National Association of Black Journalists Plans to Speak with ESPN About Rob Parker Incident and What First Take is "Trying to Accomplish"

By Jason McIntyre

The buzz around ESPN this week is that Parker will be fired. Multiple sources are saying right now it is 75-25 that Parker will be terminated. The move would make sense for ESPN from this standpoint: First Take is the most criticized show at ESPN, but the network won’t shelve it because it generates ratings and is profitable. Getting rid of Parker wouldn’t hurt the show, either – it is a draw among the unemployed, uninformed set because of the two clowns who regularly host it, Skip Clueless and Screamin’ A Smith.

Parker has a checkered history of saying silly, troll-tastic things (see here, here and here), and firing him might appease the masses who loathe the show. Parker also reportedly has no agent representing him (which, depending on how many clients an agent has, could be a huge benefit).

The NFL has essentially condemned First Take, making players aware of the “discourse on the show.” Reading between the lines: the NFL knows the show is all about race-baiting, and is doing what it can to prevent athletes from participating. Surprisingly, one group not completely slamming the show is the National Association of Black Journalists. This week I spoke with Greg Lee, the President of NABJ, and asked him for his thoughts on the Parker incident:

"We have had internal discussions and at some point, we will speak to ESPN about it. I know a lot of people there, and we want to grasp what they’re trying to accomplish on the show … But given that the show comes on 365 days a year, how often do you have a slip up on one of those shows?"

One problem could be that the NABJ is very tied to ESPN (see here and here), which might be why they’ve been slow to react to the show’s rich history of ignorant behavior, like Stephen A. Smith saying the n-word, twice, with no repercussions from ESPN. The NABJ went after Phil Mushnick of the NY Post earlier this year; it has gone after CNN in the past. It is fairly surprising nothing has been said about First Take. Could one of the reasons be that Galen Gordon of the NABJ is part of the team that produces First Take? Those familiar with ESPN may remember Gordon as one of the guys who was the brains behind Stephen A. Smith’s “Quite Frankly.”

Lee went on: “I understand what Rob was trying to say, but the execution was poor. When they have discussions concerning race … if you misinterpret something … the way Rob executed what he said, the way he said it … the perception is he was race-baiting.”

ESPN holds pre-production meetings prior to all shows. Parker had to have made producers aware of what he was going to say. Apparently, nobody objected. At what point do the producers of the show get held accountable?