts to see that black people are not, in fact, underrepresented on ESPN.

The Ringer lied so that Bomani Jones can have better job security.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

15 Comments

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  1. I watched 5 minutes of Jones’s new HBO show so I could make an informed comment. The show is exactly what anyone who’s ever watched or listened to him would expect. Race baiting, trashing whites, blaming whites for anything and everything when it comes to blacks not being as successful as he thinks they should be. Just good old racist garbage and victimhood to the max. So sick of the whining and poor me bullshit. The guy should be grateful to be a millionaire with the lack of talent he possesses. He is the epitome of an affirmative action hire just like Jemele Hill and many others. Moral of the story, save yourself the time and the sanity and do NOT watch this clown.

  2. “Extortion” be it financially to Fortune 500 companies or thru the media like this drivel apparently WORKS … so why would / should “they” stop doing t. BLM raked in 100s of million$$$ using a form of lead pipe extortion that dwarfed what Jesse Jackson did back in the 70-80s.
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    We can express all the OMG OMG OMG outrage we want to and it won’t stop “them” so long asit WORKS for them.
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    Welcome to America 2022.
    .

  3. ESPN is racist against black people the same way that the NBA is racist against black people. The Ringer, once upon a time, was a quality site with both sports and entertainment content. Now its just another RAAAAAAAAYYYYYYSISM progressive cesspool

  4. The only time I ever watch ESPN is when the gym TV is already tuned to it. But basically every show I see has a black person on it. I don’t see how that happens in a country where black people make up only 13% of the population if ESPN is discriminating against black people.

    Far more likely is that they’re discriminating against white/asian people.

    • Same. The only non-game programming I intentionally watch is PTI. But you’re right. I have been subjected to NBA Today on many a lunch hour. The sound is off, but even still I can tell Chiney Ogwumike brings nothing but annoyance to the table. But, in all fairness, most of the ESPN experts do that. Hell, they have a QB who went 0-16 posing as the end-all-to-be-all in NFL talent judgment. Who thinks putting on a pair of glasses makes him smarter

  5. I can’t stand Steven A but I can’t say the guy isn’t talented and doesn’t deserve to be on air. The cast of characters listed in this article are some of the least talented, most dim witted, and tedious to ever appear on TV. Maria Taylor isn’t talented enough to merit a show on a public access channel let alone any major network.

  6. Black people have a helluva grift going. I’m a victim, pay me millions or I scream racism. Or I call for a boycott-pay me. Funny how they are the only race that cries constantly about being a victim.

  7. Blacks are never ever happy notice any other race that is constantly whining even though they get special treatment and if things don’t go their way its straight to looting burning and assaulting people right you don’t see any other race conducting themselves like that

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