ESPN, the Worldwide Leader, announced on Monday that 1) an ESPN-commissioned research group found that ESPN is “getting it right” in mixing political and sports coverage, in addition to finding the proportion of people who see a political slant in ESPN’s coverage is not growing, and 2) the network is rehiring Hank Williams Jr, the conservative firebrand.
The NY Post reports Williams is bringing All His Rowdy Friends™ back to “Monday Night Football” for the first time since 2011. The country singer had participated in the Monday night broadcasts since 1989, playing versions of a song that would always feature, “Are you ready for some football?”
ESPN pulled the broadcast staple six years ago, after he went on Fox News to compare a meeting of then-President Obama and then-Rep. House Speaker John Boehner to a meeting between Adolf Hitler and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In response to ESPN pulling the song for one week, Williams was enraged: “After reading hundreds of emails, I have made MY decision,” he wrote on Oct. 6, 2011. “By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.”
Now the two sides are finding common ground. Williams is back in the spotlight with a company that is trying to disprove that liberal politics have anything to do with declining ratings and subsequent layoffs.
Beyond rehiring a polarizing personality, ESPN composed a public relations piece Monday that highlighted findings from a May 3-7 survey that studied a perceived liberal bias. The full survey results from Langer Research Associates of New York were not made available, but ESPN promoted the discovery that 64 percent of respondents think Bristol is “getting it right” in walking the politics/sports tightrope. Ten percent had no opinion, while 8 percent wanted more politics in broadcasts.