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Former ESPN host Dan LeBatard questions network's 'compromised' coverage of Dana White's altercation with wife

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Dana White and the UFC have a close relationship with ESPN, and a former star of the network is waiting to see how she responds to White’s recent scandal.

The UFC president was caught on video getting into a physical altercation with his wife Anne at a New Year’s Eve party in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, an altercation which saw Anne slap White and culminated in White slapping Anne for the arm. least twice.

Dan LeBatard, a former ESPN host who parted ways with the network in 2021, spoke about White’s incident in Dan LeBatard’s concert with Stugotzspecifically questioning the extent to which ESPN will cover the news as it is currently a UFC broadcast partner.

“I’m curious how ESPN will cover the news of Dana White and the video of him beating his wife in the New Year’s festivities,” said LeBatard. “Apologizing, saying there is no excuse, saying I had been drinking. If it was Roger Goodell or the owner of an NFL team, I imagine it would be covered very zealously, even though ESPN is a corporate partner of the NFL.

“In that case, Dana White is the most famous person in this sport, isn’t she? The most famous guy in the sport even with all the fighters, because he is the face and voice of a sport. If he isn’t, he’s close to it. It’s not even the crime, it’s the size of the criminal’s fame. How does ESPN cover this?”

Currently, White’s story tops the “Top Headlines” of ESPN’s MMA section, although it does not appear on the front page of ESPN at this time. The story was also covered in the Tuesday night edition of Sports center.

LeBatard wonders if the story might be getting more attention given that video of the incident is widely available.

“Usually with these things, if there’s video and mainstream media pressure, and ESPN is the most capable of applying mainstream media pressure — but they have an uneasy relationship with Dana White, who ran away from the only journalist they had on that sport. . , Ariel Helwani, and we run into that because Dana White has a lot of power on ESPN,” said LeBatard. “How will this story be covered? How should this story be covered?”

ESPN has been a broadcast partner of UFC since 2018. ESPN signed a five-year deal with the promotion that was extended for an additional two years in 2019, as UFC continues to provide a steady stream of live content to its broadcast channels. television and the ESPN+ streaming service. White subsequently signed a seven-year contract with the UFC to remain president of the organization.

One of LeBatard’s concerns is that a lack of mainstream media coverage could result in a lack of accountability.

“It doesn’t make the news stream unless there’s pressure from the media,” LeBatard said. “There needs to be media pressure, there needs to be media outrage for this to have consequences. They’re the world leaders in sports and they tend to help shape how these things happen, and they’re engaged here by a business interest.

“I don’t think there will be consequences for this because there can’t be consequences unless the level of outrage stays in one place.

“[White is] so powerful, so independent, and can even control, to some extent, the media monster he’s partnered with, that I don’t know what the consequences will be of a video of you slapping your wife at a party, giving a slap on her back for the fight you got yourself into. Never mind his wife’s quotes saying how out of character it was, generally that video for a person of power is extremely damaging in all sports. In all sports.

“But this guy works on a plane with his own outfit and a power that doesn’t come with a lot of governance. Who is there to punish you? And if it happened to Goodell or an owner – [White is] not a commissioner – but if it was with Goodell or an owner, do you imagine it would be smooth sailing? Because I don’t. I don’t imagine if we had a video of it, it would be smooth.”