When ESPN hired Katie Nolan away from FS1, the network knew it was getting an edgy personality whose humor and insight appealed to a younger demographic the network desperately covets.
But now, Nolan is testing the limits of ESPN’s clear guidelines for its staff to stay away from politics after criticizing President Trump on Viceland television.
In an appearance on Desus & Mero, Viceland’s popular late-night comedy show, host Desus Mero joked that “thumbs-up” is now a sign for white supremacists thanks to its overuse by Trump. Nolan’s first response about Trump was so heated, Viceland bleeped it out, even though the show allows cursing.
Collecting herself, Nolan replied, “That’s because he’s a f— stupid person.”
In a statement, ESPN said it had reviewed the totality of Nolan’s comments and considered what she said “inappropriate.” The network added: “we have addressed it with her,” but did not elaborate further.
Nolan’s comments come at about 12:55 (warning: explicit language):
Nolan’s remarks on Trump come after ESPN released a new social media and politics policy in the wake of suspending SportsCenter host Jemele Hill for two weeks after she violated the company’s social media rules by encouraging fans to boycott the Cowboys after owner Jerry Jones said he would bench players protesting racial injustice during the national anthem. Before that, Hill was issued a warning by ESPN for violating the company’s policy by making comments critical of Trump on Twitter, including a tweet in which she referred to the president as a “white supremacist.”
Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 11, 2017
ESPN’s new policy now reads, in part, “Commentaries on relevant sports-related issues are appropriate, but we should refrain from overt partisanship or endorsement of particular candidates, politicians or political parties.”
Despite the warning, Nolan is not expected to be in serious trouble over her comments. As Sporting News’ Kevin McCarthy wrote, given her outspoken nature and the late-night comedy setting of her comments, “the sense is the brass at Bristol will give her a pass.” But Nolan also hosts a version of SportsCenter on SnapChat, and her role with the news show blurs the line for her a bit between reporting and commentary.
It’s not the first time Nolan has been critical of Trump or those in his orbit. In April, while she was still at FS1, Nolan called out Fox News host Sean Hannity for suggesting the New York Times knew he offered private counsel and advice to Trump because he was under surveillance and unmasked by NSA agents.
“You’re a literal f— moron,” Nolan wrote on Twitter, adding in a later tweet “you knowingly deceive people for your own benefit and that makes me angry.”
Nolan, whose Emmy Award-winning late-night show Garbage Time was canceled by FS1, was hired by ESPN in October. Conner Schell, the executive vice president of content at ESPN, called Nolan a “rare talent” and said at the time that she brought a “fresh perspective and a great sense of humor” to the network.
On Thursday, ESPN announced that Nolan will host a live NFL pre game show on the network’s @ESPN and @ESPNNFL Twitter accounts with The Undefeated’s Clinton Yates called Wild Card Live, starting at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
On Wednesday, Nolan is launching a new weekly podcast for ESPN called Sports with Katie Nolan.