By Joseph Wulfsohn
Published July 18, 2019
ESPN host Dan Le Batard blasted his own network on Thursday while taking on President Trump over the "send her back" chants that were heard at his North Carolina rally, telling his audience that his employer is "cowardly" for not allowing political discussion and that people are "complicit" if they don't call out the chant as "racist."
"This felt un-American what happened last night ... It's not the America that my parents aimed to get for us, for exiles, for brown people," Le Batard began. "There's a racial division in this country that's being instigated by the president and we here at ESPN haven't had the stomach for that fight because Jemele [Hill] did some things on Twitter and you saw what happened after that and then here, all of a sudden, nobody talks politics on anything unless they use one of these sports figures as a meat shield in the most cowardly possible way to discuss these subjects."
Le Batard, whose parents are exiles from Cuba, called the Trump rally "deeply offensive" for targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, and said the president was "so wrong" for trying to "divide the masses." He argued that the subject isn't about "politics" but rather "race" and continued to hammer the sports network for avoiding it.
"We don't talk about what is happening unless there's some sort of weak, cowardly sports angle that we can run it through when sports has always been the place where this stuff changes," he elaborated. "Man, Muhammad Ali was fighting for this stuff in the sixties! Bill Russell and Jim Brown are really old! Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is old! These people who were fighting, the most powerful among us in sports who were fighting in the Civil Rights era for things -- atrocities happening to black people that we're still paying for now in a country where it was our greatest sin, what has happened to minorities in this country. They're old and dying! Jim Brown walks with a cane, man! He's gonna go to the grave with Colin Kaepernick still out of the league! Literally blackballed because we're taking this stuff and we're making it about the flag when it's not about the flag! It's about race, like burning a cross and saying it's about God. It's not about the flag!"
He continued, "This is deeply offensive to me as somebody whose parents have made all the sacrifices to get to this country. 'Send her back,' how are you any more American than her? You're more privileged, you're whiter, you're richer, people don't know whether your money is real or not. You've had every privilege afforded to you, every privilege! And now, what you do with that power? You go after brown people and black people and minorities? And around here, we won't talk about it? We won't talk about it unless Russell Wilson is saying something about it on his Instagram.
"Weak-ass shield. It is antithetical to what we should be," Le Batard added. "And If you're not calling it abhorrent, obviously racist, dangerous rhetoric, you're complicit."
ESPN declined to comment when reached out by Fox News.
The iconic sports network has been plagued with politics in the Trump era. Former ESPN host Jemele Hill stirred up controversy for attacking the president on Twitter and was pulled from the air. “First Take” co-host Max Kellerman blasted golfing superstar Tiger Woods for his remarks about respecting the Oval Office under President Trump.
However, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro expressed last year that his intent was to move the network away from political discussion.
"I will tell you I have been very, very clear with employees here that it is not our jobs to cover politics, purely,” Pitaro said at the time.