ESPN's Jason Whitlock has been removed from his post as editor-in-chief of The Undefeated, ESPN's fledgling "race and sports" website, Richard Sandomir of The New York Times first reported on Friday. Leon Carter will take over Whitlock's role on an interim basis.
Jason Whitlock out as head of the Undefeated, replaced on interim basis by Leon Carter.Whitlock will stay at ESPN, mostly to write
— Richard Sandomir (@RichSandomir) June 12, 2015
ESPN released this statement shortly after Sandomir's report:
As we continue to move forward in the process of creating The Undefeated – a new ESPN site focusing on race and sports – we have collectively decided to make some structural adjustments that will maximize the skill sets and strengths of our team, leading to the best possible output for the site and for all of ESPN. To that end, Jason Whitlock will now be entirely focused on what he does best: creating distinctive and compelling content, which will live across various ESPN platforms. Jason’s thought-provoking perspective has always been a hallmark of his work and this will allow him to completely devote his time and energy to that. As a result, he will make significant contributions to multiple ESPN entities and programs. Since returning to ESPN, Jason has been instrumental in assembling the foundation of a strong editorial team, formulating the vision for the project and collaborating with our digital product team to develop the blueprint for the site.
Leon Carter – an experienced leader in journalism who officially joined the site in January after leading staffs at the New York Daily News and ESPNNewYork.com – will assume all day-to-day management of the site’s editorial processes and personnel on an interim basis.
Whitlock has yet to issue a response to ESPN's announcement, but just three hours ago on Twitter, he was doing was he does best: Pedaling defenses to the indefensible as a way of practicing open-mindedness and "perspective."
Just had white friend via text make a compelling argument defending the white woman passing as black. Gave me new compassionate perspective
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) June 12, 2015
Whitlock's removal comes less than two months after he was the subject of an expose by Deadspin's Greg Howard, who, in June 2014, critically wrote about ESPN's questionable decision to build a "Black Grantland" around Whitlock.
Howard's April article, titled "How Jason Whitlock Is Poisoning ESPN's 'Black Grantland,'" relied heavily on leaked documents, audio and anecdotes from inside The Undefeated's editorial operation. It provided an insider's look at the dissension within The Undefeated and difficulties its staff was experiencing in working closely with the untenable Whitlock.