ABC affiliate WEAR broke into the AAC championship to air Republican congressman Matt Gaetz's comments on a Pensacola shooting.

Broadcasting sports events on network television is great from the perspective of the extra homes reached (around 38 million at this point for ABC versus ESPN, for example), but it leads to debates whenever those network affiliates decide to cut into live sports coverage for news or weather updates. Sometimes, those weather updates are severe and important indeed, and lead to criticism of those who blast them (or even apologies for not going to them). But sometimes, some viewers get  upset over marginal (or even failed) weather updates that get in the way of critical sports moments. That can even lead to TV executives apologizing for their network’s decisions.

The debate intensifies even more with news updates, as local stations have often been pilloried for cutting into live sports for local or national stories that can be found in plenty of other places. The latest debate over this comes from ABC affiliate WEAR-TV in Pensacola, Florida. That station cut into the end of the AAC championship game (where Memphis beat Cincinnati 29-24) to televise the newest comments from Congressman Matt Gaetz (Republican, Florida’s 1st district) on a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola Friday that killed three sailors. Here are those comments, via Gaetz’s Twitter account:

That decision took a lot of criticism, especially considering that Gaetz had already appeared on the station Friday (the day of the incident). And some linked it to WEAR’s ownership by Sinclair, the conglomerate that also owns Stadium and the Fox Sports regional networks, which has been bashed for emphasizing right-wing political views on its stations. Here’s some of that criticism:

There’s always going to be a debate about what level of news or weather event is worth breaking into live sports for. For many critics here, WEAR’s decision Saturday fell short.

Correction: This post initially said the game was between FAU and UAB; that was the Conference USA championship game. The AAC game in question was between Memphis and Cincinnati.

[Chris Schieman on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.