Wash. Post's Wesley Lowery: ESPN shouldn't restrict their commentators from speaking out about news events

Lowery: To employ people as commentators “and to handcuff them and not allow them to speak honestly about what they believe about what's happening, seems inconsistent with what is otherwise being asked of these very commentators.”

From the September 17 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:

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BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Wesley Lowery, I want to zoom out a little bit and try to reframe, I think, what happened all week long here. I wonder if the broader point here is that there's two Americas, we know that, we know that there is a kind of an ongoing cultural war. In one America, Trump is racist, that's accepted, it's believed. In the other America, saying he's a white supremacist is intolerable, it's unacceptable, and as Sarah Sanders said, it's a fireable offense. 


STELTER: How do we get folks to talk with each other if there's such a divide between those two sides? 

LOWERY: And it's difficult. And I'm not quite sure how you do that. But I think you're right. I think you've really kind of zeroed in on the heart of this issue, right? That this too -- part of America is a very mainstream political belief. The idea that the president of the United States, and previously the Republican nominee for the presidency, has done racist things, said racist things, has been elected on a wave of ideological white supremacy. This is not a controversial stance to half of the nation. To the other half of the nation it's remarkably a controversial stance, right. And so it become this is question of is this an acceptable thing to say in a public dialogue or is this not? Beyond that, I mean, I think what's difficult here as well is from a journalistic kind of ethics standpoint, when you employ someone to be a commentator, it becomes inconsistent or confusing to now discipline them or attempt to look like you are disciplining them for commentating on things, right?  

STELTER: You're saying she's employed to have opinions. And then she said her opinion on Twitter. 

LOWERY: That's her literal job. That is what her job is, is to have opinions about things. 

STELTER: But about sports. 

LOWERY: Well, about whatever. Yes and no. I mean, I think ESPN has embraced all types, whether it be cultural coverage, whether it be at times political coverage. And I think we know now that journalists aren't people who only care about the one thing they write about or the one thing that they're employed to do. We all have diverse interests, we're human beings, right? And at a time when sports are as political as they have ever been, when you're seeing major athletes from Lebron James and Dwyane Wade to the Colin Kaepernicks, major sports storylines are about this president and this presidency. To have people who, again, are employed to be sports commentators, and to handcuff them and not allow them to speak honestly about what they believe about what's happening, seems inconsistent with what is otherwise being asked of these very commentators.


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