Former ESPN host Rachel Nichols spoke for the first time about her toxic Woke-Off with Maria Taylor on Friday.
For a recap of the Nichols-Taylor drama, here’s an abbreviated version from our article yesterday following the news that Nichols signed a contract to produce content for Showtime:
“Someone had obtained a secretly recorded phone call between Rachel Nichols and NBA adviser Adam Mendelsohn during the NBA “Covid Bubble” in 2020. On the private call, Nichols told Mendelsohn ESPN chose Taylor over her to host the NBA Finals on account of diversity.
This call ended Nichols’ career at ESPN.
During an appearance on the “All the Smoke” podcast, Nichols explained that the perp was able to record her phone call due to her unfamiliarity with the equipment in her hotel. ESPN had installed recording equipment in her room so that she could broadcast remotely from Orlando, the site of the NBA playoffs in 2020.
“I didn’t know that if you leave a particular app running in the background, that the line from my hotel room looking into my hotel room to Bristol would stay open,” she explained.
Nichols says the app ran for an entire day as she unpacked in her hotel:
“Unfortunately, that entire time, nobody back at ESPN told me that there was an open line to my hotel room and anyone who looked at the feed could see me. No one shut it off or decided, ‘oh, she clearly doesn’t know she’s being watched, unpacking or doing all these other things.'”
And here’s the juicy part: Nichols says an ESPN colleague spied on her until they found a call damning enough to record.
“At least one person decided to just sit and watch and started spying on me like I was their own personal television show. When they heard something they thought was, you see, they picked up their cell phone and they started recording my conversation on their cell phone.”
The rat then saved the call in their back pocket until it became useful the following summer. In June 2021, the individual leaked the call to the New York Times to assist in Maria Taylor’s contract negotiations.
Months before the leak, Taylor turned down a $5 million a year contract offer from ESPN. She — delusionally — felt she deserved the same $12 million a year as Stephen A. Smith. So in a last-ditch effort, someone released Nichols’ call to portray ESPN and Nichols as racists. They hoped such a narrative would force ESPN to cave to Taylor’s unreasonable salary demands.
Ultimately, Taylor signed with NBC Sports. She burned down the place, cost Nichols her job, and then left.
What’s still puzzling is how the recorded call was ever supposed to make ESPN or even Nichols look racist against black people. Think about it. It did quite the opposite.
As Nichols’ elaborated on Friday, she — not Taylor — signed a contract to become the next host of the NBA Finals. It was in ink. So when ESPN removed Michelle Beadle as anchor of the event, there needed not be a conversation. It was Nichols’ job, per her contract.
However, ESPN decided to change course and give the job to Taylor because it wanted — according to Nichols and ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro’s memo — a black host instead of a white host.
How exactly is yanking an agreed-to position from a white host because of their skin color proof that the network favors white people, as Taylor’s supporters argued?
You tell us.
Nichols merely acknowledged on a private call that race played a factor in her losing a role her contract entailed.
Ultimately, ESPN signed Nichols to host the NBA Finals, took the position away from her because she’s white, spied on her, and fired her for noticing.