Dan Le Batard skipped his radio program on Monday following a weekend of trying to persuade ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro to soften his rule that politics should be avoided on the sports network following last week’s anti-Trump outburst by the outspoken host.
ESPN honchos reminded staffers last week that on-air talent should avoid stories considered “pure politics” after Le Batard slammed President Trump along with his "cowardly" ESPN for not allowing employees to speak out.
Pitaro stood his ground despite Le Batard’s efforts to get permission to talk politics going forward. Once Le Batard was told to knock off the political rhetoric, he told ESPN that he wasn’t mentally prepared to host his radio program, “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” on Monday, according to a source close to the situation.
Le Batard will still host his television program, “Highly Questionable,” on Monday and is expected to return to the radio on Tuesday.
The controversy began last week when Le Batard, whose parents are exiles from Cuba, called last Wednesday’s Trump rally "deeply offensive" because the crowd targeted Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, with chants of “send her back.” He also blasted ESPN for not allowing its broadcasters to criticize the situation.
ESPN allows its personalities to discuss politics when they cross with sports, such as players skipping White House visits and athletes kneeling during the national anthem.
Employees, including Le Batard, were notified that the policy hasn’t changed and strictly political stories don’t have a place at the iconic sports network under current leadership.
ESPN became increasingly liberal under former ESPN President John Skipper, a close friend of Le Batard who left the network in 2017 when a drug dealer attempted to extort him by using his cocaine habit against him. Pitaro replaced Skipper and quickly declared that he wanted less politics on his airwaves.
With the exception of a few isolated incidents, including Thursday’s Le Batard comments, ESPN has remained largely apolitical under Pitaro.