A recent story on the leftward shift toward more political activism on the part ESPN (yeah, you got it right, the sports network) pointed out that there is still great conflict between what some define as human rights and others define as a progressive or liberal stance. It would seem, however, that the folks at ESPN, like many on the left, do not get the conflict.
When ESPN President John Skipper was asked about the perceived political shift
many ESPN employees and consumers have felt and if this was, indeed, a conscious move on the part of the network, he responded: “It is accurate
that the Walt Disney Company and ESPN are committed to diversity and
inclusion. These are long-standing values that drive
fundamental fairness while providing us with the widest possible pool of
talent to create the smartest and most creative staff. We do not view
this as a political stance but as a human stance. We do not think
tolerance is the domain of a particular political philosophy.”
Therein lies the rub. Tolerance. The tolerance Skipper is speaking of goes only one way -- they are tolerant of every new found gender identity and every leftward leaning cause but they do not and refuse to tolerate any diversity within this social agenda. Their understanding of human rights is one that is shaped and defined by an already leftward leaning stance toward those who claim such rights (especially those not spelled out in our constitution).
ESPN and its owner Disney before it have a definite aversion to unpopular ideas that were once mainstream (only recently, in fact) and are the doctrinal stance of the Roman Catholic Church and many others (including the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod). What will not be tolerated is any diversity with respect to the unfolding definition of gender identity and how it works out in everything from discrimination to bathrooms. What will not be tolerated is any deviation from the united front of what ESPN and most all media outlets consider the sacred cause of the GLBTQ. Remember what happened when baseball commentator tweeted out something about the transgender bathroom issue that did not mirror the tolerant opinion of ESPN. The response was quick and decisive. "ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling has been advised that his
conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been
terminated." Sure, different points of view relative to Colin Kaepernick’s actions were allowed but that is because his actions did not touch upon the tolerant ideas of social justice that are increasingly intolerant.
The classic idea of media objectivity has suffered mightily over the last decade or more. Perhaps social media has accelerated what was already a trend. For ESPN it is impossible to cover sports without acknowledging that an increasing number of athletes are taking political stances but does that mean that the
journalists themselves must take sides upon the issue and surrender their objectivity to become advocates of a cause?
According to Federal Election Commission data, between 2012 and today,
there were 104 individual political contributions from ESPN employees to
identifiable partisan entities. Of those, 80 percent went to Democratic
candidates, committees or PACs. Only 20 percent went to Republican
candidates, committees or PACs. Yes, it is an old saw and no, reporters of any stripe need not remain apolitical in their private lives, but the media bias is hardly evenly dispersed and even in sports reporting has shown why so many Americans find it hard to trust (or even stomach) those who claim tolerance when it is the most intolerant attitude of all. Almost with one fell swoop the media overall have decided that what is believed and confessed by a majority of Christians is incompatible with democratic values and social justice. When that happens, we have a big problem. Perhaps the fourth estate has just surrendered its right to judge what is right and wrong, tolerant and intolerant.