ESPN radio host Dan Le Batard not only ignored ESPN's "no politics" talk during his show Thursday, he doubled down and ripped the policy to shreds.
SI reached out to ESPN Friday morning for a comment on Le Batard's monologue, but a network spokesperson said, "We decline to comment." The host missed the first hour of his ESPN simulcast on Friday, but a source told SI that it was Le Batard's "choice" and not the result of any disciplinary action handed down by ESPN.
Le Batard, whose parents came to the United States from Cuba, was clearly upset about Donald Trump's rally on Wednesday evening during which his supporters chanted "send her back" while the President spoke about Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar. Trump had previously tweeted that Omar, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
Shortly after saying what happened at the rally was "un-American," and calling out Trump for instigating racial division, Le Batard went in on his own company.
“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 we can use one of these sports figures as a meat-shield in the most cowardly possible way to discuss these subjects.”
Hill was supsended in 2017 after violating ESPN's social media policy twice within the same month. First she called Trump a "white supremacist" and then she suggested fans boycott Jerry Jones' advertisers if they were unhappy with his stance on players kneeling during the national anthem.
Le Batard then went back to Trump, saying the rally was "deeply offensive" and cited this tweet from FS1's Nick Wright.
Le Batard continued, "The 'send her back' chant and the 'go back to where you came from' chant are so antithetical. It is so right what [Wright] is saying there. It is so wrong what the president of our country is doing, trying to go down getting re-elected by dividing the masses at a time when the old white man—the old rich white man—feels oppressed being attacked by minorites, black people, brown people, women. That's who we're going after now."
The longtime radio host wasn't done with ESPN, though. He again called out the network's gag order on political talk.
“The only way we can discuss it around here—because this isn’t about politics, it’s about race; what you’re seeing happening around here is about race and it’s been turned into politics—we only talk about it around here when Steve Kerr or [Gregg] Popovich says something. 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 a place where this stuff changes.”
Le Batard closed out the segment by calling Trump's words "dangerous rhetoric."
In a May interview with Vox, ESPN President, Jimmy Pitaro, had this to say about the mix of politics and ESPN: "What we don’t want is people to tune into ESPN, or people to tune into an ESPN feed on a social platform and get pure political commentary. We don’t believe that that’s who we are. We don’t believe that that’s why people tune into ESPN. And by the way, we’ve talked about this a bunch in the past, but we try to make as many decisions as possible based on data. And we’ve done a lot of research in this area and our fans have told us that this is not why they tune into ESPN."
Pitaro then added, "What we hear is that, sports are supposed to unify. Right? And that means ESPN is supposed to unify. That’s the approach that we’re taking."