Jim Brady

Friday’s developments in the Jemele Hill saga included White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders calling ESPN “hypocritical,” ESPN president John Skipper sending an internal memo that “ESPN is not a political organization,” and ESPN public editor Jim Brady writing a column that largely defended ESPN’s reprimand for Hill, summarizing it on Twitter as “Seen through a journalistic lens, Hill’s tweets ill-advised.” What’s more interesting than Brady’s actual column is the massive backlash he took on Twitter for criticizing Hill, though.

In particular, it’s notable how Brady responded. He doubled down further on his position, saying Hill’s comments were unproveable opinion she should have avoided, and sent subsequent tweets that also took huge backlash from a lot of prominent journalists and others. And he did this for over six hours. Let’s look at some of the Twitter battles he got into:

A lot of these conversations were rejecting the use of labels in favor of “facts.” And yet, though, as some pointed out, Brady himself has used plenty of labels, such as saying “it seems clear that [ESPN] leans left” in a previous public editor column:

Brady’s defense? Saying that’s not a controversial label:

Saying the company as a whole “leans left” certainly goes against Skipper’s “not a political organization,” though, and against all the other claims ESPN has made about the company’s lack of political stance. So, that’s a controversial label in its own right, and one that provided ammunition for right-wing ESPN critics.

And that wasn’t the only controversial discussion Brady got into Friday. One particularly interesting conversation came with Huffington Post writer and author Jason Fagone, who brought up Brady’s ownership of Pennsylvania news sites Billy Penn and The Incline and asked what that meant for their journalists. Brady said he doesn’t want his journalists following Hill’s lead:

That led into a further argument with Fagone and Nashville Scene/Nashville Post writer Cari Gervin:

This is very different from previous people in the ESPN ombudsman role, who generally let their columns speak for themselves and engaged with reader feedback in mailbags, if at all. And some, the Poynter Institute in particular, were famous for never responding to certain reader feedback. (We never did get that Craig James column.)

Of course, as Brady discussed with Awful Announcing when he was hired in November 2015, he was brought in as a public editor rather than an ombudsman (after a gap without one), and social media was described as part of his role. He told AA then his role was about providing “communication and access to the readers.” Well, he certainly did that Friday, but it didn’t work out so well for him from a ratio standpoint. (Some of that is his replies to his own tweets, some is that individual replies aren’t likely to pick up many likes or retweets, but still, a lot of what Brady is arguing here took major and widespread criticism.):

As of 11:45 p.m. Eastern Friday, Brady was still actively responding to critics.

[@ESPNPublicEd on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.

  • namingrightsforsale

    He’s right that using “white supremacist” was a clumsy way to label Trump, but his obvious unwillingness to acknowledge the obvious truth that the general gist of Hill’s tweets were accurate completely undermined any of his appeals to basing things in facts.

  • BobLee Says

    I actually slogged thru all that… every time I read a version of “There’s no question that he is…” I thought of dozens of “no questions” about every prominent politician in America over the past 50 years plus MLK, Walter Cronkite, alien abductions… ad infinitum. The Internet is a vast wasteland of “undeniable facts” and “no questions that” about EVERYTHING.

    Leaving “politics”… in “sports” there is “no question that” our hated rivals and their hated coaches cheat cheat cheat always have always will “there’s no question about that…”. . “No question that” every referee and umpire is biased against “my team”… “no question”. … blah blah blah… … and howsabout Climate Changes? Certainly “no question that” it exists / doesn’t exist. … what about RELIGION? Certainly “no question that” every tenet and every precept about every religion is whatever you/I want to believe.

    The next time anyone begins with “There’s no question that…” …. Laugh in his/her face then run, don’t walk away. There’s NO QUESTION you should.

    • John Danknich

      ^ This.

  • MrBull

    i actually agree with most of what Bradley posted…however, based on pass actions taken by espn to other on air talent, Hill should have been told to ‘take a day off’ like Linda Cohn was told to…
    Also, Bill Simmons personal view of NFL Commissioner Goodell was he is ‘a liar’ and Simmons got 3 weeks off…and there was a policy to leave political views out of espn work…
    This more about espn and how they choose to handle it compared to prior incidents….

