SBJ/Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2016/Media

Skipper: There’s no liberal bias at ESPN

ESPN President John Skipper pushed back on the view that ESPN has become too liberal. In an interview before he took the stage for the University of Maryland’s Shirley Povich Symposium, Skipper described as unfounded complaints from some viewers and right-leaning media companies that ESPN’s on-air talent tilted too far left in the run-up to the presidential election.

Skipper
“We’re not trying to espouse a specific political point of view,” he said. “We don’t endorse candidates. We don’t take positions on public policy matters or controversial matters that don’t cross over into sports.”

Skipper voluntarily brought up Curt Schilling, the former baseball star who ESPN fired in April after he posted a meme supporting a conservative North Carolina law that, among other restrictions, states people have to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate.

“We are committed to diversity and inclusion, which I don’t think of as a political issue; I think of it as a human issue,” Skipper said. “It’s core to our values at the company. And I will suspend and potentially fire anyone who has disparaging personal remarks to say about people as regards to their sexual orientation or their ethnicity.”

It is undeniable that most ESPN on-air talent espouse liberal viewpoints — at least of the talent who make their views publicly known. Skipper said he wants more conservative voices on air. “We try. We do want to make sure that we have a variety of voices on the air.”

— John Ourand

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