If there was any thought that Curt Schilling’s job at ESPN as an analyst for the Monday Night Baseball broadcast might be in jeopardy following remarks that he made on a sports talk radio show about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the network has confirmed that he will be in the booth this coming season.
Robert Silverman and Joe Lemire of Vocativ report that ESPN confirmed with them that Schilling will still be a part of the Monday night broadcast crew. “We’ve addressed it with Curt,” the site was told via email from an ESPN spokesperson.
Earlier this month, Schilling appeared on KCSP 610 Sports in Kansas City, where he remarked that Clinton should be in jail for including classified information in emails sent from her private server. He later doubled down on that, saying that the former Secretary of State should be “buried under a jail somewhere” if Gen. David Petraeus was forced to resign as CIA director for his involvement in an email scandal.
What makes that problematic for Schilling is that ESPN issued a memo discouraging its employees from discussing politics on social media, a policy presumably responding to Schilling’s frequent commentary on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. Going on a sports talk radio station and engaging in “political editorializing,” which the ESPN memo asked employees to refrain from, would appear to be in violation of the request. Here’s the exact passage:
We should refrain from political editorializing, personal attacks or “drive-by” comments regarding the candidates and their campaigns (including but not limited to on platforms such as Twitter or other social media). Approved commentaries on sports-specific issues, or seeking responses from candidates on relevant news issues, are appropriate. However perceived endorsements should be avoided. (In others cases, guidelines, acceptable commentary and political advocacy should prevail).
If the memo was more of a request than a company policy, that could certainly explain why Schilling hasn’t been penalized in this situation. (The assumption is that he was reprimanded in some form, given the network’s response to Vocativ.) Schilling claims not to have seen the memo before his remarks, the message having been sent to his spam folder.
But as he said on WEEI’s The Dennis and Callahan Show, Schilling was under the assumption that the suggestion to avoid political editorializing applied to being on-air in an ESPN capacity. Though he is an ESPN employee, his remarks were not said on a network radio program nor television broadcast. And the argument could be made that he wasn’t appearing on KCSP as an ESPN analyst, but as a former baseball star and teammate of host Rex Hudler. It’s an argument that ESPN might not have much patience for if and when something like this comes up again, but it appears that such circumstances are what kept Schilling from a suspension or firing.