ESPN fans don't want sports coverage mixed with politics, according to the network’s president Jimmy Pitaro.
In a profile in the Los Angeles Times, Pitaro — a veteran Walt Disney Co. executive who took over the top job in March 2018, succeeding John Skipper — was described as someone who satisfied the outlet’s traditional fans by steering commentators away from political discussions on-air and on social media.
The political chatter had escalated during President Donald Trump’s criticism of NFL players protest against social injustice during the playing of the national anthem, the LA Times noted.
“Without question our data tells us our fans do not want us to cover politics,” Pitaro told the LA Times.
“My job is to provide clarity. I really believe that some of our talent was confused on what was expected of them. If you fast-forward to today, I don’t believe they are confused.”
Political issues have continued to find their way onto ESPN. Commentator Stephen A. Smith blasted Trump earlier this year for serving fast food to the Clemson University Tigers football team. In March, network personalities on social media slammed proposed cuts to the Special Olympics, which Trump later reversed.
Pitaro had the same message last August, telling the Washington Post the network would minimize political commentary.
“If you ask me is there a false narrative out there, I will tell you ESPN being a political organization is false,” he told the Post. “I will tell you I have been very, very clear with employees here that it is not our jobs to cover politics, purely.”
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.