Sports network ESPN has suspended reporter Adrian Wojnarowski after cursing Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) in an email message.
Hawley had sent a letter to the National Basketball Association questioning if players would be allowed to display political messages in praise of police or against the Chinese government on their jerseys. Wojnarowski then wrote “F*** you” in an email to Hawley, which the senator then posted on Twitter in a screenshot.
ESPN has suspended the reporter without pay for two weeks, the New York Post reported on Sunday. It is not clear when the suspension began, but Wojnarowski is expected to return to work sometime around July 25. The NBA is planning to begin its season on July 30, in games without fans due to the spread of coronavirus.
Wojnarowski has apologized publicly as well as in emails to ESPN executives.
“I was disrespectful and I made a regrettable mistake,” Wojnarowski said in a statement on Friday. “I’m sorry for the way I handled myself and I am reaching out immediately to Senator Hawley to apologize directly.”
A spokesman for Hawley told the Washington Post that the senator was not actively seeking an apology.
“ESPN: don’t suspend a reporter, ask tough questions of [the] NBA about their pro-China, anti-America bias,” Hawley wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Start reporting for goodness’ sake.”
The league came under criticism in fall 2019 over its relationship with China. Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted “Free Hong Kong” in October, after which China slammed the NBA and Rockets merchandise was removed from Chinese store shelves. The NBA attempted to distance itself from Morey as it organized a pre-season tour in China, which is the league’s second-largest market.