Adam Mendelsohn, James’ longtime spokesperson, is under fire over his controversial call with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.
Mendelsohn said he was “exhausted” by the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements during a controversial phone call with ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols. The veteran reporter complained about ESPN’s Maria Taylor, who is Black, earning NBA Finals hosting duties last year.
Here’s the full transcript of what was said.
Via The New York Times:
Nichols: So they said to me ‘Hey instead of hosting the NBA Finals, how about you do Doris [Burke, ESPN commentator]’s sideline reporter job for the NBA Finals?’ [pause] ‘Cause guess what that would clear the way for?
Mendelsohn: For her to do it full time.
Nichols: For Maria to do the hosting full time.
Nichols: So I have declined. I don’t know what their next move is, but they are feeling pressure because of…all of that, and I’m trying to figure out, like how to just…you know, my thing is, 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.”
Mendelsohn: “I don’t know. I’m exhausted. Between MeToo and Black Lives Matter, I’ve got nothing left.
Nichols: [laughs] Been thinking about it? And at like 2 in the afternoon three days from now you’re going to text the perfect Twitter thread.
Mendelsohn: You could actually generate a really interesting conversation about how it’s just so very white male for them to turn two women on each other to compete over the one spot that’s dangling over them.
Mendelsohn: A broader conversation about all the spots that should be under consideration.
Nichols: There isn’t just one seat at the table for a minority of whichever version this week we’re trying to please.
Mendelsohn: If you think about it, this is precisely the problem we’ve been talking about for a long time now which is white men – it is an example of the one Black person in the boardroom [inaudible]…you don’t get to have a Black woman in a prominent spot and feel like “OK, the work is done.” And you certainly don’t get to say, “OK, we have a white woman, we have a woman in a critical seat, and now we’re going to put a Black woman in that same seat. The question is, what are the other seats that white males are in? That should be under consideration.
In an email statement to CNBC, Mendelsohn apologized for the comment.
“I made a stupid, careless comment rooted in privilege and I am sincerely sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have said it or even thought it. I work to support these movements and know that the people affected by these issues never get to be exhausted or have nothing left. I have to continue to check my privilege and work to be a better ally.”
According to NYT, several of ESPN’s Black employees said the leaked phone call “confirmed their suspicions that outwardly supportive white people talk differently behind closed doors.”
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