Tag Archives: ESPN

Report alleges ‘fallout’ at ESPN after leaked recording of Rachel Nichols’ comments on diversity

A New York Times report said ESPN is fixing damage after Nichols made controversial suggestions on diversity and hiring involving fellow reporter Maria Taylor.

A recording of a phone conversation which happened last year, said to have been leaked, is reportedly creating a tense situation inside sports network ESPN after one of their top reporters made some controversial suggestions on the issue of diversity aimed at a fellow reporter at the network. 

A Sunday New York Times report detailed how one of the ESPN’s star sports broadcasters, Rachel Nichols, who is white, was heard on a recording suggesting that her colleague at the network, reporter Maria Taylor — a Black woman — was given a hosting assignment to help the network with its diversity efforts.

The assignment was ESPN’s broadcast of the NBA Finals last year, where executives at the network are said to have selected Taylor over Nichols, making Taylor their primary host for the broadcast. 

In a phone conversation that included Adam Mendelsohn, a longtime advisor to LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Nichols is heard voicing her frustrations with not getting the assignment, appearing to suggest that the decision to pick one of the two women was made on the basis of race, reports on the recording detailed

The report from the Times said the call was recorded on a camera that Nichols had in her hotel room at the time. The set up allowed her to appear on-camera from the NBA bubble. The audio recording of her comments were saved to a video server at ESPN’s headquarters. It is not known exactly how many ESPN employees had access, and were able to listen to it, USA Today reported

Nichols is heard saying on the recording, “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball.” In the audio take reported on by the New York Times, Nichols then goes on to say, “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.” 

The New York Times made contact with employees at ESPN, and at least one expressed that the network’s choice to apparently not discipline Nichols for making the comments had been an “active source of pain,” according to at least one account reported on

A spokesperson for ESPN named Josh Krulewitz told the Times, “A diverse group of executives thoroughly and fairly considered all the facts related to the incident and then addressed the situation appropriately. We’re proud of the coverage we continue to produce, and our focus will remain on Maria, Rachel and the rest of the talented team collectively serving N.B.A. fans.” 

Nichols herself responded to the Times report suggesting that the conversation was simply her venting in private to her friend saying she was just “unloading to a friend about ESPN’s process, not about Maria.” Nichols said, “my own intentions in that conversation, and the opinion of those in charge at ESPN, are not the sum of what matters here — if Maria felt the conversation was upsetting, then it was, and I was the cause of that for her.” 

Taylor’s contract at ESPN will reportedly expire in a matter of weeks, which would fall during NBA Finals according to reports. The New York Times said there haven’t been many steps taken to form a new deal with Taylor. ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro reportedly highlighted Taylor as one of the network’s potential next stars. 

Krulewitz of ESPN said, “We, of course, are not going to comment on the specifics of any commentator contract.” Pitaro was not made available for comment on the story.

It is rumored that Taylor could possibly leave the network at the end of her current contract, but that could not be confirmed at the time of this report. 

This is a developing story and will continue to be updated. 

Author: Douglas Jones
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‘I genuinely was so hurt’: UFC presenter Olivi speaks out after being ‘snubbed’ by ESPN pundit Stephen A. Smith

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Sport News

UFC reporter Megan Olivi has revealed her hurt at being overlooked by fellow broadcaster Stephen A. Smith earlier this year.

After UFC 260 in late March, the ESPN mouthpiece sent out a tweet in tribute to the talents of the MMA championship’s punditry team, but notably missed Olivi out. 

“Ummm hey there – you’re forgetting someone,” she butted in, with a reply that received close to 4,000 likes. 

Yet again Smith failed to acknowledge her.

At a Q&A session after the UFC 261 weigh-ins on Friday, Olivi was broached on topic by reporters and admitted: “That was actually tough for me”.

“I don’t love social media in general, but then to play such a big role in terms of pre and post-fight interviews, like, I’m the one onsite doing them…”

“Then to do all the hits on the broadcast and be a part of this team and literally the only women on the pay-per-view team – there’s no other desk host, there’s no one on the pre- or post-show. It’s literally just me.

