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‘There needs to be media outrage’ - Dan Le Batard questions ESPN’s ‘compromised’ coverage of Dana White slapping his wife

The former ESPN host believes the networks might be playing down this incident.

UFC President Dana White slapping his wife at a New Year’s Eve party in Cabo San Lucas.
UFC President Dana White slapping his wife at a New Year’s Eve party in Cabo San Lucas.
SKMMA/YouTube

Earlier this week video emerged showing Dana White strike his wife Anne White at least twice during a New Year’s Eve event at a nightclub in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The video was shared by TMZ, which immediately released a video of White admitting to hitting his spouse and a statement from Anne White citing alcohol as the reason for what we can see in the video.

The incident has been met with silence from all major stakeholders involved with White, the UFC and Dana White’s Power Slap League (which is due to air on TBS next week).

ESPN, the UFC’s official broadcast partner, did release a statement to Bloody Elbow’s Trent Reinsmith which merely stated that questions regarding this incident be directed to the UFC.

That statement doesn’t sit very well with Dan Le Batard, the popular former ESPN host who moved his daily show to Meadowlark Media in 2021.

Additionally, Le Batard has said that he’s not sure if ESPN will dedicate the kind of attention that such an incident warrants.

“I am curious how ESPN is going to cover the news of Dana White and video of him slapping his wife at New Year’s festivities,” he said on his show (ht MMA Fighting). “Apologizing, saying there’s no excuse, saying that he had been drinking. 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 a corporate partner of the NFL.

“In this case, Dana White is the most famous person in this sport, is he not? The most famous person in the sport even with all the fighters, because he’s the face and voice for a sport. If he’s not, he’s close to it. It’s not even the crime, it’s the size of the fame of the criminal. How does ESPN cover that one?”

Le Batard explained that since there is video of this incident, he believes there should be a lot more media attention as well as pressure on UFC stakeholders to comment.

“Usually with these things if there is video and there is mainstream media pressure, and ESPN is the one most capable of applying mainstream media pressure — but they have an uncomfortable relationship with Dana White that ran off the one journalist that 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?”

“This doesn’t stay in the news stream unless there’s media pressure,” Le Batard continued. “There needs to be a media pressure, there needs to be a media 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.

“I don’t think there will be consequences for this, because there can’t be consequences for it unless the level of outrage stays in a place.

“[White is] so powerful, so independent, and can even control, to a degree, the media monster with which he has a partnership, that I don’t know what the consequences will be to video of you slapping your wife at a party, slapping her back because of the fight that you’ve gotten into. No matter the quotes from your wife saying 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 a plane with his own outfit and a power that doesn’t come with a great deal of governance. Who is there to punish him? And if it happened with Goodell or an owner — [White is] not a commissioner — but if it happened with Goodell or an owner, do you imagine that it would be quiet? Because I don’t. I don’t imagine if we had video of that it would be quiet.”

At this time of writing Dana White is not included in the ‘Top Headlines’ section of ESPN.com. Jake Paul signing with the PFL does crack that list. On that site’s MMA section the lead story is a feature about the fighters most likely to ‘shake up 2023’.

A story about White does appear in the ‘top headlines’ for the section. It is titled ‘UFC’s White on altercation with wife: ‘No Excuses’.

About the author: Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. (full bio)


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