(TheIndependentStar.com) – ESPN’s Rachel Nichols was supposed to cover the sidelines at the NBA finals, but a recorded telephone conversation put an end to that plan. The network removed her from the coverage program in an announcement on Tuesday, July 6, saying the decision will help to keep the focus on the NBA.
The scandal arising from the leaked conversation has harmed Nichols and the person she was speaking to, Adam Mendelsohn. While the nature and extent of the fallout are not completely clear yet, there is a lot we do know about the story.
The Phone Call
On July 13, 2020, Nichols and Mendelsohn were having a conversation when the Fox host forgot to turn off the camera on her computer. The resulting sound and footage were synced to ESPN servers, which allowed an unnamed colleague to download and spread the video around.
In the call with Mendelsohn, who is basketball star LeBron James’ PR advisor, Nichols discusses her dissatisfaction with the network’s decision to give one of her jobs to another reporter when she had a contract including this specific on-air stint.
The position went to Maria Taylor, who is black. Nichols is white, which raised some concerns over her remarks, but the conversation went on to talk about how Nichols’ anger was not directed at Taylor. Nichols wished her coworker success in the role.
However, she was not happy to lose a gig she worked hard to get and said she felt ESPN made the decision under pressure to diversify on-air talent. She continued that if the network was trying to make up for its “crappy longtime record on diversity,” it shouldn’t have pursued this objective by taking things away from her.
For his part, Mendelsohn said he was exhausted by diversity issues. He also called ESPN a “snake pit.”
Hitting the News
Since the call happened over a year ago, it may seem odd that it is only coming to light now. The reason people are talking about it is a recent New York Times story that criticized ESPN’s failure to react to the situation properly. The article said the network did not adequately deal with what it painted as a “scandal.”
The article implied that Nichols’ feelings were based on the other broadcaster’s race. It created the impression that Nichols felt Maria Taylor got her position, not because she worked for it, but because of her ethnicity alone.
After the Times story on July 5, Nichols made a public apology. Her words were directed at her colleagues, especially Taylor. She said she was sorry for disappointing anyone, but she did not directly apologize to the network.
She also says she tried to reach out to her fellow broadcaster personally, but that Taylor never responded. Taylor also had no response to requests for comments from the media.
Nichols still retains her position at ESPN and remains the host of The Jump. It is unclear whether the network will take any additional steps against her.
Copyright 2021, TheIndependentStar.com