Fired ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling insists that ESPN is a hotbed of racism.
He is also convinced that he’d still be on the ESPN payroll if his opinions were liberal rather than conservative and that many staffers there privately agree with him on that point.
Schilling, 49, was fired last week from the sports network, where he was appearing on Monday Night Baseball, after posting an anti-transgender meme to his Facebook page in connection with the North Carolina bathroom law. Former Oakland A’s pitcher Dallas Braden was tapped to replace Schilling in the booth.
Last year, Schilling was benched from ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball as well as Baseball Tonight after a controversial tweet comparing Muslim extremists to Nazis, for which he apologized.
A post-season hero, Schilling retired from professional baseball with an MLB win-loss record of 216-146 with more than 3,000 strikeouts and a career 3.46 ERA. The former member of the Philadelphia Phillies is a three-time World Series champion (2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and 2004 and 2007 with the Boston Red Sox), before joining ESPN as a baseball commentator in 2010. He is also a throat cancer survivor as well as the owner of a now-bankrupt video game company.
ESPN suits recently issued a memo to its employees to steer clear of politics. As a private corporation, First Amendment freedom of speech protections don’t apply in that organization, and Schilling obviously was on notice that he was already on thin ice.
In an interview on SiriusXM, Schilling declared, however, that a double standard may have been in play as regards to that policy and that racism permeates ESPN.
“It was apparent to me, I think, early on that if you wanted to go off topic as a sportsperson, you had to go off topic left, or you were going to get into trouble. Some of the most racist things that I’ve ever heard come out of people that are on the air at ESPN. There are some of the biggest racists in sports commentating, and you take it for what it is. You know who they are. You know what they are. I like that they are openly because then you know who they are. You know that they exist.”
“Schilling called ESPN executives hypocrites for letting Tony Kornheiser compare ‘the Tea Party to ISIS’ and Dan Le Batard talk about President Obama going to Cuba,” the New York Post reported about the satellite radio interview.
Schilling subsequently went on the Dennis & Callahan sports talk radio show on Boston’s WEEI and made similar comments.
“Everybody got the same memo. It was sports people stick to sports, not politics and other stuff. It felt like I was the only one that was held to the rule. I think a lot of what happened was very discriminatory. Like I said, if I had made a liberal point of view, I don’t think this would have ever happened.”
“I think there are a lot of people at ESPN that play the race card often. I back that up by saying I don’t have a problem with it in the sense that I think there a lot of those conversations that need to happen…,” Schilling added. “One of the comments I will never forget is listening to Stephen A. Smith talk about the fact that Robert Griffin wasn’t playing quarterback for the Redskins because he was black. It was because he sucked, and he wasn’t playing. It was obvious. Things like that.”
The ex-MLB star who threw right and leans right as far as politics recalled that many workers would come up to him in the ESPN green room (the area of a TV studio where the talent hangs out before going on the air) to whisper to him that they were Republican and they agreed with him on certain issues.
Schilling suggested to the sports talkers that he has a new media gig lined up that will give him a forum to talk about sports, especially pitching, as well as politics and social issues.
Although it doesn’t directly apply to ESPN’s recent no-politics edict, questions have been raised in the past about the worldwide leader in sports’ application of its corporate human resources policies.
Back in 2011, for example, ESPN anchor Kenny Mayne tweeted that he almost intentionally rammed a car that contained a Sarah Palin bumper sticker, but apparently he was never the subject of ESPN discipline.
In a 2013 discussion about Jason Collins, ESPN NBA reporter Chris Broussard claimed on Outside the Lines that homosexuality is sinful and “in open rebellion to God.” He later walked back the remarks but again apparently was never disciplined.
Although unrelated to politics, NFL Hall of Famer and ESPN football analyst Cris Carter was caught on video advising NFL rookies to include a “fall guy” in their nightlife entourage in case they get in trouble with the cops. After the footage surfaced, Carter apologized on Twitter, and ESPN disavowed his comments, but it evidently took no disciplinary action.
Do you think ESPN treated Curt Schilling fairly or unfairly under all the circumstances?
(Photo by Steven Senne/AP]