Tonight, ESPN gets their espresso shot of publicity at the ESPY’s.
Good for them. All’s fair in love, war, and TV ratings.
It took about a month for ESPN to craft an official defense of their Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner selection. In June, it was “the award speaks for itself.”
Now, well… I guess it’s “Bob Costas is the bad guy…” or something.
ESPY’s creator and current head honcho Maura Mandt spoke to SI’s Richard Deitch about the “inside baseball” of the whole thing and what she said was sure interesting. (I have helpfully BOLDED the phrases that ring out as the core of her complaints.)
Mandt said that ESPN expected criticism and backlash with the selection, though she was surprised by how aggressive the online vitriol was her way. But the criticism that personally affected her most, she said, was from Costas, someone she has long admired.
“I have watched Bob Costas my whole life, have great respect for Bob Costas,” Mandt said. “He has brought to us as fans and viewers some of the most memorable moments. He is a gifted broadcaster and writer, and perhaps of all of the things that have been said negatively, that disappointed me so greatly. Not because of his opinion. This whole story is all about that we get to choose who we are, what we say. That was what Arthur Ashe was about. So for Bob Costas who is greatly respected to make that statement with authority about this being a crass publicity play, people take that with authority, and that is dangerous.
“This is a subject matter where there are kids in the middle of the country killing themselves [over gender identity questions] and the whole courage of Caitlyn coming out is we all know now someone who is transgender. I would have expected Bob to not go to that place.. That interview (Costas) to me came off as exploitation because it got repeated and it got headlines. The [Jenner] piece is going to speak for itself. We are not going to change people who are set in their ways but I fear that Bob saying that may have taken some of those people who would have been a little bit open to the story and pushed them in a direction that it didn’t need to be pushed. I have great respect for him but it was disappointing.”
So basically, those with any opinion that ventures off the narrow plank of – “that’s great!” – are possibly “dangerous.” There’s a warning to others to “not go to that place” and most hilariously, she blamed Costas for being exploitative.
Oh, that’s rich.
But that’s where we are today on some topics in American culture. Agree, or you’re the bad guy. Got it.