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Maria Taylor Can Continue As ‘The Unicorn’ If She Avoids Nailing Herself To The Same Cross As Michelle Beadle And Jemele Hill

Maria Taylor enjoys the exact same privilege that catapulted Erin Andrews to television stardom. 

Taylor is tall, attractive and quite personable on television. Her career as a collegiate volleyball and basketball player at Georgia adds to her credibility as a sideline reporter and NBA host.

But let’s don’t kid ourselves. The 33-year-old Taylor would not be the host of NBA Countdown, nor would she vote on the league’s most prestigious awards, if she were short, unattractive and grumpy. 

Jason Whitlock, at age 33, 43 or 53, could not get any of the jobs ESPN has handed Taylor. Neither could a long list of highly qualified female sports journalists who I will not name. 

Beauty, most especially in television, has a privilege that trumps virtually all other privileges. Beauty intoxicates TV executives, bloggers and journalists, and it masks a lack of accomplishment, qualifications and skill. Beauty transformed Katie Nolan from bartender to seven-figure personality, Emmy Award-winner and the darling of aroused bloggers and TV critics willing to ignore her pedestrian humor and inability to execute live television. 

I bring all this up because the most talented, young female sports-TV host, Maria Taylor, is in the process of undermining her meteoric rise by wallowing in victimhood. Taylor forgot to name Lakers center Anthony Davis to her first, second or third-team all-NBA ballot. Fox Sports radio host Doug Gottlieb criticized Taylor’s gaffe, asking an obvious question: 

“Why does Maria Taylor have a vote?” Gottlieb tweeted. “Real question. She is a studio host/sideline reporter in her first year covering the NBA. She works a ton, not just on the league. No reason for her to have a vote.”

Gottlieb’s question is legitimate, and it’s not mean-spirited. Taylor responded to Gottlieb’s tweet defiantly.

“Because I PLAYED basketball… I COVER the league. And I DESERVE everything I’ve worked hard for.”

As it relates to NBA voting privileges, Taylor hasn’t worked hard for that. The super-woke NBA gifted Taylor the privilege because ESPN fast-tracked Taylor into the job of NBA Countdown host. The NBA would rather hand a high-profile female journalist an opportunity rather than have her earn it with several years of credible work.

It’s a combination of female privilege and beauty privilege in the age of the matriarchy. 

Let me clarify my long-held position on Maria Taylor. She’s the most talented person to hold ESPN’s coveted College Gameday sideline job. She’s an on-air natural. Unlike Andrews, who is a terrific sideline reporter, Taylor is also a skilled host. 

There’s nothing on television Taylor cannot do. She’s a unicorn. 

The only thing that can stop Maria Taylor from enjoying a long, successful TV career is if she goes the path of Michelle Beadle and starts taking herself way too seriously.

For the most part, people watch people on TV who they believe share their values and sensibilities. TV executives call it likeability. When a consumer turns on a television, they’re inviting the hosts into their homes. People do not consistently invite angry people into their homes. 

Sports fans don’t invite non-sports fans into their homes when they want to enjoy sports. Beadle made it obvious she doesn’t like sports or sports fans, particularly football fans. She thinks they’re stupid and racist. It’s the same mistake Jemele Hill made.

I never question whether Taylor likes sports. I am starting to question whether she likes sports fans. This is the danger of sports hosts wearing their Twitter-approved political and racial point of view on television and across social media. You decrease and limit your audience. You serve a niche. You pander to the Twitter mob that foolishly tries to end racism with racism. 

A week ago, an unknown Chicago shock jock, Dan McNeil, tweeted criticism of an outfit Taylor wore as a Monday Night Football sideline reporter. On her subsequent NBA Countdown show, Taylor played the victim and Jalen Rose gave her flowers as a show of support.

It was all a narcissism-driven mistake. Far less than 1 percent of her Countdown audience would even recognize McNeil’s name and even fewer still knew of his tweet criticizing Taylor.

But Taylor is starting to take herself quite seriously. She wrongly believes any criticism of her is an example of systemic misogyny and racism. The blue-check media fuel her delusion. Gottlieb’s Fox Sports colleague Rachel Bonnetta attacked him over his Taylor tweet.

“Doug, do you ever write a tweet and think… hmmm maybe not…? This should have been one of those times because it comes across as extremely sexist and quite ignorant.” 

Gottlieb’s tweet is actually the opposite of sexism. He’s holding Taylor to the same standard he would any man. If a man had made the same mistake as Taylor, he would be accused of being lazy and/or racist. In 2013, Gary Washburn had to explain why he voted Carmelo Anthony MVP over LeBron James. In 2016, there was a nationwide manhunt for the three baseball writers who failed to include Ken Griffey Jr., on their hall of fame ballot. 

Criticism is the background music of success. Taylor is having a lot of success. Scrutiny and criticism of her performance are natural. It’s a sign of respect. 

