It has not been a great year for ESPN and ESPN public relations, and things don’t seem to be getting any better with the latest allegations against the four-letter network.
These, unlike some of the political drama, are very serious. Namely, according to a Boston Globe report, ESPN has been painted as a “boys club” where women are subject to misogyny and sexual advances. SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross was specifically named for messages he sent to former on-air talent Adrienne Lawrence.
Here’s a bit more on the report, as passed on by Yahoo:
“ESPN has failed to address its deeply ingrained culture of sexism and hostile treatment of women,” Lawrence stated in the complaint.
Lawrence named Buccigross, a long-time popular “SportsCenter” anchor, specifically in her complaint.
She accuses Buccigross, whom she considered a mentor, of calling her “dollface,” “#dreamgirl,” and “#longlegs” in unsolicited text messages that included shirtless photos of himself, the report details.
“You need to wear clothes, sir,” Lawrence reportedly responded.
Fantasy football expert Matthew Berry was also mentioned in the report in an incident that involved Jen Sterger and a picture at a strip club.
The full report can be read here, but for what it’s worth, ESPN has responded to the allegations. Not surprisingly, the four-letter network has denied any culture of wrongdoing and misogyny towards women:
“We work hard to maintain a respectful and inclusive culture at ESPN. It is always a work in progress, but we’re proud of the significant progress we’ve made in developing and placing women in key roles at the company in the board room, in leadership positions throughout ESPN and on air.” -Katina Arnold, ESPN Spokeswoman
ESPN’s spokesman also defended itself against Lawrence’s claims, specifically the claims that she was let go after complaining about Buccigross:
“We conducted a thorough investigation and found these claims to be entirely without merit. Lawrence was hired into a two-year talent development program and was told that her contract would not be renewed at the conclusion of the training program. At that same time, ESPN also told 100 other talent with substantially more experience, that their contracts would not be renewed. The company will vigorously defend its position and we are confident we will prevail in court.”
The stance from ESPN is surprising but it’s worth noting that this is far from the first time ESPN has come under fire in this light.
If you’re led to do so, you can read text messages between Buccigross and Lawrence by following this link. ESPN claims that the two had a consensual, personal friendship.