ESPN Is Not to Blame for Your Problems, So Why Not Blame It?

The idea that viewers have been abandoning ESPN because they don’t like its liberal politics is so obviously factually untrue that it becomes impossible to dismiss. It is worthless as an explanation in precisely the same way that interviews with Trump supporters about their policy preferences are worthless as explanations. It is mythology.

Myths are answers to those questions that are too immense to be asked, let alone answered, directly. ESPN is either on your television or it is not, because you are paying for it or you aren’t, but that binary is not sufficient.


What if people’s feelings about ESPN are just reflective of their slow realization that citizenship and employment have been replaced with consumption and contingency and that all the things that were taken to represent success and value and shared experience are hollow, overextended, and on the verge of collapse, but the only language they have to express that dawning insight, their sense of betrayal and loss, is the old exhausted language of politics, recast as a matter of identity and victimhood? What if “I don’t like ESPN because it is too liberal” is one more way of saying, “There is no dose of any opiate of the masses strong enough anymore to deaden my awareness of the pain”?

Deputy executive editor, Special Projects Desk

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