Jimmy Pitaro, who was hired this spring to be the new president of ESPN, said this week that the network will not broadcast the national anthem during Monday Night Football games this season. In an effort to protect the NFL from its own horrendous decision-making (or lack thereof) and thus protect their own very expensive investment in the League’s success, Pitaro said that they had already informed the NFL that they would not put the national anthem – and its accompanying protests – on television.
While this announcement made headlines because of the enormous controversy surrounding the NFL national anthem protests, Pitaro was quick to note that it was actually not a new policy for ESPN.
“We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don’t think there’s going to be any change this year,” he said. “Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem. Again, there could be changes. It’s somewhat unpredictable what’s going to happen in the world but as of now our plan now is to not broadcast the anthem. We have communicated that back to the NFL. They have not asked but we proactively just as a courtesy and as good partners let them know what our plans are.”
Pitaro was also asked about common misperceptions of ESPN.
“That we’re a political organization because we are not,” he replied. “We are a sports media company. We are always going to cover the intersection between sports and politics. We are the place of record for sports when something happens, when the Eagles are disinvited to the White House, we are going to cover that. When someone takes a knee and we think it’s newsworthy we’re going to cover it. But we have to be the place of record.”
That’s all fine and well; ESPN has both the right and the duty to cover it when political things happen in the world of sports. But there is a sharp line between covering those events objectively and having overtly political commentators like Jemele Hill touting an anti-America, anti-Trump line on your television shows. That’s what gets people annoyed and that’s why people are saying that ESPN has gone down the SJW/Leftist path. Not because of coverage but because of the NATURE of that coverage. If Pitaro can successfully rid the network of that reputation, he’ll go down as a hell of a better leader than Roger Goodell, that’s for certain.