ESPN suspends analyst Parker for comments on Griffin
"Rob Parker has been suspended until further notice," a network spokesman said. "We are conducting a full review."
In a discussion of how Griffin views himself within the prism of race following this
"For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing," Parker said on a Thursday show which aired on ESPN2. "And I don't know who's asking the questions, but we've heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people. ...
"But time and time we keep hearing this, so it just makes me wonder deeper about him. And I've talked to some people down in Washington, D.C., friends of mine, who are around and at some of the press conferences, people I've known for a long time. But my question, which is just a straight honest question. Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?"
Parker was then asked to explain what that meant, and he did so, poorly.
"Well, [that] he's black, he kind of does his thing, but he's not really down with the cause, he's not one of us," Parker said. "He's kind of black, but he's not really the guy you'd really want to hang out with, because he's off to do something else."
He was then interrupted by
"Well, because I want to find out about him," Parker said. "I don't know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he's a Republican, which, there's no information [about that] at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like I've got black skin but don't call me black. So people got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on."
You can read the full transcript here, courtesy of Dan Steinberg of
Parker's comments came less than 72 hours after ESPN president John Skipper defended the program, arguing that critics are mistakenly applying journalistic standards to a show that is not steeped in journalism.
"It's just another show," Skipper told
Critics Thursday slammed Parker and the program.
"Just another example of bigotry masquerading as incisive commentary," wrote
"The network made a strategic decision to traffic in shrill, sensationalist debate for ratings," said
Robert Littal of
Notably, ESPN2 re-aired the show on Thursday without cutting Parker's comments. Hours later, after Parker's name had trended in shame on Twitter for hours, and following an endless wave of stories that shredded him, ESPN issued a statement that it was evaluating the situation. (On Friday, ESPN declined to answers specifics as to why the show re-aired, saying it was a conducting a full review of everything.) Griffin responded to Parker's comments by taking the high road. "I'm thankful for a lot of things in life and One of those things is your support," he tweeted. "Thank you."
SI.com spoke to a half-dozen ESPN staffers Thursday, none of whom would go on the record about the Parker incident. But all were dismayed about how
That won't happen as ESPN benched him on Friday for an indeterminate time.