Sports reporter fired after calling Venus Williams a gorilla
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 4/24/2018, 10:22 a.m.
Doug Adler, a commentator on ESPN, was fired recently for calling tennis superstar Venus Williams a “gorilla” during a broadcast of the Australian Open. And now he says he’s been blackballed in the sports broadcasting industry. He’s suing ESPN for wrongful termination, but the network says his lawsuit is baseless since he was working as a freelancer. Adler defended his comment during the 2017 event, saying he was referring to her “gorilla style” of play. But social media wasn’t having it and ESPN responded by releasing Adler from his work as a commentator with the sports network. “ESPN had no contractual obligation to put Adler on the air; its contractual obligation was to pay him for seven days of possible work,” stated ESPN’s motion, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “ESPN did pay Adler; he received 100 percent of his daily rate for all seven days of the coverage of the 2017 Australian Open, including days he did not work. ESPN was under no contractual obligation to retain Adler for a future announcing assignment.” Adler said the backlash from his firing over the Venus Williams remark has been swift. “They (ESPN) killed me, they made me unemployable. They ended my career, they killed my reputation, my good name. What else was I supposed to do?” Adler said on NBC’s “Today Show” last year. “They didn’t have good cause and I didn’t do anything wrong.” But ESPN believes differently about the incident involving Venus Williams. “No ’cause’ was needed,” responded ESPN in court. “[B]ut even if cause were required, Adler’s controversial comment supplied it. It is unnecessary to decide whether Adler meant ‘gorilla’ or ‘guerrilla’; even crediting Adler’s spin, he chose his words poorly and provoked a public outcry that ESPN had to take steps to quell, to stem criticism of Adler and ESPN itself and return the focus to the competition on the court.”