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Pat McAfee Claims ESPN Executive is Sabotaging his Show

McAfee Takes On ESPN’s Norby Williamson in Ratings Row

Pat McAfee, the name that triggers the baptism of fire in talk shows, is not one to evade a brawl with his naysayers. During a remarkable Friday slot, he directed his ire at Norby Williamson, an ESPN executive, following a thought piece penned by The Post’s Andrew Marchand.

Marchand posited that for McAfee’s show to dent ESPN’s ratings, it needs to accelerate its performance.

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McAfee addressed this by conversing with his co-host, A.J. Hawk, discussing how their show compares to others across multiple platforms and then unleashed a scathing tirade against Williamson, who serves as ESPN’s Executive Editor and head of Event and Studio Production, and is also a member of company president Jimmy Pitaro’s close advisors.

McAfee was poignant when he stated, ‘Our gratitude is profound. More viewers are tuning into our show than ever before and we acknowledge the warm reception from ESPN with sincere gratitude. However, there are those within the ESPN family who seem to have an adversarial disposition towards us. My hunch is that Norby Williamson is the perpetrator trying to undermine our program.’

Nevertheless, McAfee clarified, ‘This is just my intuitive guess. He seems to be the only one privy to certain information, which then gets wrongfully leaked. This misrepresentation sets a misinformed storyline about our show that we constantly need to counteract, as if we’re fending off a nagging pest at every turn.

The narrative was distorted by incorrect figures deliberately circulated 12 hours prior to our actual ratings release. These constant hindrances, this whole season, have evidently come from those who were less than thrilled when The Pat McAfee Show was inducted into the ESPN family.’

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Jemele Hill, presently a journalist for The Atlantic and an ESPN alumna, was empathetic towards McAfee’s sentiments, ‘I can relate’ she inscribed on X while recirculating a clip of his outlook. Hill, who had parted ways with ESPN in 2018, faced a suspension from the network a year earlier following her commentary on Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ views on the national anthem.

ESPN refrained from any immediate response to McAfee’s accusations when approached. Intriguingly, Williamson is a respected veteran among ESPN’s cadre, having been a part of the company’s journey since 1985.

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He has usually advocated for traditional, down-to-earth sports conversation, sometimes causing friction with talents who diverge from this norm while retaining amicable relations with those adhering to his vision. Notably, Dan Le Batard’s executive producer, Mike Ryan, lauded McAfee’s spirited discourse on his Friday show by peppering his tweet with applause emojis.

In his broadcast, McAfee opened up about an unpleasant encounter with Williamson before his ESPN days. ‘His anonymous mentions are rampant across big-name dailies like the Washington Post, New York Post, New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal. The comments, though, are never in praise of our show. They always have a nudge here, a dig there, to pull us down. This cloak and dagger tactics from within our own quarters is something I struggle with,’ he shared.

He did not mince words when referring to Williamson, stating ‘There is a gentleman who once had me waiting in his office for 45 minutes in 2018 and never showed up. This particular individual has never held me in high regards, and I can say the sentiment was fully reciprocated. Yet, despite such hurdles, we keep burgeoning. We remain grateful. I believe we’re on the right track.’,

McAfee concluded with a passionate pledge, ‘We are striving to make every effort towards perfection. We intend to do good every time we step into this arena. We may not always hit the target, but there have been way too many misses in this particular sector for a long while.’

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