ESPN guest asks ‘who are we to criticize China’s human rights records’ when red states assault ‘voting rights’

An ESPN guest appeared to equivocate the ongoing human rights abuses committed by China to election reform efforts taking place across the U.S. 

During Friday’s “Around the Horn,” host Tony Reali kicked off the conversation highlighting the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing as the CCP commits genocide of the Uyghur Muslims, asking J.A. Adande, the director of sports journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, “As a fan and as a reporter, how do you reconcile enjoying this competition” while such abuses by China are taking place. 

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“I think it’s standard in sports right now- you have to have a cognitive dissonance. You need to compartmentalize,” Adande responded. “We’ve never had a more enjoyable NFL Playoffs in this country and we’ve never had more people watching the playoffs, and yet it goes on amid the ongoing allegations against Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Football Team, and, you know, the continuous concussion concerns, and now the concerns about diversity in the allegations and questions about competitive integrity even, all of that, and yet we’re still enjoying the games.” 

“And who are we to criticize China’s human rights records when we have ongoing attacks by the agents of the state against unarmed citizens and we’ve got assaults on the voting rights of our people of color in various states in this country. So sports – I think it is possible and it’s necessary more than ever to just shut everything out if you are to enjoy the actual games themselves,” Adande told Reali. 

J.A. Adande (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

J.A. Adande (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Reali responded by saying he “appreciates” Adande’s response, but pressed him specifically on how “sports can conquer”  the fact that China was selected to host the Winter Olympics while also defending human rights globally. 

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“Well, again, where can you choose that’s free?” Adande said. “And look at some of the other recent hosts of the games including Russia and some other recent places. It’s very hard to find a country that isn’t problematic when it comes to human rights, including here.”

“I think we can bring attention to it. I think its notable that we did have a Uyghur participant lighting the torch and hopefully this will be used to bring attention to it rather than to continue to place these issues [inaudible].”

Outkick founder Clay Travis called Adande’s comments “crazy,” labeling them “Chinese propaganda talking points” that are being broadcasted to ESPN viewers. 

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“ESPN is so proud of them that they’re sharing the clip themselves with all of their audience,” Travis told Fox News Digital. “It’s next level stupidity, first of all, to compare Chinese genocide with American voting rights ID laws. But it’s also making me wonder, with all that Disney has connection-wise with China, are they trying to curry favor with China by spreading Chinese talking points propaganda to the American sporting fan? It just blows my mind.”

Protesters hold protest posters during a protest against Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics by activists of the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe front of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021.

Protesters hold protest posters during a protest against Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics by activists of the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe front of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021.
(Jean-Guy Python/Keystone via AP)

Travis said Adande did not receive enough pushback from Reali, showing how “out of touch ESPN is when it comes to understanding larger societal issues.”

“If you’re a left-winger, which most ESPN employees are, the idea of comparing Chinese genocide to American controversial political issues seems like an equivalent position. It is not,” Travis said. “There is no equivalent position in the United States to Chinese government-sponsored genocide. It is insane that anyone could think to make that case.”

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“And furthermore, it’s a sign of how little actual knowledge from the outside of left-wing politics exists in the ESPN infrastructure that no one in the entire organization thought ‘Oh, man, this is an awful analogy that we’re making here. This is an embarrassment to the network and it’s an insult to everyone in the American public for us to be spreading the exact propaganda that China wants to be spread.’ It’s an outrage,” Travis added. 

Adande, a frequent panelist on “Around the Horn,” has not been an ESPN employee since 2017 when he joined Northwestern University, according to a spokesman for ESPN.

Preparations underway for the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Preparations underway for the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
(Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Adande’s remarks were also slammed by critics on social media. 

“This may be the dumbest thing I have ever heard,” radio host Paul Zeise reacted. “This is wokism on steroids only with a larger dose of stupidity. And what is really scary is he is the director of a respected journalism school.”

“Literal CCP propaganda,” The Spectator contributing editor Stephen Miller declared

“Like many on the Left, he thinks the United States is no better than China,” Washington Free Beacon reporter Chuck Ross tweeted.

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“Just shut out the ongoing genocide and enjoy the games, folks!” Washington Examiner reporter Andrew Kerr exclaimed.

“This is evil. Excusing genocide to own the cons is quite the strategy and a pathetic one at that,” NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck wrote.

Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. ESPN declined to further comment. 

Outkick and Fox News share common ownership. 

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