“And I’ve worked to be here. I wasn’t handed this. It’s been a very long journey, as people who have seen me 10 years ago I’m sure can attest to. I’ve done everything the right way to get here, and to not get the acknowledgement as my male colleagues got, I genuinely was so hurt,” she confessed, even though it was “nice” to see colleagues and fans defend her honor.

But despite outlining that the treatment is something “the women in this room have dealt”, the American doesn’t believe it is something Smith, who has often fallen foul of the women in the MMA community, did intentionally.

“I don’t think he did it on purpose. I don’t think there was any intent,” Olivi stressed, before then seeming to doubt Smith’s knowledge of the sport.

“I don’t think he was trying to be rude by any means. I just think it didn’t really matter to him. I don’t know how much he actually watched. I know he’s supposed to be an MMA insider and he does his best, but he has a lot on his plate, as well.”

“I also wonder if he was helped with the tweet, if maybe it was just, ‘OK, here are the people on the broadcast’,” Olivi pondered.

“It would be nice if he was like one day like, ‘Oh sh*t,’ I didn’t see this. But I don’t think that’s the character we’re dealing with,” she concluded.

Also on rt.com ‘I don’t want to see them punching each other in the face’: ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith slammed for polemic on women’s MMA

As mentioned, this is not Smith’s first rodeo when it comes to ticking off females in Olivi’s profession.

A couple of months ago, the presenter paid $ 8 million per year for his thoughts said he just didn’t “want to see women punching each other in the face” in combat sports. 

I think that there’s an awful lot of women who are incredibly qualified to do the jobs they’re doing,” continued Smith’s outburst on Larry Wilmore’s ‘Black on the Air’ podcast.

Where I jump off the bandwagon is where they try to engage physically.

For example, I don’t ever want to see a woman boxing a man. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to see a woman in the UFC fighting a man – even though there are some women out there that will kick the dude’s butt.”

As he ranted further, however, it became clear that Smith’s issue was with women fighting full stop, and not just against men.

When I think about pugilistic sports, I don’t like seeing women involved in that at all,” Smith said.

I just don’t like it. I wouldn’t promote legislating laws to prohibit them from doing so, but I don’t want to see women punching each other in the face. I don’t want to see women fighting in the Octagon and stuff like that. 

“That’s just me,” he signed off.

Also on rt.com ‘Apologize’: Conor McGregor slams ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith for comments following Donald Cerrone clash at UFC 246

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‘Lucky to be alive’: ESPN anchor escapes unharmed after being hit by falling set during live TV broadcast (VIDEO)

ESPN Colombia host Carlos Orduz narrowly escaped without serious injury after he was hit on the head by a piece of the set which came loose just seconds into his appearance on a live television broadcast.

Footage of the incident has gone viral, showing Orduz as part of a panel of football analysts commenting on a match when – without any warning – a large piece of rigging from the set collapses and slams directly down onto Orduz’s head.

The camera quickly cuts away from Orduz to the shocked host of the show before moving to a commercial break to allow Orduz to receive assistance from members of the crew.

Incredibly, the football analyst took to social media soon after to tell his 12.5k Twitter followers that he was OK and that he didn’t suffer any serious injuries due to the accident, save for a few bumps and bruises.

To those who wrote to me and greeted me about the accident last night, I must tell you that I am fine, thank God.

“After the medical check-up and the respective examinations, any issue was ruled out except a bruise and a blow to the nose (no fracture). Greetings and thanks,” he explained online, via translation.

News of Orduz’s emerging unscathed from the potentially serious incident will have come as a big relief to the millions who were watching the broadcast from home, as well as Orduz’s co-anchors – some of whom who could be heard crying out in shock once the rigging came loose and struck him. 

Wow! Carlos Orduz is lucky to be alive; that was a wickedly nasty blow he took,” one fan wrote of the shocking video on Twitter, while another said that it was “absolutely insane and unfathomable that Carlos Orduz came away unscathed from that on-set accident.”
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