Radio host Clay Travis posited Tuesday that ESPN reporter Maria Taylor is behind the recent leak of one of her colleague’s comments that plunged the network into racial controversy.
A recently leaked recording showed ESPN host Rachel Nichols, who is white, slamming the sports network for allegedly pulling an offer for her to host the 2020 NBA Finals and giving it to Taylor, who is black. Nichols said that the network replaced her with Taylor to show “diversity.”
The recording was of a conversation between Nichols and LeBron James PR advisor Adam Mendelsohn caught on a hot mic in July of last year. Travis said that the recording’s release conspicuously coincides with Taylor’s negotiations with ESPN for a new contract. That and other factors suggests that Taylor is behind the leak, according to the radio host.
“Maria Taylor’s contract is up in a couple of weeks,” Clay stated, according to Outkick. “If you want to know how a story like this actually ends up occurring, it is because Maria Taylor decided to have her people leak this story. She’s the only one who benefits, she’s the only one not quoted directly in the story. She is trying to extort ESPN into paying her a massive salary increase, which she does not otherwise deserve.”
In the leaked audio, Nichols ripped ESPN for allegedly snubbing her and giving the promised job to Taylor for “diversity reasons.” Nichols did not fault Taylor for the situation, but blamed ESPN for the controversy.
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols told Mendelsohn at the time.
“If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it,” she said. “Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”
After the recording leaked, Nichols attempted to apologize to Taylor through texts and phone calls, none of which her colleague responded to.
Nichols was pulled from sideline reporting duties for the NBA Finals after the video leak. Her ESPN show “The Jump” was also canceled for a day but she is expected to return to the show Wednesday.
“We believe this is the best decision for all concerned in order to keep the focus on the NBA Finals,” ESPN said in a statement on the decision to pull Nichols off the sideline of the NBA Finals. “Rachel will continue to host The Jump.”
Nichols received support from former NBA player and activist Stephen Jackson after the leaked audio broke. Jackson said he understood Nichols’ frustration and also blamed ESPN for trying “to make themselves look good” by replacing Nichols with Taylor.
“They were trying to make themselves look good because all the Black Lives Matter and George Floyd stuff was going on,” Jackson said. “So ESPN tried to make themselves look good by taking the job from Rachel that she had already had, that they already told her she had, that she deserved, and give it to Maria just to make themselves look good. ESPN, ya’ll are some suckers.”
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