Via Matthew Yglesias, it seems that Bill Simmons had scheduled a podcast with special guest Barack Obama, in keeping with Obama's clever sports outreach strategy. But ESPN executives have nixed it and the New York Daily News notes that ESPN president George Bodenheimer is a McCain supporter.
ESPN's defense here sounds semi-legitimate: "It's absolutely not an issue about any one candidate. Our position is that when they're down to the final two candidates, we'll look for options to interview each accordingly. Fans don't expect political coverage on our air. ... We did Kerry and Bush on ESPN. Separate one-on-ones that were sports related," said spokesman Josh Krulewitz. That's a fair point insofar as nobody wants to hear the candidates go on ESPN to talk about health-insurance mandates or give sappy tributes to the virtues of fair play. But Obama, by all accounts, is a genuinely knowledgeable sports fan, and presumably the conversation would be about actual developments in the world of sports. As long as it's up to the usual standards of sports commentary (which isn't a very high bar to meet), and as long as the same opportunity is available to the other candidates, it seems a bit unreasonable to force Simmons to turn down such a ratings-friendly guest just because he happens to be running for president.