Who is Jimmy Pitaro? ESPN boss and network trolled for Rachel Nichols' ouster

Many believe ESPN's handling of the Maria Taylor and Rachel Nichols situation was poor which resulted in them losing both reporters

                            Who is Jimmy Pitaro? ESPN boss and network trolled for Rachel Nichols' ouster
Rachel Nichols' on-air innings at ESPN were fun while it lasted (ESPN/The Jump)

Rachel Nichols show 'The Jump' has been canceled by ESPN. She has a year left on her contract with the network, however, she will not be on air at all during this period according to some reports. ESPN has also decided on removing Nichols from all NBA programming. ESPN's statement on Rachel Nichols' ouster reads, "We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned. Rachel is an excellent reporter, host, and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content."

Nichols' on-air innings at ESPN were fun while it lasted. She has always been commended for her job by viewers and by industry peers alike and everything was working in her favor until the July 2020 call leak. In the conversation, Nichols questioned Maria Taylor's credibility at ESPN and said the latter was given the opportunity to cover NBA Finals coverage for the network because she was Black. She said ESPN was "feeling pressure" to push out more diversity on-air and that giving the gig to Taylor was a cover-up.


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“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball. 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. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away," a transcribe of her conversation on that call read. This incident was brought to light in a New York Times exposé and it shook up the sports world to its core. Taylor quit ESPN in July over Nichols' comments and joined NBC Sports on the 23rd of last month. 

Nichols on the other hand had already issued an apology to Taylor on 'The Jump' earlier in July but it barely could salvage anything. A day later, on July 7, ESPN announced it was replacing Nichols as the sideline reporter during the finals with African-American reporter Malika Andrews. Fast forward to August 17, Nichols jetted away for a vacation and ESPN announced Andrews was replacing her for the week on 'The Jump'. On Wednesday, August 25, it was reported ESPN wasn't putting Nichols on-air again. 

Who is the boss at ESPN?

Longtime Disney executive Jimmy Pitaro was announced as the President of the troubled sports network in 2018 and co-chair of Disney Media Networks. CEO Bob Iger had said at the time, “Jimmy is a talented and dedicated leader with the right strategic vision, relentless drive, and passion for sports required to lead the stellar ESPN team at this incredibly dynamic time.”

Pitaro commented on the Nichols-Taylor situation in a lengthy memo to ESPN staff, an excerpt from which read, "Change takes time, and I ask for your partnership on this journey. Know that our leadership is committed to accelerating our efforts and working toward a collective goal — an ESPN where everyone feels they belong.” At a later point in the memo, he wrote, "I do want to be clear on one thing: Maria Taylor was selected as ‘NBA Countdown’ host last year because she earned it. Please know our commitment is that assignments and opportunities at ESPN are based on merit and any concerns, remarks, or inferences that suggest otherwise have been and will continue to be addressed.”

Promising to address and have an open conversation around diversity and inclusion at an employee town hall later in July, he wrote, "we will continue to have focused conversations with the Black and African American community at ESPN in the coming weeks. As always, we value an open and honest dialogue.” All said and done, ESPN's handling of this situation was deemed poor by many majorly for them being unable to settle the situation which had been simmering since Nichols was recorded on video saying those things. The video was made available to all employees after an employee discovered it on ESPN's system. 

ESPN has lost Taylor to NBC Sports and now they've fired Rachel Nichols. They broke contractual and verbal agreements while dealing with this situation, according to the Times. NBA commissioner Adam Silver too had commented on the network's missteps and failures in July. “When people can’t get in a room and talk through these issues, this seemingly has [festered] now for a full year. I would have thought that in the past year, maybe through some incredibly difficult conversations, that ESPN would have found a way to be able to work through it. Obviously not," he said. 

People on Twitter are not far behind in trolling ESPN for pulling Nichols off-air. "Absolutely heartbroken to hear this. Always loved this show. Rachel, you have ONLY ever had the best heart, and intentions for the NBA, WNBA, and ALL the players! A tremendous loss for the league and fans. I feel ESPN has made a HUGE mistake. This will hurt NBA ratings even more," a tweet read. "@Rachel__Nichols tryna cancel you or your accountant or your programming does not help the black community in any way shape or form it doesn’t solve any problems this only highlights the very bad decision making the Disney ESPN has in that building I wish you very much success on," another user tweeted. 

"The psycho woke leftist cancel another one. Rachel Nichols reportedly out at ESPN. Wonder who is going to excersize their free speech rights and get their hand slapped next month?? #RIDICULOUS #WAKEUPAMERICA #CANCELCANCELCULTURE" an irate user wrote. "No reason to turn over to ESPN in the afternoon anymore. All the best to you," read another tweet. 





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