ESPN host Dan Le Batard went after both President Donald Trump and his own “cowardly” network on his radio show.
Talking about the controversial “send her back” chant that occurred at a Trump rally — the words were in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) — Le Batard said the president’s rally felt “un-American.”
“What happened last night, this felt un-American,” he said.
Le Batard, whose parents are from Cuba, continued, “It’s not the America that my parents aimed to get for us, for exiles, for brown people. There’s a racial division in this country that’s being instigated by the president and we here at ESPN haven’t had the stomach for that fight because Jemele [Hill] did some things on Twitter, and you saw what happened after that and then here, all of a sudden, nobody talks politics on anything unless they use one of these sports figures as a meat shield in the most cowardly possible way to discuss these subjects.”
The radio host then continued going after his own network for doing exactly what a sports network should be doing — covering sports.
“We don’t talk about what is happening unless there’s some sort of weak, cowardly sports angle that we can run it through when sports has always been the place where this stuff changes,” Le Batard said.
The host then longed for the political activism from the ’60s.
“Man, Muhammad Ali was fighting for this stuff in the ’60s! Bill Russell and Jim Brown are really old! Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is old! These people who were fighting, the most powerful among us in sports who were fighting in the civil rights era for things — atrocities happening to black people that we’re still paying for now in a country where it was our greatest sin, what has happened to minorities in this country,” he said.
The host also went into the national anthem kneeling controversy in the NFL and said, “It’s not about the flag!”
“They’re old and dying! Jim Brown walks with a cane, man! He’s going to go to the grave with Colin Kaepernick still out of the league! Literally blackballed because we’re taking this stuff and we’re making it about the flag when it’s not about the flag! It’s about race, like burning a cross and saying it’s about God. It’s not about the flag!” he said.
Le Batard also made sure to specifically go after Trump for the “send her back” chant at his rally.
Stop what you're doing and watch this.@LeBatardShow responds to the racist "Send her back" and "Go back to your country" attacks against Ilhan Omar and other congresswomen.
"If you're not calling it abhorrent, obviously racist, dangerous rhetoric, you're complicit." pic.twitter.com/ntOC2Seg3b
— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) July 18, 2019
“’Send her back,’ how are you any more American than her? You’re more privileged, you’re whiter, you’re richer, people don’t know whether your money is real or not,” he said. “You’ve had every privilege afforded to you, every privilege! And now, what you do with that power? You go after brown people and black people and minorities? And around here, we won’t talk about it? We won’t talk about it unless Russell Wilson is saying something about it on his Instagram.”
The president disavowed the chant at his rally saying, “I was not happy with it. I disagree with it.” Trump later went after the media for their “crazed” coverage of the chant and said that vile comments from members of Congress like Omar don’t get nearly as much mainstream media attention.
ESPN responded to Le Batard’s comments in a memo reportedly sent to employees on Friday reminding them that the network does not cover “pure politics.”
“It’s not about the message,” the memo from Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, read, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s about the use of [the] ESPN platform.”
He continued in the memo, “If someone feels strong about something, please come to us, and we’ll have a thoughtful discussion on how and where they can address.”
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