Earlier in the week, we saw the Houston Rocket’s GM send out a social media post simply encouraging people to support democracy in Hong Kong. That led to the thin-skinned Chinese losing their minds. Worse, it led to the NBA folding like a cheap suit, essentially apologizing to the communist state.
In what was probably one of the only unifying episodes on Twitter in years, the dumpster fire that is the NBA was roundly condemned, but then something amazing happened. ESPN, which has prided itself on its wokeness and speaking political truth to power, suddenly decided they aren’t going to be political anymore. Whatever it takes I guess?
Unfortunately, I have to link to Deadspin here, but their wokeness is at least sincere, so they covered the issue and obtained a memo from ESPN on the matter.
If you paid attention to ESPN channels yesterday, you saw the network repeatedly attempt to grapple with the story of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey creating an international incident after tweeting and then deleting his support for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. You heard talking head after talking head castigate Morey for sending the tweet, speculation over whether he’d keep his job, speculation about the sincerity of his convictions, discussions about what this meant for the Rockets’ bottom line, the observation that it’s unreasonable to expect for-profit companies like the NBA to act morally, and the non-take that cowing to China is simply the cost of doing business in China.
What you didn’t hear was much discussion about what is actually happening on the ground with protestors in Hong Kong, why they’re protesting, or any other acknowledgment of China’s political situation, past or present.
This could be because Chuck Salituro, the senior news director of ESPN, sent a memo to shows mandating that any discussion of the Daryl Morey story avoid any political discussions about China and Hong Kong, and instead focus on the related basketball issues. The memo, obtained by Deadspin, explicitly discouraged any political discussion about China and Hong Kong. Multiple ESPN sources confirmed to Deadspin that network higher-ups were keeping a close eye on how the topic was discussed on ESPN’s airwaves.
Well, isn’t that convenient. The moment being political means they might have to stand up to the Chinese, they suddenly get cold feet.
This is the same network that compared fighting the transgender bathroom bill in North Carolina to the civil rights movement. It’s the same network that has had multiple, high level personalities personally go after Trump and call him a racist. They have shows dedicated specifically to political takes on sports. They praised Kaepernick’s stunt, and to this day, you’ll find many of them still commenting on how brave and stunning it was.
But standing up for democracy in Hong Kong? That’s a bridge too far I guess.
What this shows is that these people are one-sided cowards. In fact, Rachel Nichols, who made the aforementioned comments on the transgender bathroom issue, did a glowing live spot from China the day after the news broke on Morey’s tweet. No mention of what China had done or that the controversy was brewing. She bowed before her communist masters and their buckets of cash.
Clay Travis, one of the more sane voices in sports, lambasted her, ESPN, and the NBA for it.
What’s so sad here is that even in the face of all this folding, China is still throwing a fit. They pulled all preseason NBA games off the airwaves and stated that free speech doesn’t cover anything that challenges “national sovereignty.”
In conclusion, it’s easy being woke when you are slapping at Trump. Kneeling for the national anthem carries no risks. But when push comes to shove, the wokest among us cower like scared dogs.
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