Rachel Nichols Steps in a Steaming Pile of DEI

The HR practice at ESPN: hire only attractive slender women, hope nobody notices, and when these women say controversial things, punish them or fire them in the most publicly inept way possible. It’s not the optimal organizational process, but they own it. It’s Disney. The Happiest Place on Earth. Or else.

NBA reporter Rachel Nichols is the latest female sportscaster nightmare for ESPN. This only a month after ESPN fired sports betting analyst Kelly Stewart before she even made it on air. Stewart apparently Tweeted a gay slur one evening in 1782. Unfortunate. She was a former bikini model they were certain was kosher. Damn you, Twitter feeds history search feature. Wait, does that even exist?

Nichols was in the NBA “bubble” in the Summer of 2000 when the NBA was desperate to keep NBA players from banging strippers on the Covid down low. Rachel Nicols, according to her own words, was guaranteed to be the bubble reporter for the NBA Finals but was summarily replaced for that gig by ESPN’s Maria Taylor. Rachel Nichols is white. Maria Taylor is black. Commence modern day woke race war.

This was 2020. The summer the NBA was printing black social justice messages on anything and anyone that stood still for more than two minutes. They didn’t skimp on font size either. Half the court was painted with “F Whitey” slogans or similar. Adam Silver got a #DefundThePolice tattoo on his shiny head. The Uighur slave laborers were screenprinting “Black Lives Matter” on NBA apparel 24×7 to meet demand. It was that summer. The summer of race riots. The worst since Bruce Jenner was still Bruce Jenner and only barely beginning to hide the fact that he liked boys.

Nichols was at the NBA playoffs in her hotel room from where she did her reports complaining about her assignment reassignment to Adam Mendelsohn. He’s a business advisor to LeBron James who was allowed in the bubble because he’s LeBron James’ business advisor. It’s the ultimate hall pass. Friend of LeBron is worth more in trade than gold coins at The Continental. Nichols was seeking advice on how to handle being replaced for this biggest event of the NBA season. Nichols didn’t realize her ESPN camera was hot and picked up bits and pieces of her conversation with Mendelsohn. The cameras record directly to the ESPN servers back at HQ:

“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.

Nichols seemed quite rational and thoughtful, taking her anger out on ESPN, not Maria Taylor. Since corporate America is now filled to the brim with snotty, tattling college grads out to save the world provided it takes zero effort, somebody caught the clip and decided to email it to Deadspin. That’s just what you do when you’re the Greta Thunberg of the video editing department.

For the good of the world, I push send! Tell my unborn children I love them. Then you may suction them from my womb.

Nichols comments got tons of similar woke college grads in a safe space jumble. It’s unclear if they were more pissed off because Nichols comments about ESPN’s race-based maneuverings were almost certainly true, or because they suddenly decided Rachel Nichols was Bull Conner reincarnated as an NBA sideline reporter with amazing hair. Probably the latter. Nobody under 30 really cares about the core issues. Neither does anybody over 30, but we know we’re at least supposed to pretend.

The ugly face of White Rage?

Everybody at ESPN who listens to NPR like its gospel expected Nichols to be severely reprimanded, if not fired, for daring to mention race in any manner as a white person. When ESPN management let it slide, one employee told the New York Times in their story that Nichols floating by unscathed was “an active source of pain”. Not exactly The Greatest Generation. D-Day would’ve been cut short with internal protests over the use of diesel engines. I warned the world not to cancel dodgeball.

The he social contract breakdown that occurs with Affirmative Action would seem to be the more salient point here, never to be discussed openly by adults with corporate jobs for fear of losing them. Not the officially titled Affirmative Action programs borne of the 1960s that clearly aided caucasian women far more than minorities. But the rushed, overt “we need to hire black people stat” protocol that began in corporate America about five seconds after George Floyd stopped breathing. The media sector with its desperate need to appear progressive launched first, headlong, and incessantly into hiring and promoting black programming and black staff.

White women were served similarly reflexively after everyone in L.A. and N.Y. was forced to admit they knew Harvey Weinstein was serial raping ingenues for the past 25 years. But this HR shift was even more sudden and more dramatic. It was overt and obvious. While it was still illegal to post jobs and say only black people need to apply, places like Netflix worked around such trivial EEOC obstacles by posting things such as “looking for people with a deep understanding of what it’s like to grow up black in America”. Oh? Who might that be? Not the kid whose parents moved here from Taiwan I assure you.

At the same time as Hollywood was giving Ava Duvernay 197 new shows, corporate America was rushing to do similar, and suddenly creating six-figure executive management jobs for something called DEI – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion. Which is more a series of pleasant sounding nouns more than a job title, but that mattered not. DEI departments at every major media company, Disney-ABC-ESPN included, went up faster than an EDM rave tent. Every bit of public-facing communications from these mega-companies started to read like something that Malcolm X would’ve said went too far. It was a Big Business flood of white guilt like the world had never seen before. And that’s the context in which Rachel Nichols made her comment.

You’d have to be pretty naive to think that swapping in Maria Taylor had nothing to do with ESPN running f-the-police social messaging commercials every four minutes. They framed the NBA Finals like it was Selma and the NBA and it’s ultra-rich players were the epicenter of the social justice movement. The political slant was so severe, half the basketball fans in America tuned out and the NBA Finals got the ratings of a crocus planting podcast. The media blamed the poor ratings on Covid. Because stay-at-home orders clearly prevented people from watching telvision.

Corporate mandated apologies are the best!

The problem with race-based hiring and promotions is obvious. While it may in short-view seem to be solving the problem that you somehow forgot to hire black people for the past four decades, it’s sowing a much deeper division. What are the standards for advancement, and if not a meritocracy, what happens then? That goes for nepotism in the workplace, legacy admissions in college, or any other advancement element not based on merit. It creates an ugly environment where everybody begins to assume everybody else is there for the wrong reasons. And often they were. Or they weren’t. It no longer matters.

Who wins in those kinds of environments? It’s not the minority population. Not in the long wrong. How has the urban black community in general fared since the Great Society and Affirmative Action legislation? Not great. Look at the quality of life outcome numbers. The big hand of Big Government and Big Business has not produced anything close to the results promised with their endless equity show campaigns. (Read the late great Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s thoughts on this from 1992.)

I don’t know if Rachel Nichols is a bad person. Seems not. She’ll likely be skewered, to the extent you can a woman in the media who didn’t directly murder any children. She’s already produced an on-air apology. And now, once again, she’s found herself replaced in her job for the 2021 NBA Finals coverage as one-year-delayed Twitter justice comes for her. Invariably what comes next is a fake education class. 20 hours of exposing your ancestral shame.

You committed the original sin of slavery. What do you mean your parents brought you here in 1983 from Sri Lanka. Repent!

Good luck with this system of justice.