On the preshow call involving the stars of the show and production staff in both Los Angeles and New York, Taylor insisted to an executive that she be able to conduct live interviews with sideline reporters. She also brought up the recorded phone conversation. Wojnarowski jumped in and called Nichols a bad teammate. Rose said that ESPN had asked a lot from Black employees over the past year, but that he and other Black employees would extend their credibility to the company no longer.
Taylor, whom executives had asked numerous times to change her interactions with Nichols, said that the only people punished by ESPN’s actions were women of color: Johnson, herself and the three sideline reporters — Lisa Salters, Cassidy Hubbarth and Andrews — who received lesser assignments so that Nichols could have the lead sideline reporter role and now were not being allowed to appear on the show live.
Pitaro spoke with Taylor and Wojnarowski, and Wojnarowski alone, when Pitaro asked Wojnarowski whether going back to the status quo and allowing sideline reporters to appear on the show live would solve the problem, according to three people familiar with the conversation.
By the end of the day, the restrictions were rescinded.
Krulewitz declined to comment on the argument, besides saying that “the decision regarding reporters on these shows was made solely by N.B.A. production management,” and not Pitaro.
The spread of the recording throughout ESPN happened less than a week after Pitaro had pledged “accountability” and improvements throughout ESPN’s workplace culture.
“We are going to speak through our actions here, and we are going to improve,” Pitaro said in an interview then. “If we don’t, it is on me, I failed, because it does all start with me.”
Still, nobody was outwardly punished besides Johnson, the producer who recently departed ESPN. She left with a handful of Black employees who had pressed Pitaro for changes.