Skip Bayless…only Lord Voldemort strikes more fear into people’s hearts. Like Voldemort, Bayless feels no sympathy for what he does or says. On “ESPN First Take”, Skip Bayless called Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel an alcoholic and a liar. This comment was in response to reports of Manziel partying before the Cleveland Browns final game of the season. Skip Bayless received no punishment for his remarks despite his “First Take” co-star Stephen A. Smith being suspended for making controversial remarks about the Ray Rice domestic abuse story last year.
This was not lost on certain employees at the company. ESPN personality and disgruntled employee Bill Simmons made fun of Bayless in a column a few days ago; Simmons was suspended last year for calling Roger Goodell a liar. ESPN has shaped most of its shows around the theme, “embrace debate”, and Skip Bayless is the patriarch of that slogan. Bayless is also the true face of ESPN. ESPN stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network with an emphasis on entertainment.
Skip’s relentless and nonsensical attacks on LeBron James, Chris Bosh and countless others move the needle in ratings and on social media. ESPN has gone out of its way to explain that Bayless’ candor on Manziel is based on well placed sources and his family history of alcoholism; he also stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Slander by any other name is still slander. Calling anyone a liar and alcoholic on live television is irresponsible and reckless. It further blurs the line of what passes for journalistic ethics nowadays. Having restraint on words preserves dignity and does not have to make the speaker baseless.