The Latest From Bristol: Jenn Brown Out, While Sources Say Skipper Wants Olbermann Back
ESPN sideline reporter Jenn Brown "has left" the net, according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. Brown joined ESPN fulltime in February '10 and "eventually morphed into a high-profile assignment on the sidelines for ESPN's Thursday Night college football primetime telecast." At the time, ESPN execs were "clearly positioning her as a replacement for Erin Andrews should Andrews depart from the network." Last year, Samantha Ponder was "given the Thursday Night assignment as well as a role on College GameDay." Brown worked last season "on ESPN's Saturday noon game." Brown "first joined ESPN as a freelance correspondent" in '06 (SI.com, 3/6).
ON HIS WAY BACK? Recent reports have broadcaster Keith Olbermann interested in returning to ESPN, and THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre cited sources as saying that it "wasn't a give-me-a-job plea from Olbermann." Sources said that ESPN President John Skipper wants Olbermann "back, and they’re very likely going to get him -- as early as late-May." A recent story in the N.Y. Times about Olbermann returning to the net "wasn’t a test balloon from Skipper to his employees to see if a revolt would happen -- although many privately expressed their dismay to me -- it was a test balloon with Disney executives." Ultimately, they will "determine whether or not Olbermann goes back to ESPN." Competition in the sports space "is suddenly fierce, with NBC and Fox constantly making moves on ESPN talent." If ESPN "doesn’t hire Olbermann, someone else eventually would." However, a Fox Sports source said that it will "never happen, given his history with Rupert Murdoch" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 3/6).
FACING THE CRITICS: In L.A., Daniel Miller reported Disney Chair & CEO Robert Iger "faced tough questioning about alleged liberal bias" at ABC News and ESPN during the company's annual meeting in Phoenix yesterday. Iger "conceded that 'over time, we have been guilty of making mistakes,' while declining to address specific instances of bias." Iger said, "We have at times either presented the news in slightly inaccurate ways through mistakes or in ways that we weren’t necessarily proud of. But I firmly stand behind the integrity of our news organizations" (L.A. TIMES, 3/7).