By Annie Ross
At last, the good people who run ESPN have done the right thing.
They have fired ex-Phillies hurler Curt Schilling, their baseball analyst who doubles as a bigot and a lightning rod for hate, so that his rants about Muslims, Hillary Clinton, transgender folks and everyone else are now just the province of his own self and his Twitter account.
ESPN could have gotten rid of him at the end of the 2015 baseball season for his tweet equating “Muslim extremists” with the Nazi regime in Germany, but it only suspended him.
The network might have dumped him last month for saying Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, “should be buried under a jail somewhere,” but if it punished him at all, that remains a secret.
This week, Schilling went on a Facebook tirade against access to public facilities for transgender people. He shared a bizarre photo, then went after people who were angry with him, saying they should blame themselves for being offended.
While it is true that Schilling’s opinions were appalling, insensitive and nasty, over and over again, there was more to this firing than the hatred contained in his words.
Schilling broke a very simple if unwritten media rule: A member of the sports media should cover and comment on sports news, not actively try to make news.
Schilling didn’t know when to be quiet. He didn’t know when to stop. When you’re a member of the news media, as I have been for years, you censor yourself dozens of times a day. You keep off-the-record conversations private. You keep a scoop to yourself until you can responsibly report it. You listen to others give an opinion rather than always give yours. And you actually control yourself when you get over your keyboard.
This behavior has a name that Schilling probably wouldn’t recognize.
It’s called professionalism.
Why would a cable TV baseball analyst think anyone wanted to hear anything he had to say beyond what’s up with someone’s slider?
Because he had no filter. Or, for that matter, good judgment. Schilling was a loose cannon, a detriment to his employer.
And now unemployed on merit.