ESPN host Rachel Nichols sparked criticism online Sunday (July 4) after an audio clip containing comments she made about her Black co-worker Maria Taylor surfaced.
The New York Times obtained the leaked recording and released it in an article titled “A Disparaging Video Prompts Explosive Fallout Within ESPN.” Within the clip, which was recorded in July 2020, Nichols can be heard saying Taylor only received her position as a NBA Finals host because ESPN felt pressure because of its “crappy longtime record on diversity.”
“I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols said. “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.”
While ESPN did mediate the situation among staff members, The Times reports, Nichols was not disciplined for her actions. The only person believed to be punished was Kayla Johnson, a Black digital video producer who sent the video to Taylor. Johnson was suspended for two weeks without pay.
Per usual, Black Twitter had something to say about the controversy. Amongst the memes, spoofs and jokes, one tweeter wrote: “Rachel Nichols couldn’t fight her white woman instincts. SAYING Maria Taylor got the job covering the finals last season as a diversity hire should’ve been grounds for termination. ESPN really let that situation fester for a year while Maria Taylor’s contract is about to run out.”
“Rachel Nichols saw Maria Taylor getting way too much bags and attention than the average ESPN host and started asking for the manager,” another tweeter wrote. @thatsd__ wrote, “Maria Taylor actually understands basketball so I could see why Rachel felt threatened lmfao. Rachel be on ESPN asking the most basic ass questions after a game.”
Listen to the audio and check out more reactions below: