Reaction To ESPN Layoffs Is Incredibly Tone-Deaf In These Trying Times
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I cannot sit here and tell you that I agree with anything that Donald Trump has done. I don't. I didn't vote for him, I can hardly listen to him speak and I believe he is the archetype of the wealthy man in this country that conflates luck, nepotism and the benefits of a patriarchal society with talent and hard work.
I also happen to believe he is a misogynist predator who vaguely respects just one woman in the world - and she literally speaks with a whisper. So take from that what you will.
However, from what I've gathered from almost a year of listening to those I vastly disagree with, there is a massive contingent of lower and middle class voters in America who truly believed he would help them get their jobs back. These are people who have watched the swift demise of their suburban and rural towns that relied on coal, factory jobs, farming and ranching and other industries that are dying - leaving behind sweeping economic devastation that has millions scrambling for answers and solutions. Even in the most desperate of places and from the most delusional of people.
So while I am adamant that their belief in Donald Trump was and is as misguided as it gets, layoffs and job losses are heartbreaking in our capitalist economy - and they can drive people to overreact. Just look at how what people are saying about the recent layoff of 100 ESPN employees on Wednesday:
This reaction is extreme, no matter how you slice it. Sports media as a whole, of which I am a part, has been vocally critical of Trump and his voters - a large swath of whom are working class Americans who are losing $30-60k a year jobs and have quite literally no place to turn.
Where were we with all of this outrage over that carnage? Where was the elite sports media's sympathy and compassion for angry, mistreated middle-Americans who are getting so fucked by the disappearing middle class that they felt DONALD TRUMP was their only hope?
We were busy making Barstool Sports more famous than ever while they tweet stuff like this:
Is it awful to think that these people at ESPN woke up thinking they had jobs this morning and will end the day in shock and unemployed? Of course it is. My boyfriend works for ESPN and although he is not on-air or a writer, I got a pit in my stomach thinking about what would happen to his morale, and to us as a family, if he were to suddenly lose his job.
We'd be in huge, life-altering trouble, so please don't misunderstand this for callousness toward those who were laid off. It's brutal.
Yet my Twitter timeline, flooded with intra-media indignation over 100, mostly high paying sports media jobs, is the same timeline that has never really acknowledged the technology-induced job loss that helped get Trump elected - even though they regularly eviscerate him.
This isn't a "there's people dying to protect our country overseas, why do we care about the Kardashians" argument. The outrage over ESPN layoffs is directly tied to the job loss in places like the Rust Belt. Certain jobs have become outdated by irreversible industry changes, and the casualties are growing.
However sports media jobs aren't necessarily disappearing. The scope and expectations of the roles are changing - and that's an important distinction, because elsewhere in the country the jobs are actually gone forever.
So hey guys, maybe chill out on the "carnage" references. Let's set an example for the rest of the media by extending our compassion to those in even more unfortunate circumstances as well. We can't bring back old school media and reporting jobs, but we can evolve by being a little less insular in our umbrage.
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