Yesterday, one of the bigger news items to fly around social media was that American ice skater Adam Rippon was offered a correspondent job for NBC for the remainder of the Olympics.
Rippon, who didn’t place at all in the individual competition but won a bronze in team performance, is perhaps best known not for his athleticism, but his on-going and clearly one-sided feud with Vice President Mike Pence. Rippon, you see, is gay, and is very much of the opinion that Mike Pence is probably Hitler (or somewhere thereabouts).
Because of his outspokenness on Pence, homosexuality, and everything pretty much not related to actually being an Olympic athlete, Rippon became a social media darling (and one who believes himself, for some reason, to be America’s darling). This, in turn, led NBC to think, “Hey this kid would be great to continue to have on television!” And so, he was offered a correspondent job with NBC.
It seems now, however, that Rippon has turned down the job and wants to stay in the Olympian village and march in the closing ceremony.
Adam Rippon changes his mind on working for NBC at 2018 Winter Olympics so he can remain an Olympian, stay in village, march in closing ceremony. My @usatodaysports column: https://t.co/5wPftJp8Gd
— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 19, 2018
When Rippon and his team realized he would have to relinquish his official Olympic standing, give up his Olympic credential, move out of Team USA Housing and not be allowed to march in the closing ceremony, he changed his mind and turned down NBC.
“I am so flattered that NBC wanted me to work as a correspondent, but if I took this opportunity, I would have to leave the Olympic team and I would have to leave the (Olympic) Village,” Rippon said on NBCSN. “It’s so important to me, you know, I worked so hard to be on this Olympic team, and my teammates and my friends were there for me during my events, and that meant so much to me, that I really feel like I need to be there for them during their events.”
The story here is not Rippon, however. The story is NBC’s offer.
NBC News still clearly believes that there is money to be made in hiring people who have been critical of Donald Trump and his administration. They hired Megyn Kelly, they run MSNBC, and they offered this job to Rippon out of the blue. NBC is not run by idiots. They know what they are doing. They see an opportunity to grab a hold of a Trump-critical market and draw in those ratings until that particular well runs dry.
Is it any wonder that there is such little faith in the media? Of all the Olympians past and present NBC could have chosen from, they go for the gay American who has publicly feuded with a member of the Trump administration. That’s not a coincidence. That is a deliberate choice.
Rippon is a fairly-decent skater who chose to brand himself as a sexual-identity-focused political activist rather than a skater and drew a following from that. For Rippon and activists like him, the sexual identity comes first. They choose to be defined by that identity, rather than by their character or their abilities. Rippon, as an Olympian, should be focused on his talents as a skater. But he’s not.
Instead, he wants to focus on the sexual identity and the public feud with the Vice President. I don’t blame him, nor do I join in the other pundits who say “DO YOUR JOB AND STOP TALKING POLITICS, YOU INGRATE,” but I also see clearly the pure marketing aspect of all this.
This isn’t about morality or doing what’s right or just. This was about brand-building and gathering an audience. Rippon and NBC are playing the masses for fools in order to boost their own public appeal.
Damn shame that it has to come at the expense of their integrity.