Twitter, Facebook — in Curt Schilling’s case, it’s more like anti-social media. ESPN has fired its baseball analyst after he posted, and later defended, an anti-transgender meme and opined about laws covering gender-specific restrooms.
“ESPN is an inclusive company,” the Disney-owned sports giant said in a statement today. “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”
ESPN had suspended Schilling in September over a tweet comparing Muslim extremists to Nazis.
Schilling deleted Monday’s offending Facebook post but not, of course, before it was screen-grabbed for posterity. But rather than back down, he posted a ranting, 840-word response headlined “The Hunt to Be Offended…” on his blog. In it, the three-time World Series champion defended his right to an opinion: “My opinion, 100% mine, and only mine. I don’t represent anyone but myself here, on facebook, on twitter, anywhere.”
The firing comes as media companies have led calls to block or rescind state laws in Georgia and in North Carolina that discriminate against the LGBT community. Those companies include Disney, one of the first to come out publicly against Georgia’s “religious freedom” legislation last month. That proposed law was later vetoed by the governor.
Schilling joins a growing list of ESPN commentators who have been shown the door in the past couple of years for making controversial remarks on air or social media. Colin Cowherd was told in July that his contract would not be renewed, that in the wake being suspended for remarks about the mental capacities of Dominicans and then trying to explain himself on air afterward. Once-Golden Boy Bill Simmons’ comments about the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell in 2014 paved the way for his departure from the Bristol campus in May.
Other ESPN folks have been suspended for their comments or actions. Britt McHenry was sat down in April 2015 after her mean-girl tirade against a towing company employee went viral. Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman found themselves on the wrong side of the Ray Rice abuse scandal in 2014, and Keith Olbermann — who since has parted ways with ESPN — got a week in the penalty box for waging a Twitter war with Penn State students.