Gottlieb’s mild criticism was also a warning to Taylor. At this point in her career, given all the opportunities ESPN has granted her, she should no longer accept everything that’s handed to her. There are people far more qualified than her to vote on NBA awards. She hasn’t covered the league long enough to be an expert. She’s apparently too busy to cross-check her all-NBA ballot against statistics readily available on ESPN.com. 

But when you take yourself too seriously, you’re often not self-aware enough to realize what you do and don’t deserve. You start thinking the world owes you things you have not earned. You rationalize justifiable criticism for a mistake you made and see it as a flaw in your critics.  

You nail yourself to a cross on TV and Twitter.  

Beadle and Hill died on those crosses. It would be a shame if it happened to The Unicorn. 

If you want Jason Whitlock for your TV or radio show or podcast, contact gary@outkick.com.

Written by Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock is a longtime sports writer, TV personality, radio host, podcaster and the newest member of the Outkick family.
Read more about Jason >>

33 Comments

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  1. Fantastic article Jason! You perfectly articulated the emerging issue with Taylor in a way that doesn’t feed in to her victim mentality. Unfortunately, I think Taylor and Jemele Hill are similar in that they are likely in an echo chamber filled with sycophants telling them that any criticism directed to them is due to racism/sexism and therefore not credible. And she will be allowed and even encouraged by those inside ESPN to play up the victim mentality until her Q rating falls below her perceived market value.

    Everyone who reads this is held accountable by their bosses or hold their employees accountable for a glaring error that reflects poorly on them, even if it was an innocent mistake. And rarely does the employee playing the victim card works out favorably in the long term. I wish Taylor would walk down to Sage Steele’s office and get advice on how to handle adversity with class.

  2. Jason, very well stated. As sports commentators, neither Michelle Beadle nor Jemele Hill are even close to being in the same league as Maria Taylor. I had never even heard of Dan McNeil, but I’m guessing he’s so far beneath Taylor that it’s not even worth mentioning his name in the same sentence as Taylor’s (although I just did mention both names in this sentence, my point remains that McNeil is someone few have heard of). Back when I watched ESPN and NBA (I don’t anymore), Maria always came across as intelligent, thoughtful, and well spoken. She was always a “net positive” to whatever she appeared on. I still remember her interview of Zion Williamson at the draft. I doubt anyone could have handled it better. It was a wonderful moment for Zion, his family, and fans alike.

    In regards to Gottlieb’s comments, I agree that they are the opposite of sexism. Gottlieb is holding her to the same standard he would any man. But super woke MSESPN doesn’t understand this. Super woke MSESPN and the NBA are so delusional, so far gone from reality, they see racism and sexism everywhere and in everyone.

    And Jason, I love the ending of your column. Hopefully Maria doesn’t nail herself to a twitter cross. Jack Dorsey, Twitter, and the twitter mob are sickening to me. The twitter mob, fueled by Jack Dorsey’s algorithms and fake followers, which thinks it can defeat racism with more racism, is disgusting to me.

  3. You know what occurred to me after reading this article?

    Whitlock is the Eminem of sports journalism. Just the way he carves up, slices, dices with his pen putting words to paper (digitally speaking of course.) His is a craft practiced and perfected over many years. Joined VIP because of him. He’s kind of a unicorn himself.

  4. As always, Jason delivers. Great take on Maria. She is without a doubt extremely talented, and of course her looks are a blessing. Since I’m not watching the NBA I lost track of Maria. It’s disappointing to see her play the victim card. Gottlieb’s question was totally legit. He made it a point to acknowledge Maria’s work and had justification to question her voting qualifications. It could be understood leaving Davis off the 1st ballot, but leaving him off the 2nd and 3rd is ridiculous (and I’m not even a Laker’s fan).

  5. Jason…great commentary…and incisive as well. I pushed back on Doug G with a knee-jerk reaction (I guess like Rachel B) because I didn’t know there were a lot of non-voting members. I wrongly assumed Maria was just a new add-on and wondered why Doug was so irritated.
    Your analysis and understanding of TV sports talent is second to none!!!
    I used to love Beadle with Marcellus — likability factor for sure.
    Now that I know Beadle is woke, well…I’ll just say “byeeeeee”.
    If Maria has any self-awareness, she’ll take your good advice!!!
    Thanks as always, Jason!!!

  6. I’ve grown tired of the ever growing number of ladies covering men’s sports. I was married once to someone who loved sports as much as me.

    Butt nobody ever asked my wife how a football play happens or why.

    None of my golfer buddies asked her how to work on their own swing.

    When I try to watch football (if I try) seeing a chic host the pregame is not natural at all. It’s done because execs think it will attract women to watch?

    Women don’t watch televised sports to see their husband gawk at the next female hottie on TV.

    They hire hot Chicas and then slowly they lose their attractiveness. And their lack of knowledge shows. And like porn, they find another hot chic.

