Dan LeBatard Accuses ESPN of Intentionally Avoiding Coverage of Altercation Between Dana White and His Wife

Sports personality Dan LeBatard questioned ESPN's very limited news coverage of a nightclub altercation between Dana White and his wife on New Year's Eve

Courtesy of LeBatardShow on YouTube / @TMZ_Sports on Twitter

UFC broadcast partner ESPN has been rather quiet when it comes to coverage of Dana White’s altercation with his wife on New Year’s Eve. 

While celebrating the new year with his wife in a Cabo San Lucas nightclub, the UFC president was caught on camera getting into a physical altercation with his wife of nearly 30 years. In the short clip, White can be seen striking his wife with an open hand. While the MMA community has been debating the incident at great length with many condemning White’s actions, the promotion’s broadcast home has been uncharacteristically quiet. 

In the latest episode of The Dan LeBatard Show, LeBatard questioned whether or not ESPN, his former employer, would ever cover the story in the same fashion the outlet would if it involved another sports authority figure like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

“I am curious as to how ESPN is going to cover news of Dana White and video of him slapping his wife at New Year’s festivities, apologizing, saying there’s no excuse, saying that he had been drinking,” he said. “If it had been Roger Goodell or an owner of an NFL team, I imagine it would be covered with a great deal of zeal, even though ESPN is corporate partners with the NFL.

“In this case, Dana White is the most famous person in the sport, even with all the fighters, because he’s the face and voice of the sport,” LeBatard continued. “If he’s not, he’s close to it. And we’ve talked before, it’s not even the crime, it’s the size and the fame of the criminal.”

“How does ESPN cover this one?” he added. “Because usually with these things if there is video and mainstream media pressure — and ESPN is the one most capable of applying mainstream media pressure, but they have a partnership, an uncomfortable partnership with Dana White, that ran off the one real journalist they had in that sport, Ariel Helwani, and we ran into it because Dana White has a great deal of power at ESPN — how is that story going to be covered, how is that story supposed to be covered?” h/t MMAMania

Dan LeBatard and His Co-Host Doubt ESPN Will Ever Give the Story Proper Coverage

LeBatard’s co-host Jon Weiner aka Stugotz shared the host’s doubt that ESPN will ever properly cover the incident.

“When they get to the story, I’d like to think they’ll cover it the way they’ll cover any other story of this nature,” Stugotz said. “The problem is there’s a major partnership, and I know well enough to know that they likely won’t cover it the way they should because of that partnership.”

Some have argued that the lack of coverage is a direct result of Dana White getting out ahead of the media, and issuing a lengthy apology for the incident. Some even suggest that White was within his rights to slap his wife as the video clearly shows her striking the UFC president first. Whichever side of the coin you fall on, the fact remains that ESPN’s coverage of the incident has been incredibly thin and it’s reasonable to assume that is because of the power Dana White holds within the organization. 

“This doesn’t stay in the news stream unless there’s media pressure,” LeBatard said. “There needs to be media pressure, there needs to be outrage in order for this to have consequences. They’re the worldwide leader in sports and they do tend to help with how this stuff happens and they’re compromised here by a business interest.”

“Because I don’t think there’ll be consequences for this because there can’t be consequences for it unless the level of outrage stays in a place that’s so powerful, so independent, and can even control to a degree the media monster that he has a partnership with.

“So I don’t know what the consequences will be to video of you slapping your wife at a party,” he added. “You slapping her back, because of the fight you’ve gotten into. No matter the quote from your wife on how out of character it was. Usually that video, to a person of power, is hugely damaging, everywhere in sports — everywhere in sports.

“But, this guy works on his own plane, with an outfit and with power that doesn’t come with a great deal of governance,” LeBatard concluded. “Like who is there to punish him? And if it happened with Goodell or an owner can you imagine it’d be quiet? Because I don’t. I don’t imagine if we had video of that it’d be quiet.”

Published on January 4, 2023 at 4:20 pm
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