clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Popular ESPN radio host back on the air after criticizing President Donald Trump's tweets as racist

On moral questions, what's the proper response to avoid being complicit?

FILE - This Sept. 16, 2013, file photo shows the ESPN logo prior to an NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Cincinnati. ESPN is reminding employees of the network's policy to avoid talking about politics after radio talk show host Dan Le Batard criticized President Donald Trump and his recent racist comments and ESPN itself on the air this week. (AP Photo/David Kohl, File)
David Kohl, FR51830 AP

SALT LAKE CITY — Dan Le Batard returned to his ESPN radio show Tuesday morning, apparently with much apprehension. He was openly flustered, per All Access, wondering aloud how they’d fill the first segment because “I haven't been following sports for the last four days." He was absent Monday following a viral rant from his radio show last week criticizing President Donald Trump’s North Carolina rally, where supporters chanted “Send her back!” about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

On his podcast released Monday, Bill Simmons — a man who would know about a falling out with ESPN — said this likely doesn’t end well for Le Batard’s relationship with the company.

“I don’t think this plays out in a great way for his future there, because once you go down this road, now any time he says anything, it’s going to be blog posts and news stories, all that stuff,” Simmons said. “I just think he’s not one of those guys who’s going to be like, ‘I’m not saying anything.’ Especially, you have an election coming next year and I just don’t see him backing off.”

Omar came to America as a Somali refugee and has been a U.S. citizen since she was a teenager. Le Batard was indignant about anyone suggesting she’s somehow un-American.

“This is deeply offensive to me as somebody whose parents made all the sacrifices to get to this country,” he said. “‘Send her back’? How are you any more American than her?”

But before he got there, Le Batard quoted Fox Sports 1 personality Nick Wright:

“I don’t talk politics on here but this isn’t political,” Wright tweeted with a link to the video of the rally, “this is obvious: This is abhorrent, obviously racist, dangerous rhetoric and not calling it out makes you complicit.

“The ‘send her back’ chant + the ‘go back to where you came from’ are so antithetical to what we should be.”

Le Batard based his thesis on Wright’s sentiment: This isn’t about politics. This is about race. And race, Le Batard observed, should not be a political issue (though he lamented that it’s become one). Racism is a moral issue. And combating it is what Immanuel Kant would call a “categorical imperative” — a binding moral obligation. Echoing Wright, he said, “if you’re not calling it abhorrent, obviously racist, dangerous rhetoric, you’re complicit.”