Mike Greenberg Mike Greenberg in 2017. (Getty Images.)

Somewhere along the line in the build-up to ESPN’s upcoming morning show Get Up, some observers developed the idea that the program would have an outspoken liberal bent. Well, one of the program’s co-hosts, Mike Greenberg, is not having it.

In an interview with Sporting News’ Michael McCarthy, Greenberg said the show will be “100 percent” a sports show and that he is sick of people suggesting otherwise.

MG: It is exclusively sports. It’s amazing to me, Mike, how many interviews I’ve done and I am asked so frequently: “So, is this a sports show?” My answer to that is, if I walked into McDonald’s and they said to me, “We don’t have hamburgers today,” I would be very disappointed, because I walked into McDonald’s to get a hamburger. No one goes to McDonald’s if they feel like pizza or sushi. I believe that when a person turns on ESPN, that person has a right to expect that we’re going to be talking about sports, so what people will see when we debut on Monday, and every single day thereafter, is that we are a sports show first, last and always.

We have our own sort of personal spin on highlights and news and analysis and debate. Hopefully it is all done with some humor because that’s one of the things in my presentation I’ve always felt best about. It’s definitely a strong suit of Michelle’s and of Jalen’s. I think that’s an appropriate thing. Sports frequently lends itself to light-hearted humorous conversation, but that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about sports. I get the sense a lot of people don’t seem to think that’s what it’s going to be, but I can assure you that when anyone starts watching the show on Monday, that’s what they’re going to see. They’re going to see a sports talk show.

That expectation that Get Up will focus on subjects other than sports seems to have been fueled by comments from Greenberg’s co-host Jalen Rose and producer Bill Wolff, as well as a provocative headline from The Hollywood Reporter, which Greenberg addressed in his interview with McCarthy.

SN: What about the story in The Hollywood Reporter that talked about the show being ‘”woke” politically?

MG: I don’t want to call anyone out, OK? I don’t know how that happened. I can tell you I was on that call, I was in that interview. What Jalen said was, “If the president tweets something about sports while we’re on the air, then we will talk about it.” Somehow that became a headline that we’re going to be a “woke” talk show. I don’t even know what that means, much less how it relates to what we were talking about. That, in my opinion, was a very misleading headline relative to the intention of the show. . . . If you read the article, we talk at great length about how our plan is to do a sports show. That is 100 percent what we are going to do.

Though we won’t know for sure until the show debuts next week, the idea the Get Up would be some sort of MSNBC knockoff has seemed dubious all along. Sure, Rose and Beadle are occasionally prone to speak their mind about social issues, but they both currently work on sports shows that no one would describe as remotely “political.” And besides, if you want a politically charged talk show, you’re probably not going to hire the almost famously non-controversial Mike Greenberg to front it.

But with SC6 back to being a typical SportsCenter highlight show, people who view ESPN as having a liberal bias need a new punching bag, and it seems Get Up is the one they have settled on. If Get Up is, as Greenberg promises, a pure sports show with no political bent, the “woke” narrative should fade. But when it comes to criticism of ESPN, you never know.

[Sporting News]

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.