NABJ & Sports Task Force Appalled at Treatment of Maria Taylor
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NABJ & Sports Task Force Appalled at Treatment of Maria Taylor Calls for Company and Industrywide Changes
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the NABJ Sports Task Force are disgusted to learn of the inappropriate and degrading comments made about ESPN reporter and host Maria Taylor by Chicago radio host Dan McNeil.
In a since-deleted tweet, McNeil criticized Taylor for her attire while covering her first NFL game for ESPN. He posted a screenshot questioning if she was an NFL sideline reporter or host of an adult film awards show. Taylor has been a respected college and NBA analyst and reporter at the network since 2014.
Although Deadspin reports that McNeil was fired today from 670 The Score, his behavior brings to question the culture that has been allowed to exist at not only his station, but also the parent company Entercom Communications. NABJ’s Sports Task Force reached out to Rachel Williamson, Entercom Communications’ regional president, for comment and was directed to a communications representative who shared Williamson’s statement. The statement, originally shared with Entercom staff, offered an apology and noted that McNeil’s tweet was “unacceptable,” “degrading,” and represented a “humiliating tone to a fellow female broadcaster.”
NABJ and its Sports Task Force are requesting a meeting with the company to discuss what seems to be much-needed change in company culture. NABJ also calls for industrywide changes to eliminate the sexual objectification and harassment that women reporters, especially Black women, endure. We implore sports media leadership to commit to a stronger culture of diversity and inclusion if they are truly committed to ensuring that this type of behavior ceases to exist.
“Not only were McNeil’s comments misogynistic, but they also call into question why he believed it was OK for him to make such comments, as a representative of his company, about a Black woman who has been making strides in the industry for several years,” NABJ President Dorothy Tucker said. “Taylor has been celebrated by her ESPN colleagues as ‘one of the network’s most versatile commentators’ and her performance as a journalism professional should not be belittled because of a man’s opinion about her style of dress.
Far too often, Black women are held to different standards and viewed as sexual objects.”
Sherrod Blakely, chair of NABJ’s Sports Task Force, added: “The NABJ Sports Task
Force is appalled at the recent comments made by McNeil toward Maria Taylor. His words were hurtful, insulting and misogynistic, as well as a reminder of the ignorance of some in positions of power and influence in the sports media landscape as it relates to Black women in this profession. Maria Taylor is one of the most distinguished journalists in all of sports — a rising star who has shown the ability and versatility to excel on camera — whether it be as a sideline reporter or hosting a show…. Comments like McNeil’s not only reek of misogyny, but also speak to the concerns that are so prevalent in our society today about what White male privilege looks and sounds like. Her appearance on Monday Night Football was an amazing accomplishment in our business, one that should be celebrated.”
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