ESPN reporter apologizes for 'hurt' after venting that colleague got to host ...

ESPN reporter apologizes for 'hurt' after venting that colleague got to host ...
ESPN reporter apologizes for 'hurt' after venting that colleague got to host ...

A white NBA reporter at ESPN has apologized on air for complaining that her colleague only got promoted because she is black.

Rachel Nichols, 47, was caught on a hot mic a year ago claiming that her rival Maria Taylor, 34, who is black, had only been chosen for a studio role because of 'diversity'.

The audio was obtained on Sunday by The New York Times.

On Monday Nichols apologized to Taylor. 

'So the first thing they teach you in journalism school is don't be the story. And I don't plan to break that rule today or distract from a fantastic Finals,' Nichols said, hosting The Jump on ESPN 2. 

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Rachel Nichols on Monday apologized for complaining that her black colleague was only chosen to host the NBA finals due to 'diversity' requirements. Nichols made the remarks in a private conversation in July 2020 from her hotel room in Florida, but she left the camera on and they were broadcast back to ESPN's headquarters in Connecticut, and circulated

Rachel Nichols on Monday apologized for complaining that her black colleague was only chosen to host the NBA finals due to 'diversity' requirements. Nichols made the remarks in a private conversation in July 2020 from her hotel room in Florida, but she left the camera on and they were broadcast back to ESPN's headquarters in Connecticut, and circulated

ESPN executives last year picked Taylor (seen above in August 2019) to host its NBA Countdown pre- and post-game studio show for the duration of the playoffs and the finals

ESPN executives last year picked Taylor (seen above in August 2019) to host its NBA Countdown pre- and post-game studio show for the duration of the playoffs and the finals

'But I also don't want to let this moment pass without saying how much I respect, how much I value our colleagues here at ESPN. 

'How deeply, deeply sorry I am for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor, and how grateful I am to be part of this outstanding team.'

Former NBA players Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins, Nichols' co-stars on The Jump, expressed support for Nichols.

The network, based in Connecticut, has been in turmoil for months, the paper reported, after Nichols' comments were secretly recorded and distributed among colleagues.

Nichols confided in Adam Mendelsohn, a public relations and communications strategist

Nichols confided in Adam Mendelsohn, a public relations and communications strategist 

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Nichols was on the phone to LeBron James' long-time advisor Adam Mendelsohn when she expressed annoyance at being passed over for hosting the NBA finals. She was in a hotel room, inside the NBA 'bubble', but appeared to have mistakenly left her camera on - and the footage was broadcast back to ESPN's headquarters.

Nichols called Medelsohn on July 13, 2020 to ask for an interview with James and another Lakers player, Anthony Davis, who is another client of James' agent, Rich Paul. Mendelsohn also is an advisor to Paul, who is black.

During the call, Nichols asked Mendelsohn for advice about how to handle the situation at ESPN, and her being denied the assignment that went to Taylor.

'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.'

She also noted that the assignment to host NBA finals coverage 'is in my contract in writing,' the newspaper reported.

After Nichols said she planned to await ESPN's next move, Mendelsohn paused, and then said: 'I don't know. I'm exhausted. Between Me Too and Black Lives Matter, I got nothing left.'

Mendelsohn on Monday told CNBC: 'I made a stupid, careless comment rooted in privilege and I am sincerely sorry.

'I shouldn't have said it or even thought it.

'I work to support these movements and know that the people affected by these issues never get to be exhausted or have nothing left. I have to continue to check my privilege and work to be a better ally.'  

Rachel Nichols, ESPN's NBA sideline reporter, was heard on a hot mic last year complaining that she was passed over for the role of studio host during the NBA playoffs in favor of a black woman, Maria Taylor. Nichols is seen above in Los Angeles on June 24

Rachel Nichols, ESPN's NBA sideline reporter, was heard on a hot mic last year complaining that she was passed over for the role of studio host during the NBA playoffs in favor of a black woman, Maria Taylor. Nichols is seen above in Los Angeles on June 24

When a recording of the call leaked and began to circulate among ESPN employees, it prompted a crisis with several of the network's top talent contemplating a refusal to appear on the air in protest.

It also caused anger among black employees at the network who felt that the secretly recorded conversation was a more accurate reflection of white attitudes about diversity.

The anger boiled over when it became apparent that ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro would not discipline Nichols despite the demands from employees that he do so.

The only individual known to be punished was Kayla Johnson, a black digital video producer who reportedly told human resources that she sent the video to Taylor.

Johnson was suspended for two weeks without pay and was later given less desirable tasks at work. She recently left ESPN along with other black employees who felt mistreated by the network.

There was outrage that Nichols appeared to suggest that Taylor was picked to host the channel's NBA playoffs coverage simply because she was black and not because she was the most qualified for the job.  

Nichols reached out to Mendelsohn, who was working as an adviser to Los Angeles Lakers superstars LeBron James (right) and Anthony Davis (left)

Nichols reached out to Mendelsohn, who was working as an adviser to Los Angeles Lakers superstars LeBron James (right) and Anthony Davis (left)

ESPN did not immediately return DailyMail.com's request for comment on Sunday, but a spokesperson for the network told the Times: 'We, of course, are not going to comment on the specifics of any commentator contract.' 

Nichols called Mendelsohn from a hotel room on the campus of Walt Disney World, where she was set to work during the resumption of the NBA season that was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA concluded its 2019-2020 season from a 'bubble' in Orlando, where a secluded site was set up to protect players, coaches, and other personnel from the fast-spreading coronavirus.

It is likely that Nichols inadvertently failed to turn off a video camera that she carried with her that connected to a server back in Bristol which was recording her as she spoke to Mendelsohn.

While the video recorder was on, Nichols is not seen in the frame.

The server in Connecticut can be accessed by dozens of ESPN employees, at least one of whom is said to have recorded the conversation on their cell phone and then shared it with others.

The news of the leak

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