Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 25 No. 90
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

ESPN Lauded For Handling Of Cuba Game, Substantive In-Game Interview With Obama

ESPN's on-air crew of Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez and Doug Glanville did an "excellent job" interviewing President Obama during the third inning of yesterday's Rays-Cuban national team game in Havana, according to SI.com's Richard Deitsch. The interview provided "substance," and "not just fluff." ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer for MLB Phil Orlins also deserves "serious props" for the crew's discussion following Obama's appearance, as the segment "treated viewers like adults" (TWITTER.com, 3/22). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Andrew Bucholz noted Obama "talked everything from the Brussels terrorist attacks to human rights in Cuba." While it is "unusual to see this kind of extremely serious content on ESPN, they deserve credit for letting Obama address this without interruption ... and not focusing on the non-existent sanctity of an exhibition baseball game." Bucholz: "It’s hard to find much fault with how ESPN handled this particular part of their Cuba coverage" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 3/22). SI.com's Jay Jaffe noted the interview "superseded coverage of the action for nearly the entire inning before Obama departed the stadium to travel for a state visit to Argentina" (SI.com, 3/22). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes the broadcast was a "television spectacle, presented by ESPN as a game entwined in international politics." ESPN made "frequent cuts between the on-field action" and Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro, who were sitting together. Obama got "even more of a star turn in Havana than he gets when he fills out his men’s and women’s NCAA tournament brackets on ESPN." Obama was ESPN's "star of the day," as he "schmoozed frequently, with ESPN’s cameras on him, as if he were working a rope line" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/23). 

NOT IN BRISTOL ANYMORE: In Miami, Jim Wyss notes after broadcasting the game, ESPN "got a taste of the political reality on the streets of Havana" during its 6:00pm ET edition of "SportsCenter." As Bob Ley was "providing post-game analysis, a protester burst into the frame throwing leaflets, demanding the right to free speech and shouting 'down with the Castros.'” Within minutes, plain-clothes policemen had put him in a "marked car." Ley said that one of the protesters "was dragged off by his neck" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/23).