Former ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols says ‘at least’ one network colleague was ‘spying’ on her

Former ESPN Rachel Nichols believes the leaked audio recording that was used to destroy her career at ESPN was obtained by someone who’d been “spying” on her.

If you recall, Nichols was ousted after audio was leaked last year of her complaining about a black colleague who’d been granted her spot covering the 2020 NBA Finals in response to pressure from the press about ESPN’s alleged lack of diversity.

The audio was a recording of her having a phone conversation in her hotel room with “LeBron James’ publicist about how to prevent a fellow female anchor who’s [b]lack, from taking over her job during the Finals,” as reported by TMZ.

The question that’s remained unanswered is how the heck did whoever leaked the audio obtain the recording in the first place.

Speaking on Showtime’s “All the Smoke” podcast last week, Nichols theorized that the leaker had been “spying” on her using some cellphone app, and that the leaker had been one of her then-colleagues back at ESPN.

She explained that she’d been working from home and thus dealing with new equipment that she wasn’t familiar with, including the aforementioned app.

“It was a different set of equipment that I had been using to broadcast at home, so my very first day I’m there, I’m using the new equipment, and I didn’t know that if you leave a particular app running in the background, that the line looking into my hotel room to Bristol would stay open,” she said.

And so after she finished her work, she kept the app running as she completed a couple different tasks.

“I did the things you would do on your first day in a hotel room. I spent hours unpacking, called my husband, talked to my kids, called some friends, called my doctor, and unfortunately that entire time nobody back at ESPN told me that there was an open line to my hotel room. And anyone who looked at the feed could see me. No one shut it off,” she said.

“[Someone] decided, oh, she clearly doesn’t know if she’s being watched unpacking or doing all these other things, and at least one person decided to just sit and watch and started spying on me like I was their own personal television show. And when they heard something they thought was juicy, they picked up their cell phone and they started recording my conversation on their cell phone.”

Nichols then explained why she’d complained about her black colleague, Maria Taylor, nabbing her gig.

“This was a conversation between me and a friend. We talked about a lot of different things. But then he brought up the article that had been in the paper about the lack of opportunities for people of color at ESPN, and we started talking about how my situation may intersect with [it],” she said.

“I called Maria Taylor incredibly talented, then I said I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world. She covers football, she covers basketball. If you need to give her more things to do because you at ESPN are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity … well then go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You’re not going to find it from taking my thing away. This is in my contract. This job is in my contract, in writing.”

For a recap, here’s what happened: Amid the Black Lives Matter riots, the media began running stories about ESPN’s alleged lack of so-called diversity. In response, the sports network decided to give Nichols’ gig to Taylor, despite the gig being in Nichols’ contract.

Nichols then complained privately about losing her gig while some unknown leaker listened in. A year later in 2021, the leaker released the audio to the media, and all hell broke loose as racial activists began coming for Nichols’ neck, and ESPN responded by cancelling her show. Soon after, word emerged that her contract had been nixed.

“Rachel Nichols and ESPN are officially done, and she is free to pursue a professional comeback. … The settlement agreement came after Nichols had been exiled by ESPN following the fallout over her private comments about diversity at the network were made public in July 2021,” the New York Post reported in January.

“Nichols had one year remaining on her deal, but ESPN had no intention of using her after the network removed her from its NBA coverage prior to this season. Now, Nichols is free to pursue other opportunities immediately, according to sources. She was making in the neighborhood of $1.5 million to $2 million per year.”

And all this because she had the apparent nerve to complain privately about ESPN’s veritable affirmative action scheme …


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