Why ESPN fired Steve Phillips

ESPN blandly tweeted the news that it had sacked the sex-scandal-plagued Phillips. What’s the back story?

ESPN fired baseball analyst Steve Phillips—and let the world know via Twitter on a Sunday night—after his summer fling with 22-year-old junior co-worker Brooke Hundley splashed across the tabloids and blogs last week. ESPN said Phillips’ “ability to be an effective representative for ESPN has been significantly and irreparably damaged.” Why did ESPN really fire Phillips? (Watch coverage of Phillips' firing)

He was an embarrassment for ESPN: “In case you have trouble parsing that statement” from ESPN, says Dashiell Bennett in Gawker’s Deadspin, it means it wasn't having sex with a subordinate, cheating on his wife, or "creating an unsafe work environment" that got Steve Phillips fired. It was “ being an embarrassment to the company.” If you work at ESPN, “that’s where the line is, in case you were wondering.”

“Steve Phillips Fired By ESPN”

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Deadspin’s vendetta did Phillips in: ESPN probably made an example of Steve Phillips, says Ryan Wilson in AOL’s FanHouse, so all employees would know that it will address bad behavior “swiftly and severely” from now on. But Phillips might still have a job if Deadspin hadn't gone nuts, and published sex rumors about several ESPN employees to punish the network for having denied the Phillips rumor back in August. (Read more about Deadspin’s revenge.)

“Steve Phillips Fired by ESPN”

He was fired for being a pig—and good riddance: Phillips was just the latest in a series of “powerful men” punished for “behaving badly with women underlings,” says Susan Reimer in the Baltimore Sun. It’s like men never learned from “former President Bill Clinton’s nasty go-round with impeachment.” Finally, after David Letterman and now Steve Phillips, it’s “rewarding to see the steep price some of these guys are paying for their little harems.”

“Men (and underlings) behaving badly”

Phillips just worked for the wrong network: If David Letterman "drops this into his monologue,” says Ephraim Gadsby in Gawker, he’s gutsier than I thought. But since Letterman still has a job, the thing that got Steve Phillips fired was the fact that he worked for ESPN, not CBS. Now he’s stuck “taking the traditional route in such pants-down circumstances:” rehab to “to address his personal issues.”

“If You’re Going to Sleep With a Co-Worker, Do It at CBS Not ESPN”

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