ESPN host Rachel Nichols apologizes for racially-insensitive comments

Published on Monday, 5 July 2021 17:16
Written by Erica Drzewiecki

@drzewieckinbh

BRISTOL – On Monday’s episode of “The Jump” on ESPN, host Rachel Nichols apologized to those hurt by comments she made a year ago in regards to the race of a colleague.

The Los Angeles-based reporter came under fire after The New York Times reported details of a leaked phone conversation Nichols had on July 13, 2020. The comments were made by Nichols after she learned that black reporter Maria Taylor – not her - would be covering the 2020 NBA finals.

On Monday’s episode of “The Jump” Nichols addressed the scandal and her leaked conversation.

“So the first thing they teach you in journalism school is don’t be the story and I don’t plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic finals,” she said, “but I also don’t want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect, how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN and how deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt - particularly Maria Taylor - and how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team.”

During the leaked conversation, Nichols, who is white, had been speaking with Adam Mendelsohn, longtime adviser of LeBron James and his agent, Rich Paul.

“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world - she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said in the clip obtained by The Times. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity - which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it - like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”

Nichols was suggesting that Taylor, the host of ESPN’s NBA Countdown, had gotten the job because she was black, the Times reported.

Nichols also told Mendelsohn that ESPN was “feeling pressure” about racial diversity and went on to say she planned to wait for ESPN’s next move, to which Mendelsohn replied, “I don’t know. I’m exhausted. Between Me Too and Black Lives Matter, I got nothing left.” Nichols then allegedly laughed.

The recording was spread around the workplace less than a week after ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro had pledged to change the company’s culture following a push by black employees to make improvements.

The company did not discipline Nichols, despite criticism from employees who complained that the sports network has long mishandled problems with racism, the Times reported.

Both current and former ESPN employees, who commented on the promise of anonymity, told The Times that ESPN’s decision not to discipline Nichols was painful to coworkers and affected network coverage.

The company had not released a statement in regards to the situation as of Monday and staff at the Bristol headquarters were not available to comment.

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at edrzewiecki@centralctcommunications.com.



Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, General Sports on Monday, 5 July 2021 17:16. Updated: Monday, 5 July 2021 17:18.