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ESPN hasn’t engaged in the political aspects of the China-NBA fiasco, and it doesn’t sound like it will anytime soon.
Deadspin reported Tuesday that the sports network had circulated a memo forbidding its employees from discussing politics and the situation unfolding overseas after the Houston Rockets general manager voiced support for democracy in Hong Kong on Twitter. Pro-democracy protests have been going on for months amid crackdowns .
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Given the network’s history in past years of getting very political at times, some people were certainly surprised by the alleged stance from leadership.
However, don’t expect much to change going forward even considering recent events. According to a person familiar with ESPN’s thinking, the network believes the memo was “misreported” and that it was “actually an email from an ESPN editor to a few colleagues which was a reiteration of ESPN’s policy: That it only covers politics as it intersects with sports.”
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He also explained the situation in China and that ESPN’s coverage of the NBA is “not a political decision in any way,” and compared it to the way “CNN covers politics or foreign policy.”
The same individual, who spoke to me on the condition of background, added that ESPN feels they’re now in a no-win situation. They either talk politics and get slammed for it, or they don’t and the result is the same.
“Now ESPN is being criticized for not being political enough....
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