ESPN Memo Reminds Staff to Avoid Discussing 'Pure Politics' After Dan Le Batard's Attack on Trump

During Dan Le Batard's stirring speech, he brought up Jemele Hill's suspension.


Image via Getty/Mike Windle


ESPN has once again cautioned its employees about talking “pure politics” while on-air, per the Hollywood Reporter.

ESPN sent the memo after network radio host Dan Le Batard blasted Trump for encouraging supporters at a recent rally to keep chanting “Send her back!”, in reference to Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

“The ‘send her back’ chant and the ‘go back to where you came from’ chant are so antithetical,” Le Batard said on his show. “It is so wrong what the president of our country is doing, trying to go down getting re-elected by dividing the masses at a time when the old white man—the old rich white man—feels oppressed being attacked by minorities, black people, brown people, women. That's who we're going after now.”

Le Batard then commented on how ESPN deals with anything Trump-related: “We here at ESPN haven’t had the stomach for that fight, because Jemele [Hill] did some things on Twitter and you saw what happened after that, and then here all of a sudden nobody talks politics on anything unless we can use one of these sports figures as a meat-shield in the most cowardly possible way to discuss these subjects,” he said.

In 2017, Hill was suspended for infringing upon ESPN’s social media policy multiple times, including one occasion where she called Trump a “white supremacist.” Hill—who subsequently left ESPN—praised Le Batard on Twitter, calling his commentary “courageous” and “accurate.”

Courageous, accurate commentary by Dan. I’m sure stick-to-sports-Guy/girl is having a meltdown somewhere, but one of the many reasons I left is that I was tired of the pretense Dan discusses here.

— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) July 19, 2019

ESPN isn’t a political network, but to me (and Dan), racism isn’t political. It is right and wrong. Silence or tolerance of racism IS racist, because that means on some level, you’re OK with other people being dehumanized.

— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) July 19, 2019

I do not blame ESPN for its approach, because their primary function is to serve fans and make money. But some things are just bigger than that.

— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) July 19, 2019

Le Batard’s remarks were beyond the scope of ESPN’s policy, which permits discussing politics when it crosses over with sports. It’s unknown how Le Batard will be disciplined. THR reports that his Friday show began without him for the first hour, though he later joined.

Latest in Sports