Where did this come from? Who said this was okay? Why do we need this, and what purpose does it serve? These are all questions that would be appropriate to ask after ESPN, totally out of nowhere, ran a video message from President Donald Trump in the midst of its broadcast of the UFC 249 prelim fights Saturday. In the brief, pre-recorded clip, the POTUS spoke directly to the camera and repeatedly thanked UFC boss Dana White for putting on the event and urged other sporting organizations to resume despite the COVID-19 crisis.
Trump and White are friends. This is not news. But that ESPN and parent company Disney decided it made sense to go this route raises significant questions. The White House's response to the coronavirus crisis has been met with consistently deep criticism from the very beginning, and the president's own statements on the matter have routinely side-stepped essential facts and minimized or misrepresented the danger of the virus and the disease it causes.
What we need now is an emphasis on health and safety and togetherness, not a back-slapping Dana White love-fest. At best, this video -- and ESPN's decision to air it -- is tone-deaf. At worst, it's a reflection of dangerously skewed values and priorities as America and the world trudges through these unprecedented times.
Perhaps it's just the cost of doing business with Dana White. But all told, ESPN needed to be more tactful.