ESPN warned hosts to avoid any political discussion of the relationship between China and Hong Kong, as the NBA continues trying to make amends with the communist nation after Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement on Friday.
According to a report from Deadspin, ESPN’s Senior News Director Chuck Salituro sent a memo to all staffers telling them to avoid talking about the political situation between Hong Kong and mainland China. Deadspin was also told that senior ESPN executives were monitoring all shows as they discussed the news of the day.
ESPN’s reticence to talk about the massive and endemic human rights violations stands in stark contrast to the network’s all-out support for the NBA’s boycott of North Carolina because of the Tar Heel State’s transgender bathroom law.
ESPN’s commentators were entirely unrestrained when attacking North Carolina for being “homophobic” and “transphobic.”
In March of 2017 for instance, ESPN host Rachel Nichols insisted that North Carolina’s law aimed at keeping children and women safe in public washrooms was somehow just like the “lunch counter” protests during the Civil Rights era. That same month, Nichols also openly advised the NBA to boycott North Carolina.
In other cases of pandering to transgenderism and radical LGBTQ issues, ESPNW’s Katie Barns routinely supplied stories celebrating the LGBTQ agenda and attacking those that she thought might be in opposition.
Then there was ESPN’s support for outspoken race-baiter Jemele Hill who, for years, used the sports network as a platform to push her radical ideas about “social justice.”
In 2016, for instance, ESPN tolerated Hill’s proclamation that the U.S.A. does “everything possible to undermine the LGBTQ community.” Curiously, never once did Hill mention that China actually jails, tortures, and executes gays there.
Worse, even when an ESPN personality skewed to the right side of the political aisle, the network felt the need to apologize for it.
Back in 2013, ESPN was apoplectic that commentator Chris Broussard dared to express a Christian worldview, and the network felt the need to disavow Broussard for his comments.
It should also be remembered that back in 2016, ESPN fired legendary Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling over his comments about transgenderism.
Despite that “woke” history, ESPN is squelching any discussion of the far more real and vicious human rights abuses in China. Perhaps the key is the huge contracts ESPN shares with the NBA?
According to New York Business Journal, ESPN has a $2.6 billion deal to broadcast the NBA’s games. Clearly, with the league kowtowing to China’s dictates and refusing to denounce the country over its dismal human rights record, ESPN is taking its cue from its big-dollar business partner. Accusing Americans of evil — real or imagined — is fine with this sports network. But the real abuses of the Chinese are off-limits.
Then there is ESPN’s link to parent company Disney which is also up to its neck in ties to Chinese money. Indeed, Disney is so beholden to the Chinese that it felt the need to get China’s approval to buy 21st Century Fox. Disney also operates a lucrative theme park in Shanghai, China.
Chinese moviegoers have also figured heavily into Disney’s bottom line. According to the New York Times, for example, Disney’s “Avengers: Endgame,” earned $614 million in China. Chinese moviegoers purchased an estimated $8.87 billion in tickets alone, in 2018.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.