Updated at 2:34 p.m.
Perhaps it was the recent incident involving NHL analyst Matthew Barnaby. Perhaps it was the upcoming release of “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN.”
Perhaps both were on the mind of John Skipper, the Worldwide Leader’s executive vice president of content, when after an upfront presentation to advertisers Tuesday, he told a group of reporters, “we do not have a frat-boy culture” in Bristol. He also said that “stuff happens” because of the sheer size of the company. “We have a lot of employees and a few of them, every now and then, do something stupid.”
Here are Skipper’s words, (via Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated):
“Look, we know we are in the spotlight and so when people associated with ESPN do foolish things, it is going to be news. There is nothing unfair about that.
“We have 6,000-7,000 employees and we have another 3,000-4,000 people who work for us full-time, and you take any village of 10,000 people and a few of those people on any given day will act irresponsibly. When I went to college, there was always somebody in the dorm, you know? In the town I live in, there is a guy who goes across the street and sleeps with his neighbor. Stuff happens.
“I can tell you categorically, we do not have a frat-boy culture. We do not condone that kind of activity. In fact, we have taken lots and lots of steps to create policies and we are fairly stringent when people who do things. We suspend people. We fire people. It is clear to everyone who works for us that are not going to tolerate it. But it is just human nature, human behavior.
“No, we don’t have a culture run amok. It is a phrase everyone likes to use now. We have a culture of hard work and achievement and serving fans. We have a lot of employees and a few of them, every now and then, do something stupid.”
Matthew Barnaby is the analyst who was taken off the air after a domestic incident with his estranged wife in Amherst, N.Y. Barnaby pleaded not guilty to five criminal charges, one of which is a felony, and apologized for the incident.
All of which is probably going to help that book, the long-awaited tell-all by Tom Shales of the Washington Post and James Andrew Miller, sell. (There’s an excerpt in GQ about Keith Olbermann. You could read it.)