A longtime Chicago-area radio host was fired Tuesday for what his company described as a “degrading” tweet he posted the night before that disparaged the outfit ESPN’s Maria Taylor was wearing on “Monday Night Football.”
“AVN” refers to Adult Video News, which presents an annual awards show that has been described as “the Oscars of porn.” Adult-film actresses have frequently served as hosts for those shows.
McNeil quickly deleted his tweet, but not before it received backlash from other Twitter users, including several current and former ESPN colleagues of Taylor.
“Just another example of what women have to go through in this business,” tweeted former “SportsCenter” host Jemele Hill. “Huge accomplishment for Maria to be part of the MNF team tonight and here comes an [expletive] trying to undermine a big moment in her career.”
Taylor herself eventually weighed in while sharing a report on McNeil’s tweet.
“Well Danny Dearest if you would like to continue making sexist comments about me … please bring your misogyny with you to the NBA Countdown double header I’ll be hosting tomorrow night,” Taylor tweeted Monday evening, after she served as sideline reporter for a game between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers. “Hey ladies remember you can wear whatever you feel confident in!”
Well Danny Dearest if you would like to continue making sexist comments about me...please bring your misogyny with you to the NBA Countdown double header I’ll be hosting tomorrow night. Hey ladies remember you can wear whatever you feel confident in! @670TheScore @DannyMac670 https://t.co/bN0H582isU— Maria Taylor (@MariaTaylor) September 15, 2020
McNeil was fired Tuesday by Entercom Chicago, the company that owns WSCR-AM, where McNeil had been hosting a show since 2018 in his third stint at the station.
“For each one of us our words have power. For our brands and on-air personalities that is amplified and brings increased responsibility in how we chose to use our voices. Last night’s tweet, and its degrading and humiliating tone to a fellow female broadcaster, was unacceptable,” Entercom Chicago executive Rachel Williamson wrote in an email to staff (via the Chicago Sun-Times).
“We have the best teams in Chicago, and we must hold ourselves to high expectations to continue to be leaders in our organization, our industry and our community. We apologize to all who were offended by Dan’s words, especially Maria.”
McNeil, 59, has yet to publicly comment on his firing.
ESPN said in a statement provided to The Washington Post, “Too often, women are subjected to this type of commentary. Women in sports deserve respect for their abilities and intellect, not judgment regarding their appearance. Maria Taylor has our full and unequivocal support.”
At the end of Tuesday’s ESPN’s “NBA Countdown,” analysts Jalen Rose and Jay Williams gave her flowers and hugs as Rose thanked her for “your intellect, your beauty and your class in all situations.”
“Maria, you are so incredible at what you do,” Williams told her as Taylor grew emotional, “and I love the way you clap back at people that come to you with ignorance. So thank you for continuing to be that example that we need.”
Taylor, 33, a former basketball and volleyball player at the University of Georgia who returned to the school to complete an MBA in 2013, began appearing on ESPN the following year as a college sports reporter and analyst. Since then, she has been featured on programs including “NBA Countdown,” “College GameDay,” “ABC Saturday Night Football” and “Get Up,” and she is in her first season with “MNF.”
The people who fuel me. Are the people who support me. The only people who can affect me are the people who love me. Im SO thankful for my NBA Countdown family. Once again you’ve lifted me up over a hurdle. And made me feel like a Queen despite the noise. Lets crush the Finals 💐 pic.twitter.com/BOJRuFEQMF— Maria Taylor (@MariaTaylor) September 15, 2020
Among other ESPN colleagues to express support for Taylor was Hannah Storm, who saluted Entercom for firing McNeil and wrote, “Stay strong and keep shining as the smart, professional, special talent that you are!!!”
In 2010, ESPN suspended commentator Tony Kornheiser after he critiqued on his radio show an outfit Storm was wearing on TV. “She’s got on red go-go boots and a Catholic school plaid skirt … way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe early 50s by now,” Kornheiser said at the time. “She looks like she has sausage casing wrapping around her upper body.”
Others who came to Taylor’s defense Tuesday included Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, who told her on Twitter, “We with you.”
“And here we go with this [expletive]," Michael Eaves, a “SportsCenter” anchor, tweeted. “The depth of some men’s insecurities will never cease to amaze me. Does my girl @MariaTaylor trigger y’all that badly, for real?!?”
“Women in our business face a level of scrutiny and ridicule most will never understand,” ESPN’s Jenna Laine said on Twitter. “We are constantly attacked for our appearance, hair, clothing and voices. It’s PAINFUL. For Black women in media, it goes even farther. And it HAS to stop. Standing with you, @MariaTaylor.”