ESPN fires Curt Schilling after Facebook comments
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was fired by ESPN on Wednesday, a day after he drew intense criticism for promoting offensive commentary on social media.
Schilling, who had worked for the network since 2010 and most recently offered analysis on “Monday Night Baseball,’’ was dismissed after sharing a Facebook post this week that appeared to respond to the North Carolina law that bars transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that do not correspond with their birth genders.
The post showed an overweight man wearing a wig and women’s clothing with parts of the T-shirt cut out to expose his breasts. It says: “LET HIM IN! to the restroom with your daughter or else you’re a narrow-minded, judgmental, unloving racist bigot who needs to die.”
To that, Schilling added: “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”
“ESPN is an inclusive company,” ESPN said in a statement. “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”
Schilling, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment.
It was the latest in a number of commentaries by Schilling on social media that have drawn controversy. He was suspended for a month after he posted a comment on Twitter in August that compared radical Muslims to Nazis.
Earlier Wednesday, Schilling appeared on WEEI radio, where he defended himself against accusations of intolerance and racism.
“To be in a place where people actually believe I’m a racist or I’m transphobic says to me that something has gone horribly askew somewhere,” he told the hosts, sounding weary and bewildered by his latest social media furor.
Schilling told WEEI: “I replied to the post. I didn’t post that.”
But a screen image captured by Outsports.com showed that Schilling had shared it and added his own comment.
On his personal blog on Tuesday, Schilling did not back down, even as advocates in the transgender community called for his dismissal.
“Let’s make one thing clear right upfront,” he wrote. “If you get offended by ANYTHING in this post, that’s your fault, all yours.”
He added: “This latest brew ha ha is beyond hilarious. I didn’t post that ugly picture. I made a comment about the basic functionality of men’s and women’s restrooms, period.”
Schilling’s suspension last season led to Jessica Mendoza replacing him on ESPN’s marquee “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcasts. He was subsequently reassigned to the network’s games on Monday nights.
Last month, Schilling waded into politics on a Kansas City radio station when he suggested that Hillary Clinton “should be buried under a jail somewhere” if she gave “classified information on hundreds if not thousands of e-mails on a public server, after what happened to General Petraeus.”
Last year, David H. Petraeus, a former CIA director and a top general from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, was sentenced to two years’ probation by a federal judge for providing classified information to a woman with whom he was having an affair.
Analysts said ESPN was left with little choice after Schilling’s repeated offenses.
“If you’re taking a paycheck from ESPN, you have to be extra careful about how you communicate publicly and always err on the side of caution and responsibility,” said James Andrew Miller, co-author of “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN.”
“It’s not an unfair or impractical position for ESPN to hold,” he added.