ESPN Continues To Shut Out Noise Surrounding Presidency Amid Recent Instability
Interim ESPN President George Bodenheimer's appearance on the sidelines before the Alabama-Georgia CFP title game last week "projected an aura of calm and stability for a network that has not experienced calm and stability for weeks," according to Ourand & Smith in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. ESPN President John Skipper's "stunning exit and revelation that he suffered from a substance abuse problem flooded ESPN's headquarters with angst during the network's busiest period of the year." No one "knows who will be ESPN's next president" and nobody from ESPN has even been "contacted about applying for the position yet." But even with that uncertainty, the "mantra among both ESPN executives and staffers has been to keep their heads down and shut out all of the noise around Disney's search for a new president." Bodenheimer's "steady influence and reassuring presence already has been felt by the rank-and-file and has helped keep the network on track" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/15 issue).
STILL UNANSWERED QUESTIONS: In N.Y., Hannah Withiam notes author Jim Miller has "gone on the record doubting Skipper's 'addiction' was his downfall, wondering in a first-person account why Skipper would not just take a leave of absence to deal with his issue." If not an addiction problem, was Skipper's handling of ESPN's latest controversies -- "SC6" host Jemele Hill's "suspension for a second violation following her tweets calling President Trump a 'white supremacist' and the abrupt cancellation" of Barstool Van Talk the "nail in the coffin?" Miller said, "I don't think John Skipper resigned as president of ESPN because of having to deal with social media. I don't think that's true. ... I think social media wound up being probably one of the biggest thorns in his side that his predecessors didn't have to deal with and something that his successor is definitely going to have to deal with." Withiam notes though Miller would "not offer any names" for who ESPN's next president might be, he "hypothesized it would be the first time in decades that person came from the outside" (N.Y. POST, 1/17).