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A major scandal involving a top journalist broke out on ESPN

A recording of a telephone conversation that was made last year in the NBA “bubble” in Orlando, became the cause of an argument between the two main female TV hosts of ESPN, reports The New York Times.

The conflict began when the channel's executives chose a black-skinned woman Maria Taylor instead of Rachel Nichols as the main presenter for covering the final series of the 2020 NBA playoffs. Nichols spoke about her dissatisfaction in a telephone conversation with Adam Mendelson, a longtime adviser to Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James. Rachel said that Maria got the job because of the need to increase racial diversity on the channel.

“I wish Maria Taylor every success — she covers football, she covers basketball. If you need to give her more work because you are under pressure because of your lousy diversity score — which, by the way, I know personally, as a woman — do it. But find a job for her somewhere else. Don't take the job away from me,” Nichols said on the recording.

The conversation was caught on camera in the hotel room where Nichols lived and was recorded on a video server at the ESPN headquarters. One of the employees made a copy of the conversation on a mobile phone. Soon, its content spread throughout the company. The only person punished for the incident is a video producer, a black woman who told ESPN's human resources department that she shared the video with Taylor. The woman was suspended from work for two weeks without pay and later left the company.

Nichols tried to contact Taylor but received no response. The conflict between women continues throughout the current NBA season. Taylor hosts the NBA Countdown program, in which all Nichols ' segments are recorded in advance so that they do not have to overlap. Co-hosts of NBA Countdown Jalen Rose and Adrian Wojnarowski supported Taylor and said that they would refuse to go on the air if she was removed from the program. Maria's contract with the channel expires in less than three weeks.

Rachel Nichols is one of the main TV hosts of the NBA in the United States. She was immediately criticized by basketball players and was accused of white privilege.

“Keep going, Queen,” Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant tweeted, supporting Taylor.

“We stand behind you, Maria Taylor,” wrote 3 — time NBA-best sixth player Jamal Crawford.

Former NBA player Steven Jackson, on the contrary, supported Nichols, which caused great dissatisfaction of the African-American community.

“We all chat and say something when we are upset. Rachel really deserved this job. It's simple and clear. I talked to Rachel and I know a lot of things that she said out of frustration because ESPN put her in a bad position. They also put Maria in a bad position by trying to give her a job for the sake of sympathy. They were trying to look good because of the BLM. How many times have we said that blacks have qualifications? We know that we have the right to this job. But we also talk nonsense behind closed doors. I understand why Rachel is angry. Rachel never showed any signs of racism in front of me, but I would also be angry if I worked like this all my life, and they would give my place to a white dude just because Donald Trump is in power,” Jackson said.

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