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ON HIS BIG SHOW, OLBERMANN TACKLES ESPN'S LACK OF DISCLOSURE
Published April 17, 1998
In his closing remarks on "The Big Show," MSNBC's Keith Olbermann addressed the fact that ESPN declined to divulge its minority-hiring numbers during its "Race & Sports" special. Olbermann: "I didn't want to address this story because I know my view may seem a little skewed, but something has undermined my reluctance." Noting Thursday's USA Today where ESPN declined to reveal its minority-hiring numbers after MLB cited in-house statistics disputing the network's figures, Olbermann said, "There's something wrong with that. At this time when sports grapples with this issue, when the entire television industry grapples with it ... when the country as a whole tries to find the right way, you just can't hold back. ESPN deserves more credit perhaps for consistently tackling racism in sports than for anything else it has ever done. But in my years there it did not address this same problem within its own walls. It is 10 months since I left there, but as of last June the simple facts were these: There were 63 producers and coordinating producers running the studio shows in Connecticut. ... Fifty-eight of those were white men." He added that his numbers may "not have been statistically precise" and that "there may have been significant steps taken since I left -- I don't know." Olbermann: "But I do know that in this very sensitive area to everyone, if you devote two hours of television to decry how poorly sports leagues handle the questions of minority hiring, saying that you decline to divulge your own statistics just is not fair" (MSNBC, 4/16). RESPONSE: ESPN VP/Commun. Chris LaPlaca responded to Olbermann's comments, telling THE DAILY: "This was a look at sports, not the sports media. We would dispute Keith's math. We are progressive on-air which has a positive societal impact and we continue to work toward cultivating diversity with several major initiatives" (THE DAILY).