Curt Schilling’s use of Facebook memes is once again the focus of intense scrutiny. The ESPN broadcaster claims he was “blindsided” by the backlash to this post, which has since been deleted.
In a lengthy blog post published yesterday, Schilling puts the blame on those who hunt for offense so they can create a “faux cause” to rally around.
Schilling was suspended by ESPN last August for tweeting, “It’s said only 5-10% of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, only 7% of Germans were Nazis. How’d that go?” with an accompanying picture of Adolf Hitler.
He issued an apology and admitted he’d made a “bad decision.” The incident did not mark the end of his forays into controversial waters. In March, he stated that Hillary Clinton should be buried under a jail somewhere.
Calls for ESPN to cut bait have grown increasingly louder. Today, network spokesman Josh Krulewitz said in statement “we are taking this matter very seriously and are in the process of reviewing it.”
Schilling is a divisive figure and he knows it. Whether you think his actions are worthy of termination will likely be informed by your political beliefs. I believe he has the right to espouse his opinions on his own time and platform without fear of reprisal from his employer solely because they aren’t in line with the company’s. If ESPN believes he’s a net negative, however, then there’s no reason Schilling’s job should be considered a sacred right.
There are plenty of other ex-players in the sea.
ESPN will ask the pragmatic question. It will come down to this, not some moral code.
Is its baseball audience’s world view more in line with Schilling’s or more in line with the outraged? In 2016, both sides will be equally stunned no matter the outcome.
Whatever happens, the important thing is that Schilling will win. That’s a hard truth for the aggrieved to accept, but it’s true. If he keeps his job he’ll continue to be candid with his views. If he loses it, he’ll get the martyrdom he appears to be seeking.
While his liberal use of half-baked memes may seem impulsive, his words to defend them are not. This is a man who knows exactly what he’s doing and is committed to getting a reaction. Is there anything in his blog post that suggests he’s amenable to “toning it down” a bit?
In the booth and on set, Schilling is a valuable asset. His broadcasting career will not magically disappear should ESPN decide to move on without him. There are plenty of places that would welcome him with open arms, especially those that lean toward the conservative side of the spectrum. Fox News and Fox Sports 1? Seems like a perfect fit.
Hell, you could read his actions and come to the conclusion that he wants to get fired. More realistically, they are the actions of a man who understands that any outcome will be a favorable one.
Getting fired will gain him more fans of than it will lose him. There won’t be a sudden exodus from the Schilling bandwagon if he’s let go. If he gets to play the martyr, his following will increase.
So, yes, there’s some suspense regarding ESPN’s response. But don’t hold your breath thinking it will have any negative impact on Schilling and his verbosity. Schilling has already been moved off of Sunday Night Baseball by ESPN. If you are really anti-Schilling, your preferred practical outcome would be seeing his on-air role further diminished, and not an outright removal.