How Low Can Scandal-Ridden ESPN Go?
How low can you go? Apparently for ESPN there is no bottom. Twice in the last week ESPN has made the front page of the New York Times for scandalous events. Today, when someone from the New York Times telephones Bristol, they’re not looking for ratings information.
The first case happened last week when ESPN’s 85-million-dollar experiment exploded on to its own airwaves. The second is one of incredible arrogance, in what will always be known as Emmy-gate.
In recent months ESPN fired dozens of long-time employees in an effort to save millions of dollars annually. We now know where 85 million of that money went. The Entertainment Sports and Programming Network has had two problems over the years: (1) how to get younger viewers, and (2) how to prop up those dead hours from Noon to 4pm. They solved both when they decided to give Pat McAfee the keys to ESPN’s Magic Kingdom.
McAfee is a foul-mouthed former punter who had a popular podcast with the video- game generation on Barstool Sports. ESPN decided to pay MacAfee 85 million to license (not own) McAfee’s show, while giving him total control of his show. They also promoted him by having him on GameDay weekly. The result is a program where McAfee lets loose with “motherf_ _ _ _ers” on a regular basis. Hard to believe Bob Iger is happy about this.
Recently the New York Post printed that McAfee’s ratings are down from the show it replaced—a re-run of First Take. This incensed McAfee who singled out executive Norby Williamson as the snake who leaked the numbers to the Post. Since McAFee is not an employee, he has no fear of punishment.
“They’ve sold their souls and it seems like they have no standards any more,” said one long-time insider. “It’s just pathetic.” And while ESPN wipes the poop of its face, McAfee is laughing all the way to the bank.
Emmy-Gate Is Almost Laughable
Today’s NY Times story involved ESPN submitting false names for Emmy Awards (particularly for GameDay) and re-engraving the Emmys with the names of their star announcers. It’s been indicated that they did this because their on-air broadcasters had their own categories and weren’t eligible for two awards for the same show. In some cases, reporters out in the field contribute heavily to the content of a piece besides their on-air report, and should be eligible for awards alongside their producers and directors. But this has been going on since 2010 and looks nothing more than a case of unbelievable arrogance on ESPN’s part.