What's going on?
The New York Post reported that network executives have reached out to the company's top talent — and those reportedly most likely to cause waves online with charged remarks.
Those who have stirred their own controversies include sportscaster Jemele Hill — who the network suspended after she called President Donald Trump a "white supremacist" — and long-time broadcaster Keith Olbermann — who has not been at all shy about criticizing the president and Republicans in profane tirades.
According to the Post:
A source said that the Disney-owned ESPN was specifically reaching out to the most politically outspoken of its broadcasters. Jemele Hill, Keith Olbermann and Kenny Mayne are the ones most frequently associated with venturing outside of sports.
The report added that the company's managers "also sent the word to broadcasters and writers who have never been embroiled in any social media controversies" that have referenced politics or race.
ESPN is owned by the Disney and the ABC Television Group — which abruptly axed "Roseanne" after she made "racist" remarks on social media earlier this week.
ESPN President James Pitaro wants to steer the network away from politics, according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal last week.
Pitaro, who was recently named ESPN's eighth president, also told Variety that ESPN is "not a political organization."
"We are not a political organization," Pitaro told Variety. "We are a sports-media company. And our focus is on serving the sports fans. There will always be intersections between sports and politics. When that news happens, we are going to cover it."
"I will tell you, regarding our employees specifically, we provided them with guidelines," he added. "There is general understanding and alignment in terms of what our best path forward is within the company."
About social media, Pitaro said, "I’m a big believer in the value of social media, and we need to engage with our fans through social media in a thoughtful way, and we are doing that. We have taken and will continue to take a very open approach, and what I mean by that is we are going to make sure we are present everywhere our fans are."