ESPN has released a statement on an edited video conversation reportedly between broadcaster/reporter Rachel Nichols and another ESPN employee that was sent to the website Deadspin.
“We are extremely disappointed about the leak of a private conversation. It’s indefensible and an intrusion on Rachel’s privacy,” the statement read. “As for the substance of the conversation, it is not reflective of our decision-making on staffing assignments for the NBA, which has largely been driven by the circumstances of the pandemic.”
Nichols is the popular host of the ESPN afternoon show The Jump and a major contributor to the network's NBA coverage overall.
According to Deadspin, whoever sent the video was attempting to expose Nichols as a "back-stabber" and "phony ally." Nichols did not appear in the video, which was supposedly streamed from her hotel room inside the Disney campus in Orlando.
"Nothing in the videos Deadspin viewed show Nichols saying anything that could be construed as either a back-stabber or phony ally," Deadspin wrote. "Historically, casting successful women as conniving backstabbers has been a tried and true method of encouraging public condemnation of them."
The NBA season is scheduled to resume at the end of the month, and Nichols is among the selected media members already in the league's "bubble" in Florida.
"Nichols is clearly unaware the video feed set up in her room for remote filming of her show is running while she discusses internal ESPN matters," Deadspin reported. "Rather than alerting Nichols that her video stream was still live or simply shutting the feed off on ESPN’s end, according to sources, an unidentified ESPN employee began to record the video feed on a phone, cut it up and disseminated it to others in the company.
"Deadspin is not certain whether anyone inside ESPN sent the recording of the videos to our reporter."
Nichols has not been reached for comment.