affirmed that the league will not put itself into the position of regulating what players, employees, or team owners say on potentially controversial issues, ESPN has gone the other way on the issue.hile NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has
After the Daryl Morey shitstorm blew up, the sports network’s senior news director, Chuck Salituro, sent out a memo to employees warning them to avoid any political discussion about China and Hong Kong when talking about the issue, according to Deadspin, which obtained a copy of the memo.
And indeed, ESPN personalities appear to have followed these orders well on Tuesday, discussing aspects of the Morey saga but failing to go into what exactly he was tweeting in support of in the first place, the pro-democracy, anti-government protests that have been ongoing in Hong Kong for more than four months.
Deadspin credits Around the Horn panelist Kevin Blackistone with providing the greatest amount of context during the day of programming, mentioning Hong Kong police firing live rounds at protesters and partially blinding one journalist.
The publication also called out fellow panelist Ramona Shelburne for giving the day’s shakiest take when she said:
Listen, I have learned more about the issue with China and Hong Kong in the last 48 hours because of this, and I think it is an example of how sports shines a light on the rest of the world. We go all the way back to ping-pong diplomacy in the 1970s when he U.S. ping pong team played against China and started opening up China to these discussions. People on both sides of this issue, whether you are in mainland China, Hong Kong, or around the world feel strongly about their positions. And I think it’s important for all of us to read about it and understand what is going on.
Of course, it’s no real surprise that ESPN management would want to prevent the network from falling into the same sort of China crisis like has the NBA. The league is facing some major ramifications from Morey’s tweet, which he has since deleted and issued a non-apology for.
ESPN is also majority-owned by Disney, which was portrayed as the Chinese government’s most enthusiastic supplicant in a recent episode of South Park, in which Mickey Mouse is willing to cast aside the lives of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet to have his company’s movies approved for Chinese theaters.