So I thought Paul Shirley’s essay on Haiti was really, really, really, really stupid. But do I think ESPN should have dumped him as a contributor, as it did? No.
If I haven’t said this before, ESPN gives me the creeps. I’m a liberal guy who cringes at hate words. But there is no greater politically correct-influenced company than the ol’ world-owning sports network. Heaven forbid you work at ESPN and say something even remotely inflammatory; or hold an opinion that doesn’t coincide with the network’s sanctioned beliefs. Well, you’re dead. However, as Mike Freeman’s book showed us, you can be a complete skirt-chasing dog and do quite well. Thrive, in fact.
Here, in a nutshell is how a value-deprived corporation like ESPN works when it comes to stuff like this …
Step 1: An employee says something perceived to be offensive.
Step 2: Public uproar.
Step 3: Network big guns ask, “How will this impact our advertisers?”
Step 4: It is determined advertisers might not be happy.
Step 5: ESPN fires said offender, claiming he violated some sort of company principle. Of course, the company principle is quite simpleâ€”make money. And more money. And more money.
Over the past few years, nobody has damaged the journalistic ideals more than ESPN. It has merged entertainment and reporting into one big blob of goo (think Barry Bonds’ short-lived reality show), and will willingly go after sports operations … as long as they have no advertising/financial connection to the network (the NFL hated Playmakers. Playmakers vanished.)
I don’t hurt for Paul Shirley, because he’s a dolt. But this ain’t right.