Bob Ley slams ESPN after network announces largest layoffs ever

·2 min read

ESPN announced the biggest layoffs the company has ever had on Thursday, and longtime journalist Bob Ley was not happy about it.

Ley — the former anchor and “Outside The Lines” host who had been with ESPN essentially since the beginning — slammed the network on Twitter.

“Trying to remain objective and unemotional as I learn of the ESPN team members laid off today. Not possible,” Ley wrote. “Not as I see countless decades of journalist experience, and expertise jettisoned. Just when we need it most.

“Enjoy the [Disney] stock price and your NFL football.”

ESPN cuts 500 total jobs in largest layoff ever

ESPN, according to an internal memo obtained by Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy, cut 300 jobs on Thursday and opted to eliminate 200 open positions at the company.

Disney, ESPN’s parent company, announced in September that it was cutting about 25 percent of its workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said the company had reached its limit during the “COVID storm” and had to make a move.

“Prior to the pandemic, we had been deeply engaged in strategizing how best to position ESPN for future success amidst tremendous disruption in how fans consume sports. The pandemic’s significant impact on our business clearly accelerated those forward-looking discussions. In the short term, we enacted various steps like executive and talent salary reductions, furloughs, and budget cuts, and we implemented innovative operations and production approaches, all in an effort to weather the COVID storm. We have, however, reached an inflection point,” Pitaro wrote in the memo, via Front Office Sports.

“The speed at which change is occurring requires great urgency, and we must now deliver on serving sports fans in a myriad of new ways. Placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever.”

It’s unclear who all was impacted by the layoffs, but former college football writer Ivan Maisel, NHL staff writer Chris Peters, MLB writer Claire Smith and staff writer Emily Rand were among those who announced they had lost their jobs on social media.

As he’s retired, Ley is in a unique position to call out his former employer for the move on social media. When ESPN announced a round of layoffs in 2017 while he was still working there, Ley honored his former co-workers in a segment on air.

Now, though, he’s not holding back.

Longtime ESPN anchor Bob Ley
Bob Ley was not happy to learn of ESPN's massive layoffs this week. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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