Dan Le Batard returned to his radio show on Tuesday along with a new addition to the set: around 10 Dumbo elephants strewn about. In two days of shows they seemed to symbolize the topic of his Trump/ESPN challenge last week in the sense that they went largely unmentioned.
Every time Le Batard would start to broach the subject of becoming national news, his producer Mike Ryan hit the button for the magical crate of content theme, in which all of the show’s contributors sing the jingle and then Le Batard has to answer the random question he pulls out from a piece of paper.
The two main breadcrumbs as far as what his reaction to all this were that he said he is flying to New York for some type of big meeting involving the show (the Washington Post reports he’ll meet with ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro), and that he will answer a couple questions about the story on his co-host Jon ‘Stugotz’ Weiner’s Stupodity podcast, which comes out tomorrow.
The rest of the shows characteristically altered between direct sports stories like Odell Beckham Jr.’s GQ profile (remember that?) and Adrian Peterson going broke to an interview excerpt replayed from Le Batard’s podcast with Billy Ray Cyrus — where he talked about Pete Rose and baseball but didn’t have a lot of knowledge about them — and Roy’s Realm where producer Roy Bellamy wore a crown and made proclamations. This must have been very odd to listen to if you were, like, flipping through an AM radio dial in your car on the way to lunch in Raleigh.
As far as reading deeper into the elephants, who knows? Elephants archetypically feud with mice. Le Batard’s inherent conflict is with the Mickey Mouse desire to be everything to everyone. Dumbo, however, befriended a mouse. Some of the elephants were sitting on the desk, others were hanging by a string like puppets. Idk. It’s so surreal that we’re talking about this.
Here’s what it looked like if you were watching:
While we’re here, I found it very odd this morning that there was an ad during Get Up for Fox News’ all-day coverage of Robert Mueller’s hearings today, pledging that the network would get to the bottom of whether Mueller contradicted or confirmed his report. In primetime, the ad said, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham would break down how this impacts Trump. Images of all four flashed on the screen.
I get that there is a difference between advertising and editorial in the sense of whether the content is core to the show. Nevertheless, Pitaro has been emphatic that the network’s viewers go to ESPN to avoid the topic altogether, and today Ben Strauss of the Washington Post relayed their market research showing just that:
I know ESPN has run MSNBC ads in the past as well, but it just feels so odd to me to see them featuring this type of advertisement for a competitor in their cable space. It will also feel weird to see what will feel like thousands of direct candidate spots on ESPN between now and next November.
There are a lot of people who tense up when they are watching sports and see that Hannity will be trumpeting the Trump agenda later tonight, just as there would’ve been if there were an ad about Rachel Maddow breaking down the rally that Le Batard reacted to. To me personally, it’s an inconsistency on ESPN’s part.