ESPN has a tight relationship with UFC boss Dana White.
Based on recent tweets sent out by the company’s reporters, their partnership with him may be interfering with their role as an objective media institution.
Last week, a video emerged of White getting physical with his wife at a New Year’s party.
Dana White slapping his wife up in a night club🤯 pic.twitter.com/CAJXX1kCB7
— FullCombat (@FullCombat_) January 3, 2023
White attempted to address the issue by then appearing on TMZ and offering both an excuse for what transpired and seemingly taking ownership for his actions.
“You’ve heard me say for years, ‘There’s never ever an excuse for a guy to put his hands on a woman,’ and now here I am on TMZ talking about it,” said White.
A day later, ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith addressed the topic on First Take.
Stephen A. Smith addressed the video of Dana White slapping his wife pic.twitter.com/HwuGAjXnxi
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 4, 2023
“Dana White is not just somebody that’s connected in the world of sports,” Smith said.
“He’s a friend. I love the guy, personally. So this is a very hard subject for me. We talk all the time, we’ve certainly connected briefly since this happened. He knew there was no way on earth that I wasn’t going to talk about it.”
From there, Smith launched into his personal opinion on how all parties should proceed from here.
“With all the things that we’ve learned and the kinds in an ordinate amount of times we’ve had to address subjects like this, we have to maintain consistency in pointing out, you do not put your hands on a woman if you are a man,” Smith said.
“Dana White knows that. All I can say is that again, he has spoken out against men who put their hands on women before, and whatever punishment you would exact under these circumstances to somebody else is what he should apply to himself.”
Many found Smith’s take on the matter to be soft, especially given how bombastic he has a tendency of being on other topics. That is why he is paid so much more than someone like Malika Andrews, after all — his hot takes.
In response to Smith’s words on White, ESPN MMA reporter Jeff Wagenheim sent out something of a telling tweet.
“We’ve been told to not write anything incendiary on social media about the Dana White situation, and I understand why and have abided by that,” he wrote.
“I just ask y’all to understand that some of us at ESPN do not have as soft a take as this on domestic violence.”
That certainly makes it seem like the Worldwide Leader in Sports sent down an edict in regard to White.
ESPN has had something of a rough week. Between calls for one reporter’s firing over his handling of the Damar Hamlin situation, the Joe Buck vs. Scott Van Pelt beef and now this, it has been one thing after another.
And this all comes on the heels of NFL fans demanding Sam Ponder be reprimanded over her choice of outfit to a segment.
Instead of talking about Skip Bayless, let’s talk about the Bills hero who saved Damar Hamlin’s life. https://t.co/rEmnY5xQOV
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 5, 2023
Again, the Worldwide Leader has seen better days.
Time will tell if further clarity emerges on ESPN’s handling of White’s disastrous New Year’s, but at the moment things aren’t looking good.