  • WmHiker One

    Could he be trying to hard to wear the objectivity badge? Imagine something awful happens and instead of being comforting, the person is a cold drone. I don’t want to call him a drone or cold. I just want to point out that one can try to hard at some point to pretend to have no opinion. Yes, journalist sometimes get a drone way about them. I guess it’s a journalist thing. But many make an effort to not be cold.

    No opinion could be an opinion. Trump claim that both sides are good, in trying to hard to show objectivity, he shows his desire to comfort white supremacist, Nazis, Confederates, and similar bigots. Brady is no Donald Trump. But being human is not totally a bad thing. The drone objectivity or leaning towards the other side can be a stab at others. Racism is a serious thing, it’s real and worrisome. And there is only one side.. the side of America / a continuous drive to be non racist.

  • Carter_Burger67

    Skipper can deny it all he wants, but ESPN is now active in the arena of politics. This isn’t going to end well for them.

  • Bruce

    Sorry but the idea that Disney hasn’t nurtured this culture is laughable. This is a company who gave a courage award to Bruce Jenner over child athletes who were dying of terminal illnesses. Disney has ruined ESPN to the point of no return. The only thing watchable on the channel is the College Football crew. Disney bragged about being 40 percent LBGT in the 90’s. All those employees who were hired because they had similar lifestyles and views of people in charge, hired similar people. A family company is now anti family. The company is doomed. The stock is falling for a reason. They still have movies and toy sales, but kids don’t care about the new Star Wars characters or toys. Marvel Comics is still doing gangbusters, but their comic division is in shambles with people like Jemele Hill doing the same thing and attacking their base customers. That garbage will become movies eventually. It isn’t just ESPN. It’s Disney. When the next Star Wars movies turns out to be more plagiarism and people realize Luke and Han are destroyed as characters, Disney will attack that fanbase to. They have already had their stars and laughable media publications they own, run with the narrative that anyone who criticizes the new Star Wars films is a misogynist and Nazi.

    Sorry but the Jedi mind trick isn’t going to keep working. People are also starting to realize that Disney is one of the 5 companies that owns 90 percent of the media. You can only shill your own products for so long, before people realize that the opinion is not really an opinion at all. Just marketing.

    • Hockey is king

      It seems like every black face that appears on ESPN has to let you know they’re “down for the cause.” Bomani Jones, Mike Wilbon, Jemele Hill, Stephen A Smith, and Kevin Blackistone can’t just provide analysis, they have to let you know that they’re black and “down for the struggle” whatever the hell that even means.

  • Frups

    The fact that he has two news sites in Pennsylvania should more scrutinized.

    His stance on Hill, and consequently MAGA/White Supremacy could be a way to keep advertisement money flowing.

    It’s clear what role that state plays in local/national elections. It would be interesting to see who finances his side businesses.

    His whole ‘truth doesn’t really matter’ ‘you just say he’s a racist but where are the facts, Elvis could be alive too’ stances are a familiar theme echoed by many sites whose philosophies are closely tied to MAGA/White Supremacists.

  • bff426

    I went on ESPN.com this morning to catch up on yesterday’s NFL games. The TWO lead stories on ESPN.com – not the NFL page, but the entire site, are on Colin Kapernick. On Monday morning after a full weekend of NFL games.

    • Tookie Clothespin

      What news was there out of the NFL yesterday? Nothing interesting happened. If you want NFL news and not general sports related news then you should click on the NFL tab at the top of the website.

      • bff426

        Those were also the top two stories on the NFL page. There were 14 games yesterday. Do a little clicking yourself before giving stupid advice.

        • Tookie Clothespin

          And outside of the Cowboys getting smoked there wasn’t a single thing worth writing an article about that came from those 14 games. Articles get written about Kaep because they get clicks. You know what doesn’t get clicks? Gronk Gets 69th TD Catch. Cam Almost Hurt but Not Really. Boring Seahawks Game Results in Lots of Field Goals. If you get that butt hurt about having to scroll down to find an article about the nothing that happened this weekend why do you bother going to ESPN? They’ve been covering Kaep pretty much non-stop for the last year.

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