    I want more of terry bradshaw not aAron Andrews. Just my two cents.

  7. Jason, very insightful commentary……If I had to guess, the woke brigade is going to help Maria sabotage herself. That is what Leftists do. They are an uncontrolled mob of hate, misery, jealousy, and vindictiveness. Jemele Hill knows that Maria is more talented and Jemele will help pull Maria down to her level of woke lunacy. Jemele and others like Jemele won’t let Maria be successful. MSESPN’ers eat themselves. We all know it. Everyone knows it…….OutKick is our only hope to defeat the leftists sports takeover.

  8. This is a huge sign of respect for Maria Taylor from Jason Whitlock. I’m sure she read this article. There is nothing wrong with using your physical gifts to become successful. But, the signs of being spoiled and entitled are there. Capitalizing certain words liked “DESERVE” is a major red flag. If I heard this coming from a woman on a first date, I would be very wary afterwards. Hopefully, Taylor gets enough self-awareness to recognize her beauty and talent offer her advantages over others, and handles criticism with grace instead of coming off like an SJW or feminazi.

  9. What I don’t understand are all these dudes on Twitter who feel the need to defend them. If these women are intelligent and strong, they can handle criticism. Men who provide “protection” for them do not really value their brains. It’s for other reasons.

    Great article, Jason. I sound like a broken compliment record.

    Maria Taylor should have just said that it was an inadvertent mistake, or I can do whatever I think is best for my job, and she was empowered to make her own choices and moved on. End of story. Too many of these young Millenials are spoiled entitled brats. Rachel Bonetta and Katie Nolan are two prime examples of putting people on television because of their looks, rather than the respect they should earn through their work. I guess they give Emmys to anyone nowadays.

  10. I’m afraid you have predicted her future; she’s like the high school kid who normally wouldn’t takes a puff on a joint at a party because he wants to fit in with the “cool kids”.

    Once most celebrities of any sort reach an income bracket where they can afford to alienate 50% of the fan base, they choose “wokeness” over remaining impartial. They want to be invited to all the right parties and accepted by the “cool kids” of the NBA, Hollywood and the rest.

    Maybe someone will direct her to this article and make her think, but I doubt it. I feel she’s think, “How dare Jason Whitlock suggest how I oughta conduct myself? I’m Maria Taylor, bitch?”

  11. I used to have a huge crush on Maria Taylor! She’s gorgeous and what a personality! I admired the hell out of the way she was unphased when Saban exploded on her asking about his quarterback controversy. But then I saw her steaming angry at Drew Brees over his national anthem comments. She had crazy eyes!

  12. Rather mundane nontroversy: so of course some whiney twatters make it a big deal. Gottlieb’s tweet was pretty tame and the shock jock’s seemed typical of a show like that.

    The most pathetic thing here is that the shock jock was fired, THEN the pussy twatted an apology? Already been fired for nothing, so go ahead and cave anyways? Guess he has the same PR man as Brees🙄

  13. Jason lives the life that he speaks of here. We lavish praise on him every day, but he remains humble and self-aware. Beauty privilege is everywhere. Skinny privilege is equally ubiquitous. When haters attack Jason for his weight, he doesn’t claim to be a victim of food marketing; he openly admits to a lack of willpower when it comes to food. And despite the “worship” he receives daily, Jason has not — and will not — adopt the mantle of KING.

  14. Don’t you know that you can’t criticize women, blacks, gay, trans, immigrants, and muslims, or you’ll be called sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, and islamophobic? That leaves Christian and (sometimes Jewish) white men as the object of criticism that’s allowed.

  15. Spot on. Attractive women in sports are automatically pushed to the forefront. I saw it in local TV news and it’s no surprise. Laura Rutledge went to Florida with Tebow and ESPN slapped her on the air no questions asked.

  16. Taylor should pay you to be her big-brother. Blind-spots are real for everyone. Separate point- love your invocation of the term “privilege”. It’s glaringly obvious for Maria and the same beauty-lust variable plays into so many positions. As much as I prefer to defer to most peoples earned achievement, including Maria’s, I think you’re on to something to wield the weaponization of the word. I start with the privilege of living in the US, but let’s help others understand their privilege. Might as well start with Lebron. Here’s the truth, Lebron has worked half as hard as most college NCAA athletes, his success is based on his “privilege” of being a genetic aberration, and very little to do with his effort or commitment. Same with many great athletes and entertainers. Yep, they’re privileged/lucky and haven’t earned most of their success. We should point that out to them. Whatever it is, let’s just please leave a color offer the preface!

  17. Jason with the TV ratings for the NBA and ESPN being in the tank Maria Taylor not going anywhere quick But if she starts that social justice warrior routine she be at the Woke ESPN for ever . Rachel Bonnetta should keep her mouth shut and stay off twitter. Who the Fuck is she what are her qualification for any job in American sports Fox should hire an American woman send her back to Canada we have enough liberals.

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