Commentator says leftist agenda has killed ESPN ratings

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In a Thursday appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” former ESPN commentator and writer Jason Whitlock blamed the left-leaning commentary at sports network ESPN for the mass exodus of viewers over the last several years.

“ESPN is the most powerful and the most beloved brand in sports,” Carlson said, “people love ESPN, some people still do, some people hate ESPN because of pushing politics. Why are they doing that?”

“I think you’ve asked the right question,” Whitlock replied. “I think cord-cutting has a lot to do with their subscriber and the viewership loss. But the animosity and some of the viewership loss, I do think is a direct result of their lurch to the left, and injecting progressive victimology into the sports conversation.”

“If you really understand sports culture, and all the values taught in sports,” Whitlock said, “from Little League, Pee Wee, on, you’re never a victim. There are never any excuses that are accepted. Every coach teaches every play from 5 years old to 45 years old, we don’t tolerate excuses, we don’t tolerate victimology, and now so much of the conversation by the sports media, ESPN being the leader of this, is just filled with so-and-so is a victim, Colin Kaepernick is a victim, everybody’s a victim. It’s turning traditional sports fans off.”

“It doesn’t take a sports expert to predict something like that,” Carlson noted, “people go to sports as a refuge from things like politics. So why would you throw it in the face of viewers, what is the point of that?”

“I think, again, so much of the media has moved left,” Whitlock said. “I’ve written about this and talked about this and it applies to ESPN but it also applies to all the media. Silicon Valley, Google, Facebook, Twitter, is now in control of the mainstream media. Everyone is catering all of their content to Silicon Valley and San Francisco values. That’s far different than the old media which catered everything to New York traditional liberal values. The values in San Francisco, a bit more revolutionary, a bit more progressive, than a traditional New York based media.”

Deep Root Analytics identified some vivid trends in the demographics of ESPN viewers in response to what many viewed as left-wing commentary on the channel:

  • ESPN’s audience became 5% less Republican in 2016 than 2015 in all 43 markets analyzed.
  • During the same time period, ESPN2’s audience became 10% less Republican.
  • ESPN News saw the biggest partisan shift with its audience becoming 36% less Republican and more Democratic.
  • In a 2015-to-2016 comparison, ESPNU’s audience became 12% more Democratic.

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