Dan Le Batard

The best way to let a controversy die is to make sure there are no new headlines about it. It seemed like ESPN realized this over the weekend following Dan Le Batard’s comments about President Trump’s latest tirade on Thursday, and the controversy that ensued on Friday when Le Batard remained on the air while ESPN insisted that they were still enforcing their “no politics!” edict.

With a weekend to cool off, you would think everyone would move onto something else and the controversy would have been left behind. Of course, that’s not the case, and the story picked up some new drama on Monday with the news that Le Batard would be taking Monday off from his radio show (but would still appear on Highly Questionable) following a conversation with ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro.

Whether or not this was Le Batard’s decision, the perception is that this is a suspension that isn’t being announced as a suspension. But it’s coming days after the original comments, a period of time that included Le Batard going on the air. Also, not transferring the non-suspension suspension to television is bizarre – you would think that holding him off TV would be the more visible move. Then again, maybe that’s ESPN’s long game here – more people (theoretically) would notice him not being on TV than not being on the radio. However, since his radio show airs much earlier than Highly Questionable, the story would take off to start the day rather than to end the day, and thus dominate the news cycle of a slow July day.

Stugotz kind of sort of addressed Le Batard’s absence this morning on the Dan Le Batard Show.

This is the folly of ESPN’s hard-line “no politics!” guidance, especially for radio hosts. If a topic is dominating the news cycle, especially in the summer when there isn’t much interesting sports news, it’s only natural to want to bring up that topic. ESPN would seemingly rather have its hosts be bland, uninteresting, and talking about topics that they don’t have passion for rather than saying something about a non-sports topic that might inflame a fair chunk of the audience.

At any rate, congratulations to ESPN for taking a story that was drifting out of the news cycle and dragging it back in front of everyone’s eyes. That seems to be Pitaro’s best trait as ESPN president – he just can’t let stories fade into the background.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.