December 8, 2022
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Rachel Nichols resumes career with Showtime role

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Rachel Nichols has a new role — and new details on the controversy that ended her ESPN career.

Former ESPN “The Jump” host Rachel Nichols has joined Showtime as a host and producer on the company’s basketball-related programming, it was announced Friday. Nichols, who exited her ESPN contract in January, began her new Showtime role as a guest on the network’s “All the Smoke” series hosted by Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.

In the interview published Friday, Nichols detailed the circumstances of her ESPN exit, which was set in motion in the summer of 2020 when the company abruptly changed course on its months-old decision to award her the NBA Finals hosting job.

Nichols revealed in the “All the Smoke” interview that ESPN had asked her to step aside from the Finals hosting role and said it was her choice, but in her words “were putting a lot of pressure” on her to move off of the role. She also said that the timing on ESPN’s request was linked to a New York Times article criticizing ESPN’s lack of diversity.

Nichols further confirmed what is widely known, which is that after hosting an episode of “The Jump” remotely from her NBA “bubble” hotel room, she left the live feed recording her open, allowing employees at ESPN to spy on her without her knowledge for hours as she went about the rest of her day — with nobody at the network informing her that this was the case or turning off the feed.

In the course of spying on Nichols, at least one ESPN employee recorded a conversation she was having in which she complained about losing the Finals hosting role to Maria Taylor and implied that ESPN had made that decision due to its poor record on diversity.

News of the recording swept through ESPN over the following months, but Nichols said Friday that she was nonetheless given a contract extension and raise. It was not until the recording was leaked to The New York Times in July of last year — after Deadspin elected not to run with the story — that ESPN moved to cancel Nichols’ show and pull her from her assignments.

(News from Showtime/YouTube 9.30)



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