ESPN’s sweeping staff cuts are not just the result of ambitious TV rights deals and an overburdened budget, popular “SportsCenter” anchor Linda Cohn suggested Thursday.
The network may be losing the subscriber revenue not just because of cord-cutting, Cohn allowed, but because viewers are increasingly turned off by ESPN inserting politics into its sports coverage.
“That is definitely a percentage of it,” Cohn said Thursday on 77 WABC’s “Bernie and Sid” show when asked whether certain social or political stances contributed to the stupor that resulted in . “I don’t know how big a percentage, but if anyone wants to ignore that fact, they’re blind.”
Cohn agreed with the argument that certain sports fans may have disapproved of the way ESPN covered polarizing figures such as Roger Goodell, Colin Kaepernick and Caitlyn Jenner.
The example used was of the 2015 ESPYs. Jenner, a former Olympic champion in the decathlon, won the prestigious Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for publicly coming out as a transgender woman. Some felt athletes suffering from disease or disability, such as college basketball player Lauren Hill — who died from cancer three months before the ceremony — and marathoner Noah Galloway — who lost an arm and a leg in the Iraq War — were more deserving.
Cohn, a 25-year ESPN veteran, toed the company line.
“You know, when you work for a big company, you have to follow in line, you have to pay the bills,” she said. “But you just kind of look in the mirror and do what you think is right no matter what else is going on around you. And that’s what I always tried to do.”
The layoffs at ESPN, reportedly of at least 100 employees, began Wednesday, and news of the departures continued to .