May 2, 2017

Denying ESPN Has A Liberal Bias Just Makes You An Idiot

Ask anyone who stopped watching ESPN why they stopped watching ESPN. You will get a variation of one answer. Their programming and personalities are caustic. I have yet to find anyone who says they stopped watching ESPN because they cut their cable. Fact is, people stopped watching ESPN long before they started cutting their cable subscriptions in favor of streaming services. ESPN was just forced on them as a part of their package.

Yes, other factors like bad business practices, declining sports ratings, yada yada have helped ESPN drop nearly 30% in the ratings the past several years. The last time ESPN ratings were as low as they were in 2016, the iPhone 3G had just been released. There was no such thing as an iOS or Android Developer. Social media experts and digital marketing specialists didn’t exist either. Uber, Lyft, Instagram, Pinterest and Stripe weren’t around, and Blockbuster was still in business. Just to put things into perspective.

Liberals in the media are circling the wagons in an attempt to paint it as a conspiratorial myth that ESPN’s liberal programming contributed to their current troubles. Liberals who work at liberal publications and networks that have almost all had declining subscribers and viewers mind you. They can’t allow the world to know that pushing a confrontational liberal agenda turns people against you, after all.

Enter Dave Zirin at The Nation.

The Nation is a rag of rags. I used to devote a weekly segment on my show to mocking them, and their often silly, petulant musings.

NewsBusters:

In his postmortem of last week’s massive layoffs by ESPN, The Nation’s Dave Zirin has unleashed a caustic attack on any media that would dare criticize the sports network with charges of liberal bias.

If you see any article that tries to blame ESPN’s economic struggles on the “liberal” tilt of the network, use those to line your birdcage. First, it’s not true. Second, it seems to be a reaction to the fact that ESPN actually has a laudable commitment to diversity and putting women, black people, and people of color in positions to actually talk about sports. This sends the alt-right sewers of the Internet and their minions at publications like the National Review into fits of hysterics. It’s an unserious argument made by unserious people.

Yeah, yeah, yeah … people are only turned off by ESPN’s liberalness because they don’t like women and minorities. How cliche. It’s extra funny watching Zirin try to figure out what ‘alt right’ is, and actually daring to label National Review among them. I guess that’s what National Review gets for getting in bed with tired old liberal attacks against Trump and his supporters. That whole paragraph read like nebulous platitudes of ad hominem attacks against random words on a cheat sheet list of boogeymen. There was nothing coherent, nothing of substance. The biggest lie of all is that Zirin said ESPN’s liberal bias was ‘not true.’

Ok cupcake, here’s a montage:

I’ll let you decide if Zirin’s proclamation that no liberal bias exists at ESPN is true, or if you will believe you own lying ears.

Furthermore, ESPN themselves think they have a liberal bias, and it’s turning people against them.

Salon:

Longtime ESPN anchor Linda Cohn argued that her network’s alleged liberal bent scared off some of its viewers and subscribers, leading to this week’s “bloodbath” in Bristol.

Ok, but she’s just an anchor with no real prestige. We probably shouldn’t take her opinion seriously. Right sexists?

Daily Wire:

ESPN is far from immune from the political fever that has afflicted so much of the country over the past year. Internally, there’s a feeling among many staffers — both liberal and conservative — that the company’s perceived move leftward has had a stifling effect on discourse inside the company and has affected its public-facing product. Consumers have sensed that same leftward movement, alienating some…. For most of its history, ESPN was viewed relatively apolitically. Its core focus was — and remains today, of course — sports. Although the nature of sports meant an occasional detour into politics and culture was inevitable, there wasn’t much chatter about an overall perceived political bias. If there was any tension internally, it didn’t manifest itself publicly.

– ESPN Public Editor Jim Brady

Brady talked to anchor Bob Ley, who admitted that ESPN has no “diversity of thought.” A conservative employee told Brady that “If you’re a Republican or conservative, you feel the need to talk in whispers.”

Brady wrote a whole article outlining that ESPN was INTENTIONALLY moving away from sports, and into politics, culture and social justice.

After writing about the numerous messages and comments ESPN gets from people wanting ESPN to take non-sports content off of their websites and programming, he goes on to highlight that ESPN is moving away from sports on purpose.

ESPN, in fact, just removed any question about the sports-politics-culture intersection when it released new political guidelines that loosen the restraints on commentary about politics and culture, though stressing that such discussion should connect to sports whenever possible.

Whatever one thinks of the revised guidelines, one thing appears beyond dispute: The volume of non-sports content within ESPN’s empire has increased significantly in recent years.

He goes on to talk about ESPN’s embrace of non-sports websites in the company, and how their content is added to ESPN to expand beyond sports. Those two websites (FiveThirtyEight & The Undefeated) are both admittedly liberal. Then he drops this tidbit:

While ESPN’s move away from sports as a primary vehicle is more noticeable on The Undefeated and FiveThirtyEight, the trend doesn’t completely stop at the border of ESPN-branded properties. The new SC6 — the daily 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter hosted by Jemele Hill and Michael Smith — also frequently strays from sports. ESPN’s own news release on the show says [with emphasis added]:

“Smith and Hill, who previously co-hosted ESPN2’s His & Hers and will be the first African-American duo to host SportsCenter on a regular basis, will combine some of the best elements of their previous program with SportsCenter for the new show, including a deliberate and well-paced conversational format in which they discuss sports topics, news, culture and social issues.”

Smith and Hill are both liberals.

Brady then highlights again that fans aren’t happy with the shift towards politics that Zirin says doesn’t exist:

ESPN’s shift toward more cultural and political content — even a slight-to-moderate one — is noted with derision by some fans.

He ends his column by writing:

ESPN has made it clear: It’s not sticking to sports.

Yes, yes it has. Fans have made it clear they don’t like that shift while Zirin denies that shift is even taking place. This, in spite of the fact that ESPN has made this shift very public, and makes no apologies for it.

Deep Root Analytics is a firm that specializes in TV viewership metrics. Their numbers show a less Republican audience for ESPN in 2016 than in 2015. ESPN embraced more left-wing politics on their programming, promoted it, then lost Republican audience as a result. I should point out that in 2015, ESPN’s audience skewed Republican across all dayparts. ESPN’s audience ranged from +12 – +21 Republican. ESPN literally started attacking the majority of their audience. As a result, in 2016, daytime dropped 16 percentage points to just +2 Republican.

Late Fringe and Overnight viewership swung to a 12 percent advantage for Democrats, 22 and 28 point shift, respectively.

Zirin, again, denies this is happening.

 

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