ESPN is in the middle of several rounds of layoffs. Some of the first layoffs included Ed Werder, Jade McCarthy and Jayson Stark, while Andy Katz led the second round of layoffs. There are a ton of issues with what the worldwide leader is doing — spending lots of money on media rights and talent and not embracing cord cutting. While ESPN will continue to say that politics is not the issue at the company, one notable ESPN personality acknowledged it.
Linda Cohn, ESPN’s longest-running anchor on “Sportscenter,” told the Bernie and Sid Show that ESPN’s embrace of politics has turned off its “core viewers.” Cohn, who has anchored more “Sportscenters” than anyone in the company’s history, agreed that ESPN turning to embrace Caitlyn Jenner‘s plight over Lauren Hill was part of the issue for viewers.
“You’re right. That is definitely a percentage of it. I don’t know how big a percentage. But if anyone wants to ignore that fact, they’re blind. That’s what I meant about the core group that made ESPN so successful,” she said.
Cohn has not been the only one to talk about the political culture surrounding the worldwide leader. Fox Sports’ Clay Travis has written extensively about ESPN’s move to the so-called liberal side of the political spectrum. Even Deep Root Analytics showed that ESPN alienated conservative viewers.
However, there’s been plenty of pushback. Jim Miller told Slate that anyone who thinks that ESPN is losing viewers due to its liberal leanings is “smoking crack.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger also pushed back on claims the company expresses a liberal bias, telling the Los Angeles Times in March: “The charge that ESPN is exhibiting significant political bias is just a complete exaggeration.”
There is no doubt though, ESPN has moved to the left and its viewers have seen it. Whether politics should affect your sports coverage is a completely different story (SPOILER: IT SHOULDN’T), but the fact of the matter is that it has. And now we have the first confirmation from a longtime ESPNer saying it.
The chatter and the pressure is only going to get louder.