It’s been a tumultuous week for Fox Sports. First Fox Sports Digital laid off the bulk of its editorial staff in a push toward video and away from text. Then on Monday, Fox abruptly fired Jamie Horowitz, its president of national networks. The dismissal is said to center around an internal investigation of sexual harassment claims.
Fox Sports president Eric Shanks informed the staff in a memo, which was widely reported:
I regret to inform you that Jamie Horowitz, President of National Networks for FOX Sports, will be leaving FOX Sports effective immediately. We realize this news may come as a surprise for many of you, but we are confident in this decision.
Everyone at FOX Sports, no matter what role we play, or what business, function or show we contribute to — should act with respect and adhere to professional conduct at all times. These values are non-negotiable.
Until Jamie’s replacement is named, I am stepping in to handle his former responsibilities including programming, marketing and scheduling for FS1 and FS2, as well as digital. All of these functions will now report directly to me.
We understand how difficult this will be for many of you, but in these times it is important that we remain unwavering and focused in continuing the great work of FOX Sports.
Horowitz had joined Fox Sports in May 2015 and made quick changes to Fox Sports 1, bringing his debate programming philosophy from ESPN. He brought ESPN personalities such as Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock to Fox along with a number of executives.
Horowitz was fired by NBC in 2014 after only two months as general manager of the Today show when he attempted to bring about a wholesale makeover of the program. He had also previously been an executive at ABC’s Good Morning America.
The Los Angeles Times reported L.A.-based Fox Sports “interviewed several women … about Horowitz’s behavior,” including “prominent on-air personalities and show producers.” The Times story came from sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it or because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.
It appears the case is headed toward litigation. Both sides are said to have hired prominent attorneys.
Horowitz had been behind last month’s layoffs of a reported 20 Fox Sports Digital writers and editors.
Sports Illustrated originally reported Horowitz’s departure. SI’s Richard Deitsch tweeted that Fox’s PR department had sent a memo on the Fourth of July “reminding staff about ‘unauthorized conversations with the press.’ ”
Fox has been beleaguered for the past year by sexual harassment claims in its news division, prompting Fox News in July 2016 to fire its chairman, Roger Ailes, who died in May, and popular host Bill O’Reilly in April.
WHERE’S JOE DAVIS THIS WEEK?
For the first time this season, Joe Davis will be able to broadcast Saturday’s Royals-Dodgers game in Los Angeles and also broadcast for Fox.
The game will be Fox’s No. 2 game, shown to 35% of the nation at 4 p.m. PDT. Davis will do play-by-play alongside Eric Karros and A.J. Pierzynski. It also means that fans without SportsNet LA will be able to see the game on KTTV (Channel 11).
Meanwhile, the Dodgers did all they could to make sure fans stuffed the ballot box for Justin Turner to be voted into Tuesday’s All-Star Game. SportsNet LA was full of reminders, beggings and pleadings by Davis, Orel Hershiser and Alanna Rizzo during Wednesday night’s game against Arizona.
On a side note, Hershiser continued his nightly gushings about the boys in blue, saying that every one of them was someone you’d like your daughter to date. Presumably he meant only the single ones. He did everything but give out the players’ phone numbers. Perhaps not only would you be able to vote for Turner, you would also be able to vote for which Dodger you’d like to date.
Second side note: With the Dodgers hosting the Royals this weekend, it reminds me how close the two teams came to squaring off in the 1985 World Series. It might have happened if it hadn’t been for Jack Clark and Tom Niedenfuer.
SUNDAY NIGHT DEPARTURE
It’s sad for us, but good for him. Dan Shulman will step down from his play-by-play duties on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball after this season with a move toward getting a more balanced life.
Shulman told SI.com he’s getting remarried next year and wants a schedule that is more conducive toward maintaining a family life at his home in Toronto. Shulman stressed the move was his idea and not ESPN’s, and he was grateful to the network for accommodating him.
Shulman will continue to have a full college basketball schedule and do a limited number of weeknight games for ESPN, as well as postseason games on ESPN Radio.
He has done baseball broadcasts for 20 years on ESPN and has been on SNB since 2011. Shulman also broadcasts a small number of Toronto Blue Jays games in Canada.
HEY THERE, YOU’RE AN ALL-STAR
The 88th MLB All-Star Game will air at 5 p.m. on Fox with Joe Buck, John Smoltz, Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci. ESPN Radio will also have the game, locally on KSPN (710 AM), with Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton.
The Home Run Derby will be at 5 p.m. Monday on ESPN. Strangely enough, the Spanish-language production of the Derby will be shown on ESPN2 and not ESPN Deportes.
It’s the first time since 2002 that the winner of the All-Star Game will not determine which league representative will get home-field advantage in the World Series.
I’ll write more about this Monday, but here’s a spoiler alert: I’M THRILLED!
UP & DOWN THE AISLE
TBS will have its first baseball game of the season at 10 a.m. Sunday with the Pirates visiting the Cubs. Ernie Johnson will do play-by-play with analyst Ron Darling. … The Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn “Battle of Brisbane” boxing event Saturday night earned a 1.6 rating for ESPN and was the highest rated fight on cable TV since Carlos Baldomir-Arturo Gatti on HBO in 2006, also a 1.6 rating. It was ESPN’s highest rated fight since Danell Nicholson-Darren Hayden in 1995 (1.7). Saturday’s 1.6 rating translates to 2.8 million viewers. … The Coke Zero 400, NBC’s first NASCAR race of the year, had a 3.0 rating, according to SportsBusiness Daily. That’s down 6% from last year’s 3.2. … Jim (Bones) McKay, formerly Phil Mickelson’s caddie, will become an on-course reporter for NBC and Golf Channel, according to Golf Digest. … NBCSN will have AVP pro volleyball action from San Francisco at 9:30 p.m. Sunday. …
Tony Kornheiser, host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, as well as a former Washington Post sports columnist and longtime Washington, D.C., radio host, will be inducted into the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame. Other inductees include Olympic swimming gold medalist Katie Ledecky and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. … It’s not sports, but the World Series of Poker will be shown almost live from Las Vegas starting Saturday through July 22 on ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN calls it “live” in its publicity, but it’s really on a 30-minute delay because of gaming regulations.