ESPN has famously kept its employees from speaking out on politics, but the protests and the death of George Floyd has become too big even for them to ignore.
ESPN's outspoken Dan Le Batard had some strong comments about the weekend that was filled with protests and in some cases, rioting, saying:
"You can't believe anything you see and read because you see bricks in the street and you don't know who put them there. You don't know whether the people protesting really are protesting or they just want to start more violence. That's propaganda, that's Cuba. You can't believe the things that you are watching. You don't know what's real and what's not real and it just, it's heartbreaking."
"America and its vibrant economy had to close down because of a disease that attacked the lungs for a few months and now that disease has been engulfed and swallowed by the disease that has ravaged the heart for centuries."
Jimmy Traina had some thoughts on Le Batard's comments.
Read the full video transcript below:
Robin Lundberg: As we're all reeling from the current state of affairs in the country, that goes for those of us who cover sports as well, making it very difficult to talk about them like we normally would. For more, I'm joined by our media columnist Jimmy Traina. Jimmu, Dan Le Batard, of course, of ESPN where you're not supposed to talk about politics, addressed George Floyd's death and the protests today.
Jimmy Traina: Yeah. You knew Le Batard's show would be a must watch after what we saw take place over the weekend. And he delivered his usual very, very passionate, very authentic, very real. If you'll remember, Le Batard got in a little bit of trouble because he spoke out against the "go back to where you came from" comments at a Trump rally several months ago. And I guess now this is even too big for ESPN to hold people to their only sports edict. And Dan talked about just the heartbreak of watching everything over the weekend. And you don't know. You're watching these videos. You're watching the coverage. You don't know who's there protesting because they're concerned about George Floyd, the racism in the country, or there are people there to just, you know, cause trouble, loot, steal. You know, unfortunately, everything got so out of hand that there was a mix of both. You had peaceful protests. You didn't have a peaceful protest. You had people there legitimately. People they are not legitimately. All colors, all races. And Dan talked about how painful that was to see.
Robin Lundberg: Yeah, you know, in the midst of the pandemic, it really sort of reinforced that idea of sports as an escape for me. But then, you know, this resonates and brings it back that the fact that you can't separate sports from the real world. And I always took a little umbrage with the notion of the word politics being used as sort of like a shield to protect from discussing all these issues.
Jimmy Traina: Yeah, exactly, I mean, for instance if Roger Goodell is going to implement a rule that says players have to stand for the national anthem if they're on the field, then there's politics in that statement. And, you know, now, of course, you want to backtrack and say he supports peaceful protests, which is obviously a lie. So listen, there's politics in it all in to try to be naive and say, no politics when sports are involved. If there's no politics involved, why they singing the national anthem before every game. So a lot of people want to have it both ways on this topic.
Robin Lundberg: Jimmy, appreciate your time and insight, as always.
For more on the sports world reacting to George Floyd's death: