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#pounditFriday, December 3, 2021

ESPN president asked if he regrets handling of Maria Taylor-Rachel Nichols controversy

Maria Taylor

ESPN’s executives took plenty of heat for its handling of the Maria Taylor-Rachel Nichols controversy. The network ended up separating the two women and later removing Nichols from her NBA Finals duties. Their actions were in response to audio of a private conversation Nichols had got leaked to the media. In the conversation, Nichols accused ESPN of taking a job from her and giving it to Taylor for race reasons (details here).

The situation was handled so poorly by ESPN’s leadership that problems between the women and other members of the network lingered for a year and went unresolved until the matter leaked to the media. Nichols ended up losing all her NBA roles for ESPN. Taylor ended up leaving for NBC.

ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro was in charge of the network throughout the whole matter. He was a guest on Andrew Marchand and John Ourand’s podcast and was asked if he regretted the way the matter was handled.

Pitaro must have been prepared for the question, because he never answered it and spent about a minute spinning the subject and talking about how he wanted to focus on the future.

Maybe Pitaro recognized that was a no-win question and that nothing he could say in response would reflect well upon him. There’s no way he doesn’t regret things. He was even criticized by the NBA commissioner.

The question is whether the matter taught any lessons to ESPN’s executives.

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