A lot of people are lying on the web these days. Take G/O Media’s Jezebel for example.
Jezebel — self-described as “supposedly feminist” — ran the following headline on Thursday:
“Reporter Maria Taylor Is Leaving ESPN After the Network Failed to Discipline Her Colleague for Racist Comments.”
The only part Jezebel got right is that Taylor is leaving ESPN. The rest is factually incorrect and thus a lie.
First, Taylor didn’t leave ESPN because of the network’s reaction to Rachel Nichols’s leaked audiotape. Instead, Taylor chose to leave ESPN because she overplayed her hand, demanded $7 million more a year, and decided to burn down the company by portraying her bosses as racists. It’s hard to walk back into those doors after that.
Furthermore, Taylor had calculated that if she could not extort more money from ESPN via a useful idiot at the New York Times, that NBC’s properties were of a higher profile. Taylor’s offer from NBC includes a role on the Olympics and possibly a future spot as host of Sunday Night Football.
Second, ESPN didn’t “fail,” as Jezebel claims, to discipline Nichols. Uh, what? After someone in Taylor’s camp finally leaked Nichols’ audio one year later, ESPN removed Nichols from her role on NBA Finals. The NBA Finals to Nichols is the Super Bowl to Erin Andrews. Aside from letting Nichols go — which ESPN could ultimately do with a buyout at some point — ESPN couldn’t have punished Nichols worse.
And here’s where it gets good. Nichols’ comment wasn’t “racist.” Here were Nichols’ actual comments, which Jezebel accidentally forgot to include:
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said last July. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
What line was racist? Does anyone know?
Nichols is correct that Taylor’s skin color was a factor in ESPN’s decision to move her to Countdown despite Nichols securing that job in her contract. That’s not racist; that’s the truth.
In reality, skin color is a factor in every decision at ESPN, which essentially admitted this in a memo, saying it’s working to put diverse voices in positions of power. ESPN and most other major corporations are making an effort to put more black hosts on-air. To properly execute that goal, the decision-makers must at least factor in the candidates’ skin color. That’s how it works.
So, again, Jezebel didn’t only write this lie for clicks, but also to paint Maria Taylor as the victim.
Credit to one of my Twitter followers. If not for @Sndvl1999, I would have not crushed Deadspin’s sister website today
— Ken (@Sndvl1999) July 23, 2021