The New York Times reported on Sunday that a leaked tape of a phone call from last year has created a tough situation at ESPN by putting two of the network’s most visible female announcers against each other.
The controversy began when ESPN officials chose Maria Taylor over Rachel Nichols to headline the network’s coverage of the NBA Finals last year.
Nichols called LeBron James’ longtime advisor Adam Mendelsohn to vent her disappointment in not getting the job.
Nichols believes the network was under pressure to improve its record on racial issues and gave the job to Taylor as a result.
The Times claims a camera in Nichols’ hotel room recorded the call, allowing her to appear on video while standing on the NBA’s outer rim.
A video server at ESPN headquarters stored the content, making it accessible to anyone with internet access.
Prominent Female Announcers Against One Another
A transcript of Nichols’s interview with Daily Kos reads, “May Maria Taylor have endless success in all she undertakes.”
Yes, I’ve experienced it firsthand from the female perspective; by all means, give her additional options to try if you’re feeling the heat from the public for your terrible track record on diversity over the years.
You’ll have to go somewhere to find it. And you certainly won’t take my stuff without paying for it.
The Times claims that a concealed camera in Nichols’ room broadcast her decision live from the NBA locker room.
Content was kept on a video server at ESPN headquarters, making it available to anyone with an internet connection.
The Times reports that ESPN has chosen not to penalise Nichols for the remark she made about a year ago, when she found out she will not be hosting coverage of the 2020 NBA finals despite her hopes of doing so.
Nichols spoke with Rich Paul, LeBron James’ agent, and Adam Mendelsohn, James’ longtime adviser on the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 47-year-old sports writer went to Mendelsohn for counsel at the time because she felt her superiors were favouring Taylor over her.