Some media outlets are proving to be shills for UFC president Dana White, but Ariel Helwani won’t roll over.
On Monday, TMZ obtained and shared a disturbing video of White getting into a physical altercation with his wife Anne while the couple was celebrating the New Year at a nightclub in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In the video, White is seen getting slapped by his wife, before he quickly retaliates and slaps her across the face.
Since the video was released, ESPN has been criticized for failing to properly condemn White’s act of domestic violence. MMA reporter and ex-ESPN employee Ariel Helwani recently slammed ESPN’s coverage of White on his podcast, citing a double standard in how the media views the UFC president compared to an executive from another sport.
“Look at the way it’s been covered,” Helwani said on his podcast The MMA Hour. “Look, go look! And compare that, by the way, to the way other domestic violence situations have been covered by the mainstream, by them (ESPN)! By people that I respect. But this is what they expect from us. This is what they expect from MMA, from cage-fighting, from the UFC, from Dana White. We are not held to the same standard.”
According to Helwani, ESPN and other mainstream outlets don’t hold White in the same regard as other executives.
“They talk about all these things, about other owners, about boxing, about promoters, and they always hold the UFC and Dana White to a different standard,” Helwani continued. “Because we’re the fun thing on Saturday night that you do with your friends, that you bet and you gamble, and you eat your pizza and your wings, and you drink your beer, and then you go to the real stuff on Sunday and then Monday and we’re kind of like the vice on the side. So we don’t get the same type of criticism because they don’t actually think that highly of the sport.”
White himself hasn’t offered excuses for his actions, but much of the media, including ESPN, has given him a pass. The headlines were more about White apologizing for the incident, seemingly glossing over the real news being the disturbing altercation
Stephen A. Smith addressed the video on First Take this week and repeatedly mentioned how much love he has for White. Smith ridiculously claimed White should be able to decide his own punishment and informed the audience that he warned the UFC president before discussing the altercation on First Take. Viewers may appreciate Smith putting his biases out there. But it became clear he shouldn’t be the one to address it if he couldn’t do so unbiasedly.
The shocking video showed White as he slapped his wife. Coverage of the event is muddied with narratives about his previous stances on domestic violence or a host of excuses. As it turns out, no excuses should be made for White’s action. Shame on any media outlet for thinking otherwise.
“Look at the coverage,” Helwani continued. “It was all kid gloves…I can guarantee you, if it was any other sports owner, any other executive, he would be raked over the coals. It would be completely different.”