ESPN has suspended its star NBA insider, Adrian Wojnarowski, in the wake of a profane emailed response to a United States Senator from Missouri, the website Outkick reported on Saturday night.
The network declined to comment on the report, which comes at an awkward time for ESPN and the reporter, known widely as “Woj,” with the NBA’s “bubble” in Orlando taking shape and games close to resuming.
The incident began with an emailed statement from Josh Hawley, a Republican, about a letter he planned to send to the NBA criticizing the limits of its approved social justice messaging, noting it precluded criticism of China, an important NBA business partner.
Wojnarowski replied to the email with a two-word expletive, which Hawley later made public, writing on Twitter, “Don’t criticize #China or express support for law enforcement to @espn. It makes them real mad.”
ESPN issued a statement prior to the report of the suspension saying Wojnarowski’s reply was “completely unacceptable behavior and we do not condone it. It is inexcusable for anyone working for ESPN to respond in the way Adrian did to Senator Hawley.”
Wojnarowski then issued a statement, writing, “I was disrespectful and I made a regrettable mistake. I am sorry for the way I handled myself and I am reaching out immediately to Senator Hawley to apologize directly. I also need to apologize to my ESPN colleagues because I know my actions were unacceptable and should not reflect on any of them.”
After being criticized for some time for an alleged liberal bias, ESPN has been more careful over the past two years under new president Jimmy Pitaro to stay out of political skirmishes when they do not directly relate to sports news.